Review: Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers

There are few things cooler in this world than slicing through zombies, sharp swords, gore, and, well, to some – girls in bikinis. Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers for the Wii brings all these things together, but not exactly in the most admirable way. While it provides some of the most fun hack-and-slash action you will find on Nintendo’s little white monster, its presentation is, well, a bit lacking. Still, if you’re looking for a mindless and bloody good time, you’ll find that this will satisfy that savage bloodlust inside.

Already a long-running series in Japan, Onechanbara follows series protagonist Aya on a myriad of quests to conquer hordes of the undead. Clad in a sexy bikini and trademark cowboy hat, she’s off to defeat thousands of zombies with no regrets whatsoever. Stopping only to reminisce between levels or to clean off her blood-soaked swords, she is a one-woman zombie-slaying machine who isn’t going to let anyone get in the way. If you’re not content with you can also choose to take control of Saki, a more innocently-conceived doe clad in a conservative schoolgirl outfit. Don’t let her outward appearance fool you, however – she is still not to be trifled with.

As for the exact reason Aya and Saki are on a hunt to thwart the undead, the game never makes it decisively clear – however, Bikini Zombie Slayers is in fact a sequel to sister Xbox 360 title Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad. There is a more in-depth story to understand here, though since this is a sequel apparently you are not privy to the information. Each level begins with an indomitable wall of text narrated by Aya (or whomever you’re presently playing as) as insight into their personal plights. These muddled scenes do a very poor job at exhibiting why exactly the game exists, or why there are zombies to begin with – it’s much less work to pore through materials provided by PR agencies or to look it up if you’re that interested, though having done so personally it still makes little sense. This isn’t a game you’ll be purchasing for the story.

As either Aya or Saki, the girl of your choice will begin at a predetermined spot in the game with the objective reaching the end of an extremely linear level. Each level is literally a mixture of simple geometric shapes that can never lead players astray. There are no secrets to be found, nor puzzles to solve. It’s simply you, hundreds of zombies at a time, an entrance, and an exit. To reach the exit, all that’s required of you is to mow through the zombies like Frank in Dead Rising. Accomplishing this should, in theory, be a simple feat seeing that on the normal difficulty zombies take little time to finish off. However, with the Wii’s shaky and unbalanced controls, even simple gameplay like this becomes hackneyed and tired. In fact, many may find themselves with carpal tunnel after only a small amount of time with Onechanbara – and not for reasons you might expect.

To perform a sword attack, gamers simply swing the Wii remote. Aya can switch between using one blade or two via usage of the C-button. As with the majority of Wii titles available, Onechanbara would have been much more fun had you not been required to pump your arms in the air like a power-walker. Since the game is so straight-forward, it’s possible to power-walk your way straight through a level without worrying about dying or getting too badly injured – stopping only to clear Aya’s blades of blood. If you neglect this duty, rather than cutting through zombies, the blade will become lodged inside one.

Aside from aimless slashing, some enemies will require a bit more rhythmic and focused attacks (Mudmen will need their cores ripped out). However, this all feels very shallow in the long run, as the only thing you really need to do is slash away to clear out the level until the end. Occasionally an area of a level will be surrounded by white fencing, ensuring that all zombies within are slain before Aya can move on. This is a cheap ploy on the developers’ behalf, and only serves to annoy. And there you have the game’s basic play scheme in a nutshell. Hack, slash, move on, and reach the goal. Occasionally at the end of a stage there may be a boss battle that makes little sense in context of the story, but it’s nothing that can’t be handled with some fancy slashing.

Power-ups and a leveling system are employed, but it is never quite evident in battle that they have helped out a fair amount. In fact, Rampage mode is the only real heavy damage dealer when it comes to defeating more powerful foes and enemies.

As far as graphics go, this is your typical Wii fare – jaggies are in full force, but the frame rate is at least admirable. The game runs smoothly even with quite a few zombies onscreen at once. Aya’s assets are equipped with the famous bounce that we’ve come to be acquainted with throughout the years, so that should satisfy even the most discerning breast connoisseur – it’s clear that will be one of the main draws for several Onechanbara owners. With that said, graphics are admirable seeing as it’s a Wii title. However, one complaint that can be filed against Bikini Zombie Slayers is its laughable localization. Often, menus and text are so poorly translated that navigating them is a giggle-fest. “Point get!” is a personal favorite, upon leveling up. In the aural realm, cheesy rock music accompanies the carnage, but leaves nothing particularly memorable. All of the voiceovers have been unchanged from the Japanese version, so subtitles are necessary in cut scenes – as for Aya and Saki’s battle cries, you’ll have to guess or learn Japanese.

Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Squad is pure, indulgent cheese. There’s nothing standout about the game as a whole, but its hack-and-slash action makes it worthy of at least a rent if you’re a fan of Dynasty Warriors or Ninety-Nine Nights. Though it certainly isn’t exemplary of the genre, Onechanbara is a fun diversion especially at its value price. It’s a bloody good time that admittedly leaves a lot to be desired, but if all you want to do is kill some of the undead with no pesky story or puzzles getting in your way, then give this game a chance.

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