North American PlayStation 2 cover art
|Artist(s)||Shimako Satō (opening)|
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, hack and slash, survival horror|
Onimusha: Warlords, released in Japan as Onimusha (鬼武者?), is the first action-adventure video game of the Onimusha series, released first for the PlayStation 2 in 2001. Later it was released in an updated form as Genma Onimusha (幻魔 鬼武者?) for the Xbox in 2002. The original Onimusha: Warlords version was also ported to Windows, although this version was only released in Asia and Russia.
The game's plot is set in the Sengoku period and focuses on the samurai Samanosuke Akechi who fights against the forces of Nobunaga Oda. After Nobunaga's death in battle, Samanosuke goes on a quest to save Princess Yuki from demons working alongside Nobunaga's forces. The player controls Samanosuke and his partner, a female ninja Kaede, in their fight against demons.
While the game borrows elements from Capcom's own Resident Evil survival horror series, such as solving puzzles and a fixed camera, the game is focused more on the action genre with Samanosuke possessing multiple weapons that can be upgraded by defeating several enemies. Capcom originally wanted to release the game for the original PlayStation but the close release of its next generation version resulting in the project being scrapped.
Following its release, Onimusha: Warlords achieved high popularity becoming the first PlayStation 2 game to reach the one million sales. Its sales eventually surpassed the two million units worldwide. The game has been well received by video game publications and has been recognized as one of the best titles on the system. It also spanned two direct sequels for the same console and other three games within the franchise.
The game features prerendered backgrounds. The player primarily controls swordsman Samanosuke Akechi in his fight against demons. The game balances its action elements with puzzle games that involve interacting with the environments and obtaining items to make progress.
The player begins the game with a standard katana sword, and can also obtain long range weapons with limited supply. However, as the player progresses, the protagonist Samanosuke can gain three elemental weapons: Raizan, Enyuu and Shippuu, each with an elemental magic attack. As enemies are defeated, they release different coloured souls that are absorbed by using the demon gauntlet on Samanosuke's wrist: red souls act as "currency" which can be used to upgrade weaponry, yellow souls recover health, while blue souls recover magic power which is used to perform each weapon's elemental abilities.
|Onimusha series fictional chronology|
The story begins in 1560 with a cinematic sequence set during a Battle of Okehazama between the forces of Imagawa Yoshimoto and Nobunaga Oda, with Samanosuke participating in fighting on Yoshimoto's side. Nobunaga dies during the combat. A year later, Samanosuke receives a letter from his cousin Princess Yuki of the Saitō clan, who writes that maids and servants have been disappearing and she suspects monsters to be the culprit, requesting that Samanosuke save her from the castle before she ends up as one of the victims. Samanosuke and Kaede arrive at the castle but they are too late to rescue Yuki.
As the game begins, Samanosuke and Kaede split up and head to the keep. Samanouske is defeated by a Genma while trying to rescue Yuki. He is visited by the twelve oni, who give Samanosuke the power to destroy the genma and absorb their souls with a mystical gauntlet. Samanosuke then finds a laboratory and a genma scientist Guildenstern who reveals that he has resurrected Nobunaga who then made a pact swearing his allegiance to the demons. Samanosuke defeats Guildenstern's creature called Reynaldo. He enters a derelict keep where he encounters a Nobunaga's servant Toyotomi Hideyoshi wrestling with a young boy. After the boy escapes, Samanosuke rejects Tokichiro's invitation to join the Oda clan. As he moves on, Samanosuke sees Kaede chasing a boy called Yumemaru (Kaede later learns that the boy is an orphan and Yuki has raised him like a brother).
As Samanosuke nears the top of the keep, he sees Yumemaru in the hands of an enemy, but before he can give chase, Tokichiro confronts him once again to repeat his offer and to reveal that the dark ceremony involving a human sacrifice will take place soon and Princess Yuki's skull would be filled with her blood; Fortinbras, the king of demons, will bless it and Nobunaga will drink it in order to become powerful and destroy the Saitō clan. Samanosuke defeats a strong genma Marcellus on the roof and is able to rescue Yumemaru and bring him to a secure room in the keep. Samanosuke then tells Kaede to stay with Yumemaru while he looks for Yuki in underground. While he searches, he finds himself once again in the presence of Tokichiro; with one last request to join the Oda clan, Tokichiro activates a trap device and Samanosuke is pulled down into the earth. Meanwhile, Kaede is rendered unconscious by a genma which looks like Samanosuke and Yumemaru is kidnapped by a woman. When she awakens, Kaede is led to the prison and finds Yuki locked in a cell. Guildenstern arrives and leaves Kaede to die at the hand of a powerful genma; she escapes once it is dead.
Samanosuke awakens and kills his doppelgänger in the underground passage. He makes his way back into the keep and finds Yumemaru with the woman who reveals her true form, which is that of an insect-like genma Hecuba, and erects a door to the demon world, where she flies into with Yumemaru. When Samanosuke faces her, she reveals that Yumemaru is to be killed in front of Yuki which will heighten her sorrow, thus granting Nobunaga even more power during the sacrifice. Samanosuke and Kaede eventually vanquish the insect genma. As Samanosuke makes his way through the demon door, he encounters Guildenstern who summons a more powerful version of Marcellus. After defeating him, Samanosuke makes his way into Fortinbras' throne room, where he finds Yuki and Yumemaru trapped on the upper level. Before he can free them, Fortinbras enters the room: after a brief conversation, the two clash. Samanosuke defeats Fortinbras and frees Yumemaru and Yuki as Kaede enters the room. As they exit, the place comes crashing down and the still alive Fortinbras grabs Samanosuke. Kaede, Yumemaru and Yuki escape as the strain of Fortinbras's grip causes Samanosuke to spit up blood. Some of the blood falls on the gauntlet and Samanosuke becomes an onimusha (oni warrior) and finishes-off Fortinbras by stabbing him in his central eye. As Samanosuke transforms back into a human, he encounters Nobunaga as the room continues to collapse.
During the ending sequence, Yuki and Yumemaru follow Samanosuke's advice and travel the world while it is heard that Kaede would die several years later in a fight. After the end credits, Samanosuke is seen alive, viewing Inabayama Castle from afar.
Onimusha was planned by Capcom as a trilogy. Its first title was originally being developed for the PlayStation, but the project was eventually moved to the PlayStation 2. The PlayStation version was scrapped and never released. It was about 50% complete before it was cancelled. Onimusha team's excitement about the PlayStation 2's capabilities resulted in that change. They developed the game basing on the system from the Resident Evil series.
The game's plot was written by Noboru Sugimura and Flagship. The storyline was set in the Sengoku period due to how its multiple conflicts could provide an interesting background for the plot. While the historical Oda Nobunaga can be considered either a hero or a villain, Capcom chose to portray him as the latter one. Character movements were created using motion capture. Film actor and singer Takeshi Kaneshiro was the character model and voice actor for Samanosuke Akechi.
The game's orchestral music is credited in-game to composer Mamoru Samuragochi. According to TIME, "To record it, Samuragoch[i] browbeat the producers into employing a 200-piece orchestra, including musicians playing such traditional instruments as a Japanese flute and taiko drums. The result is both haunting and inspirational, reminiscent of majestic scores for films like Lawrence of Arabia." However, he admitted years later to hiring Takashi Niigaki to ghostwrite the music for the game, for which Samuragochi took full credit.
In the English localization of Onimusha: Warlords, the word oni was translated as ogre. However, in all subsequent games in the series the word oni has remained intact in the English scripts. It was the only game within the series that gives players the option of hearing the voice acting in either English or Japanese with subtitles (this option was not provided in the UK/EU PAL version) included until the fourth installment, which also had this feature.
Onimusha: Warlords was ported to the Xbox in 2002 under the title Genma Onimusha. It was announced by Capcom in May 2001 with the company expecting to be released by late 2001. The Xbox version contains many updates to the game including enhanced graphics, new 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, new explorable areas, a new boss, new costumes and body armor, changes in enemy placements, and a three-tier charge attack to each weapon.
Additionally, the inclusion of green souls adds a new dimension to the game. When five green souls are in the player's possession, the player can activate temporary invulnerability with a slow health recharge. Players frequently have to enter tug-of-war scenarios with the enemies over the possession of green souls; if a green soul is absorbed by a demon, the demon will gain new attacks and they will also see a dramatic increase in their defense. They will also release a greater number of souls upon death.
Onimusha: Warlords was a commercial success, selling over 2 million copies worldwide, with 1.04 million copies sold in Japan. The game went Platinum in just under a month in the region, quickly becoming the top-selling PlayStation 2 game ever at the time of its release. It also sold at least 400,000 copies in North America, earning it Sony's Greatest Hits status. Capcom VP of Strategic Planning and Business Development Christian Svensson referred to the first two Onimusha games as one of their most successful titles.
The game has received positive reviews. Critics praised the graphics, sound and gameplay, but complained about the short length of the game. In Japan, Famitsu magazine scored the PlayStation 2 version of the game a 35 out of 40, and gave the Xbox version a 34 out of 40. As of 2010, the game has a GameRankings average score of 84% for the PlayStation 2 version and 81% for the Xbox port.
At the SIGGRAPH 2000 conference, Onimusha received the "Best of Show" award for its opening sequence. Complex listed it as one of the most beloved and missed PlayStation 2 games. In a 2010 retrospective, GamePro ranked it as the 28th best game for the PlayStation 2. In 2012, FHM included the game's Kaede among the nine "sexiest ninja babes in games".
The game spawned two direct sequels, Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny and Onimusha 3: Demon Siege, that followed Samanosuke and more warriors in their fight against Nobunaga Oda. While Demon Siege was the closing chapter of the story, Capcom developed Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams due to popular fan response. There have also been two spin-offs titled Onimusha Tactics and Onimusha Blade Warriors that focus on different genres. A bug within Warlords inspired game designer Hideki Kamiya in the making of the action game Devil May Cry.
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