Being a fan of video games, I’m used to having to stomach some vile dreck every now and again. You know the stuff I’m talking about: barely pubescent player avatars fighting tanks and demons, hapless arm-candy masquerading as “empowered” female role-models, games designed to appeal to an adolescent male’s burgeoning sex drive...
Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad makes these look like Mozart.
Here’s the plot: The world is suffering a zombie outbreak. I think. We’re never really told if they’re zombies or demons that possess humans. Our heroines, Aya and Saki, are cursed with Baneful Blood, which is not only powerful and destructive, but also highly prized by Evil shadow organizations. They spend their days hacking through city blocks full of the damned with their samurai swords, dressed like something from the Big Book of Anime Fan Sexual Cliches. Along the way, they meet policecop Annna (the extra “n” is for naughty), to round out the Bikini Samurai Squad – Annna doesn't wear a bikini and she isn’t a samurai, but she gets in because she’s got infinite reload guns. This all leads towards an epic showdown, but there’s almost no chance you’ll ever make it that far because the game is an exercise in mediocrity.
Controls are covered in a thick, syrupy molasses that takes the fun out of zombie-killing. There’s a combo system, but it’s based on the horrifically arcane timing of pressing ‘X’ instead of something mildly amusing. Graphics are horrendously bland with a criminally uninventive reuse of art assets. Pathfinding is confusing and unintuitive. Soundwise, the publisher didn’t spend any time to build an English language track into the game. Considering the quality of the rest of project, this might actually be a blessing in disguise. Even the cutscenes aren’t safe from the D-level quality that plagues the game, as the pre-rendered scenes somehow visually tear on your screen. (How does that happen? Was it rendered on a Pentium II? Did no one check the video before they stuck it into the game?)
I suppose you can issue points for the two original ideas the designers built into the game. As Aya and Saki dispose of the undead, their blades are coated with ooze. Let too much of it accumulate and the swords will stick inside the bodies of your foes, leaving the two girls vulnerable. That’s not all! If too much blood splashes on your character, the girl will enter a crazed state. Extra damage will be dealt, but the health meter will slowly drain. As far as I could know, there’s no way to stop this once it’s occurred – the game doesn’t seem very fond of telling you how to do things.
These two gameplay tweaks aren’t much to get excited about. They’re more hindrances than anything, and there’s a good chance the novelty of them will wear thin before the second level is done. Honestly, it’s hard to vocalize exactly why this is such a frustrating experience. There are just so many things wrong with the game that it all blends together in a sea of grey textures and piddling setpieces. Its greatest offence is likely the notion that someone thought this would appeal to gamers. It’s pretty clear that this was hashed out on premise alone, with resources funneled into breasts, blood and swords instead of quality.
Thankfully, there’s an included dress-up mode that rewards your progress. Clear stages with sufficient Style Points and you can unlock new hats or underwear for the girls! KAWAII!
It’s a bit of a shame, though. With the proper studio, “bikini samurai girls fighting zombies” could have easily been a God Hand-style farce. Instead, we’re stuck with an overly serious, wonky piece of bargain-bin fodder that doesn’t even qualify as a rental title.
Unless this pops up as a $1.00 deal-of-the-day, stay far, far away.