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Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad (Xbox 360)

39
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
1.8
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  ResidentHazard (3236)
Written on  :  Jul 11, 2010
Rating  :  1.17 Stars1.17 Stars1.17 Stars1.17 Stars1.17 Stars

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Summary

Gore, Girls, and Zombies--how could it have gone so wrong?

The Good

Listing the positives of this game is an unfortunately brief undertaking, but here goes:

The best thing that can be said of this title is that it's fun with a friend, so long as you both keep your expectations as low as possible--and both have healthy senses of humor to dole out comments on the title. So, it can be fun for a while.

The character models on the girls are intended to be sexy and while sort of ridiculous (fighting zombies in a bikini, a sash, and a cowboy hat), the modeling on the girls isn't too bad. The animation is pretty smooth on them as well--expect a lot of jiggle modifiers.

There are quite a few different modes and things offered by the title. The main story mode, a training mode, and--big surprise for a title so focused on sexy girls--a dress-up mode. There are unlockable costumes, and, while collecting yellow orbs after slashing enemies, the girls’ various attributes can be leveled up. Also there are a few difficulty settings, a combo system, and an “internal” achievement system that is somewhat different than the standard Xbox360 Achievement system.

The "sexy girls and zombies formula" is a kind of schlocky, B-movie flavor that can be enjoyable to people of that persuasion.

Flash-style hack-n-slash mini-game appears during the loading screens that is, quite sadly, often more fun than the actual title.

The Bad

Okay, with any luck, I'll actually be able to remember everything to list here. That's the summary you get showing the horror to come...

While the two main girls aren't poorly modeled or animated, pretty much every other character in the game falls into two categories: Dull or ridiculously “sexy.” The only character that can be unlocked in the game (rather than downloaded) is Annna (sic), who is a law enforcement official of some sort. Or more likely, a cop-themed stripper, because that's more the look. Rather than the hack-n-slash gameplay offered by the two main girls, Aya and Saki, Annna is all about shooting relatively weak guns. It's a gameplay style that clashes with the otherwise fast flow of the game. She can fire dual pistols, or, very awkwardly, dual-wield a machine gun and a shotgun, which works about as well as it sounds—crappily.

The two player mode, while fun, is just broken as hell. Often it requires one player to go it alone for simply annoying lengths of the game, leaving the second player sitting there watching. This is all to follow a storyline that next to no one will ever really care about. Had the story involved a fourth character, this nuisance could have been remedied. Alas, the two player mode feels broken, and can often be frustrating.

The broken two-player mode is bad for another reason, and that comes down to a simply tragic flaw in the game itself--and that's the boss battles. Either they boil down to simple minded hack-n-slash nonsense involving zero strategy, or they are so frustratingly difficult as to risk a stress-induced heart attack in the gamer. And this is further exacerbated during the two-player mode. When both players take on bosses, it's the generally mindless nonsense mentioned--the boss characters are push-overs and never seem too keen on actual fighting (though they do block an awful lot). Forced to go it alone, and the difficulty is ramped up to obscene levels. For instance, the first time this occurs, the boss character is a woman dressed in what is likely meant to be tight leather (or maybe latex) who is monstrously difficult to fight. All of this is topped off by fighting the same girl—right after the first fight—along with maybe a dozen clones. This is just cheap gameplay. And since the gamer is forced to do this alone, the severely increased difficulty level is even more of an offense.

One boss--and I'm not making this up--is a mutant killer whale that essentially beaches itself, and once beached, is utterly defenseless. Thus, the gamers stand in one spot, mashing the X button over and over until the killer whale dies.

As said, the story is forgettable nonsense. This is made all the worse by over-long story sequences between levels. On the one hand, we have barely-animated, dryly acted (all in Japanese mind you, so prepare for a lot of painful reading) conversation sequences between the heroic strippers and the evil... strippers (or four exceedingly bland underling guys). Other than those dreadful conversations, there are surprisingly long sequences of scrolling text to tell the story as if written from the point of view of the heroes. These are long-winded and badly written and add nothing to the experience. Somehow, the developers of this game know they're selling it only on sex and gore, but try to squeeze in a nonsensically convoluted story none-the-less, complete with Z-grade novel-like writing. By the way, the font used in these things is in all caps, and difficult as hell to read.

Gameplay is painfully simplistic--run through stage, hack up zombies. In order to force more hacking and slashing (and therefore, length) out of the game, the player will routinely be trapped inside a fenced area (fences just pop up out of the ground) and must fight constantly until all the zombies are finished spawning and/or killed.

There aren't too many different zombie designs, and the zombie cops do a remarkable job of shooting the character with pin-point accuracy--from across massive distances, no less. For the most part, however, they're all pretty ugly--and not because they're great zombie designs. They're ugly because the texture work is muddy and low-resolution. Pretty much all enemy designs are uninspired with really unattractive texture work. We have standard zombies, little impish things, zombie dogs, torsos walking with spider-like legs, and giant blobs of crap. That last one is not a colorful description--it seriously looks like a giant blob of crap, complete with jittery animation and corn for teeth. It's one of the ugliest, and lamest things I've seen in a video game in a long time. Nothing about this game, graphically, utilizes the Xbox360 to any of its potential. To add to all of this is an often laughable physics system featuring birds hovering in one spot with their wings spread, zombie limbs spinning wildly on the ground, a motorcycle that bounces willy-nilly about the street, and other assorted weird bouncy behaviors. Animations sometimes look alright, and at other times, they’re jittery, wobbly, or grossly stretched.

Environments are extremely repetitive, and the map system is very simplistic. The environments are in fact SO repetitive and bland that the map becomes a necessity, which is unfortunate as it actually comes across as unfinished. Each stage makes up several map screens, textures and environments are re-used, and there is no way to easily know how the different maps are associated with one another. There are doors aplenty, but nary a label in sight linking any two of them together. This creates an absurd amount of trial and error map study. This game is supposed to be all about fast-paced, gore-drenched action. So imagine how badly the flow is interrupted by having to stop and stare at maps with no information on them to figure out where to go next. Yeah, not fun.

The combo system is a complete joke and, quite frankly, I can’t imagine it ever being pulled off successfully--intentionally. It requires carefully timed button presses in often massive sequences. All the training mode accomplishes is to show just how impossible they are to pull off. Worse yet, they all involve mashing the X button, but in sequences of fast and slow that have no rhythm or structure, and there are no animated cues of success. Even worse, there are red blobby enemies that drop special items if defeated (so sayeth sources on the internet), and they can only be defeated with these ridiculous combos. On three play-throughs, not once was any combo accomplished by accident or intention, by me or the person playing the game with me.

The girls share items, which isn’t too bad, but to have the items limited to the same numbers in single or two-player modes is moronic. The items are extremely limited in the inventory, often to one or three depending on the item. Whether this is for strategy or just poor game design, the gamble here goes to poor game design. Namely because the items are picked up as drops from enemies, and therefore pretty happenstance. If they could be purchased somehow, I’d see the point to limiting their quantities—but with “luck of the draw” item drops, the players should be able to collect until their heart’s content. If the girls kill enough enemies, they enter an enraged mode that requires either a goddess statue in the game field (which is rare) or statue heads dropped by enemies. On higher difficulties, it’s next to impossible to get through any one fenced area without needing these things. And note, while the enraged mode makes the girls stronger, it’s typically not something you want happening, as it also drains the life-gauge pretty quickly.

The dress-up mode is a joke. There’s really no clear way to unlock more clothing options for the girls, and the most common items unlocked aren’t even noticeable in gameplay—eye color, lipstick color, and the like. Generally, the player is inclined to dress the girls in their underwear, creating even more absurd visuals with girls wearing no shoes or clothes go around shooting or slashing zombies. Sure, you can change eye and lipstick color, and sometimes, hair styles—but this really isn’t “dress-up” now is it? Actual clothes are laughably difficult to unlock—generally requiring meeting untold levels of in-game achievements. None of which, mind you, are listed as per the manner of earning them. Sure, it’s fun to dress the girls in underwear and venture about slashing up zombies that way—who doesn’t like to see a girl in her underwear with ample jiggle modifiers? Just try to overlook that one of the girls is, like, fourteen years old—which just seems wrong.

And, when speaking of achievements, I have never encountered a release on the Xbox360 with Achievements more difficult to unlock than on this thing. The player must accomplish each in-game achievement an insulting three times to earn just one Xbox360 Achievement. After three play-throughs of the game, I have only managed four Xbox360 Achievements. Perhaps more could be unlocked, but the game keeps the manner to unlock them a total secret until the gamer accomplishes the task through happenstance. Talk about stupid.

There is one level, one-player only, that is a motorcycle riding stage. It’s the buggiest, most asinine stage in the game. It requires the player as Aya to drive a motorcycle through hoards of zombies and zombie dogs. Tapping the left or right triggers causes the motorcycle to veer wildly to either the left or right as some sort of attack. Aya can also slash with her sword, but this accomplishes nothing against the leagues of zombie dogs. The stage is so intolerably annoying that it has it’s own achievement for putting up with it three times, though granted, it can’t be avoided on first-time play-throughs. It comes off feeling like a completely broken demo for the worst motorcycle game ever devised. Getting hung up on the walls or fences along the road makes up about 50% of the level.

For such a simplistic game, there is a wealth of confusion as to how the game is actually played, or how many things in the title are accomplished. For one, it was never clear if the yellow orbs dropped by enemies were for some kind of currency or experience, or if the experience could be earned simply defeating enemies. The game takes great strides in educating the player to no part of it, requiring either internet research or guesswork while playing through the thing. Don’t expect any help from the manual, which is all of four pages long.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that this game is a total mess and arguably one of the worst games on the Xbox360. It reeks of poor game design, absurd elements, and laughably campy nonsense throughout—and generally, it’s not the “fun” kind of campy. The two-player mode is designed halfway, and feels broken with it’s forced single-player stages.

However, the game is playable, though buggy. Higher difficulties involve gradually ramped-up numbers of zombies to slash, and that’s about it. There are times it seems that leveling up the girls accomplishes next to nothing, and while she’s an annoying character, Annna is never-the-less lamely underused. What this translates to is that Annna levels up several times slower than the other two, and Aya (who is the character used in forced single-player stages) will level up far faster.

If you get it, get it cheap. If you play it, play it with someone. Alone, this is a boring, dreadful affair. With someone, so long as both have healthy senses of humor, and a taste for schlocky crap, enjoyment can be culled from the experience. But again, the two-player mode will boil down to some moments of grueling asininity and frustration, and worse, these forced single-person moments land one player smack dab in the middle of some of the worst boss battles imaginable.

It’s next to impossible to recommend this game to anyone. Parts of it are utterly broken (like the motorcycle stage and the combo system), and other parts smack of shamefully bad game design, such as is found with the half-hearted two-player mode. The story is pure nonsense, and no gamer will ever care for the characters. While I’m the kind of person that enjoys B-movie nonsense, even my patience is often tested with this game.

And no, I don’t forgive any of this because the game is “just a budget title.” After all, so was Viewtiful Joe—and that game nears perfection on many levels. There’s just no excuse for a lot of what is seen here.