Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Hoo boy, where to begin with School Girl/Zombie Hunter. I suppose I should start off by mentioning that it’s like some weird cross between Resident Evil and Onechanbara, as weird as that may sound. While I have no doubt the developers set out to do…something, it feels as if they stuck their hands in too many pies, while not really committing to any of them. It has all the bases to be: a fan service game, story driven, an action game, or a comedic parody, yet I found it to never really settle on any of the options it had going for it. Oddly enough, the game isn’t really “bad” per se, more of a weird genre limbo type deal.
So, let’s start with the story, if anyone is even here for that, because there are a few things that need to be said about it. First off, it’s pretty bad. No, really, it hits about every cliché I can think of off the top of my head for a plethora of related genres that aren’t mutually exclusive. You’ve got your Zombie Apocalypse with your Five Man Band, or Five Woman Band in this case, with Sayuri as The Leader, Enami as The Lancer, Rei as The Big Guy, The Chick is Risa, and The Smart Guy (as close as it gets) is Mayaya.
While I’m not particularly adverse to the use of common tropes to pad some aspects of a story, the fact is that THE WHOLE BLOODY THING is basically so cliché ridden I’m not entirely certain they came up with a plot, just inserted a general idea into a series of tropes, and not in a satirical or self-mocking way, it seemed quite serious. Which comes back to the point of what this game is trying to be, because it’s sort of a shooter, but the game is segmented into small 2-5 minute stages that lose a lot of the shooter feel to it, especially given the range of some of the weapons and camera angles.
It isn’t really a beat em up, cuz the melee attacks, while situationally useful, have some major drawbacks, it isn’t really a fanservice based game, because despite what it really appears to be, a lot of the times you either can’t see the fan service in game, or it’s actually too useful to waste (such as using your uniform as zombie bait) because I’ll be damned if the game isn’t surprisingly difficult at times.
Basic gameplay consists of shooting zombies with one of your six available infinite ammo weapons, each of the five characters being “adept” with a specific type, and the possible rocket launchers you can snag. Each character has a special ability, with varying degrees of usefulness, but they can technically equip whatever you want. For instance, in stages where you can choose your player, instead of them being assigned to you, I liked using Rei (the shot-gunner) with an SMG or Assault Rifle, purely because her character perk was, in my opinion, the most useful (giving you invincibility during your melee attacks). That’s mostly it, really. There are different types of “goals” for different stages, such as “reach this point”, “defend the base”, or “kill all the zombies”.
As I mentioned, each stage is pretty short, and the optional collectables become easy when you have a character that can see where all the preset location items are in the stage. There are some interesting mechanics, such as using your uniform as a temporary zombie lure, or using worn underpants as a timed lure, that gets a longer timer the more in-game time is spent in said underwear, or placing tripwire traps, but it’s all fairly standard stuff for the most part, although the speedy zombies and the explosive zombies are certainly an interesting thing. I also found it funny how the zombies can basically spawn anywhere there is “walking space”, despite how unrealistically stupid the place the zombie can spawn in is. As an example, I once had some zombies spawn on the other side of a waist high wall that they had no way of getting around or over, another time I had a zombie spawn on the roof of a building nearby. On the flip-side of that, sometimes the random spawns can be infuriating, like if a fat zombie (or FIVE) spawn on the other side of a particularly thin door, and respawn faster than you can kill them.
The graphics and music were, admittedly, pretty decent, although the glaring headlight-eyes of the zombies were really dumb, and as I have generally found in similar style games, the “static hair syndrome” is rather present, as well as hair clipping through other textures. The opening theme is rather catchy though, and there is a multiplayer online mission type deal, which is interesting to see. While I can’t particularly say the game was great, and definitely not worth the price it’s currently listed for, I can see it being an interesting time waster if it goes on sale, since the stages are short, so you can do one or two and then be finished, and the game as a whole isn’t particularly difficult on the easier settings.
Despite feeling as if School Girl/Zombie Hunter is seriously under-performing, I found it hard to really point out anything glaringly terrible about it. There is a rather expansive weapon inventory, each character has their own benefits and useful traits, the hidden Charon in the stages are an interesting touch, there are a bunch of different mission types, and proper weapon choice for a mission can actually be somewhat important. You only bring a rifle to a horde rush once before you reconsider. Unfortunately, combat generally feels really sluggish, most pointedly with lower capacity weapons, and aiming makes you move about as fast as a wheelchair with the brakes halfway on. The story is really clichéd and awful, I found the characters to be mostly annoying, and the lack of English voice overs may be a serious detriment to some.
Despite the rather sizable flaws, I can’t say I disliked the game, which speaks a fair amount for what it could have been, and the up to five person multiplayer is a nice touch. This definitely isn’t the first title I’d rush out to buy, but it certainly isn’t something I’d particularly avoid either.Score: 5 / 10