So there’s a chance Onimusha might come back…

In a recent interview, Street Fighter overlord Yoshinori Ono let slip that internal discussions at Capcom were occurring over which of the company’s many dormant classic series should be revived, with Onimusha being mentioned specifically by name.  I’m a big Onimusha fan, so naturally this is good news to me, even if nothing may ever result of such early discussions.  Beyond just Onimusha, I think Capcom of all publishers may very well sit on the largest vault of beloved series that have laid quiet for too long.  Off the top of my head, I can immediately think of Onimusha, Dino Crisis, Darkstalkers, Maximo, Okami, Final Fight, Power Stone, Demon’s Crest…. the list goes on.  It’s good to know that the door isn’t completely closed on some of these and indicates that Capcom still is in touch with what made the company a success in the first place…unlike certain other competitors of theirs.

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Onimusha was the first game I got a chance to play when I first got ahold of the PS2 back in the day.  I don’t know if other people have these, but there are certain games that in my mind sort of symbolize my experience with a console.  These games aren’t necessarily the best or my favorite games for a particular system, but they sort of set the tone for how I remember my time spent playing the rest of the platform’s library.  For NES, that would be Super Mario Bros.  For PS1, it would be Final Fantasy VII.  For PS2, it would probably be the original Onimusha: Warlords.  

For those who have no familiarity with Onimusha, imagine it as a hack-and-slash samurai version of Resident Evil.  The series is composed of four games, all of which were released during the lifespan of the PS2.  (There was also a tactical RPG spinoff on the GBA, and some mobile and browser games which are best left unmentioned.) The series mainly features Japanese swordsmen as playable protagonists in an alternate history where humans are covertly hunted for food and ritual sacrifice by a race of extra-dimensional demons known as the Genma.  Across history, the Genma have made blood pacts with great conquerors to lend their power in battle in exchange for a stable supply of human nourishment drawn from the defeated peoples.  During the point in history that the series takes place, the Genma have allied with the ambitious Japanese warlord Nobunaga Oda.  Nobunaga’s armies thus become a supernatural threat to the nation’s already war torn populace.

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Similar to the Resident Evil series, Onimusha features a fixed camera system with polygonal character models overlaid on pre-rendered backgrounds.  Movement comes in the form of RE-style tank controls, and  combat is, of course, focused on sword fighting as opposed to gunplay.  I wouldn’t call Onimusha a horror series, but especially in the first game you can sense the series’ survival horror forebears.  The original Onimusha features a dark and sometimes macabre atmosphere, and the events of the game are entirely centered on a feudal Japanese castle overrun with monsters in the same way that RE1 and 2 are centered on the Spencer Mansion and RCPD HQ respectively.   

In hearing of this news, I kind of have to wonder what a modern Onimusha game would look like.  I very much doubt today’s audiences would be receptive to a game that closely follows the series roots with pre-rendered backgrounds and tank controls.  I see a new Onimusha going one of two ways:  Either it would focus on slow-paced, methodical swordplay like Dark Souls or fast-paced acrobatic and combo-driven combat like Devil May Cry.  Of those two, I think the slower Dark Souls-inspired combat would be the preferable of the two, as that would be closer to the PS2 games.  Also, a game that took cues from Dark Souls’ horror atmosphere would help it feel like one of the original PS2 games.

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However, all of this dreaming may be for not, as Ono explained that there are going to be certain “battles” he’ll have to fight to get a new game made.  But, whatever, it’s just good to know that someone is fighting for it.

 

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Posted on February 14, 2016, in News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. The only Onimusha game that I managed to finish was the strategy RPG spin-off.

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  2. I have not played any Onimusha games. The settings and enemies in the game look interesting. I think a lot of horror games had a single setting in the first game and then produced sequels which used many locations. The story does sound like it is a fantasy game with horror elements, rather than a horror game. It seems strange for a hack and slash game to use a fixed camera, I am used to these games using a camera which follows the player as it makes it easier to make accurate attacks. Is it difficult to aim using the fixed camera? Do the other games continue the same story? Or do they use different characters in the same world? How are the Genma extra-dimensional?
    I was also interested to read the opinions about games symbolising consoles. I personally feel Sonic 3 and Knuckles symbolise the Mega Drive (as well as many computer games from the time) as it uses simple controls and little story and focusses on the player completing puzzles (rather than following a story). It also follows a popular franchise, with little additions to improve each game in the series, and many concepts which were accepted when playing the game, but seem completely strange with thought. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Mario 64 represent the Nintendo 64. Both show popular series’ being transformed for a console which uses 3-dimensional graphics and, while the stories become more prominent, they mainly focus on gameplay and the player developing their abilities to control the characters.

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    • I agree 100% with Sonic 3 and Knuckles! I never owned an N64, so I’m afraid I can’t really comment on it.

      The fixed camera angles may seem odd, but after I found out a little bit about the history of the game, it made more sense. Onimusha originally started out as being a Playstation 1 game, but the studio took so long in making it that they ultimately decided to change to PS2. The fixed camera angles were probably originally used because they work really well with the technological-limitations of the PS1. The game has a really nice feature where when you hit the attack button, the character immediately snaps to the closest enemy in front of them, so you don’t have to worrying about “aiming” attacks all that much. By the third game, they started getting away from that and let the camera move a little bit, but you still don’t have full control over it.

      The games feature different protagonists (except 1 and 3 share the same guy), but the stories of the four games always tie to Nobunaga’s attempts to conquer Japan using the Genma, who are sort of like aliens that comes from a different dimension. The third game starts to get a little bit weird with time travel though.

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      • Allowing the player to quickly face the nearest opponent seems like a good addition while playing with a third-person view (seems better than Grand Theft Auto, where the player has to cycle through potential targets and unarmed civilians while being shot repeatedly). It is interesting how some games are affected by their production (such as a game named Final Fantasy because the company was on the verge of bankruptcy).
        The story for the games seem to be related. In these genre of computer games, one game will usually have some weird addition or extremely fantastical element.
        Thanks for agreeing. I feel NiGHTS into Dreams symbolises the Sega Saturn, as it is an innovative and strange game and the graphics for the Sega Saturn (3-dimensional shapes with bright colours and smooth surfaces) add to the surreal and dreamlike nature of the game. Metal Gear Solid 3, for me, represents PlayStation 2 as it starts to use a complex story and unusual gameplay, while using some mystical and science-fiction elements and it is not intended for children. The Wii is symbolised by Wii Sports, as it fully uses the unique capabilities of the Wii remote and can be enjoyed by gamers and people only intended to play games as light entertainment.

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  3. Definitely have to agree about the slower-paced combat working better with Onimusha. I only played Warlords, the game to me was a lot more about apt dodges and picking the right moment to strike than a Devil May Cry-style character action slashfest. It was a lot more methodical, and I think it’d be hard to serve the same type of gameplay in a fast-paced engine.

    That’s really interesting, Capcom looking at adding more of their backlog into the modern era. They’ve got a huge amount of quality franchises that we haven’t seen anything from in a while; I’m looking forward to seeing if they turn anything out of these.

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  4. Adding to what you said, none of the Onimusha games have seen the light of day on PSN.

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    • There was a time I think during the PS3’s life when there were a lot of PS2 compilations coming out like Devil May Cry and Metal Gear Solid, and I’m a bit surprised Capcom never did one for Onimusha. Seems like they would have done that if they weren’t going to put them on PSN. They’ve been really good at getting their old PS1 and 2 games on PSN , otherwise.

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      • Yes, there was a 5th Anniversary Collection for Devil May Cry on PS2. It came out around one month before PS3 entered retailers.

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