E3 Impressions: ‘Bikini Zombie Slayers’

I didn’t know much about the Japanese-imported “Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers” when it was announced last week, but I knew that it had bikinis and zombies in it.

In other words, I had to see it.

Alongside demos for kid-friendly titles like “Ben 10” and “Naruto,” I entered a private booth within D3Publishers’s E3 meeting room through beaded curtains. It kind of felt like I was entering the adult section at a video store (not that I’ve ever been).

However, fans of zombies and girls who kick butt should take note…

The Wii debut of the popular, third-person hack-and-slash series in Japan, “Bikini Zombie Slayers” is the story of bikini-donning samurai sisters named Aya and Saki on a quest to find out about their ancestors and the cause of the zombie outbreak. Players can take the role of Aya or Saki in the single-player or local co-op freeplay game (Aya’s the cowgirl and Saki’s the sailor), as they slash, swing and thrust their way through hordes of the undead.

For the demo, I watched D3 localization manager Alex Coward slice and dice zombies as Aya, splattering pink blood across the screen, the ground and herself. If pink isn’t your fancy, the blood has three other color options, including green, white and good ol’ red.

The controls are pretty straightforward: The analog stick moves the character, and you swing the Wiimote side-to-side or up and down to fight. You can also thrust the Wiimote forward to impale enemies.

As zombies are taken down by decapitation or disembodiment at the blade of one or two of Aya’s katanas (she can dual-wield swords if you wish) orbs are dropped; the player can pick them up to unlock levels and gain extra strength. Swords are the main weapons, but Aya also has an unlimited amount of ninja stars.

The HUD displays a sword meter that slowly gets covered with blood as Aya makes her kills. Slice up enough zombies without cleaning your blade and it can get stuck in one. To avoid this, you can shake your Wiimote to flick the blood off at any time. However, if you do get stuck, you’ll be prompted to swing the Wiimote around in a circular motion. You can also taunt the undead for extra points hitting a cursor button, drawing all nearby enemies towards you.

To boot, there’s another meter for the “Rage Mode.” When it’s filled, Aya can go into Rage Mode (which I wasn’t able to see) and kill everything in sight, though she’s slowly dying in the process. To prevent her from expiring, players must find and touch a statue to revive her. But statues aren’t always around (I didn’t see one in the level I briefly saw), so players should plan their use this mode carefully. Coward also said in Rage Mode, Aya emits a red glow, which makes her “look naked,” for those of you that are particularly interested in that sort of thing.

Currently, there are about seven levels with additional modes and moves to be added from the original Japanese release. You can also unlock various characters and harder levels to play through the game. “Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers” hits Stateside in early 2009.