|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Tamsoft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: D3 Publisher||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 10, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
February sure has been shaping up to be the month of the zombie-fest. With the announcement of free downloadable content for Left 4 Dead, "the hardcore [Wii owners] have been waiting for" with House of the Dead: Overkill, and now Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers, there's been a whole lot of undead gaming action going on. So, how does this chanbara-based hack-n-slash fare on Wii?
Would it surprise you to learn that gesture-based combat on Wii can actually work? Would it surprise you further to learn that it's also a total blast? Well, that's the truth of the matter. Onechanbara does everything you wish Soul Calibur Legends had done and more. The story (and character outfits) may be only skin deep, but the simple Wii-waggle action is satisfying on many levels.
I was totally prepared to dislike this game. Sure, I loved the idea of half-naked chicks spilling gallons of blood, but the prospect of motion-controlled combat was a total turn off. Games such as Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors and Sonic Unleashed had left me without hope of ever acting out my combat fantasies with the Wii Remote on any level that was truly rewarding. How delighted I was when I started playing Onechanbara and experiencing how responsive its controls are.
The one thing I believe most other games like this have missed out on is feedback. Too often you either get little or no rumble feedback or sound from the Wii Remote, and/or you'll be forced to swipe the controller so forcefully that it only takes a few minutes before your arms and hands feel real fatigue.
Onechanbara scores with its controls by offering subtle sound and rumble, but more importantly, you only need jiggle the controller(s) - no heavy-handedness required. Additionally, gesturing is very reliable, and most times when you input an attack or movement, your character performs the intended action. Some of the more intricate combos will take time to nail, but the game's practice mode makes honing your chops a fairly painless proposition.
From the outset, you can play as either Aya or Saki; the two sisters are the protagonists of the game. You'll eventually unlock two additional characters, each with their own story mode and unique move sets.
Onechanbara is a third-person, action adventure that's a bit Diablo and a bit Dynasty Warriors - set in a chanbara universe. The characters each have what's called the Baneful Blood coursing through their veins, and it's what gives them their strength and power throughout the game.
Movement of your character is handled with the analog stick on the Nunchuk, and each character has a basic combo that's performed by jiggling the Wii Remote up and down. Again, you'll never be forced to swipe hard, and combat feels really satisfying. You can lock onto enemies - hordes of various types of zombies - with the Z button, and when locked on, you can evade by pressing the A button. You can also jump (or double jump) by pressing A while free-running. It's a simple system that, for the most part, works really well and offers some serious zombie-slaying enjoyment.
The camera takes a little getting used to, as you'll have to constantly use the Z-trigger to reposition the view behind your character's back, but it plays into locating and locking onto enemies, so it quickly becomes second nature. What might turn some players off, however, is that Onechanbara is pretty much a one-trick pony. It's all about slicing dudes and zombie chicks, but it's a fun ride regardless. The game offers no pretense about what it is, and if you're into this sort of gaming porn, you'll likely find yourself totally getting into what Onechanbara has to offer.
In fact, it has a lot to offer. There's a unique story progression for each of the four characters, though it is, admittedly, a straight-on, zombie-slaying fest regardless of which flavor you choose. The levels are pretty much the same for each character, though you'll move through levels in a slightly different order. However, each character has her own set of unique moves, and it's definitely worth playing through all of the characters' modes.