There's also a third character you can play as, called Busty Policewoman. (Actually her name is Annna. Sic.) Unlike Hot Chick and Pre-Pubescent Girl, who are armed with samurai swords, Busty Policewoman is equipped with guns. Two pistols, an Uzi and a shotgun, to be precise. She's not brilliant at firing them though, even if you've got a lock-on, so you probably won't be too bothered about her after a while.
In fact you won't be too bothered about anything, as you'll find yourself running round the same old dull, cramped environments, killing the same old shambling zombies using the same old button presses. It's all so monotonous and effortless I started to wonder if I was missing something, so I turned to the instructions sent with the game. (Yes, perhaps I should have done this earlier. Or, perhaps the game should have provided me with some helpful guidance as I went along, as has been the custom since 1993.)
It does indeed transpire the combat system is much more complex than it appears. There are upward slashes, jumping kicks, taunts, counter attacks and all manner of other moves to perfect. There are combos with names like Chaotic Luster Maelstrom and Energy Wave Ecstasy Attack. Most of these are insanely complicated. The Cool Combo, for example, billed as "the toughest combo to perform in the game", is explained over the course of three pages, seven paragraphs and 650 words. Though from what I can tell it could be summarised as "keep pressing X ".
Then there's Rampage Mode, which characters enter when they are totally covered in blood. It makes them move twice as fast and deliver double the damage. Great, except they also take double the damage, and their health meter drains constantly. Which makes it one of the more rubbish berserker modes ever invented, especially when you consider the only way to stop Rampage Mode is to finish the level, die, visit something called a Goddess Statue, or use a Goddess Statue Fragment (of which you can only carry three at a time).
The instructions are full of nonsense like this. Take this excerpt from the section on Ecstasy Attacks: "Additionally if the Ecstasy Meter of any character, other than Annna, fills and they do not use an Ecstasy Attack, then the inactive character's Ecstasy Meter will also begin to fill. The inactive character's Ecstasy Meter will fall if the active character is not attacking enemies." Aaaa.
I tried. I went back to the game and attempted to perform some of the combos, to apply some of the knowledge, to give a toss about Yellow Orbs and Vitality Points and the fact that the duration of Clear Sight Mode can be lengthened by the use of the Clear Sight Bracelet. I failed. Because why bother, when the level of challenge is so low you can get by with button-mashing anyway?
Perhaps because you're the kind of person who loves getting to grips with complicated control systems, working out flashy combos and deciphering pages of poorly-written instructions. Even so, why bother when all you'll get for your trouble is yet more boring environments, thick enemies, pathetic bosses and stupid cut-scenes? This game looks and plays like it was made 15 years ago, and fans of the genre have had much better titles to choose from since then.
Many of those have had better co-op modes, too, than the dreadful split-screen offering in Onechanbara. Just navigating your way around is painful, thanks to a camera that's terrifically slow to rotate. There are also some fundamental design flaws; for example, when you pull off that oh-so-useful combo move that stops time for your enemies, it also stops time for your partner. Whatever manoeuvre they might be in the middle of, they have to watch and wait until you're done.
Even if you're playing on your own there's an awful lot of watching and waiting, as the loading times are appalling. The developers must have been aware of this, as they turned the loading screen into a funny little mini-game. You control a 2D cartoon version of Hot Chick, who runs around slashing up cartoon zombies. It's all quite cute and engaging, the first time round. When it's 90 minutes later, and you've spent what feels like 87 of those minutes staring at the loading screen, it's not so cute. You just want to feed cartoon Hot Chick to the cartoon zombies, feet first, so they can see the whites of her eyes as they lick out the insides of her knees.
There's nothing wrong with a good, solid hackandslasher that doesn't pretend to be anything else. But this game is fundamentally flawed, from the daft control system to the bizarre difficulty curve to the appalling presentation. Yes, it's got semi-naked ladies in it, but is that really enough to make it worth playing? The internet is full of naked ladies these days, and you can see it going in and out, and most of them are old enough to remember a time when Princess Diana was alive.
Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad might have been enjoyable, in a silly, disposable way, if the gameplay was halfway decent. It isn't, and not even the nicest bottom in the world can make up for that.