Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -
The suave, daring, unrivaled King of Video Games. He is on an EROTIC quest to see if lesbians indeed have the goods. BEWARE, the Moon.

I haven't even begun writing this blog, and already, I'm getting severe nostalgia pangs. Not for my last blog; that would be premature. Instead, my nostalgia is taking me back to my Koudelka blog from a couple of months ago. Remember how that game proved that Resident Evil-style gameplay doesn't mesh well with RPG mechanics?

Well, Onimusha proves that it doesn't mesh well with action game mechanics, either. Unless you happen to be Devil May Cry.....or Resident Evil 4. But those games worked because of how heavy they were on the action mechanics. If you're Onimusha, you hedge a lot closer to the Resident Evil formula than those other games ever did, introducing concepts that have no Earthly/Moonly business being anywhere close to a combat-heavy action game.

She's reading this review and realizing she's a part of it.

And B movie corniness. Have I mentioned that? Our story begins with a pervasive bug fetish that's never quite explained. Moving right along, we find out that a princess has been captured by demons. Or Nobunaga. Or maybe both. Who's to say? Now it's up to you, bland samurai Samanosuke, to rescue her from evil. Oh, and some fire demons give you a magic gauntlet early on for barely explored reasons, and all the demons have European names despite being in a Japanese setting. Are you getting a sense for what the story's like? If not, let me spell it out clearly: it's ridiculous, over the top, and probably not doing any of that on purpose. Every time I was confronted with a dumb flaw in this game, it felt less like Capcom capitalizing on Onimusha's potential campiness and more like the result of incompetent design. For instance, Samanosuke reading somebody else's lines.

Also, the horrible lip syncing. I'm not even convinced the animators were even trying to match the voice work. From what I remember, characters would flap their mouths open when words were being spoken, but would make no attempt to match those flaps to their vocalizations. (I'm aware that my emulating this might have something to do with it, but it perform much better on an actual console, for what it's worth.) Now this could possibly be redeemed if placed in a comedic context, maybe by noticeably drawing attention to itself or by dragging out the flaps long past the characters speaking (or long before, too). You know, just one little thing that would let me know the developers meant to include this in the game. If it's in there, I didn't see it. I only saw characters performing mouth exercises while telepathically communicating their poorly translated messages.

It's hard to tell if this is racist or just mediocre visual design, so why not split the difference?

Oh, did I mention the translation? Turns out it isn't good. Half the time, the script reads like the translators went out of their way to screw things up. Take this line very early in the game. She's not asking that somebody try to understand something; she's acknowledging that she understands something. From what little I understand of English, the proper term would be "understood". The same as it would be in Japanese. This isn't the type of thing that gets lost in translation; it's the type of thing that's left alone in the unfamiliar woods during translation. Of course, this is only the bottom of the barrel. The rest of the time, the incompetence is the result of unintended mistakes. Other people may find some value in said mistakes, but I sure as hell certainly didn't.

Normally, this would be the part where I transition into something positive about the game. But first, I need to get the puzzles out of the way, for two reasons. First, they're absolutely everywhere. While there were parts of the game where I wasn't fighting demons, there was nary a time when I wasn't solving a puzzle. They're (presumably) Onimusha's pride and joy, something that is much harder to understand when you consider reason the second: they have no good reason for existing. Half of them amount to "go grab this item from somewhere" (one of them being a load of misleading tripe), and the other half are insanely cryptic nonsense that make no effort to integrate themselves into the world. Not the most engaging material, is it? How did these puzzles even come to be? Demons clearly can't be responsible, as I doubt demons would refurbish an entire building with arcane locks and number puzzles. I'd doubt the Japanese people living there, too, but, well, they did design the puzzles in this game.

"When a man and a woman both get each other VERY drunk..."

Although to be fair, that may be the result of this game very clearly aping Resident Evil than the result of its own design. It's just a thoroughly awkward fit that even drags down systems that otherwise might have been satisfactory. Like the combat. The first thing I noticed about it was perhaps its most important aspect. No analog controls. OK, there are analog controls when aiming the bow you get later in the game, but if you want to move, it's just the tank controls of the D-pad. How clumsy and ill fit for combat. But don't worry! The game will sort of automatically lock on to enemies for you, making precise movement less necessary than it would have been otherwise. Granted, this makes it a little difficult to interact with enemies you're not locked onto, but....wait, what's the redeeming factor, again? This auto lock-on only flattens the combat and robs it of depth it might otherwise have. Why bother with combos or involved enemy patterns when most of them fall to a sluggish "bash, bash, bash"? Why even have those features in the first place? Now they may not have worked in lieu of Onimusha's other design choices, but that should probably tell you when something isn't a good idea.

But that's not to say that the game has no good ideas. You get a few weapons to switch out during combat, all of them playing very similarly........Bad example. A much better example would be the magic tied to those weapons. These actually are noticeably different, with their own individual quirks, so there's at least some strategy in using them. The story also has brief periods where you switch from Samanosuke to his poorly translated partner Kaede, so at least there's that to keep things from becoming too repetitive. Yet is any of this enough to alleviate any of the game's much larger problems? Of course it isn't! This is still an action game jammed into a format that won't ever allow action games. Who even thought this was a good idea in the first place?

You've gotta be shitting me.

Review Synopsis

  • Thank you Samanosuke! But our princess is in...the exact same castle, really.
  • She's just hidden behind a ton of bullshit puzzles.
  • And combat that could be much better than it ends up being.
  • Fun fact: Onimusha loosely translates to something like "Demon Warrior". Man, how I wish the title was Insect Warrior, instead.

Note to self: play Space Channel 5 one of these days. And remember to make a Pingas joke during it.

Maybe I should've been nostalgic for seven days ago after all. This is essentially my last blog in reverse and also upside down. I begin with a bad samurai game and wrap things up with a fairly good ninja game...sort of. If we're looking at Ninja Spirit in terms of gameplay, then it would only fare somewhat better than Onimusha up there. But this isn't "Compelling Gameplay Spirit", is it? This is "Ninja Spirit", and damn you if you don't feel the spirit of a ninja flowing through your very being as you play this game.

But it won't be because you're playing the game, if that makes any sense. At its best, the game is competent; at its worst, it's wonky and lacking depth. I think this is best explained with your ninja jump. You know how a lot of fiction depicts the deadly ninja leaping through the air with the utmost grace and control? Throw that shit out the window right now, because the particular ninja you're controlling is a finicky little bastard who stubbornly resists your every attempt to control his jumps. Oh, he'll move in another direction mid-jump, but only very little and after thinking about it over a cup of tea. It can be annoying in the game's tenser situations, like the boss battles, but not by enough to hold it against the game too much. Besides, how can you hold the jumping against Ninja Spirit when you can leap twelve times your own height? Who wouldn't love something that ludicrous? There's also combat, but what do I even say about it? You can slash with reasonable accuracy, and there a few decent power-ups to mess around with. Basic stuff, really, like an extra hit or a more powerful attack or ninja clo-wait, those are amazing. But ninja clones and their madness aside, the combat's simply OK. Not bad, but not outstanding, either.

I'm pretty sure this is all the story the game gives you, and you really only see it for about all of half a second. Let that tell you just where this game's priorities lie.

This is most unlike the game's application of its own mechanics, which hedge more toward the "not outstanding" clause. The vast majority of the game's seven-ish levels amount to moving forward and slashing enemies. Sometimes, you get an enemy that can withstand multiple hits and must be avoided, but for the most part, you'll plow through both enemies and levels relatively quickly. That's probably why I feel so disconnected from the levels: there's not much to them other than running to the finish line. This isn't enough material for an entire game, so it's no surprise that it eventually becomes repetitive. (Not as fast as you'd imagine, mind you, but still, it gets there.) If this is sounding overly reductive, blame the game's utterly random layouts. They just make it so hard to be anything but reductive. Discounting a few areas near the end, the levels simply drop enemies around you on a whim. No rhyme or reason to any of it; just baddies to kill for their own sake. Of course, "for their own sake" becomes a weak explanation when emerging the victor amounts to pressing button 2, so I feel less like I'm accomplishing something and more like I'm simply occupying time.

Until we throw ninja elements into the mix, that is. Turns out a game's a lot more fun when you buy into the whole "ninja" thing. The graphics are partly responsible for this. The way they announce their presence and draw attention to themselves makes it easy to get in the mood. However, I'd say a lot more of it's simply down to the scenarios you're flying through. Remember what I said about the levels just being flat expanses of nothing that throw enemies at you for no reason? Set that in a forest you can jump around, and suddenly, it all makes sense. Ninjas besetting you upon all sides, jumping from tree to tree and slashing just as often, it's all just very easy to enjoy. And that's just one level. Imagine what kind of ninja trickery the others throw you into. Hell, it even gets some stuff right that I never knew I wanted. I don't think anybody can say that they ever anticipated Werewolf Ninja, but that's the game's whole premise. A ninja dies and then presumably becomes a werewolf. Could you ever ask for anything more?

Review Synopsis

  • Mother
  • fucking
  • ninja. That is all.
#1 Posted by Mento (2544 posts) -

If I had to rank all the games I covered for that dumb TurboMento thing, Ninja Spirit is probably close to the top. It's dumb and doesn't control as well as you'd prefer, but it's so zippy and imaginative in much the same manner as the Arcade Strider game was that you don't even mind. You just grab a whole bunch of shadow clones and go to town, restarting as often as you need without any major penalties for dying.

Also the story is that the ninja's pet wolf transforms into the ninja because he's sad his master died and the Lord Buddha's like "aww, here you go little guy." It's practically the story of Sif and Artorias, but ninjas.

Fun fact the second: I bought Onimusha, decided against playing it until I'd bought the rest of the series, bought the rest of the series and still haven't played it. I've been reliably informed that it isn't particularly long. I should just marathon those things. You know, someday. (I'm worried it won't compare to Blood Will Tell, possibly the best samurai game in the world.)

Moderator
#2 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@mento said:

Also the story is that the ninja's pet wolf transforms into the ninja because he's sad his master died and the Lord Buddha's like "aww, here you go little guy." It's practically the story of Sif and Artorias, but ninjas.

Isn't that the same story for the Xbox Ninja Gaiden? Only with an eagle instead of a wolf, or something like that?

Fun fact the second: I bought Onimusha, decided against playing it until I'd bought the rest of the series, bought the rest of the series and still haven't played it. I've been reliably informed that it isn't particularly long. I should just marathon those things. You know, someday.

I'd say "preferably with some kind of screenshot thread", but that market's been cornered. Maybe the other ones, though.

#3 Edited by Brodehouse (9949 posts) -

I hate when people are manipulating bad ninjas.

Resident Evil/RPG mechanics worked in Parasite Eve!

#4 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Resident Evil/RPG mechanics worked in Parasite Eve!

I assume you're commenting on the Koudelka thing. It certainly doesn't work there. Hedges far too close to the Resident Evil side (dumb story, dumb puzzles, and Nic Cage).

#5 Posted by CaLe (3983 posts) -

Some of the games you blog about are games I've played but remember absolutely nothing about. I can't even remember if I liked them or not. I like Takeshi Kaneshiro, it doesn't require memory to know that.

I have to imagine that having a record of your thoughts about a game in the form of these blogs helps with the problem of simply forgetting most everything about the games you've played. Of course there are some games that engrave themselves into memory much deeper than others, but outside of just knowing I played it and having the odd image of it still remain in memory, I'd wager I've forgotten around 90% of my experiences with games.

By that token, it probably follows that I've forgotten 90% of everything that's ever happened in my life.

Do you see this dark path your blog has sent me down!?

#6 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@cale said:

Do you see this dark path your blog has sent me down!?

Wait, does this mean that I'm living through A Certain Magical Index? Why I'd want to be Index, I have no idea.

#7 Posted by CaLe (3983 posts) -

Wait, does this mean that I'm living through A Certain Magical Index? Why I'd want to be Index, I have no idea.

#8 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -
#9 Posted by CaLe (3983 posts) -
#10 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@cale:

The fuck does とヘンタイタ mean!?

#11 Edited by CaLe (3983 posts) -

@video_game_king: It means I can't use MS Paint very well, dammit! とあるヘンタイヲタ A.K.A THE VIDEO GAME KING and his treasured copy of Akiba's Strip.

#12 Posted by Aegon (5627 posts) -

@mento said:

(I'm worried it won't compare to Blood Will Tell, possibly the best samurai game in the world.)

I was thinking about playing that relatively recently, but then I looked at the reviews.

#13 Posted by JZ (2125 posts) -

Onimusha is good

#14 Posted by Yummylee (21636 posts) -

@mento said:

Fun fact the second: I bought Onimusha, decided against playing it until I'd bought the rest of the series, bought the rest of the series and still haven't played it. I've been reliably informed that it isn't particularly long. I should just marathon those things. You know, someday. (I'm worried it won't compare to Blood Will Tell, possibly the best samurai game in the world.)

The first one is literally like 3-4 hours long, though the following two are all closer to your standard action-adventure length, differing between 8-10 hours. Dawn of Dreams however is a goddamn campaign, let me tell ya. On average that'll probably take you like 15 hours, but it's also a much different game than its predecessors. Has a lot more RPG-ish functionalities to it.

#15 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@yummylee:

Where does Tactics fit into all this?

#16 Edited by Yummylee (21636 posts) -

@video_game_king: I'unno, and I assume you know that I don't know. So, what's your angle here? What's your game? What's your agenda? Are you mocking my estimations of the Onimusha games' playthroughs as a means to prove that the length of a game can differ drastically per person? Is that it?? Youuuuuuuuuuuuuu sunovabitch, you.

#17 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -
#18 Edited by pyromagnestir (4324 posts) -

Is it mean that I was hoping nobody would comment on this blog, since it kinda got buried yesterday, if only because I would have found that slightly amusing?

I read it yesterday and didn't want to sully the comment section with my own contribution, which would probably have been something like "HEY MAN Y YOU DON'T PLAY SOME GAMEZS REAL GAMEZSMANS PLAY NOT THIS CRAP NOBODY NEVER HEARD OF BE-4." My only experience with either of these games is I saw a friend of mine play through some Onimusha game and didn't much care for it.

#19 Edited by baka_shinji17 (224 posts) -

Man, that water puzzle in Onimusha was the worst. Surprisingly though, for such a short game and for owning it for several years, I have not actually completed it. Should I?

#20 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -
#21 Posted by baka_shinji17 (224 posts) -

@video_game_king: Maybe. Just to say I did, that I was there and experienced all that Onimusha had to offer.

#22 Edited by EXTomar (4724 posts) -

Man I wouldn't wish my worst most hated enemy to be Index. What a horrific unimaginable existence.

#23 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@baka_shinji17:

I'd say play it just so you don't have to play it again.

@extomar said:

Man I wouldn't wish my worst most hated enemy to be Index. What a horrific unimaginable existence.

Huh? Why? It's been a while since I watched the show, but I remember her being an alright character. At least she's not the shitty villain from the beginning of the second season, or.....Aleister Crowley? Again, been a while.

#24 Edited by GERALTITUDE (3318 posts) -

uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

excuse me??

ah hem.

Onimusha is one of my favourite games of all time, and that means that your review is wrong! Expect a long form rebuttal in the near future.