Review: Onechanbara (360)
Hack and Slash
Sex and gore. The scary Japanese way.
Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad. Let that title roll around in your brain for a little while. Bikinis? Samurais? Onechanbara (Japanese for some shit about big sisters or something). Yep, it screams Japanese niche nonsense at you doesn’t it? But come on, you’ve been a bit bored recently right? All those triple A titles that didn’t quite satisify you. All those sequels. It’s good to try new things (well, new for us. This is a series in Japan) and a game about women who attack zombies with swords has to be worth a go right? Especially when it comes from the same barkingly mad folks that brought us the cult favourite, Earth Defense Force 2017.
Much like EDF, Onechanbara is a straight up b-movie of a game. It’s a third-person hack and slasher that sees you dicing your way through legions of undead bastards whilst dressed as a Japanese business man’s wet dream. You primary choices of characters are sisters Aya and Saki who are targeted by a mysterious organisation who want to steal their ‘baneful blood’, which is the source of the sisters’ power and the reason why they can stab things as well as they can. To do this, the organisation instigates a zombie invasion of Tokyo to lure the girls out of hiding.
The sisters are joined by Annna (yes, I know), an American cop who sticks with guns rather than swords and turns the game into a shooter whenever you get to play as her. She’s there to help deal with the zombies although other motivations are revealed later on. That’s assuming you don’t just skip through the story which is forgivable considering that the story is utter bollocks and presentedwith less care and attention than a Gavin and Stacey script.
But that’s really enough time spent on the story. What we have here is a game that cannot decide if it’s good or gash. It has the same low-budget-but-with-care-and-attention-but-not-too-much-attention-this-isn’t-Gears-of-War-for-goodness-sakes feel as EDF but also has the same kind of ‘ooh’ moments that make you want to love it and this is evident right away when you walk up to your first zombie, probably a slightly cartoony but cute looking one, and leave him quartered with a couple of bashes of the X button. Blood flies everywhere and leaves the screen and your sword dripping. Before long you are ploughing through hordes of them, eventually having to shake your sword clean when it gets too bloodsoaked.
However, the zombie AI is straight from the Assassin’s Creed College of Technology meaning that the zombies tend to forget that they want your brains in a lovely pie and instead stand around waiting to take turns nibbling you. This makes fights pretty unexciting after a while and very unchallenging until the latter half of the game where the other zombies return from the firing range with all sorts of weaponary.
Then you’ve got the bosses who are all susceptible to the same counter-attacking technique which involves spamming the right bumper and the A button until some slow motion kicks in and you evade and counter. Annoyingly the bosses have a nasty habit of not dying first time around, especially one boss who comes back as soon as you beat her with full health and a room full of clones. Hnnnngh.
The level design is also, well, bollocks. Everything has the sparse look and feel of Bullet Witch and requires a confusing and tedious amount of backtracking. Half the game is set in the same city streets and the other is set on an island. Level areas are frequently revisited, making it feel like the game could have gotten away with far less than the actual twenty stages it is broken into.
Onechanbara is the gaming equivalent of a B-movie. It’s cheap and cheerful, but a hell of a lot of fun. Like many B-movie horror films it relies on tits and excessive gore to draw people in. So you control a trio of heroines killing zombies and twisted monsters.
The game very much seems like Dynasty Warriors Lite. Instead of complicated combos and hundreds of enemies in a large open spaces, you can get by by mashing the X button and fighting monsters in more confined spaces.
That’s not to say that the game is ugly or simple, the graphics are actually rather impressive, especially the vast array of monster designs. Then there’s the smaller graphical touches like the screen getting splattered with blood, or your character dripping with claret.
The game isn’t without its faults though, there are certain monsters you can only kill by doing the horridly difficult â€œCool Combo.” Luckily you can practice it, in the practice bit, but its really fucking difficult to pull off successfully within the confines of the game. The camera can also be a pain, you can control it manually, but it can still be a pain to see what you’re trying to do.
To conclude, the game is fun but not massively polished in certain aspects. Apart from the pervy, weird dress up part of the game I found this to be a lot of fun. Its certainly not as intense or complicated as a game like Dynasty Warriors, which to me isn’t a bad thing.
Secondary Score: 8/10
But that said, this is one of the more arcadey examples of the genre on the system and is great fun in small doses. Certainly more fun than bigger, more polished efforts and, if you can stomach the ridiculous sexism, the game taps into the same sense of violent fun as EDF which is always a good idea. The action never really lets up and the combat has more depth than the manual admits to (although the ‘Cool Combo’ system can literally fuck off as it seems to require a mixture of Guitar Hero on Expert timing and telepathy).
Actually, the manual is indicative of the game’s baffling reluctance to explain anything to you. Many of the achievements are allocated to the ‘Quest’ system. These function as in-game achievements and involve killing numbers of zombies, different techniques and combo and also time-based goals. Unfortunately these are only revealed to you after you complete them. For example ‘Height of Ecstacy’ involves you using a certain combo several times during a level but you’d never know that until it’s done.
Another annoyance is that D3 have chosen to focus far too much time on jiggly-breast physics and skimpy costumes (with more available via DLC) which takes Onechanbara away from the daft, harmless fun pool and leaves it sharing the same waters as those cunts at Namco. So if you’re easily offended, or if you take your gaming very seriously indeed, then Onechanbara will probably irritate you far too much to make it worth your time.
But I still can’t get away from how much fun this game can be. Onechanbara is very much a game of pros and cons. Everytime the game does something cool, it is tempered by something stupid but you keep playing just in case something cool happens again and sometimes it does.