Review – Onee Chanbara Origin

The Onee Chanbara franchise is a long-running series of hack n’ slash games developed by Tamsoft and published by D3. They started way back in the PS2 era as part of a series of Japanese-exclusive budget titles called Simple 2000. It’s as simple and shallow as a game can be, being all about murdering countless amounts of zombies while controlling a bikini-clad samurai chick wearing a cowboy hat. This franchise spawned tons of sequels, but it had little support here in the West… until now. D3 and Tamsoft joined forces once again to remake the first two games in the series from the ground up, and release it on the PS4 and PC. Let’s see if Onee Chanbara Origin is worth its price tag.

Onee Chanbara Origin

This adorable little cutie is the game’s first boss.

Onee Chanbara Origin is all about dumb, mindless action. It follows the Bayonetta and Devil May Cry school of not caring at all about how over-the-top it is, which is for the best. It does have a ton of plot, maybe an excessive amount of it. You can completely ignore it, as I did, because you’re definitely not here for storytelling. You’re here to mow down literally hundreds of zombies with your katana in a gameplay loop that equal parts Devil May Cry and Dynasty Warriors.

This game doesn’t feature lots of combos or different weapon styles, but that actually works in its favor. This is one of the very few games in which actually mashing the square button like there is no tomorrow is more interesting than actually trying to pull out parrying counterattacks or more complex button combinations. It’s all spectacle. Everything you slash, be it a zombie or a wheelchair, explodes in a mist of blood and guts. The more you kill, the more blood with be splattered all over the screen, to the point that your character actually goes berserk with the amount of blood covering her body. That makes her stronger and faster, albeit a bit less defensively capable, which leads to the player wanting to slash and kill even more foes. A beautiful vicious cycle.

Onee Chanbara Origin

You cannot pet the dogs in Onee Chanbara Origin. Not like you’d want to…

As to be expected, the gameplay has its issues as well. The camera is a bit wonky, even if the inclusion of a lock-on mechanic makes things a bit easier to deal with. The main issue lies on the framerate, though. Even though this game isn’t exactly hardware-demaning, looking like something that could have easily been released on the PS3. The unlocked framerate can fluctuate a lot, going from 60 to sub-20 frames per second in an instant, all depending on the amount of enemies and particle effects onscreen. That’s a big problem, because Onee Chanbara Origin throws enemies at you the same way most Musou games do. There might be dozens of them showing up onscreen at any given time. 

Onee Chanbara Origin

Harley Quinn from hell.

It’s also worth noting that Onee Chanbara Origin is a weird case in which a hypersexualized game did not feel forced at all. Yes, I’m saying that about a game in which its protagonist wears a cowboy hat and a bikini. Unlike my most recent review, the pathetic and disgusting Uppers, Onee Chanbara‘s characters, while hypersexualized as all hell, are depicted as strong, confident heroines. Their voice actresses don’t exaggerate and moan like the girls from Senran Kagura, for instance. They fall more in the line of how Platinum Games designed Bayonetta: strong, confident, sexy, but hell-bent on completing an objective. Honey Parade Games should learn a thing or two from Tamsoft.

Another small issue with Onee Chanbara Origin is that, while it features two games in one package, it’s still stupidly short. Remember, these were games meant to be sold as budget titles back in the PS2 era. They were intentionally short and shallow. You can beat everything this remake has to offer in a few hours, but thankfully, it is a somewhat replayable experience. The fact it’s so dumb and simple makes for a relaxing pastime. Of course, I’d have loved for more additional content, but it’s still not that egregious.

Yep, 107 hits and that barely took a third of his health.

It might shallow as a puddle in the Sahara, but I’d still recommend Onee Chanbara Origin to any action game enthusiast out there. I ended up enjoying its stupidly simplistic combat system and gameplay loop, and how over-the-top every single action set piece looked onscreen. It’s by no means the most polished hack n’ slash out there, paling in comparison to Platinum and Capcom’s works, but it still managed to offer some mindless, cathartic fun. Shut down your brain, and you’ll easily look past its issues.

 

Graphics: 6.5

Despite the completely revamped cel-shaded treatment, it still suffers from an inconsistent framerate and an overabundance of repeated assets.

Gameplay: 7.5

Simple but very effective hack n’ slash controls with little to no innovative features. However, it’s so damn responsive and entertaining that I didn’t mind that at all. I did mind the framerate issues, as well as the very occasional issues regarding the game’s camera.

Sound: 6.5

A ton of voice acting featured in here. I liked that most of the performances weren’t overexaggerated. Although, characters talk way too much, which interrupts the flow of battle. Sound glitches are also present, and show up more often than they should.

Fun Factor: 7.5

It’s shallow as a puddle and campy as hell, but it’s simple, dumb fun. If anything, it’s actually a great title if you want to let off some steam by killing hundreds of zombies with a katana. It’s also surprisingly replayable.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Onee Chanbara Origin is available now on PS4 and PC.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Onee Chanbara Origin was provided by the publisher.