Tamsoft's quirky zombie-filled action franchise is back with a remake of the first 2 games so get ready to revisit Onechanbara's origins.
I remember seeing Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers for Wii on the shelf at my local video store back in the day and thinking, "What the heck is this?" So, I rented it and had fun with its crazy motion-controlled zombie-slaying action. Soon after, I bought it as well as its Xbox 360 counterpart Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad. Considering these games debuted on the same day in North America and no Onechanbara released here previously, I had no idea that they were the third and fourth games in the series. Years later, I played and reviewed Onechanbara Z2: Chaos which was a ton of fun as well. In fact, that's what these games are all about: ridiculous fun. I mean; you play as a bikini-clad samurai who hacks and slashes at hordes of zombies while painting the stage, camera, and herself with blood. You can't get much more over-the-top than that! This B movie premise is a blast and Onee Chanbara Origin carries the torch well.
Onee Chanbara Origin has you primarily play as Aya although you'll eventually unlock her sister Saki as well as the gun-toting Lei. The core gameplay involves running, jumping, and performing melee attacks in order to thin out the hordes of zombies that constantly emerge. This may sounds simple but there are some rewarding mechanics such as the ability to parry incoming attacks in order to potentially stun opponents and you can cut through enemies whenever they're stunned by executing a Cool Finish. On top of this, you'll have to slash the blood build-up off your sword to reload and there are a couple of powerful modes that you can temporarily toggle such as berserk and vo-ga whenever certain conditions are met. All of this adds up to an action-packed blood-soaked formula that's a ton of fun.
Although previous games in the series opted for more detailed visuals, Onee Chanbara Origin features a simplified and stylish look with cel-shaded character models which looks much better, in my opinion. The English voice acting is solid, too, so the characters definitely have a lot of personality. Meanwhile, the soundtrack is mostly in the background and it offers plenty of atmospheric jams as you're running around and arcade-style upbeat tunes whenever you enter combat. It all combines perfectly with the over-the-top premise. On the other hand, the camera can be a pain in the ass from time to time like when it gets obstructed by a pack of large enemies or a hulking boss which sometimes makes it difficult to know where to point it in order to actually see just what the heck is going on.
As with all Onechanbara games, there is a lot of replay value here. After working through the chapter-based campaign, you can challenge Infinite Survival mode, try to complete all of the quests which act like achievements, earn cash to purchase all of the stat-boosting rings, attempt the super-challenging Violent difficulty setting, and fill out the gallery. Although striving to achieve all of this sounds promising, it must be said that the gameplay certainly begins to wear thin after a while. Even though each character features her own set of play styles and weapons which help mix things up, the core gameplay gradually becomes stagnant as it doesn't offer much variety on its own. An aspect that makes this worse is the fact that many battles go on for far too long and overstay their welcome quickly. Whether it's an annoying boss fight or a situation where you have to topple wave after wave of foes; it can get pretty monotonous.
Onee Chanbara Origin marks the welcome return of zombie-slaying bikini samurai action. With its crazy B movie premise and absurd amount of violence, it delivers a ridiculous formula that will appeal to any gamer who doesn't take things too seriously.
- + Satisfying over-the-top hack and slash gameplay with plenty of nifty moves
- + Stylish visuals / ridiculous B movie setting
- + Solid amount of replay value
- - Some battles go on for way too long and overstay their welcome
- - Core gameplay becomes stale after a while
- - Camera can be pretty annoying at times