By Yummylee 30 Comments
So, yeah, I just completed this lil gem here and was surprised to find my apparent playtime clocked at just a little over 4 hours... 4 hours, and that still included much backtracking as I tried to remember where those doors with the three eye emblem things to return to where. Though its noticeably short length definitely mixes in with the rest of the game, which overall just sorta feels... incomplete, or at the very least like it's some sort of tech-demo that was to set the foundation for the rest of the series, most especially the much more well put together Onimusha 3 and Dawn of Dreams.
I didn't necessarily dislike this game, though, but... the way the ending just sorta ends, after a rather lackluster boss fight, and without you fighting Nobunaga nor even getting to play as Samanosuke in his Oni form--one particular feature that became a staple shortly after with its sequels--left me with the impression that either the time alotted or its budget wasn't quite enough to make the game they intended.
For starters there's the way the game is designed, which makes stuff like the classic Resident Evil games come across as linear by comparison! The Resident Evil series are a good example to bring up at that, given the many similarities between the two related to the camera angles, tank controls, herbs, and prerendered backgrounds. But difference is in Resident Evil, you often still felt like you were progressing through a larger design; in the original game, you began in the Mansion, then you entered the Residential Building, the underground caverns, and then of course finally ended up at the Umbrella lab.
There was always multiple environments for you to eventually lead into as the game went on, whereas in Onimusha it felt like I was continuing to simply run around in circles amidst the Keep, until I was eventually lead into the demon realm or whatever, only for me to almost immediately face against two bosses in pretty quick succession, and then game over. I
Then there's that side character Ninja lady, who's inclusion felt a bit forced, and she ultimately didn't amount to much. She pretty much plays like Samanosuke, only she can't absorb souls, nor does she have any of the demon weapons, and there was simply nothing unique about controlling her.
It's still a pretty fun game, though, and it was certainly interesting to head back to find out how this series began. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it still manages to hold up at that, as it still looks pretty good courtesy of its beautifully detailed backgrounds, and its simplistic hack & slash gameplay is much like how I remembered it from Onimusha 3 -- fun, while deceptively rudimentary, with a much larger focus on timing more so than stylish combos ala Devil May Cry. Though the camera angles admittedly proved to be a nuisance sometimes, given its much more faster-paced action gameplay, but I was still able to get through it without any serious issue.
The writing and the voice acting are also horrendously bad as well, though that was the norm for a lot of games of that era of course, most especially Capcom's. But it didn't get in the way too much, and if anything proved to be rather entertaining, as if you're watching some poorly dubbed martial arts movie.
I guess I can understand why this game impressed so much upon release, as it is one of many of Capcom's technical showpieces, and undoubtedly made for a solid benchmark for the power of the PS2 at the time. Though with the release of its many sequels, two of which are undoubtedly its superior, the original kinda feels redundant in the grand scheme. But again, as a curiosity, it certainly served its purpose and I'm glad I finally got around to this. Also, unlockable panda outfit. That's almost as good as the gorilla centurion outfit in Shadow of Rome! Almost.
Though getting back to the start of all this, I was genuinely surprised to find how short this game is. There doesn't appear to be a pantheon of unlockable shit either, like most Capcom games. Although that panda bear outfit is still a cute novelty all the same. I've read that its original xbox version added in a notable suite of content at least, but it is a port I unfortunately lack access to =X
Good game, if still primarily obsolete with the existence of its much superior sequels. Hell, I'd even say that Onimusha 2 is a much better game, if not a more interesting one, after what little I've played so far.
Now goddamnit, Capcom, where's my damn Onimusha reboot/belated sequel?? The least you could do is give us a HD collection for Onimusha 3 & Dawn of Dreams! Just... y'know, something. Despite the shit-flinging from the claws of Capcom Megaman has to put up with, at least that guy is still getting acknowledged!