| paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Beat_em_up; loc=JPN]
|The sequel to The Oneichanbara (see entry 678) does not disappoint, with more samurai girls, more zombies, and, um, well, just what more do you need more of?
Just to get them out of the way, there are a few things it doesn't do so well. The most glaring is the advertised "co-op" play. Don't rush out, grab a buddy, and bring them back expecting to have some team-up action on the zombies. No, "co-op" here seems to mean that on certain levels (not the first one!), you and said patient friend can sort of tag team it through the level, opting out to heal up a bit by tapping one of the lower trigger buttons. Needless to say, this does not spell compelling multiplayer to me.
The other issue is one that's been around since the first Oneichanbara, which is that the levels are very long, with no mid-save points. Given that you can battle your way through room after room of zombies, sometimes having to backtrack through areas already cleared, where the zombies come right back for more, getting to the boss at the end of any given stage can take over an hour, and goodness help you if you get there only to find that you're outmatched.
Yeps, because if you remember from the first game, this is no simple beat-em-up. Yellow pellets gathered from the remains of twice-dead zombies go toward points you can use to level up your skills...very, very slowly. I didn't get anywhere near topping out any of my abilities in the first game, and I don't expect it to be different this time around. So you really can get to a boss that you just can't beat at your current power level, and then you just have to lose all that time you spend getting there, and all the potential XP you gathered on the way, quit back to the main menu, and go and grind for a while in Survival mode until you're strong enough, and have collected enough powerups, to take out that boss.
Fortunately, this isn't quite as tedious as it sounds; not because it doesn't take a while--it does--but because the combat is just so darned fun. Zombie blood flies freely, insane sword combos rip right and left, and your scantily clad zombie killer blazes a bright dance of death among her slow and not-so-slow victims.
The combat is even better in this sequel. Kicks now actually mean something, as you can chain them with sword swings for some really sweet combos. Juggles are much easier now; you can uppercut someone and then catch them in the air with followup swings right off the bat here, whereas you could hardly even do it when powered up in the first game. And they've got rid of that power slash that stole health, and replaced it with ranged attacks. Cool.
Oh, yeah, and let's not forget that there are three characters (and possibly more to unlock). The girl you start with, wearing a large, fully enclosed motorcycle helmet, has the standard sword moves, but complements them with a shotgun. Nice. Then you get to the second level, where you have two characters at your disposal, and can switch between them at will. And you'll need to, because all those mall cop zombies are packing some heat! The main character from the first game returns, now packing throwing knives, and the black ponytailed schoolgirl, I think an unlockable character in the first one, gets going here with a weird demonic charge move, and a bad-ass sword-tossed fireball.
Zombies, knives, fireballs, hot samurai girls, shotguns: immature, sure, but not an easily surpassed formula. Oh, they also seem to have optimized their engine a bit--I haven't hit the slowdown that sometimes plagued the first one, yet--and the areas, at least here in the beginning, are brighter and more colorful than in the first game, allowing you a better view of the action. And maybe it's just because I'm still underpowered, but the zombies seem tougher, too; I can't just sort of take my time ripping a pack of them to shreds like I could in the first one, mainly because of those darn zombie cops with their revolvers.