You have to go at either Onechanbara game with a supreme single-mindedness: kill zombies as bikini girl. Or sailor fuku girl. Or a couple other female characters you unlock as you go. It’s not a game for deep meaningful plot (unless you count introspective ruminations on the nature of what a zombie is or why all you do all day is kill them), nor state-of-the-art graphics, nor mind-blowingly innovative gameplay.
Perhaps you know all that, though. Back in the day on PS2, Tamsoft created The Onechanbara, a game containing the main elements of the series: the bikini swordswoman with the unstable power of a blood-fueled rampage, the goddess statue that heals your rage, the over-bloodied sword which slows you down and gets stuck in enemies unless take a peaceful moment to do a fancy, paint-the-floor whoosh of a reload move, and that budget status we so enjoy-because yeah, you probably wouldn’t want to pay full price for the Wii or 360 game.
Let me put it another way: you have to want a somewhat crappy hack •n slash game for this experience to work. You have to enjoy laughing at the goofy rhythm the girls pant out when they run, the way Aya’s boobs jiggle at each slight move, the way on 360 Saki drips blood for no apparent reason when you let her idle. For people who buy this game the lack of English voice acting is a major plus-the story is pointless enough in Japanese, so why suffer through it in a language we can understand? (More dedicated student-players can learn how to say “Baneful Blood” and discuss how best to protect their little sister from those who would exploit her powers.)
I wish there were a way to take the best aspects of both games and collapse them into one screen-soaking slasher affair. I appreciate the fact that Bikini Zombie Slayers on Wii isn’t just a graphic-devolving port of the 360’s Bikini Samurai Squad, but its own game. I don’t appreciate the overuse of motion control: button mashers should stay button mashers-the lack of physical effort is a brilliant parallel to the lack of mental effort. That said, for the heartier brands of controller manipulators out there, a combo system exists. The fact that they have to have ultra-resistant bonus monsters in there to encourage you to use it, though, says a lot.
I prefer being able to play the story in co-op (360) to having separate character stories (Wii), but it is nice to have the option in co-op freeplay, at least. I knew I was fond of the cartoony zombie beat-down mini-game you play during 360 load times, but I didn’t realize how fond until I looked at the static Wii loading screen. Playing dress up is nice on 360, but unlocking the bits is a pain; I’d rather turn on gold (not just some tint of yellow) blood on Wii.
Speaking of visual effects on Wii, there is some charm to the PS2iness. I almost prefer it to the slicker 360 graphics just because it better fits the whole budget theme. Unfortunately, Saki’s forehead is weird-looking either way. Most important is that both games seem to run well-no slowdown of terrible note. The animation is a bit stiff, but it’s almost as if I can’t say it enough: this isn’t really that good of a game.
It’s almost exhilarating, though, the freedom involved in the purchase of Onechanbara for either system (although I would recommend 360 unless Wii elbow gives you a sort of masochistic satisfaction) because this isn’t a game you have to put on your stack and fret about beating-it’s a game you can pop in now and then when you want to bond with a friend over a (root?) beer and slay zombies while having a conversation about something totally different; it’s a game you can run in the background at a Halloween party and let your guests play without explaining how. Ok, ok-Onechanbara is mediocre at best–I said it-but that’s why you buy it. If you don’t get how that works, then I sincerely unrecommend it.
Bikini Samurai Squad
Publisher: D3 Publisher
System: Xbox 360
Bikini Zombie Slayers
Publisher: D3 Publisher
System: Nintendo Wii