I’m one of those people that would much rather watch a cheesy, straight to video, low-budget B-movie than a multi-million dollar box office blockbuster...So, when I first heard of Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad, I smiled. I figured the gameplay wouldn’t be great, but the sound of the game’s plot and story made me think of those wonderful Troma films that have provided me hours of cheesy entertainment. In my eyes, as long as the action was passable and the story was as lame and cheesy as I was hoping for, I figured I’d enjoy my time spent with this game. So was this the cheese-fest I was hoping for? Well, yes and no.
When you first begin to play Onechanbara, you’ll have fun. Unfortunately, that fun you’ll have in the beginning will soon turn to boredom as you’ll quickly realize that you’ll basically be doing the exact same thing repeatedly. I guess the easiest way to describe this game is a longer, modern-day version of Final Fight with sex and gore tossed in. Like beat-em-ups of the past, this game is mostly just button-mashing hack and slash with very little strategy thrown in. It’s even got a special move that you can do that drains some of your health when you perform it just like you could find in most 16-bit brawlers...As well as a giant zombie that oddly resembles Andore, if you’d like to continue to compare the game to Final Fight. While this type of gameplay is fun, it just gets old after a while when things don’t really change up.
As far as moves go, you generally don’t need to use any attack other than your basic sword attack. However, there are little combos and such you can deliver in an attempt to get rid of the repetition. By pressing a certain button combination together, you’ll perform the energy-draining move I mentioned in the previous paragraph. This move can kill some zombies that your regular attacks won’t and it can also kill several zombies at a time. When you’re in a level with two characters, you can do tag team combo action by hitting the right trigger as you attack, allowing your partner to hop in and finish up the attack. There’s also a berzerk mode that appears when you’ve made a lot of blood flow, which makes you very powerful, but also consistently drains your health until you either die or find a holy statue to calm your rage. Another very notable combat feature is your swords. If your sword get covered in too much blood, it becomes dull, does less damage, and will sometimes get lodged in the enemy leaving you vulnerable to attack as you try and pull it out. To avoid this, you’ll need to wipe your blades clean whenever you have a breather...’Cause doing it while surrounded by zombies could result in them all lunging for you while your guard is down.
The enemies in this game are generally easy to beat. While some zombies carry weapons like chainsaws, meat cleavers, pipes, and guns that they’ll try to use against you, their aim is terrible and even with weapons in hand, the regular zombies aren’t much of a threat. The only time you have to worry about zombies with guns is when you see one with one like a shotgun since they don’t exactly need good aim to deal damage to you with that. There are other types of zombies in the game, like some made out of smoke and others out of mud, that pose more of a challenge to defeat...Like hitting the attack button in the exact right rhythm to score a good combo or performing a special move. But precise button input is rarely needed in this game and just mashing the attack button can get you through 95% of the game’s enemies. Most of the boss battles don’t really feel like boss battles...In fact, they almost feel as if you could just replace the boss with a mob of zombies since you can often use the same tactic of just mashing the attack button, moving around a little, then mashing the attack button again to bring them down.
Graphically, the game isn’t terrible but there are many, many other games on the Xbox 360 that look a whole lot better. Though, this can be forgiven a bit since it’s basically just a port of a Japanese 360 game released back in 2006. You’ll see lots of blood....Lots and lots of blood. You’ll also see pretty repetitive environments. While the stages aren’t really poorly made, you’ll find yourself seeing the same environment over and over again...The game tries to justify this by making it so that you revisit some of these levels as part of the story, but it’s just disappointing to be thrown back into levels you’ve already mowed your way through before. The audio follows in the repetitiveness as well as you’ll quickly grow tired of hearing the same sound effects over and over again. The background music isn’t anything special, either...In fact, upon writing this review, I had to turn the game back on and play through a few levels again because I couldn’t remember what the music sounded like. I just zoned it out after a while as I played.
Overall, I found Onechanbara’s story to be amusingly cheesy and stupid but the action is so repetitive that it’s sometimes difficult to feel motivated to grind through it to watch the story unfold. You’ll likely enjoy the mindless fun for a little while, but it’ll quickly grow old in the first fifteen minutes or so. However, if you do actually enjoy the repetitive nature of Bikini Samurai Squad’s gameplay, you’ll find some decent replay value with several unlockable extras to be found. I did enjoy my time with Onechanbara...in moderation. Picking up the game every now and then for a few minutes of mindless fun can be good times...Just don’t expect to plow through this game in one night and enjoy your time doing it. Onechanbara’s story definitely has that B-movie, so-bad-it’s-good quality...It’s just a shame that its gameplay doesn’t quite follow that trend otherwise this game would have been an absolute blast to play.