Brace yourself for a real shocker: Sex sells. If the title of Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad isn't enough to prepare you for the lascivious content lurking within, the barely dressed vixen wielding swords on the cover will hammer the point home. These maidens aren't just half-naked, however; they're half-naked and splattered with the blood of a thousand slain zombies. And zombies are awesome, which makes you wonder: How could a game about beautiful women slashing up the undead go so very, very wrong? You'd think it could at least have some cheesy B-movie charm to it, in the vein of Earth Defense Force 2017 or The House of the Dead: Overkill. But no, Onechanbara isn't a bunch of dumb fun--it's just dumb. You can see sultry women in swimsuits for free on the Internet, and you certainly shouldn't spend $40 on a gruesomely violent action game that won't titillate you so much as it will numb your brain.
How mind-numbing is it? Onechanbara elicits two basic reactions: boredom and frustration. The boredom comes from taking control of one of three playable characters and mashing buttons through endless hordes of the undead. On normal difficulty, the early levels aren't just easy--they're yawners, and you'll spend most of your time pounding on the X button while searching for keys to open new areas. Even though it seems like there's a lot of variety, there isn't, because all the different options really just boil down to hammering on buttons. For instance, as you progress through the game's 20 missions, you'll encounter different foes, requiring you to change up your attacks a bit. As Aya, you can switch from a single sword to dual swords, therefore switching your set of moves. You'll also need to occasionally flick the blood off your weapon, since it becomes useless and can get lodged in your undead target if fully soaked. You can lock on to zombies, tumble around, enter rage mode, stun foes by kicking them, activate special attacks, and even activate a short slow-motion attack if you dodge at the right time. But while you will need to mix up your attacks for some enemies, for the most part you can just jam on buttons indiscriminately without too much worry.
The frustration comes from a myriad of bad design elements, from controls to level layout to annoyingly awful boss fights. Every attempt to leave the tedium of button mashing behind results in pure stupidity. A level that requires you to outrun packs of zombie dogs while riding a motorcycle is so awful it may be the worst bit of gameplay you'll experience all year. Its level of difficulty is so cheap, the camera so bad, and the controls so unresponsive that the game's poor quality comes immediately into focus. A long boss battle involving a screen full of evil beauties is just a sequence of cheap attacks, and holding down the right bumper to maintain camera lock while juggling special moves (which require you to press two face buttons at once) and normal attacks can lead to physical discomfort. Other boss fights, including one against a killer zombie whale, are either so easy they're laughable or so glitchy you can exploit them. If you like firing guns, you can take control of Annna (yes, with three n's) and take aim, but her animations are stiff and the shooting is dull, so even the endless gushers of blood can't rescue you from boredom.