What does it take to make a successful game nowadays? Graphics? Guns? Explosions? Actually with those ingredients you could make a kick ass Michael Bay film, but it takes quite a bit more than that to make an excellent game. Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad seems to think that half-naked Asian girls, samurai swords, zombies, and buckets upon buckets of blood will get you a stellar title. While it’s true that a good percentage of Americans do have a thing for Asian girls (this reviewer included) just because you put them in our games doesn’t mean we are going to go gaga over it.
Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad is an action, horror, hack-n-slash from Tamsoft who has popped there proverbial cherry by releasing their first game in America. I wish I could say it was an excellent piece of interactive software, sadly I cannot. In Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad Aya, a descendent of the family known as Imichi, meaning blood that goes out of control, reconciles with her sister Saki and live together in peace for awhile. The peace doesn’t last for long as an infestation of zombies have plagued the city. The sisters join together to draw their swords and rid the city of evil. The first thing that you should know is that this is not the first game in this series. It is in fact only the first game that has come stateside. In the game you will fight have rematches with enemies that the sisters have met before, but you will be hopelessly confused as the developer did not include any back-story or anything to bring you up to speed.
Upon starting up the game you aren’t really given any sort of explanation for what you should be doing. You will get a short cut scene, but all it does is give you a steamy shower scene with one of the sisters, while the other watches the news and finds out that zombies are attacking. Don’t even think about going to the game manual for more help, as this game has what I like to call the “EA studios manual”. That is to say that the only thing you will find in there are buttons, and a description of each mode. Again, seeing as this is clearly not the only game in this series, some sort of back-story would have been really appreciated.
There is some info given to you, but it’s not really a tutorial, at least not like you would get in other games. Of course in order to get this info you have to level up, which means you will have to put time into the game before really knowing what the heck you should be doing. Why are there zombies around? You are never really told. What are the yellow and red orbs that are left behind when you kill zombies? The game doesn’t say but it becomes apparent that it is in fact XP to level up your character. What are the larger colored pieces that some enemies leave behind when they’re killed? No- really I am asking you- what are they for?
Let’s talk about game play-sigh. First off, every zombie is just a walking sack of blood. Each sword slash, or bullet will expel a ridiculous amount of blood. The reason for the blood goes along with the mythology of the game. The sisters are from an ancient family whose job it is to hunt the undead. Much like the Belmont clan has vowed to rid the world of Lord Dracula. Well as the sisters soak themselves in the blood of the undead, they gain power. Once fully covered, they will go into a rage mode which will allow them to pull off more powerful attacks, and combos. The reason Saki wears a bikini is because she is Aya’s half sister and her skin must come into contact with more blood than her pure blooded sister in order to tap into her supernatural abilities. As you slash the blood will cake on the girls swords (which is a nice effect seeing as if you just stand still it will drip off and accumulate on the ground) but what doesn’t make sense is once your sword is covered in blood you will have to shake the blood off before you can swipe again, lest your sword will become stuck in a zombie. It makes you wonder if the undead are worried about transmitting disease to one another or something. The reason behind this is never explained, so your best option while playing is to slaughter a few zombies, tap the left bumper to clean your sword, then rinse and repeat. Most of the zombies you can kill in a few hits, funny thing is sometimes you will only kill the torso and the undead legs will continue to stalk you. Yes-the legs-you will have to kill them to move on.
Another thing game play wise is as you progress you will get to points where a large fence will block off an area and massive amounts of undead will pop up from the earth. You will of course have to kill them all to progress (What year was this game made-. Damn). The fighting is extremely monotonous, with not a whole lot of variation and a great deal of button mashing. For what it’s worth, unless you’re looking to get all of the quest achievements, you can skip learning how to do the cooler attacks. Interestingly enough you don’t have to kill all the zombies in the game, unless you get fenced in. You can just run past most of them, unless you want to level up your character which I doubt you will really want to do. The load times are another thing in this game which is a bit out of hand. When games like GTA4, and Fallout 3 allow you to walk forever without seeing a load screen it is just ridiculous that you can’t move from room to room in this game without loading. It might not be that bad if the loading wasn’t so long.
Oh man- the fun part. Visually this game is a bit of a mess. It’s easy to get “stuck” on the terrain or find an invisible wall everywhere you turn. Moving in a small room makes the camera difficult to control. Rotating the camera around in a larger area brings an amazing amount of screen and object ripping, and there’s a lot of texture dropout or clipping when you get close to a really large character. I mean the zombies come up from the ground, and as the dead rise you can see the earth rip and tear and you would expect a hole to be there. Surprise- no holes in sight. I guess the dead can teleport-. I mean I really think that the developers worked more on the “jiggle psychics” for the girls than getting all the bugs out of this game. But I will say that there are some nice things graphically. I for one love “sword and shield” type games and I get angry when I slash someone with a sword and there is no blood on the blade. This game as I said before does keep the blood on the blade, but not even as the blood accumulates on the girls will you see it drip off their clothes, and there- ummm-. Girl parts.
I must confess that when I picked this up I wasn’t expecting much. If anything I figured it would be one of those games that are just so bad that it’s actually good. Well that’s not the case here, this game is just bad. Even at the bargain price of 39.99 you can’t but feel a little ripped off once you start to play it. I really can’t recommend this game for anyone other than those that just enjoy torturing themselves.