I first experienced the Onechanbara series with Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers on the Wii in early 2009. Although it was the sequel to, and the localisation launched alongside, Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad on Xbox 360, I did not have an Xbox 360 at the time. Thusly, I experienced these games in the inverse of their intended order; thankfully, I did not pay much attention to the continuity back then. Both of these games received mediocre reviews, but I found each to be enjoyable despite this.
February 2009 was a zombie-filled month on the Wii, with Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop, House of the Dead: Overkill, and Onechanbara. I was actively looking forward to Dead Rising and House of The Dead: Overkill, but had no prior knowledge of Onechanbara, being introduced to it when it was released by my father, a big fan of zombie-themed video games. Dead Rising proved to be a disappointment compared to the Xbox 360 version, so I found myself primarily playing House of The Dead: Overkill and Onechanbara.
Onechanbara’s implementation of motion controls to allow me to slash through zombies with a sword was instantly gratifying; having to swing the “sword” in order to cleanse it of blood added just enough realism to improve the experience and impart a sense of danger. While swinging around a Wii remote to kill zombies remained fun, a few hours each day grew tiresome after a few weeks, and it has been years since I returned to the Wii title.
Later that year, when I bought an Xbox 360, I decided to pick up Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad so that I could finally give it a try. Graphically, despite being in HD, it was not that much more impressive than the Wii iteration of the series. The game was, however, everything I wanted out of a zombie video game; running around with a sword and slaughtering zombies. Whilst zombie games focused on ranged weapons can be fun, I prefer the close-up involvement of melee-based zombie slaughter. The story of the game was irrelevant to me at the time, I just wanted to kill some zombies in the evening. The additional game-play modes, such as Survival and Quest Mode, cemented the game’s place as one of my favourite titles of the Seventh Generation.
Six years later, the game remains as easy to jump into and cut up some zombies as ever. Onechanbara Special, for PSP, and Onechanbara Z Kagura, for PS3 and Xbox 360, have been released in Japan since Bikini Zombie Slayers, alas with no localisation for the western world to enjoy. However, 2014’s Z2: Chaos for PS4 has been announced for a localised release later this year, and I for one, look forward to spending some quality time with my PS4 whilst I ignore the outside world and slice through as many zombies as I can in the latest instalment of an underrated series.