Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad for the Xbox 360. Developer- Tamsoft, Publisher- D3
It’s quite possible to review recent Xbox 360 release Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Swords using two words: ‘delightfully skimpy’. The game features a trio of women clad in little more than swimsuits and lingerie, who hack and slash their way through countless clusters of zombies. With the exception of some boss battles and an ample supply of unlockables found throughout the game’s twenty levels, the title remains puzzlingly static. Much like snacking on a bag of nutritionally deficient potato chips, Onechanbara is unexpectedly hard to put down, yet feels somewhat insubstantial.
Fans of Earth Defense Force 2017 will find Onechanbara ventures through similar territory: ‘B’-movie inspiration, an unsophisticated and often repetitive gameplay mechanic, and the near-constant lure of trinkets. Instead of EDF 2017’s arsenal of weaponry, Bikini Samurai Swords offers a myriad of clothing accessories for our undead mauling maidens. Sure, playing dress-up is amusingly incongruent to the blood-soaked undead slaughtering mayhem, but that is part of the game’s offbeat charm.
Most of Onechanbara’s controls are typical for a 3D brawler. The left thumb moves the protagonist, while the right stick controls the game’s camera angles. Three different offensive measures are mapped to the Xbox 360’s face buttons- ‘X’ initiates a sword attack for the main characters, ‘B’ performs a feeble ranged attack, and ‘Y’ executes an area-clearing kick. The game does incorporate two atypical attributes uncommon to most beat-em-ups. First, the title employs a tag-team combat system that requires players to tap the right bumper to switch between characters. Secondly, the player must periodically press the left bumper to clean the sword of zombie blood, otherwise the blade becomes stuck in an undead torso. It seems zombie blood is a functional adhesive, who would have known?
Beyond rendering weapons ineffective, zombie blood also has strong secondary effect. As the title’s protagonists lacerate the non-living, they begin to accumulate soak the blood of the dispatched into their pores. Once enough plasma is absorbed, the player can unleash an even more powerful ‘ecstasy attack’, which increases your speed and the amount of injury to the game’s enemies.
Graphically, the game uses a filter to simulate film grain, recalling recent hit, Left 4 Dead. Although enemy models are typically simplistic, the game offers a few graphical flourishes. Successful combos will result in satisfying washes of blood; occasionally coating the game screen with a splash of crimson. Player models are given a high polygon count, and showcase some of the best breast bounce physics outside of a Tecmo title. One of our favorite touches was an adorable 2D minigame that was playable during load screens.
Beyond the game’s limited scope, a few other quandaries prohibited us from fully enjoying Onechanbara. Occasionally, the camera would become unresponsive, allowing players to be attacked from foes in the immediate foreground. While the game incorporates motorcycle levels, these seem tacked-on and underdeveloped; the bikes were as sticky as zombie blood and displayed the tendency to stick to environmental objects.
Overall, Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad is amusingly quirky Japanese game that will appeal to a niche market. Players seeking an uncomplicated title, with an interesting mix of titillation and gore, will likely be amused by the game. Others might be perplexed at the game’s rigid mechanics; Onechanbara changes very little throughout its six hour journey.