Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad - Review

Titillation in a video game is far from a new tactic.  It can be a solid tool (no pun intended) to get people more involved in a game that, if the hero were male instead of female, could very well fade into obscurity.  Lara Croft used the power of her polygonal pair to carry Tomb Raider across a boatload of titles.  Bloodrayne featured a dominatrix-clad vampiress scissoring her legs around Nazi victims to feed, moaning all the while.  However, these titles used their sexy heroines simply as window dressing to get you into a product that could carry its own weight with tight, fun gameplay...

Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad tries to appeal to this market with its own sexy protagonists: Aya, the “face girl” of the franchise, wearing little more than a bikini and a cowboy hat, Saki, the petite schoolgirl (for you creeps out there), and Annna (yes, three n’s), the bosomy cop bristling with firepower.  Sure, there’s some plot device excusing Aya’s need to run around half naked, but it’s about as thin as her panties.  Onechanbara is just about lots of cheesecake jiggle and gouts of gore as you guide your titillating trio through a zombie apocalypse of Tokyo.

Unfortunately, the tits and ass aren’t nearly enough to carry the game.  The gameplay quickly becomes monotonous, employing stale devices to keep you mashing buttons.  Artificial barriers will spring forth from the ground and won’t drop until you’ve killed all of the enemies within their boundaries, while keys and other items will drop only under similar circumstances.  Controls are fairly tight, but when the mechanics are as simple as this, that’s no great feat.  It’s basically a hack-and-slash, but without the finesse of Ninja Gaiden or Devil May Cry to keep you interested.  You can’t string together combos, Aya’s dual styles are virtually indistinguishable, and Annna’s gunplay is reliant on a worthless auto-aiming system that makes her practically useless.  Compounding these problems is the completely inexplicable practice of recycling the same levels ad nauseum. Sure, other, better games have done this (I’m looking at you, Devil May Cry 4), but never to the absurd, blatant level that Onechanbara does.  I know the entire game takes place in Tokyo, but the fact that it seems to be the same square mile level after level after level, occasionally punctuated with something new, like the uncontrollable motorcycle levels, or the completely uneven boss battles.  The few standouts in the game (three words: zombie killer whale) are so mired in hours and hours of sameness that they’re not even worth it by the time you get to them.  Even the graphics, while crisp and smooth, are completely devoid of personality.

The localization of the game feels half-assed as well.  Voiceovers and plot progression are in the original Japanese dialogue, with poorly translated subtitles that aren’t even spaced, so the misaligned letters runintooneanotherinapracticallyunreadablefashion.  Annoying, huh?  Even the manual is poorly done, with four pages that don’t fill you in on the basics, like what the purpose is of picking up the yellow orbs that enemies drop (I suppose they’re XP), or the benefits of rampage mode (you’re faster and more powerful at the cost of health) or even what the hell “counter stance” does.  Sure, you can figure out what the basic gist of all of this is through observation, but why do you have to do that?  Even achievements are only doled out by completing “quests,” like killing X number of zombies or executing Y counter stances, but even those numbers feel randomly generated, and when you finally do hear that familiar Xbox Achievement chime, you’ll usually have no idea why.

Onechanbara, much like its aforementioned forebears, uses T&A to rope you in, but unlike its forebears, its T&A is its only remarkable feature.  Sure, as a red-blooded heterosexual male, there is a certain appeal to a woman in her underpants bathing in the blood of the walking dead, but a game that is completely carried by that concept loses a lot of its appeal once you graduate past touching yourself to Victoria’s Secret catalogs.  Heaven help me, but I just can’t recommend a game about women using katanas to dismember the living dead. If they were nurses fighting werewolves, however…