My 2 Credit(s) - 2/19/09
Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad:
This is a game that I've been looking forward to for a long time. It is so wonderful. Don't get me wrong; it's a terrible game but it is so god damn wonderful. Several times I uttered aloud, "Oh my god this game is terrible. I love it."
The premise behind this game is that there are these girls with "Baneful Blood" flowing through their veins and this grants them the ability to fight legions of the undead with samurai swords in binkis. How could this game go wrong? Well, first of all, there are only about three or four attacks you can make and you have to make them over and over and over and over and over and over and over again with almost no variety. When playing with Aya, you start off with a sword attack and a kick. You can mash either of these to chain attacks together or interchange them and incorporate some jumping to mix it up. Not long after, you unlock the second sword which you would hope would make things a bit for interesting but, no, you end up doing a slightly modified version of the single sword attacks.
Secondly, the level design is almost non-existent and what little of it there is is reused several times over. So far, I've seen an outside city environment, an inside mall environment, and an underground sewer environment. They try to give off the illusion of there being more levels by making you go through it with a new character or with only one character. When you play through the levels, there are no indications of what you need to do or where you need to go. The map system is sort of helpful but there is very little information given.
This is true of the game overall. You are basically thrown into it and you're expected to figure it out. For a while, I had no idea why the zombies were all of a sudden grabbing my swords instead of being sliced in twain by them (your swords get bloody after multiple attacks and you have to clean them off regularly). At one point I exploded in some kind of dark energy and my character was surrounding by dark smoke or something with my HP was slowly draining. I eventually died because of this and didn't find out why until I accidentally hit the back button to find that I had an inventory. In my inventory was an item that would take me out of rage mode which is apparently what was going on when I asploded.
In addition to the sword getting bloody, your character also gets covered in zombie blood and filth. This is apparent in the character model and in an icon/guage that slowly fills with red. Once full, you go into rage mode. To lower the rage level, you either use heads of statues that you pick up along the way or walk by a statue that's somewhere in the level. Next to the rage guage is another meter that builds up whenever you chain multiple attacks. When you raise this meter to a certain threshhold, your character glows and their next attack bursts with white light. I figured that was just because I was doing awesome but this was an indication that I could do a combo attack which drains this meter. There's another kind of combo attack you can do which will drain your health. All of this I either figured out on my own or read on GameFAQs.
The game's story is easy enough to figure out even though it's absolutely ridiculous and nonsensical. So far I've fought some dudes in blue suits, a crazy teenage schoolgirl with a giant spiky sword, giant zombie meat monsters that attack by throwing regular zombies at me and red misty smoke blood monsters. As far as I can tell, the antagonist is some old lady who is out to get my blood. Also, there are clones! All of this is explained, sort of, either through giant pages of scrolling text or "cut scenes" where the characters stand there and speak lines at each other. The dialogue is actually sort of decently read in Japanese but the English translation is in some weird monospace font. The letters are all way taller than they need to be and there is no spacing between words so you just get these long lines of characters that require your full concentration to parse.
Despite all of these things, I love this game. There is something incredibly satisfying about jumping into a crowd of zombies and hacking and slashing away at them with giant ropes of blood peeling off in every direction. As terrible as the combat system is, the ever present combo count on the right side of the screen encourages me to play better and play longer. So far I've played a few hours of the story mode. I've heard from a few places that the Survivor mode, where they just hurl wave after wave of zombies at your until you die, is where it's at. No traversing terrible maps or deciphering greasy tidbits of plot. Just straight up zombie destruction.
There's tons more to complain about (ridiculous motorcycle sequences) and love (one of the characters is named Annna) which I may come back to after I've played some more. It was hard enough getting this stuff down. On the surface, this is a very simple game to talk about but as soon as I tried to put it down, I just kept remembering more and more stuff about this game that just blows my mind.
Other than this, I played a bunch of Left 4 Dead. No point in going over that, really. I may not have much to write about next week so I'll maybe go in depth about why Left 4 Dead is the best game ever and how you should feel bad if you're wasting time playing any other game.
Coming up next week, hopefully I'll have had some time with the GTA 4 expansion The Lost and Damned. I may try and play some Call of Cthulhu for Rebel FM's Game Club.