Onee Chanbara has a rather interesting history. Originally it released as part of D3 Publisher’s Simple series of budget games. These games were meant to be simple takes of a wide variety of games, though there were a few standout titles. Things like Demolition Girl stood out for its absurdity, whereas Earth Defense Force found a campy charm that continues to this day. Onee Chanbara hit the same niche, but instead of guns and giant insects, it was zombies, swords, and blood. It was enough to build a franchise, one that has been rather hit and miss, with the latest entry, Onee Chanbara Origin bringing the franchise back to its roots. With a decent base and a good number of sequels, is this worth returning to, or was it better left forgotten?
Saying Onee Chanbara Origin has a story is a bit of a stretch. You’re looking for your sister and will kill as many zombies as it takes to find her. Often times there are brief interactions or small exchanges that give you an idea of what is going on, why Aya needs to go to this location, and more but it’s basically an excuse to go to one place or another and kill zombies.
Given the simplistic nature of the game, it isn’t surprising Onee Chanbara Origin features a rather rudimentary combat system. There is an attack, stun, parry and if you’re feeling bold, jump and dodge too. As a result, most zombies will be taken out by either using a parry or the same attack that killed the same enemy countless times both before and after the one you’re currently working on. There is also a finishing move, though it’s the same handful of moves, bringing the series much closer to a poor man’s version of Dynasty Warriors. Though, historically, that really shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
As you progress, there are a couple of enemies and bosses that force you to improve or die. For example, there is a zombie that can only be killed by hitting them with a parry and then a special attack. However, most of the time Onee Chanbara Origin fails to find a good balance, something that is often true for games like this. Even if countless attacks flung wild and randomly will defeat most enemies, with a great score no less, bosses require a deeper understanding of mechanics. It’s hard to master parry and dodge when maybe five things in the game require that level of skill and the rest are pointless peons that you can slash.
If there is one thing that stands out, it’s that Onee Chanbara Origin feels kind of lifeless. A lot of this is, unfortunately, a function of its Simple Series origin, but there really isn’t a lot to see. Most stages are fairly small and empty zones where you defeat the same five or so enemies until you make it to a boss. Winning will give experience, which can be redeemed for the attack, defense, or health, along with cash for resources. There your options are items to increase your ability or rings that give you a slight benefit. But, if there is one positive thing to Onee Chanbara Origin, it’s the same simple fun you’d find in a Dynasty Warrior title.
Between the blood, gore, and cute girls with weapons, it’s a rather mindless game that manages to be fun. Cops are a lot of fun to avoid, a well-timed attack can kill so many enemies it’s satisfying and all of this can make the series more than the sum of its parts. Especially with the improved visuals that might not make the series look modern, but far more so than the original ever was.
Onee Chanbara Origin Review – Verdict
Odds are if you’re reading this review, you know what to expect from Onee Chanbara Origins. It’s Dynasty Warriors with fewer characters, smaller stages and instead of historical figures, it’s zombies and cute girls. This is enough to make it fun and give the experience value, though it’s hard to really suggest it to anyone else. Between the lack of story and limited content, there isn’t much really much of a reason to check it out unless you want to get into the series or already love it.
[Editor’s Note: Onee Chanbara Origin was reviewed on PlayStation 4 and was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]