Review: Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad

OnechanbaraBikiniSamuraiSquad.jpg Slashing through hordes of zombies as scantily clad babes sure sounds like a fun concept on paper, doesn’t it? That’s the premise behind D3Publisher’s new Xbox 360 hack-n-slash gorefest Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad – actually, I shouldn’t call it new since the game originally came out in Japan back in 2006 and has only just now been brought over to North America — and it is indeed a good one. But don’t let that enticing setup (and all the jiggly female parts) seduce you into forking out bills to pick this title up. Frankly, Onechanbara is a bottom feeder in the hack-n-slash genre.

Onechanbara’s Dynasty Warriors meets Devil May Cry meets anime porn vibe is actually kind of fun at first. The simple combat system allows you to jump in and begin hacking zombies into bloody bits without even the slightest learning curve, the buckets of blood and mangled body parts that spew forth during all this hacking and slashing is delightfully satisfying, and the three different zombie-slashing hotties you get to play as – Aya, Saki and Anna – are meticulously detailed in all the right places, if you know what I mean.

But sadly, after only a level or two the game settles into a rut of simplistic button-mashing so dull and tedious that the game’s short 6-hour campaign feels like it drags on for more like 20 hours, and by the end of it you won’t have any care to go back for the time-consuming, achievement-rewarding side quests or the secondary survival mode. The entire game consists of trudging through the same recycled sewer, underground parking lot, city street and cave environments while furiously mashing on the X button to mow through any undead being that crosses your path, occasionally pausing to wipe all the blood off your sword so the edge stays sharp.

Character swapping, multiple weapon types, a level-up system and the ability to dress up the girls with unlockable costume pieces are in place to add depth to the experience, but in execution the impact of these elements is skin-deep at most. No matter which character you play as or how you improve their attributes, the strategy never changes and the combat never evolves. Playing co-op certainly makes the brainless gameplay a tad more digestible since it’s often hilarious playing through a terrible game with a buddy to mock its ineptitude, but that’s hardly a redeeming quality.

Lack of depth is the least of the game’s problems, too. The level designs are bland, confusing and repetitive, the lock-on and camera systems are woefully finicky, the animations are stiff and robotic, and the bosses are dumb and easy to exploit. Worse still, the game’s localization is piss poor. Grammatical errors litter the text dialogue, and the text font is difficult to read to boot. Since the voice acting is all in Japanese, these problems render the story bits virtually impossible to follow (as if the story in this type of game would be worth following if the localization was spot-on).

Onechanbara shows signs of life early on, but ultimately never goes anywhere beyond what’s presented in the first level. In its entirety it’ll straight up bore you to tears. Honestly, the loading screen mini-game that plays out like a side-scrolling 2D Flash version of the core game is the best part — you know a game has serious problems when the loading screens are what you look forward to most. Harsh, I know, but it’s the truth.

SkipIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Cool loading screen mini-game
+ The explosive gore and scantily glad chicks look pretty good

Cons:
– Mind-numbingly shallow button-mashing gameplay
– Tedious pacing
– Bland, recycled level environments
– Poor localization
– Inconsistent camera and lock-on system

Game Info:
Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: D3Publisher
Developer: Tamsoft
Release Date: 2/10/09
Genre: Hack-n-slash
ESRB Rating: Mature
Players: 1-2

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!