Onechanbara - Bikini Zombie Slayers
by Vanor Orion

Where do I even fucking begin? I mean, how do you fuck up a game about a bunch of scantily-clad chicks running around turning zombies to chop suey?! Now, some smartasses out in the audience might chortle and say "That's cuz it's for the Wii, hur hur!" No, actually that's got absolutely nothing to do with why watching paint dry is more exciting than playing this game. In fact, the controls are probably the best and most satisfying aspect of Bikini Zombie Slayers!

You boot this game up, and you can choose from a variety of modes: Practice, Story, Survival, Free Play, and then later when you've beaten the game you unlock a few more goodies. You go to story mode, and you pick one of two characters to play as: Aya, an extremely busty woman wearing a cowboy hat, spurs, a pink uh...flamingo scarf(???) and dual wields katanas. Then you got Saki, a creepy little girl in a school uniform who complements her sword-fighting with wrestling moves. After you beat those two characters' respective scenarios, you then unlock two new playable characters, Reiko and Misery. Reiko wears black leather and librarian glasses so she's obviously catering to two fetishes here, and on top of using a sword she also mixes things up with guns, too. Misery looks like someone who got locked up in a rave for about two weeks straight. Her primary weapon is a huge fucking sword that can segment itself into a bladed whip, ala Ivy from Soul Calibur, only her breasts don't seem to get larger with each passing sequel.

Oh god, I feel like I need to take a shower after typing all that. And I've barely scratched the surface of this god damn game!

The game's plot is...non-existent. Levels are connected tenuously to each other by a still shot of the character you're playing as, and you hear them speak (in Japanese, there's no English track) as English text scrolls up and honestly it's all them just internally-monologuing about shit that we don't even really understand. They keep referencing things that happened in a prior game, but I don't think there was a prior game released in the States, so really all I'm doing here is reading scrolling text about shit that I never even seen or played. So I just skip it.

So when the level starts there's a brief cutscene showing the character I've chosen (Aya) talking to herself in the midst of a zombie outbreak, and here I notice that while the camera is merely panning around that something doesn't seem right. The camera is kinda jerking ever-so-slightly as it pans around...the canopy of trees! Hrm, well anyways. So we just skip past that shit, since she's really not talking about anything that hasn't already been superficially glossed over in the previous scrolling text of uselessness.

So okay, we can safely assume that the plot (what little there is) is just an excuse to have busty chicks in lingerie running around dismembering zombies. So how is that aspect of the game?

Well, it's like this...

The combat and the controls in this game are actually quite good, once you get the hang of them. It's visually and viscerally the most satisfying aspect of the entire game. All of your characters' attacks are governed by gestures with the Wiimote and/or nunchuck depending on the character and the circumstances. Movement is governed by the analog stick, and it's silky smooth, and everyone moves at a very fast pace. The A button is used to jump (and double-jump) around. You can lock onto enemies using Z, and while locked-on you can use the A button to do somersaults and backflips and rolls to weave into and out of the midst of hordes of the undead. And it really does look cool when you do all this.

Each character has two fighting styles that they can switch between using the C button, which changes up how they fight rather dramatically. Aya will mix up kicks and sword slices with her first stance, then her second one will have her using two swords together to make her into a much sexier version of Uncle Les from Braindead. As stated before, Saki uses wrestling moves when she isn't using her sword, and the other two characters' fighting styles change drastically when they switch up their fighting stances, but we'll get to them in a bit.

Now, you might be wondering about the whole "gesturing to perform attacks" thing, and I'll say right now after having played it for quite awhile that combat does not degenerate into simply flailing the controller about like a spaz. Timed-movements with both the Wiimote and-depending on your attacks-the nunchuck will allow you to perform combo attacks, just like any other game, but rather than mashing buttons to do it, you're moving the Wii controls rhythmically to accomplish the same thing, and it's really not tiring or excrutiating on your wrists once you get the hang of it.

So, okay, how does all that work in relation to the actual gameplay? You start out in a cemetary, and you get boxed in by a magical barrier that won't vanish until you've killed every zombie in the vicinity, and then you can move on. You'll weave in and out of zombie hordes, who are surprisingly varied, articulated, and have some pretty good dismembering physics going on. You can hack off their arms, legs, cut them in half and their legs will still come at you, and decapitate them. Going in and cutting a swath through a zombie horde is actually pretty cool and cathartic for about...oh, I don't know, ten minutes?

You see, this is the game's major problem: Zombies are (almost) all that you fight. Oh sure, that's what it says in the fucking title, but as I stated in my Resident Evil 4 review, zombies are not threatening to someone that knows what they are doing, and this game has pretty much vindicated that statement. Even for all their variety, all they do is shamble along rather unthreateningly, and some of them occasionally wield chainsaws, but that's like putting a chainsaw into the hands of a geriatric suffering from Parkinson's. If this were a game where you were playing a normal guy suffering from ammo starvation, then all these zombie hordes might present a threat, however, in the context of a super-powered bimbo dual-wielding swords, this becomes rather boring very quickly because it's so damn easy. The zombies hardly pose a threat, even when the game throws a few oddball enemies at you that have to be shut down using different tactics, it doesn't give the game much more challenge.

And that's really the best way to describe what's wrong with Onechanbara: It's not very challenging. At all. Even on higher difficulties the zombies are still pushovers. It's like snapping rotten twigs in half; it just doesn't require any thought or effort for the most part. What this game needed was a greater variety of enemies, not just zombies (yes, there are a few other enemies in the game but they're hardly worth mentioning). Or at least give us zombies of the same caliber as 28 Days Later, or Braindead, or even fucking Versus (okay, there are a few zombies in this game that can shoot at you, but they're still no threat).

You're looking at the whole game right here, folks...

The only time this game is even remotely difficult is that after a few levels you get into a boss fight with another living, breathing person (usually one of the other playable characters, for whatever reason). These fights can actually get pretty intense, but it's so damn jarring to go from fighting mindless, flea-brained zombies to blood-crazed bimbos that can go super-saiyan if they get too much gore on them. Oh yeah, I think I forgot to mention that.

As you cut swaths through the zombies, the girls gradually get more bloodied up, just as Lionel did when he used his lawnmower to plow his way through the zombies in Braindead, and eventually they become blood-crazed and turn into big-tittied versions of Onimusha, gallivanting around and killing shit while they look like they're having seizures. And their health is constantly draining while this is happening. And guess what, once they go crazy, they can't stop. So their health is constantly draining to the point that one hit can kill them, and while enemies sometimes drop health restoring items, there's no cure for going super-crazy-bitch-jin save for finding special rooms that will purify you, clean all the gore off your body, and allow you to save your game to continue on later.

Okay, so that's not entirely accurate. You do find and pick up items in this game that can heal you, or take you out of your blood-craze. The thing is that a lot of this stuff just randomly drops off of enemies, so you might accrue a bunch of random items without being aware of it. It also doesn't help that your items are capped off, so you can only hold so many at a time, and for as quick as you can suffer from being blood-crazed, it really should let you hold more items.

But there's more to it than that. Remember how I said at the beginning of the game you get boxed in and have to fight a set amount of zombies in order to move on? Well, congratulations, that's how the rest of the game plays out in every. Single. Stage. You'll go into wide-open spaces that turn to sparsely-decorated arenas where you just blender through the undead, move on, get ushered down a few corridors and some twists and turns, and then into your next wide-open area to do it all again. Rinse. Repeat. I fucking dare anybody to tell me that Dynasty Warriors games are boring, because they have obviously never played this.

As for how the game looks, well the playable characters look and animate smoothly. Seeing as how they're the entire highlight of this game, they should at least look good doing what they do, and they do. The zombies as I said earlier are surprisingly varied and animated. Dismemberment, yada yada. The environments on the other hand, aren't so stellar. Each level takes place in a different locale. The first stage is a cemetary and chapel, then a hospital, the third is a wide open city that is completely devoid of non-zombie activity, and then a subway, then some mountain trails, then like a super science bunker and...there's only eight fucking stages in the game. And it's not even "Okay, eight different stages for each character." No, it's the same eight stages for all four of the characters. They just play through the stages in a different order.

Each area itself feels pretty generic and blasé. The city is probably the most interesting part of the game, but as I said before, it's completely empty of any activity that doesn't involve mindless shambling zombies. It's just feels visually bland, which wouldn't matter considering you'll be busy cutting down the undead, but that's very likely stopped being entertaining by the time you've reached this point in the game.

What else can I bitch about? Oh yeah, how about how the camera controls get stuck when you're in close-quarters? Like if you are in a hallway and you tried rotating the camera, it'll literally get stuck in the wall in some places, and won't budge an inch further. How about the fact that when the zombies die they drop orbs you have to pick up, which then gives you experience points for your character at the end of each level. However, unlike Devil May Cry, the orbs don't come out of the zombie right away as soon as their life reaches zero. They instead have to disintegrate into fertilizer first, and by the time that happens, you're already busy trying to get your gore-covered sword unstuck from a zombie's face, and then you have to go run back and get it. In fact, you'll blaze through a hall full of undead, only to look back and realize that you have to backtrack to pick up all the orbs that are left laying around because they were dying too slowly and you were killing them too fast. It's just really freaking annoying.

Oh yeah, you level up in this game, which you get skill points to spend on several vaguely-defined attributes that will gradually boost each character's performance in their respective areas. This shit might matter if this game was actually challenging, which it isn't, so it really doesn't matter either way.

Well, what else is there? Oh yeah, let's talk about Reiko for a moment. Reiko is probably the coolest character in the game because her alternate fighting style let's her blast zombies with her guns. Hell, she even has two she can switch between, a shotgun and an SMG, and both have infinite ammo. Even cooler is that while she's got her weapons drawn, you can aim them with the wiimote ala RE4 for the Wii. This would be cool, that is, if aiming actually seemed to matter, which it doesn't. I've walked around, blasting zombies, and noticed that the accuracy and hit-detection for her bullets is just really out of whack. I'll be shooting up a zombie right in front of me yet will somehow pelt a zombie like twenty feet behind it. Then there's times where I was turning a corner in the hallway, like going along a waist-high hedge row, and I'd try shooting a zombie on the other side of the corner, but couldn't hit them. The bullets just vanished into an invisible wall as long as I tried firing over the corner, even though there wasn't anything physically there to stop the gunfire! There's other spastic problems using guns with her, but I'm too pissed off at this point to even go into it.

"So what, do you work at an S&M club to make ends meet because putting the undead to rest for the feds doesn't pay enough?"

"...because I've never heard of THAT before."

Beyond the gameplay, there's the stuff you can unlock for playing through the game. You got a view mode, which let's you view the 3D models of all the girls, and all the enemies in the game, and not only that, but you can select various poses and in-game movements for them to make, and even listen to all their dialogue and sound clips, which is admittedly pretty cool. There's unlockable costumes (at least this game can't make you pay for downloadable content unlike the 360 Onechanbara) and there's even a two-player cooperative mode. The problem is that it's not for story mode, only free play and survival. There's also stuff you can unlock in survival and free play mode, and there's even a section that shows you all the achievements you made in each stage but the problem is that it won't tell you what those achievements are until after you've fucking accomplished them. Oh god, is this game trying to piss me off?! How about I give a blind man a Rubik's Cube and tell him to solve it? Because that's the only way this game could be even more asinine with its achievements and unlocking extras.

The music in this game is mostly forgettable for the most part, and the sound effects are just as bland as the environments. Oh yeah, and let's talk about how pathetic the instruction manual for this game is. Seriously, this manual is like the cheapest-looking piece of shit I've ever seen. It's not even ten pages long-half of that in French-and what instructions there are in English, hardly explains anything worth a damn. Like, when you look at the legend for the Wii controls, when it shows what the Control Pad does in-game, it just says "Various Functions," and that's that. Well, that's pretty fucking vague. How about I get the person responsible for this manual, handcuff them next to a toilet filled with symtex, hand him a bunch of tools to disarm the bomb, and when he asks me what each tool does, I'll just say, "Oh, ya know, various things."

Anyways, I think I've blown enough steam bitching about this game. Ya know, I knew that this was gonna be a budget title when I bought it (30 dollars), but god damn I played Atari 2600 games more exciting than Onechanbara. I can forgive bland graphics but the game shouldn't be boring!

What really pisses me off more than anything is that this could have been a good game. The gameplay is solid, the controls are intuitive, and you have a pretty entertaining premise, but it just hasn't been acted upon wholeheartedly as it should have. If you could just ramp up the challenge level, have some honest-to-god interesting level-design, a lot more variety of enemies, and tweak all the aforementioned things that grated on my nerves worse than Freddy Krueger scraping his knives over a chalkboard, you'd have all the making of an awesome (and completely inappropriate) franchise. This might have been a budget title, but Atlus publishes plenty of games that are budget titles that are still more fun than this game is. There's no fucking excuse for this, and for that I condemn the developers to Dr. Strangelove's underground bunker where they'll be locked in a room with Jack D. Ripper who will routinely violate their personal space and leer at them creepily while he tells them about how the Ruskies are trying to steal their "precious fluids."

"I deny them my essence."


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