Oni (video game)

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Oni Coverart.jpg
Developer(s)Bungie West[a]
Publisher(s)Gathering of Developers (Windows & Mac)
Rockstar Games (PS2)
Producer(s)Hamilton Chu[1]
Designer(s)Hardy LeBel
Composer(s)Michael Salvatori
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, PlayStation 2
ReleaseMicrosoft Windows
  • EU: January 26, 2001
  • NA: January 28, 2001
  • JP: September 27, 2001
PlayStation 2
  • NA: January 29, 2001
  • EU: March 9, 2001
Mac OS
  • JP: October 25, 2001
  • NA: October 26, 2001
Genre(s)Action, beat 'em up, third-person shooter

Oni is a third-person action video game developed by Bungie West, a division of Bungie. Released in 2001, it was Bungie West's only game. Gameplay consists of third-person shooting with hand-to-hand combat, with a focus on the latter. Originally planned just for the Mac OS and Windows, a PlayStation 2 port was concurrently developed by Rockstar Canada. The game's style was largely inspired by Ghost in the Shell and Akira and shares the same genre, being set in a cyberpunk world.


Konoko using a move effective on multiple enemies, the Devil Spin Kick.

There are ten different guns in Oni, including handguns, rifles, rocket launchers, and energy weapons. Power-ups such as "hyposprays", which heal damage, and cloaking devices, which render the player invisible, can be found scattered throughout the levels or on corpses. Since the player can carry only one weapon at a time and ammunition is scarce, hand-to-hand combat is the most effective and common means of defeating enemies. The player can punch, kick, and throw enemies; progressing into later levels unlocks stronger moves and combos.

There are multiple classes of enemy, each with its own style of unarmed combat. Each class is subdivided into tiers of increasing strength. As in Bungie's earlier Marathon titles, tiers are color-coded, in this case by green (weakest), blue, and red (strongest). Also color-coded are the levels of health each opponent has, indicated by a flash when the player strikes or shoots them. Green flashes show the opponent has high health, red flashes show the enemy is near death.

Oni does not confine the player to fighting small groups of enemies in small arenas; each area is fully open to explore. The fourteen levels are of various sizes, some large enough to comprise an entire building. Bungie hired two architects to design the buildings.

The Oni engine implements a method of interpolation that tweens key frames, smoothing out the animation of complex martial-arts moves. However, frame slippage is a common problem when multiple non-player characters near the player are attacking.


The events of Oni take place in or after the year 2032. In the game, Earth is so polluted that little of it remains habitable. To solve international economic crises, all nations have combined into a single entity, the World Coalition Government. The government is totalitarian, telling the populace that what are actually dangerously toxic regions are wilderness preserves, and uses its police forces, the Technological Crimes Task Force (TCTF), to suppress opposition. The player character, code-named Konoko (voiced by Amanda Winn-Lee), full name later given as Mai Hasegawa, begins the game working for the TCTF. Soon, she learns her employers have been keeping secrets about her past from her. She turns against them as she embarks on a quest of self-discovery. The player learns more about her family and origins while battling both the TCTF and its greatest enemy, the equally monolithic criminal organization called the Syndicate. In the game's climax, Konoko discovers a Syndicate plan to cause the Atmospheric Conversion Centers, air-treatment plants necessary to keep most of the world's population alive, to catastrophically malfunction. She is partially successful in thwarting the plot, saving a portion of humanity.


The game's universe is heavily influenced by Mamoru Oshii's anime film Ghost in the Shell, with some additional influence from Akira and the works of Kenichi Sonoda.[1][2][3][4][5] The original plan was for Konoko to be a cyborg like Ghost in the Shell's Motoko Kusanagi. The explanation for her superhuman abilities was changed to be more organic with the addition of the Daodan Chrysalis concept by design lead Hardy LeBel.

Oni was originally expected to be released in the fourth quarter of 1999. Advertising was targeted towards that shipping date, and the game won E3's Game Critics Awards for Best Action/Adventure Game in 1999. However, development difficulties caused the release date to be pushed back continuously. The acquisition of Bungie by Microsoft in 2000 then led to the transfer of the Oni IP to Take-Two Interactive (which owned 20% of the studio prior to Microsoft's acquisition). Since Bungie's employees were moving to the new office location in Microsoft's headquarters or leaving the company, work on Oni had to be completed as quickly as possible. Due to a lack of time to resolve issues with the multiplayer code and to finish the levels intended for use by multiplayer mode, this functionality was omitted from the released version.

A sequel was in development at Angel Studios for two years before being cancelled for unknown reasons.[6][7]


The game received "average" reviews on both platforms according to the review aggregation website Metacritic.[8][9] Some reviewers were unimpressed by the minimal detail of the environment graphics,[33] the lack of intelligence on the part of the AI in some situations,[34] and the plot, which was occasionally criticized as underdeveloped.[35] The game's difficulty in combination with a lack of savepoints was sometimes cited as a negative.[36]

Moreover, many fans felt cheated because the game did not deliver on all of its promises. The most notable shortcoming was the absence of LAN-based multiplayer, which had been demoed at hands-on booths at Macworld Expos during Oni's development, but removed before release due to stated concerns over latency issues. This too contributed to some lower scores from reviewers.[26] Some of the game's content was cut as well. This included the highly anticipated "Iron Demon", a large mech shown in-game in one trailer. Also, many of the weapons featured in the trailer and the game cover were not in the game.

On positive side, Oni received the most praise for its smooth character animation and large array of fighting moves, as well as how it blended gunplay and melee combat.[37] Thus, reviewers gave Oni mostly average-to-good scores in recognition of the enjoyment factor of the game. Jeff Lundgren of Next Generation said of the PlayStation 2 version: "It may have been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait. In fact, in a number of important ways, this is the game The Bouncer should have been".[28]

In the United States, Oni sold 50,000 copies by October 2001.[38]

Anniversary Edition[edit]

"The Anniversary Edition" was made by fans and the community, based on years of research, and enhances the retail copy of Oni. The first official release of the Edition was made seven years after Oni's release, hence the original name of the project, "Seventh Anniversary Edition".[39]


  1. ^ Ported to PlayStation 2 by Rockstar Canada; Mac version ported from Carbon to Cocoa environment by The Omni Group for increased OS X compatibility, and from PowerPC to Intel by Feral Interactive.


  1. ^ a b Kushner, David (June 2000). "Ghost in the Machine". SPIN. 16 (6): 86. ISSN 0886-3032.
  2. ^ Al-Shakarchi, Harry. "Interview with lead engineer Brent Pease". Bungie.org. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
  3. ^ Al-Shakarchi, Harry. "Interview with concept artist Alex Okita". Bungie.org. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  4. ^ Kane, Alex (March 30, 2017). "Flashback: 'Oni', Bungie's Cult Classic Inspired by 'Ghost in the Shell'". Glixel. Archived from the original on 2017-07-05.
  5. ^ Watson, Michael (June 1999). "Interview with Lorraine Reyes, Art Director/Creative Director of Marketing at Bungie Software". MacGamer's Ledge. Archived from the original on 2000-12-04.
  6. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (December 7, 2016). "Oni 2 was once in development, here's what it looked like". Eurogamer. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  7. ^ Alexandra, Heather (December 5, 2016). "Bungie's Cult Classic Oni Almost Had A Sequel". Kotaku. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Oni for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Oni for PlayStation 2 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  10. ^ Norands, Alec. "Oni (PC) - Review". Allgame. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  11. ^ Thompson, Jon. "Oni (PS2) - Review". Allgame. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  12. ^ Edge staff (February 2001). "Oni". Edge (94).
  13. ^ EGM Staff (April 2001). "Oni (PS2)". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Archived from the original on 2001-04-21. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  14. ^ Bramwell, Tom (2001-02-08). "Oni Review (PC)". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  15. ^ Reiner, Andrew (March 2001). "Oni". Game Informer (95): 67. Archived from the original on 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  16. ^ Uncle Dust (2001-01-29). "Oni Review for PS2 on GamePro.com". GamePro. Archived from the original on 2005-03-09. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  17. ^ White, A.A. (January 2001). "Oni Review (PC)". Game Revolution. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  18. ^ White, A.A. (February 2001). "Oni - Playstation 2 Review". Game Revolution. Archived from the original on 2001-03-31. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  19. ^ Gerstmann, Jeff (2001-01-31). "Oni Review (PS2)". GameSpot. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  20. ^ Kasavin, Greg (2001-01-17). "Oni Review (PC)". GameSpot. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  21. ^ Thernes, Ryan "StoneWolf" (2001-01-27). "Oni (PC)". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 2001-02-15. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  22. ^ Alupului, Andrei (2001-02-14). "Oni". PlanetPS2. Archived from the original on 2001-02-23. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  23. ^ Lafferty, Michael (2001-01-09). "Oni Review - PC". GameZone. Archived from the original on 2008-01-12. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  24. ^ The Badger (2001-04-23). "Oni (PS2)". GameZone. Archived from the original on 2001-04-29. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  25. ^ Jones, Gareth (March 2001). "Oni". Hyper. No. 89. pp. 52–53.
  26. ^ a b Adams, Dan (2001-01-30). "Oni (PC)". IGN. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  27. ^ Perry, Doug (2001-02-01). "Oni (PS2)". IGN. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  28. ^ a b Lundgren, Jeff (April 2001). "Oni (PS2)". Next Generation. Imagine Media (76): 74.
  29. ^ "Oni (PS2)". Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine. April 2001. Archived from the original on 2001-04-18. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  30. ^ "Oni". PC Gamer: 96. April 2001.
  31. ^ Saltzman, Marc (2001-03-07). "'Oni' fun in spite of flaws". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Archived from the original on 2007-10-01. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  32. ^ Ryan, Michael E. (2001-03-05). "Anime Adventure: Oni". Playboy. Archived from the original on 2001-10-18. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  33. ^ Hill, Mark (2001-08-13). "PC Review: Oni". PC Zone. Archived from the original on 2007-06-24. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  34. ^ Eilers, Michael (2001-01-29). "Oni". Inside Mac Games. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
  35. ^ Firing Squad's review
  36. ^ Clydesdale, Jimmy (2001-01-25). "Oni". Game Over. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
  37. ^ Misund, Andreas. "Oni Review". Gamer's Hell. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
  38. ^ Keighley, Geoff (October 2001). "GOD's Games" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. No. 207. Ziff Davis. p. 31. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  39. ^ "Anniversary Edition - OniGalore". wiki.oni2.net. Retrieved 2019-11-08.

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