Despite rarely seeing western releases, Onechanbara has been a popular series over in Japan. The franchise, which features attractive samurai in bikinis, has seen over 10 releases since debuting on the PlayStation 2 in 2004. Only two of the games, most notably 2009’s Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad for Xbox 360, have arrived stateside. Now, six years later, publisher XSEED Games is giving the series another shot by releasing Onechanbara Z2: Chaos in North America.
While there is an overly complex story at play, which deals with two ancient tribes called the Vampiric and Baneful, players just need to know that they will need to kill all the zombies that will constantly appear on-screen. A few fully dubbed cutscenes do occur during the game’s 16 story levels, but they don’t tell a story that’s really worth caring about. Instead, it’s just an excuse to have the bikini clad characters argue with each other while calling each other vulgarities.
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos plays similarly to its predecessors, so fans of hack-and-slash action titles will feel right at home. Combat is simple, as most combos only require the player to tap the same button repeatedly. There are additional combos that can be purchased via an in-game shop, but just mashing buttons will be more than enough to get through the mindless enemies present in Onechanbara.
Similar to games like Dynasty Warriors, the challenge in Onechanbara is found in managing groups of enemies. Individual enemies are complete pushovers, but when you have twenty on-screen at once, a few mistakes can be fatal. Each of the game’s four characters has several different weapons to choose from (two can be used at once), and have separate play styles. Sadly, even if a character uses a sword or a chainsaw they still use the same boring combos to mash through enemies. Anybody who purchases Onechanbara Z2: Chaos should be prepared to give their square button a workout.
Despite the combat being overly simple, Onechanbara runs at a consistent frame-rate so it still feels semi-satisfying when decapitating zombies with your blade. Sadly any feeling of fun quickly disappears due to the game’s poor design. Every battle encounter features several waves of dozens of enemies, this makes the already repetitive gameplay wear thin at a record pace. Every single enemy will have to be dealt with to continue moving through a level, however, so there isn’t any chance to skip combat.
Occasionally enemies will spawn outside of an area where players can access, but thankfully they can be dealt with projectile attacks. This annoyance is minor, but a good example of how much polish Onechanbara lacks. This isn’t a horrible, broken game, but it becomes readily apparent early on that it isn’t a good one.
Onechanbara Z2 Chaos Review
The 16 levels that comprise the game’s story all end with a fun boss battle. These boss battles are one of the few bright spots, and definitely are the highlights in a dull game. Each encounter is with an over-the-top enemy that often dwarfs the size of the player’s characters. This means that the player gets to chop the enemy down to size, literally.
During each boss fight, the player will get to trigger God of War-style quick-time events (QTEs). These are actually played out on the DualShock 4’s touchpad, and are a fun use of one of the most underutilized parts of the PlayStation 4 controller. By successfully completing these quick time events, the enemies will be severely damaged (and usually missing a limb).
While they are rarely needed, save for a few enemies that are invulnerable to normal attacks, there are also a variety of special attacks that can be triggered. These include summoning multiple characters to team-up against enemies, and even temporarily transforming into more powerful forms. These are nice attempts at adding depth to a game that is sorely lacking any, but it ends up being too little.
The game’s story isn’t overly long, but you won’t be sad to see the credits roll. Once a player has completed the game, they can go back and try higher difficulties or check out the other modes on offer. The most interesting one to check out is the mission mode that tasks players with completing specific goals. These goals will often come with handicaps (for example, a player can only deal damage if their weapon is covered in enough blood), so they feel different from the main game.
When players are not constantly mashing buttons, they can also customize the looks of the four protagonists. Swimsuits, of course, can be unlocked and applied to all of the characters. So, if that is your jam, Onechanbara has you covered. Surprisingly, there isn’t much overbearing sexual content on display during the game. Most of the fan service is relegated to these alternate costumes, so the more gross content is totally optional. This means you won’t have to see the DLC that replaces bikini tops with strawberries, and bottoms with a strategically placed banana. Yes, the game seriously comes with a voucher for a “Strawberries & Banana” costume
Sadly, Onechanbara Z2: Chaos’ graphics are just as boring as its gameplay. While the stages show off a nice variety of locales, they are so barren and devoid of personality that they look like a spruced up PS2 game. The character models, especially for the playable characters, are much nicer, but that only makes the levels look even uglier by comparison.
On the other hand, the game features a pretty catchy soundtrack (that even comes included with the game if you purchase a first-run copy). It is a nice mix of fun electronica, and the soundtrack should keep players entertained far after the game ends.
If the PlayStation 4 wasn’t filled with far better action games, then Onechanbara Z2: Chaos could be cautiously recommended. Sadly, there are much better games available on the system with fleshed out battle systems that put this to shame. Onechanbara Z2: Chaos isn’t a terrible game, it just manages to be mediocre in almost every aspect.
Review code for Onechanbara Z2: Chaos provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here