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Simple 2000 Series Vol.61: The Oneichanbara
  PS2Beat_em_upJPN  
  opened by paleface at 00:56:23 10/18/04  
  last modified by paleface at 02:14:55 05/03/05  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Beat_em_up; loc=JPN]
           
I'm going to go out on a limb and call this the very best bikini-clad samurai cowboy girl zombie beat-em-up ever.
 
As the bikini-clad samurai cowboy girl (I understand you can unlock more costumes later, but you start out with the bikini and cowboy hat look) you test your sword on endless hordes of slow-moving and spiteful zombies. Endless, literally, since the stages are composed of multiple load areas and each time you go back to a load area, all the zombies are back. Of course since they're slow you can just run past them, but why would you do that when there are so many tasty slicing options available to you?
 
Your cowgirl has numerous chops and combos in her repertoire as well as power attacks (these hurt you some) and kicks. After killing enough zombies and picking up certain red powerups she'll go into berzerk mode, where the screen goes kinda negative red, there's a heartbeat sound, and you kick extra ass while your health drops. I don't really like berzerk mode because it tends to kill me, but fortunately there are powerups and holy statues that can cure the berzerk state for you. Aside from berzerking, you've got to watch the blood clotting on your sword: if you go too long before shaking the blood off, it'll get stuck in a zombie and you'll get whacked on while trying to pull it out.
 
Oh yeah, if you hold one of the shoulder buttons you can lock on to a target, then jumping (you can double-jump, of course) will execute various nifty rolls and somersaults around the target. Comes in particularly handy against the swifter bosses, like that darn kid with the wicked long Wolverine-style claws.
 
The story-mode levels are formidably large, particularly if you get lost and can't follow the Japanese directions given when you reach a locked door--for instance in stage 1 you reach various dead-ends, and I had to consult a message board to discover that you actually have to trek all the way back to the starting point to open a door there.
 
In Survival mode you just fight as long as you can in a tiny graveyard arena, you can even use health potions though to prolong the fight. Survival mode is very handy for levelling up your abilities since you get experience all the time you're fighting. Levelling is very drawn out: I've fought for hours but only have two of the six or so ability meters raised maybe a tenth of their maximum--but even that relatively small increase has really turned my cowgirl into a zombie-amputating demon, so it's kind of mind-boggling to think how destructive she'll be when fully powered up.
 
I can't wait. Really, I could almost just play Survival over and over without even trying much more of the story mode, because the slicing, with copious amounts of blood splatter, is just so darn fun. Zombie limbs and torsos go flying every which way, and amputated legs will come limping after you on their own to kick you. Time the first few presses of your chain combo right and the cowgirl goes into "cool mode" where her combo does extra damage, or something. The game of course records your highest combo chain, for incentive.
 
This all sounds icky and gory but it really isn't, I'm not a horror/gore fan, don't care for the stuff, but I am an action fan and the action here is superb. I'm really looking forward to trying more stuff (Simple 2000 series games, probably) from the developer, Tamsoft.
 
  paleface 00:59:17 10/18/04
           
Download added: berzerk.jpg (22479 bytes)
  "Berzerk in Survival mode. Fun but deadly."
 
Forgot to mention, the pumping techno music really keeps you energized for long zombie-slicing sessions. Goodness yes.
 
  paleface 20:23:22 10/18/04
           
Oh man! I forgot all about Quest mode, because I haven't tried it yet. According to what I've read, you have to accomplish certain things, like killing X zombies while berzerk, or something like that. It sounds tough, and the goals are I believe in Japanese, so one can hope for a FAQ.
 
  paleface 02:14:55 05/03/05 [title updated]
           
Download added: berzerk.mpg (2093060 bytes)
  "As everyone knows, you can only kill cactus-zombies while berzerk."
 
At the beginning of the credits once you finish the game, the name is romanized as "The Oneichanbara."
 
So yeah, I got through the end of Story mode. Of the six stages the first and fourth, and the second and third, and the fifth and sixth, pretty much repeat the same architecture, so really, they only designed three levels worth of rooms. In fact within those levels they sometimes repeat the same bits: the second and third take place in a hospital with nearly identical floors, for instance, and the sixth has a seemingly unending series of the same confusing cave complex over and over. And it's not as though the level bits they repeat are great: they're quite blocky and simplistic--barren, even, aside from one or two decorated spots.
 
And the camera--whew! It starts to get suspicious in the second stage, when it insists on reversing itself as you come out of a doorway into a generic hall, so you're instantly turned around backwards relative to the way you had been going when you entered the room. Then you'll also start finding it sometimes clipping into walls a bit, or getting wedged up behind your character, so it ends up pointing straight down at your hat. The worst, though, comes as you start to get into intense one-on-one boss fights, and the camera sometimes for no apparent reason just loses its focus on the enemy, and sort of goes off in another direction, leaving you with hardly any idea what's going on.
 
Oh, and the slowdown, children! Many later areas simply shove you into a locked room packed to the gills with wave after wave of various zombie types, so many that, as you swing and FX start going off (blood, speed blur, flames, etc), the framerate slows quite literally to a crawl. Really, it gets bad to the point where you can hardly tell what's supposed to be going on.
 
Let's see, what else was I going to complain about? Well, the basic techno beat music gets really repetitive; they use pretty much the same track over and over on each stage. Collision detection with walls can be dicey, so you'll sometimes get hung up on something you can't really see near the corner of a wall. Oh, and just simple navigation can be weird--sometimes after doing a running turn it will feel like you now have to press the stick in a slightly off-center direction to run straight, until you release the stick and reset the camera.
 
The cinematics, if you can call them that, consist either of panning text slowly across a washed-out boring screen, or of cycling between four repeating camera views while having two characters playing idle animations with voice dialogue going in the background. Super! The worst, though, came when I hit the "skip" button too soon or something in a cinematic before a boss fight, and the fight initiated, but the bosses were still in cinematic mode, so they just stood there and I couldn't hit them. That forced me to quit out and restart the whole level, which was a pain in the whumpus (yes, you can only save between the six stages, not during).
 
Your course through a level can be frustrating, even though its quite repetitive: run around going into doors until you find one that locks you in, then kill whoever's in there, collect the key they drop, and wander around to the next room like that, three or four times until you come to the boss fight area. Thankfully, the bosses are varied and fairly interesting, although one of them is borderline dysfunctional, and no real threat. Each stage also throws one or two new monster types at you, which is nice. Don't forget, they always respawn when you re-enter a room, unless they were special key-carriers!
 
I kind of wore out Survival mode, 'cause I got to the point where I can loop it without too much problem. Oh well. As you collect experience and level up, you can raise your "Combination" meter, among others, and get longer combo strings, which is pretty nifty.
 
The game makes the most of the "berzerk" state you go into once you've soaked up too much blood: certain enemies can only be destroyed while you're in the berzerk state. This means that you have to go around getting bloody until you go berzerk, then kill the requisite enemies quickly, and purge yourself before you die. Yikes!
 
Two of the face buttons didn't really pan out. First, the kick button just isn't that handy. In theory it's useful to clear some space when your sword is almost completely gunked up with blood and you need to shake it off, but usually you can just double-jump over the enemies to get some breathing room. Second, I don't see why you would ever use Circle, except accidentally: why sacrifice some of your life doing a slow power attack that may not even connect? Silly. So it was pretty much square, square, square for me, with the jump button sometimes for dodging, rolling, etc.
 
I didn't find out what any of the Quest things are yet, and didn't get a new costume after finishing Story Mode once, bummer.
 
All of this probably makes it sound like I hate the game. Well, I don't: I really like it a lot, actually. Sure, it has some glitches, some rough edges, a certain lack of detail and content (I swear they put half the dev time into modelling the main character's jiggly parts); but when you get right down to it, you get to kill a whole lot of zombies in really fluid, bloody fashion. If that doesn't sound fun, well, I just don't know what's the matter with you.
 
Apparently the game did pretty well, as D3 has announced a sequel coming this summer. Sweet! I hope that they polish it up a bit, but please leave the core gameplay, the slicing and jumping and zombies and big sword, just as it is. Thank you!
    
downloads:
· berzerk.jpg
· berzerk.mpg
· boss1.jpg
· cool.jpg
· costume.jpg
· level.jpg
· street.jpg
· survival.mpg
· uppercut.jpg
· zombies.jpg
 
references:
· Simple 2000 Series Vol. 114: The Jokouppichi Torimonochou - Oneichan (PS2)
· Simple 2000 Series Vol.65: The Kyonshi Panic (PS2)
· Simple 2000 Series Vol.80: The Oneichanpuru Neechan Tokubetsu Hen (PS2)
· Simple 2000 Series Vol.87: The Senko (PS2)
· Simple 2000 Series Vol.90: The Oneichanbara 2 (PS2)

 
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