Oni takes place in the year 2032, in a universe heavily inspired by Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell manga series. The player takes on the role of Konoko, a TCTF agent, tasked with tracking down a criminal organization known as the Syndicate.
At the time of its release, Oni was fairly unique, in that it attempted to blend third person fighting with gunplay. The player is only allowed to wield a single weapon at a time, and ammunition is generally scarce. This is meant to encourage players to stick primarily to melee combat, which gives the game its old school brawler flavor. Its control scheme was particularly notable in the Playstation 2 version, as movement was controlled by one analog stick, and camera movement was designated to the second analog stick, with punches and kicks being assigned to the shoulder buttons rather than the face buttons. While not used much for brawlers these days, that control scheme is now the universal standard for first and third person shooters on consoles.
Unlike a traditional beat ‘em up games, the player is never confined to small arena type settings for combat, but is instead allowed to explore rather large and open environments as they take on waves of enemies.
Enemies each have their own style of melee combat to counter Konoko’s, and are separated by class. Each class of enemy also has varying ranks of strength within that class. Much like other Bungie games, including Marathon and Halo, the varying ranks of enemies are distinguished by color.
The game also has multiple combos that the player can acquire as they progress through the game, and power up abilities can be found on dead enemies, or hidden within the environment. The power ups range from healing items, to a cloaking device, which makes Konoko invisible to enemies.
The world of Oni takes place in is dystopian, with the environment being so polluted and toxic that very few places are habitable by mankind. All of the world’s governments have combined to form the World Coalition Government. The government itself seems Orwellian in function, misleading the populace that highly hazardous and toxic zones are really nature preserves, and going to great lengths to suppress dissent.
The story begins as Konoko completes her training as a TCTF agent, and begins hunting down the criminal organization known as the Syndicate. It seems early on that Konoko isn’t a normal agent, as both the Syndicate and her employers have an unusual interest in her. She is aided by a “doll” (an android with a neural link to Konoko) called Shinatama, who relays commands and various information to Konoko.
As Konoko does her best to deal with the Syndicate, she encounters their leader, Muro and chases him down to an airport, where he tries to escape. Konoko plants a tracking device on his plane before he leaves, but it seems Muro is aware of this, and orders his henchmen to find the “SLD” linked to Konoko.
The Syndicate then attacks the TCTF building, and kidnaps Shinatama before Konoko can intervene. Konoko is ordered not to go after her, but she disobeys and heads off to find Shinatama anyway. As Konoko finds her, Shinatama reveals that she is too damaged to save, and reveals Konoko’s real name, as well as a small bit of information about her past.
From here, Konoko is pronounced by the TCTF to be a threat, and she must contend with them and the Syndicate to find out more about her past, and why everyone is after her.
Development and Release
Oni was the first and only product produced by Bungie West. It was released in 2001, for the Playstation 2, PC, and Mac, with the PlayStation 2 port being handled by Rockstar Games.
In June of 2000, it was announced that Bungie was going to be purchased by Microsoft, and after the release of Oni in 2001, Bungie West was folded, so that Bungie could focus on their transition to working within Microsoft Game Studios.
When it was released, Oni faced fairly mixed or negative reviews, with many critics expressing dismay with the AI and bland environments. Some features that were demonstrated or shown in trailers were also cut from the game, such as a LAN based multiplayer mode for the PC version, which was cut by Bungie due to latency concerns. Weapons that were shown in an early trailer also did not make it to the final game.
The game received some praise for its smooth animation and unique premise, but ultimately was always overshadowed by a large list of complaints.
Windows XP Patch
Some people trying to run this game in XP may find that it crashes frequently, in order to resolve this you can download a fan-made patch from here.
- The artwork of Oni is in fact by Larry Bundy Jr who famously is known as the video game personality "Guru Larry" and host of the Retro Corner show.
System Requirements (at launch)
- Windows 98/ME (with Service Pack 3 or higher)/2000.
- 266 MHz Pentium III processor or higher.
- 64MB of RAM.
- 800MB free hard disk space.
- Hardware accelerated 3D graphics card (OpenGL compatible).
- Video Modes Supported: Voodoo 2 , TNT2 , Rage Pro , Intel i890.
- Supported graphics: 3DFX Voodoo 2, ATI Rage Pro, ATI Rage 128.
- Only OpenGL, Glide and Software Rendering supported on WindowsNT.