Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams
|Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams|
|Developer(s)||Capcom Production Studio 2|
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, hack and slash|
Onimusha: Dawn Of Dreams, released in Japan as Shin Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams (新 鬼武者 DAWN OF DREAMS?), is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Capcom for the PlayStation 2. It is the sixth installment of Capcom's Onimusha overall series, while being the fourth game in the canonical main series. It was released in Japan in January 2006, followed by North American and European releases in March 2006. The plot is set in ancient Japan decades after the events of Onimusha 3: Demon Siege and focuses on Soki, a warrior who possesses Oni powers. Soki is on a quest to stop Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who has unified Japan in league with his demonic army of Genma, and he also joins forces with several allies who share the same goal.
While game retains the action elements from previous Onimusha, it offers a more varied amount of weapons as well as the option of going back to previous stage to unlock new content. The game also introduces a 3D camera as well as the ability to continuously fight alongside AI controlled characters who move depending on the player's orders. Dawn of Dreams was announced by Capcom due to high fan demand and several Capcom members realizing they could expand the action elements from Onimusha after working in Shadow of Rome. The game was designed in order to appeal to skilled gamers rather than the general market which resulted in appealing designs rather than realistic.
Following its release, Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams received good critical response. Writers praised the new action and exploration elements but also criticized some elements from its presentation including its dialogues and voice acting. However, the game generated poor sales. Dawn of Dreams also received a film adaptation and two manga spin-offs.
Dawn of Dreams utilizes a complete 3D rendition of its environment rather than pre-rendered backdrops. In addition, the player is now able to control the camera for most of the game, as opposed to the static camera angles employed within its predecessors. The player primarily controls a swordsman named Soki who retains the abilities from previous Onimusha heroes such as magical skills and the ability to absorb the demons' souls upon defeating them. The demons' soul allow the player increase the power of his weapons and protection as well as restore the character's health and magic powers. Soki can also enter for a short time into the Oni mode which increases his powers.
When obtaining enough experience, Soki levels up which gives the player the option of increasing any of Soki's skills and obtaining a new move as a result. Across his journey, Soki meets several allies who join him in combat. The player is responsible for handling their weaponry and level up. During gameplay, the second character that is not controlled by the player can be issued commands via the directional buttons. The player can also control the supporting character, allowing him to use the character's unique skills to perform an action Soki is unable to. For example, Jubei can take advantage of her low size to walk through weak floor while Tenkai can interact with spirits. There is also co-op mode that allows the second player to control another character.
Upon finishing a stage, the player rests in an area where they get the chance of going to a previous stage with a determined partner and unlock new items. Soki's teammates are able to combine the items Soki obtained in order to create a medicine. Additionally, a shop system allows the player to purchase weapons that they can upgrade, along with valuable supplies such as medicine and accessories that convey a variety of benefits.
There is a Dark Realm that the player can freely choose to enter after a certain point in the game. If the active character is wearing one of the secret Street Fighter II costumes in the Dark Realm, the associated character's theme will play from the Panasonic 3DO port of Super Street Fighter II Turbo.
|Onimusha series fictional chronology|
The game takes place in 1597, fifteen years after the defeat of Nobunaga Oda at the end of Onimusha 3: Demon Siege. Nobunaga's former vassal, Tokichiro Kinoshita, takes the name of Hideyoshi Toyotomi and control of the country, unifying it under one banner and essentially ending the wars that had torn the land apart under his former lord's banner. However, this period of peace ends with several natural disasters acting as an omen of things to come including the appearance of an "Omen Star" in the sky. The demonic army known as Genma return to Japan due to all of the natural disasters and prey on the innocent. Hideyoshi ignores all of the chaos sweeping the land. In addition, Hideyoshi sends massive armies of men and Genma to invade the Asian continent over seas. Hideyoshi uses the Genma armies to gather "cherry trees" across Japan.
The story follows Soki, Hideyoshi's illegitimate son who carries the power of the "Black Oni", the God of Darkness. He is on a journey to stop Hideyoshi's plans. He travels alongside a bagworm creature named Minokichi protecting humanity from the Genma. Across his journey Soki also encounters several warriors who are fighting the Genma including Akane "Jubei" Yagyū, a young member from the Yagyu clan who inherited Oni powers from her grandfather and is on a mission to kill her uncle; Ohatusu, Soki's childhood friend who is in search of him; Tenkai Nankobo, a monk formerly known as Samanosuke Akechi who is fighting the Genma again and requires Black Oni's help; Roberto Frois, a Christian missionary who wants take revenge on his former comrade Luis; and Arin, a girl with psychic powers who travels alongside Tenkai and assists Soki in becoming the "Onimusha", the Oni warrior capable of saving mankind.
In Soki's fight against the Genma he battles against several warriors who have allied with Hideyoshi. These include Munenori Yagyū, a former Yagyu member who Akane has been assigned to assassinate for allying with the Genma; Ishida Mitsunari, Hideyoshi's retainer; Luís Fróis, Roberto's guardian who betrayed him; Danemon Ban, a Genma samurai; Shima Sakon, a human made into a Genma; and Lady Yodo, a royal concubine to Hideyoshi. The three Genma Triumvirate Claudius, Rosencrantz and Ophelia are the ones controlling Ishida, Luis and Lady Yodo's bodies as they want to resurrect the Genma Lord Fortinbras, who despite being sealed in the Omen Star he can assume a spirit form to interact with Soki.
Soki and his allies manage to defeat the Genma Triumvirate but Mitsunari, Luis and Yodo perish as well. In Kyoto, Soki defeats Hideyoshi who later dies when Yodo reborns as the Genma Mother Tree. The group saves Yodo and prepare to rest from the battles. However, with Munenori's death, Fortinbras resurrects. In order to defeat Fortinbras, Tenkai passes Soki his gauntlet which possesses the power from the previous Genma Lord and enhances Soki's Oni power. Soki succeeds in slaying Fortinbras but he sacrifices his life to destroy the Genma trees. The world then returns to peace and Soki's allies continue with their lives.
Although Onimusha 3: Demon Siege was announced as the last Onimusha game, Capcom's Keiji Inafune explained it was actually the last title within Nobunaga Oda's storyline. Following the release of Demon Siege, Capcom got multiple requests by fans to develop another Onimusha game. Rather than making it a sequel titled Onimusha 4, the team thought about "resetting" the franchise as they planned to overhaul the gameplay. The game was announced in April 2005. The reveal included the game's premise and new main character. The cherry blossoms were defined by Inafune as the theme behind the game. Development of the game took two years. The making of the game was a very different process the previous Onimusha games had. At first there were few staff members so they worked in the game design. Later, the team was expanded with artists and programmers. Following this, the team often reunited several times to discuss ideas to finalize the design of the game.
As a result of not being part of the same saga, Dawn of Dreams was given new gameplay elements. While Nobunaga's trilogy gave the player a clear goal and a fixed camera, Dawn of Dreams offers a free camera meaning that players have the freedom to explore areas. To avoid having issues with the camera, the lock on function was made more clear while the joystick's right analogue allows to change enemy targets. The staff worked to keep the game at 60 frames per second while retaining the same graphical quality from previous games. In order to expand the exploration elements, players were given the possibility of going back to previous stages and obtain items thanks to items or abilities unlocked across the game. There was also the objective of giving the player far more options such as multiple weapons and strategies for non-controllable characters. When compared with the change the Resident Evil series had with its fourth installment, Inafune viewed the changes as smaller since Onimusha has always been focused on action unlike Resident Evil which changed from survival horror to action since its fourth title. He also mentioned the fighting system would be more intense than in previous games. When developing Shadow of Rome, producer Yoshinori Ono and Inafune realized they could innovate Onimusha by giving it more action elements. As Ono did not like some of the puzzles from previous games, he decided to make them optional by the players the option of obtaining the desired item by breaking the puzzle.
While previous games offered a mix of realism and fantasy, Dawn of Dreams had the concept of "cool." This affected the main character who was designed with the idea of making him look cool. Soki was not modelled after any famous Hollywood star unlike previous heroes. This is due to Capcom only trying to appeal hardcore games rather than team's original goal of expanding the games to the general market. This resulted in more complex game mechanics. Additionally, the use of actors gave Capcom restriction when making projects involving the franchise outside of video games. Inafune expected Dawn of Dreams to be adapted to other forms of media. In order to add returning characters despite not being able to live in Dawn of Dreams's storyline, the staff used alias. This generated early speculations most notably the Tenkai's true identity being Samanosuke Akechi, the returning hero from previous games. Ono did not respond to the fans' questions, expecting them to learn the true by playing it. Despite the focus on action rather than the setting, the team did not reduce the plot's length and instead they gave it twice the content of storyline than Demon Siege. Ono considered Demon Siege "quite short" and thus expected players to complete this game in between 30 and 40 hours.
The game's music is composed by Hideyuki Fukasawa and Jamie Christopherson. Fukasawa, who first came onto the video gaming music scene with his work on Chaos Legion, is responsible for most of Shin Onimusha's in-game music and soundtrack, while Christopherson was in charge of the game's cutscene orchestral scores. Two songs by Ayumi Hamasaki, one titled "Startin'" and the other "Rainy Day", are featured as the opening and ending themes for the game respectively.
Two manga tie-ins have been published by Udon Entertainment, filling in some of the background information behind the game:
- Onimusha: Twilight of Desire, by Takashi Yaguchi, talks about the battle between Tenkai and the nephew of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Toyotomi Hidetsugu, who was at the time utilizing Genma Power introduced by Ophelia. This story takes place before the game and is also part of the reason why Hideyoshi came to utilize the Genma Power.
- Onimusha: Night of Genesis Volumes 1 & 2, by Mitsuru Ohsaki, explains some of the story between Soki and Hideyoshi, Soki's subsequent quest to destroy the Genma trees, and the machinations of Soki's birth family, the Tokugawa. It also details Jubei's inheritance of her grandfather's name and the awakening of her Demon Eye, as well as her start of her quest to hunt down Munenori.
A film adaptation, which compiles all the CG cutscenes from the game with newly animated ones to tell the story from Akane's perspective, was released on DVD in Japan on July 26, 2006 by Avex Trax. The film has been licensed in North America by Media Blasters.
In 2010, a commercial for a pachislo version was released. Sōki has also appeared as a playable character in the 2008 fighting game, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes, and its international release, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars with his allies appearing in his arcade ending, as NPC's.
Dawn of Dreams underperformed upon release according to Capcom. It was the 41st bestselling game in Japan in 2006 with a total of 325,872 units shipped. Capcom VP of Strategic Planning and Business Development Christian Svensson referred to Demon Siege and Dawn of Dreams as less successful games than the first two Onimusha. In 2012, GamesRadar listed Dawn of Dreams as one of the titles they wished to be rereleased in a HD collection since they noted the original game did not achieve good popularity as result of the next generation consoles having been released in the same period.
Despite its poor popularity, Dawn of Dreams received positive critical response by video game publications. It has had aggregate score of 81/100 on Metacritic and GameRankings. Praise was aimed commonly at its new action elements that give player a more varied combat. IGN commented that "you won't be fighting the smartest enemies in the world (and some of the puzzles can be tedious) but the combat is fantastic and the challenge is just right." The unique of the controllable characters were noted for giving the player the idea of returning to previous stages and unlock new items. Although the new two player mode has been welcome by critics, Cheat Code Central and GameRevolution noted some issues within it that made it less appealing.
While GameSpot praised the quality of the voice acting, VideoGamer.com criticized it and was disappointed with how the European release of the title lacked the original Japanese audio unlike the North American release. The presentation received general positive response due to its graphics and cutscenes. Some critics noted some translation issues that affected the script. Nevertheless, the plot generated good responses by VideoGamer.com and Cheat Code Central, the latter website finding it more enjoyable than previous Onimusha games thanks to the levity it has. VideoGamer noted while at first it could be difficult to understand to newcomers, the plot became more interesting as it moved on.
During 2007 Keiji Inafune commented that as Dawn of Dreams lacked characters based on real actors he felt there was entertainment value missing. As a result, he commented that should he ever make another Onimusha game he would add more of these characters. Inafune also talked about making a follow up to Dawn of Dreams but he stated he was more interested in developing Mega Man Legends 3.
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