Onee Chanbara Origin review: Back for blood

The latest Onechanbara game is a remake of two classic entries in the franchise. Our review.

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As is the case with so many other popular anime franchises, Onechanbara has seen a countless number of adaptations. The series has a long history in the gaming space, with titles across generations of consoles. The early to mid 2000s saw the launch of Onechanbara 1 and 2, a couple of beloved PS2-era action titles. In honor of the second title’s 15th anniversary, both Onechanbara games have been fully remade in HD.

Sides of a coin

Developed by Tamsoft, Onee Chanbara Origin takes the stories of the first two Onechanbara games and combines them into a brand new package. Both games have been fully remade, with updated graphics, animations, and voiceovers. The story follows the same beat as the originals, with sisters Aya and Saki having to navigate through a dystopian future Japan. After spending the majority of their lives apart, we find these two sisters on completely different paths.

Onee Chanbara Origin benefits greatly from its revamped visuals and features. This hack and slasher now sports a cell-shaded art style, putting it more in line with what we see in the anime. The protagonists also see a redesign, giving the characters a modern look. Onee Chanbara is a full HD remake that does a solid job at breathing new life into an aging game. It’s an experience that will likely satisfy fans of the original games.

The walking dead

The Onechanbara series is set in the city of Tokyo and it's overrun with zombies. This is where the gameplay comes in, as players must hack and slash their way through big hordes of undead as they progress through their journey. Combat in Onee Chanbara is solid, but doesn’t feel like anything to write home about. It’s satisfying to chop through waves of zombies. With the franchise being heavy on gore, most battles quickly turn into a bloodbath. In fact, there are some gorey animations and effects in Onee Chanbara Origins, as players can dismember and decapitate their undead foes.

That being said, combat does feel a bit mindless, even effortless in some cases. Once I got the hang of things, I found myself just spamming attacks, easily tearing through the majority of my foes. To be fair, that is the nature of the genre, but it would have been cool to see the developers use the remake as an opportunity to take the combat in a unique direction. Either way, it’s still pretty fun to just charge into large groups of enemies and wreck shop.

Family values

Sisters Aya and Saki find themselves on opposite sides of the spectrum in Onee Chanbara Origin. Following the murder of her mother, Saki embarks on a bloodthirsty journey for revenge, and to resurrect her mother, which leads her down some dark paths. Aya on the other hand, is out to find her long lost sister Saki, the last of her kin. The goals of the two sisters are diametrically opposed, putting them head to head in the story. It’s a fascinating setup that I found really intriguing. 

For the most part, Onee Chanbara Origin is a solid remake, though I ran into some performance issues while making my way through the game. While playing on PC, there were several times the game struggled to maintain 30 FPS, specifically during chaotic moments. There was also some audio stuttering and hitches that I experienced. Neither of which ruined the game, but were certainly enough to grab my attention on a few occasions.

Sister sister

Onee Chanbara Origin is a serviceable remake of a couple classic PS2 titles. Developer Tamsoft does a great job giving the games a visual makeover and a much more modern feel. Combat is solid, though a bit basic at times. The experience is also bogged down at times by some performance problems. That aside, Onee Chanbara is a worthwhile remake of a fun and unique story.


This review is based on a digital download code provided by the publisher. Onee Chanbara Origin is available now on PS4 and Steam for $59.99 USD.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

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Pros
  • Great cell-shaded art style
  • Story is intriguing
  • A decent remaster
Cons
  • Combat can feel stale
  • Performance issues
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