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[02/02/2008] Zombie Hunters 2 / Oneechanpon


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Title: Zombie Hunters 2 / The Oneechanpon: The Oneechan 2 Special Edition

System: PlayStation 2 (PAL)

Developer: Tamsoft

Publisher: D3Publisher Europe / Essential Games

60Hz Mode: Yes

Release Date: June 29, 2007

 

The japanese publisher D3 has published budget-line games under the name Simple 2000 Series from a few years now. The series boasts a little over 100 games nowadays and most of them have been developed by an obscure japanese developer Tamsoft. I was surprised to find out that D3Publisher had opened an European branch office and thus started to publish the Simple 2000 Series games in Europe, under different titles, of course. The games in the Simple 2000 Series are truly nothing special to write home about and most of them are simply horrible games, but then again, were talking about hardline budget games here, so it's not so surprising after all. The Simple 2000 Series covers a lot of genres, from vs. fighters to racing.

 

However, not all the games in this budget series is as horrible as one might think. The Oneechanbara series of games are an exception. D3's European branch brought the series to Europeans as Zombie Hunters. The game under review, Zombie Hunters 2 aka Oneechanpon is in fact a special edition of sorts of the original Oneechanbara 2.

 

Story

 

The world has been overrun by some mysterious disease that turned everyone into zombies, save a handful of gorgeous girls (oh my). These girls happen to be rather scantily clad and very good at wielding swords. And they are assassins. The main character Aya, sets to find her sister, Saki in the zombie infested town, after learning that Saki had disappeared from a local hospital. Or something along those lines, and there's a bit more to the story, but as long as it gives enough reason to slash hordes of zombies to bits, I'll just leave this be.

 

oneechar1wf5.th.jpg oneechar2dg4.th.jpg

 

Graphics

 

The Simple 2000 series has never boasted nor featured eye popping graphics, but even though I haven't played any of the other games in the vast series, I'm inclined to say that Zombie Hunters 2 is definitely in the upper caste as far as graphics go. Naturally, since the girls are the main focus in the game, their models, textures and animation are excellent all around. Of course, no female model in a Tamsoft game is complete without boob physics. The locations and the enemies are less detailed, even crude at spots, but I guess they do their job adequately enough.

 

Gameplay

 

The basic routine gameplay in each stage I've seen so far is to simply find your way to a boss fight, clear it, and move to the next stage. All this while disposing dozens of different zombies and assorted creatures. The only break in this formula presents itself when a door or somesuch is locked and you have to kill a certain group of zombies to uncover a key. The zombies themselves generally don't even to bother attacking you or even approach you until you get too close. And zombies are slow, at least in the first few stages. You'll have to face as many as 15-20 zombies at once, but they do not stand a chance against your sword combos. Timing slashes just right creates a much more powerful chain of slashes, called Cool Combos, and timing is often very strict. Mastering this timing is the key of the game, as it not only allows you to do more damage, but also damage Demon Gates. When shattered, these Demon Gates teleport you to another dimension, forcing you to battle tougher enemies. The payback is that you get better items and more experience.

 

oneescr1sn3.th.jpg

 

The girls also have a variety of kick moves that are very weak, but can knock enemies back several feet, as well as character-specific attacks, like daggers, shotgun blasts, and even a pose move. After the first stage, you can also tag in another girl, effectively doubling the health bar, or have the second player join you. Experience is used to strengthen stats at the end of the stage, opening up longer and stronger combos, for example.

 

Along with mastering the timing of the slashes, you also have a Blood Sword gauge and an infection gauge. The Blood Sword gauge tells how much zombie blood is on the sword, the bloodier it is, the duller it gets and there's a risk of the sword getting stuck after a strike. You can sharpen the blade by wiping of the blood with L1. A more critical gauge is the infection gauge, which tells how much zombie blood is on the girl.

 

oneescr2rt7.th.jpg

 

When the gauge gets higher, the girls starts to succumb to the virus. When the gauge reaches 100%, the girl goes in Berserk Mode, which is roughly the equivalent of the Devil Trigger in Devil May Cry - the character gets faster, stronger and doesn't flinch from any hit. The downside is that health drops constantly. The Berserk Mode can't be canceled in any other way than by using an item or touching a prayer statue.

 

Music, sound and voices

 

Surprisingly good actually. The stages have their own BGMs and they are often very upbeat, which is a good thing in this game. Voices consists of different girlish grunts and attacks screams. There is no English dubbing involved with the sparse spoken dialogue, thank god. Again, very fitting considering the overall production values.

 

Difficulty, controls and AI

 

I haven't gotten very far in the game yet, so I can't comment on what kind of enemies lied ahead. What I have seen though is that zombies do not really have an AI to speak of, since they rarely attack an just wait in groups for you to come closer. Tamsoft really nailed the AI in this respect, and I can't say that the lack of it is a bad thing. Some enemies have weapons like hatchets and try to occasionally lunge at you. In the second stage, the Mall cops sport shotguns and revolvers, but their accuracy leaves much to be desired (they're zombies, after all).

 

oneescr4fy2.th.jpg

 

The controls are the biggest gripe in the entire game. Actually, the basic controls work as you'd expect them to, it's the Lock-On feature that is half-assed. Unfortunately, the Lock-On is something you find yourself relying on a lot, especially in boss fights. The problem is that Lock-on doesn't work if the target is directly next to you or behind you, as if Lock-On only works when the camera has something to lock on to. This is especially frustrating in boss fights, since your character and the boss move and dodge constantly. So more often than not, you have to manually move the camera in order to get a Lock-On.

 

oneescr3cb6.th.jpg

 

While the way the Lock-On works (or rather, fails to work) is a major annoyance, the rest of the controls work fine, albeit being a bit stiff, making you pay attention how long you push a button. The game's difficulty is pretty mellow at least on the first stages, but peaks in a ridiculous manner in boss fights, thanks to half-assed implementation of the Lock-On feature. Naturally, bosses dodge like crazy, have lots of health and nasty combo attacks.

 

Summary

 

Despite its one major flaw and that the game doesn't really offer much else than endless carnage with tons of spurting blood to complement that, Zombie Hunters 2 proves to be one of the best titles (if not the best) in the entire Simple 2000 Series of games released so far. It's a far cry from Devil May Cry, but the attack/combo system is surprisingly complex, the girls are cute, and there's buckets of blood, accompanied with a nice, upbeat soundtrack. There are also new characters to unlock (cameos from other Tamsoft games, like Dragon Sisters and Fighting Angels) as well as a nice selection of costumes. An excellent budget title, one which I never thought of seeing over here.

 

There is no US release, and Zombie Hunters 2 is Vol. 101 in the Simple 2000 Series over in Japan.

I suck at finding screenshots for this game so head over to D3's official page to see some small ones: http://www.d3p.co.jp/s_20/s20_101.html

 

As a final oddity, the opening movie is completely absent in the EU version, despite the clip being present on the disc (you can fish it out with a program that can understand PS2 filetypes). Ironically, I've heard that the opening FMV crew is still properly credited in the staff roll, even though you can't view the FMV in the game.

 

(Gameplay video of Oneechanbara 2)

 

Pros:

+The cast

+Surprisingly complex combo system for a budget title

+Buckets of blood (why the blood is more pink than red is beyond me)

+The two blood gauges and their effect on gameplay

+Unlockable characters and costumes

+A number of challenges

 

Cons:

-The Lock-On feature is crippled

-No puzzles to solve; a straightforward carnage fest (a carnage fest in itself is not a bad thing though)

-Bland environments

-Some camera problems

-Uneven difficulty between boss fights and the rest of the game

-Where is the opening FMV?

 

Story: 6

Graphics: 7

Music/Sound: 7

Gameplay/System: 7.5

Difficulty: 7

Feel: 7.5

 

Total: 7

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