Well, yes. You’re a bikini-clad killer chick, wielding a samurai sword, wearing a feather boa and a straw hat, and not much else. There’s a city full of undead that needs you. I think I hear electric guitars wailing, somewhere off-stage.
Does it get much more clear-cut than this? I am not sure about the inclusion of a plot, senseless as it is, maybe it would’ve been better without, as it’s not brief enough and far too incompetently handled. An arcade approach, such as what’s seen in the House Of The Dead series, would’ve worked better. Now it’s too much static heads talking nonsense, the audience quietly hoping that their breasts would stop moving around at some point. But as far as the premise and the action goes, all that I need is there. And I’m not referring to the ridiculous heroines with their inadequate costumes and strangely quivering boobs, except in the sense that they’re zero-dimensional archetypes, totally unpretentious, yet easily capable of filling their role as videogame characters.
I’ve seen bad games. Onechanbara is not a bad game. It’s a cheap game. Everything about it just screams “how cheaply can we put this together?” Even the starring ladies are animated inadequately, there are nowhere enough clothing and accessory options in the dress up mode, there are not enough types of enemies or environments to make it matter. But regardless of all this, I’m veering towards calling it a good game, provided that you can take the cost and intent of the product into account. Whereas games like House Of The Dead: Overkill may embrace the grindhouse aesthetic, Onechanbara is the grindhouse game. It’s exploitative, it’s cheap, it’s simple, it’s flawed, it’s entertaining.
Why it succeeds in spite of everything that could be held against it, and there’s a lot, is that the base mechanics work. They’re not especially good or fun, but not broken, either. It makes up for its lack of variety and polish by offering you something outrageous – riding a motorcycle at night on the streets of Tokyo wearing a bikini and cutting down an army of zombies with a katana? Unleashing frenzy mode when you’re covered in enough blood? Measuring your sword’s usefulness by how much blood it has on it, requiring you to shake off the excess every once in a while – pacing the action, because the bodies are piling up so thick that you lose count in a matter of seconds? That’s entertainment.
A zombie killer whale, named “Olga” in the credits? That’s entertainment.