Readers can attest that I can be a sucker for fan-service-filled video games, despite having the opposite opinion regarding the anime genre. Maybe it's their tongue-in-cheek way of presenting it, but titles like Gal*Gun and Senran Kagura do a great job with mixing up pervy humor with solid gameplay. One of the first titles that got my attention that did that was the Wii title Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers, which had a good mix of fun motion controls and campy horror storytelling.
After the success of that franchise, developers Tamsoft have decided that it was time to expand on this world. Presenting another perspective as the main Onechanbara series happens from afar, School Girl/Zombie Hunter places five high schoolers smack dab in the midst of an undead uprising. After witnessing a main zombie controlling the others, protagonist Sayuri Akiba and her fellow classmates Risa, Mayaya, Enami, and Rei must team up to battle hoards of Walkers and other strange creatures in order to survive. As you progress, new weapons and costumes can be discovered to make the fight to live just a tad bit more easier to reach.
As you walk through the haunted grounds of Kirisaku High School, the undead with often pop up out of nowhere right in front of you or -- in an often cheap ploy -- somewhere from behind to give you a bit of a jump scare. As you try to survive a timed tower defense, get to a certain destination, or try to kill a certain number of creatures, you'll be judged via a grade concerning your aim, survival skills, and various other tidbits. The more zombies you have to deal with, the harder it'll be to mow them down, and not because of their AI system.
First off, I will say that School Girl/Zombie Hunter knows exactly what kind of game it is. Yes, it can be a tad perverted at times, but it tries its best to have fun with that situation. Hell, there's even a button that has you throw off your clothes to distract the zombies, having it so you can shoot and slash away in your undies for the rest of the level! (There have been a few movies out there with guys in their tighty-whities killing zombies, so fair is fair!) Naturally, with Tamsoft helming this like they do their other titles, there's a certain amount of silliness to enjoy while you bear witness to it.
Unfortunately, to engulf yourself with its b-movie story and goofier elements, you have to actually play the game. This is where the truth is hard to swallow, as I initially had fun for the first couple hours playing School Girl/Zombie Hunter. However it got to a point where enemies started really glitching out on me, which also caused the third-person angle to somehow switch to a messy first-person when too many were on screen at once. Because of this, I had a hard time hitting enemies, even when attempting to use the melee attack button that usually wipes out five of them in one hit.
Repeating levels over and over again was what I found myself having to do with gritted teeth and vein-popping angst, with almost the same thing killing me halfway through the chapter. It got frustrating, causing me to rage-quit countless times because the game kept messing with my visual perception when too many zombies were on the screen at once. Even switching to a sniper scope made it difficult to deal with the giant tank-like zombies that take more than a dozen shots to fully take down. To be blunt, while the story is a fun romp, the gameplay itself takes a nosedive with its enjoyability.
It's a shame, as past Onechanbara games were a lot better in the technical department. I even loved how they added a Monster Hunter-style to their boss battles, with your characters hacking and slashing away until the beasts fell dead with a triumphant thud. Here in School Girl/Zombie Hunter, practically everything feels broken, as if nothing that made those games fun was implemented into this spinoff. It stumbles on its path more than walks a straight line, resulting in a shooter that feels like an impossible chore than a good time.
Even its online multiplayer is riddled with bad bugs. During my time playing, many of the zombies and creatures I was supposed to kill were all glitchy, some of which were stuck in walls, floors, and even tables & benches that were scattered in some of the levels. And yet, even when it was like this, these zombies still found a way to knock me down out of the blue, resulting in probably the most frustrating time I've ever had playing an online co-op mode.
- Fun premise
- A great assortment of weapons & costumes
- Humorous story
- Terrible aiming controls
- Bad camera angles
- Some broken AI
As much as I love the Onechanbara series, School Girl/Zombie Hunter is a very flawed spinoff. Buggy enemies, poor aim, and a viewpoint that breaks all too often keep the humorous and personality-filled shooter from being worthy of a must-play status. In laymen's terms: not even the likes of Kagura and Saaya would be able to do anything to save School Girl/Zombie Hunter from its own demise.
Promotional consideration provided by Aksys Games