Warrior with afro is better than bikini-clad zombie killers

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Two recent releases take very different directions -- with very different results -- in the hack-and-slash genre.

AFRO SAMURAI is based on the Spike TV anime series of the same name and even has the voice talent of Samuel L. Jackson.

Afro keeps the anime look of the television series. From mountains to beaches, the settings are beautifully rendered in great detail.

The combat system is well-done, with lots of combos (and an easy reference guide) that lead to very bloody endings for your foes. Afro Samurai's quest to revenge of his father's death often involves slow-motion dismembering and lots of blood. The blood and Mr. Jackson's usual salty language easily earn the game an M rating.

Though it's fun to play and nice to look at, the game suffers from some design flaws. You cannot freely point the camera where you want to see, making for some difficult situations.

Your destination as you progress through a level can often be unclear, too. Confused players will benefit from the fact that pushing a button on the controller points you in the right direction -- with some snide remarks from Afro, of course.

Slight flaws aside, Afro Samurai presents a great story, fun combat and challenging levels, a must-have for fans of the series.

ONECHANBARA: BIKINI ZOMBIE SLAYERS, on the other hand, has none of the above.

Being a typical thirtysomething male, I was excited at the concept of scantily clad women killing zombies. The excitement didn't last long.

The game uses the motion of the Wii controller to move your character's sword. Depending on how fast you "slash" the controller, the direction of your movement and the button(s) pressed, you can unlock various combos. Nine times out of 10, though, it turns into frantically slinging the controller around.

The gameplay is relatively simple: Move forward, hack a group of zombies, move to the next group and repeat. There's nothing innovative or entertaining about it.

There is no doubt some motivation for the clothing-challenged young ladies to be out at night, slicing up the undead. The story is told in segments between levels of gameplay. Maybe I missed something along the way, but it felt like starting in the middle of an ongoing story -- and not a very good one, either.

This game is a must-have for nobody, except maybe teen boys who didn't get the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.


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