IGN Review of Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers
Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers is the very definition of a guilty pleasure. It's not a great game, instead relying entirely on the sex and violence fantasies of adolescent boys. But, hey, I'm a fan of sex and violence as much as the next guy, and if you just go with it you'll probably find a good time in Onechanbara.
Because the game utterly fails at explaining the story to the player, all you'll really know when you start Onechanbara is that you play a hot girl who's good with a sword, and there are a bunch of zombies standing in the way of your goal. To be fair, that's all the information you really need to play a videogame, but a little more effort in the presentation would have been nice. I can tell you that Bikini Zombie Slayers continues the story of the Xbox 360 Onechanbara game, Bikini Samurai Squad -- but I only know that because publisher D3 told me in a press release. The game's text has been translated to English (some with hilarious results, like "Point Get!"), but the voice work has been left in its native Japanese. That doesn't bother someone like me who is a junkie for Japanese culture, but players should know what they're getting into.
What does bother me is the overall lack of effort shown in the translation. The English part of the manual is but three pages long and ignores many of the game's features. In-game tutorials pop up here and there to shed some light on the mechanics, but they still don't explain everything and they're doled out slowly. Your characters collect experience from fallen zombies and can level up their stats, but it is unclear exactly how these stats benefit the ladies. Plus, like I said, the game doesn't even try to set up the story for players. Each level begins with the same still image and a Japanese voiceover while text slowly scrolls over the screen -- not the most impressive display.
The flow of gameplay sees our girls running linearly from point A to point B, hacking up zombies along the way. Sometimes levels culminate in a boss fight; sometimes not. Onechanbara is fond of the very cheap gameplay mechanic where the player is trapped in a small area and has to defeat numerous respawning enemies before they can proceed. This is just lazy on the developer's part, and is a tedious exercise for the player.
Like too many Wii games, Onechanbara would be more fun if it didn't use motion controls. The waggling is nowhere near 1:1 with your sword swipes, so all you do is aimlessly shake the remote without any sense that you are producing the Bikini Zombie Slayers' attacks. Performing a special move is an awkward affair of targeting an enemy with the Z button, holding the 1 button on the remote, then swinging the remote in circles to charge it up. Not only are there too many steps involved, it's all too easy to accidentally hit the 2 button and enter the menu screen. Each girl has two main attacks you can toggle between with the C button. One only requires us to waggle the remote, but the other has us shaking both the remote and nunchuk in an attempt to utterly humiliate the player.
Still, decapitating, dismembering, and chopping zombies in half is satisfying and you can sort of zone out and enjoy the gore as blood splatters all over the game world and camera lens. And there is one motion control that makes sense and feels good: your blade will accumulate blood, and by holding the B button you can give your remote a shake to swipe and clean the liquid from your weapon, leaving a splatter on the ground. Good stuff.
While the presentation is lacking in many areas, there is a respectable amount of game modes that should provide some nice replay value. Beyond the story mode, there are freeplay and survival modes that can be played cooperatively with two bikini babes. These modes also offer specific "quests" that are sort of like achievements on the Xbox 360, but completing them can be esoteric since the game doesn't tell us what is required until we have, you know, completed them.
While the menus are admittedly ugly, the game doesn't look too shabby for a Wii title. The bikini girls are actually animated very well, and their various maneuvers are impressive. I could do without the cheesy, generic techno soundtrack, though.
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