The logo of Onimusha: Warlords, the first game in the series. Subsequent titles use a similar logo.
|Platforms||Game Boy Advance, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox|
|First release||Onimusha: Warlords
January 25, 2001
|Latest release||Onimusha Soul
June 28, 2012
Onimusha (鬼武者?, literally "Oni Warrior") is a series of video games by developer Capcom. The series makes use of the historic figures that shaped Japan's history, retelling their stories with supernatural elements. Most of the games are of the action-adventure game genre, a combination of third person combat and puzzle solving, where the protagonist wields the power of the Oni, enabling them to fight the Genma, the main enemy of the series. As of 2012, Onimusha is Capcom's sixth biggest franchise, behind the Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Mega Man, Monster Hunter, and Devil May Cry series.
The series originates in Yoshiki Okamoto's 1997 idea to create Sengoku Biohazard, a ninja version of Capcom's own 1996 Resident Evil (known as Biohazard in Japan), set in the Sengoku period and featuring a "ninja house" filled with booby traps, similar to the mansion from Resident Evil, where battles would be fought using swords and shuriken: "The house will contain hidden doors behind walls, ceilings that fall down to you, scrolls and ninja magic, and many other ninja techniques."
Onimusha: Warlords was originally being developed for the original PlayStation, but the project was eventually moved to the PlayStation 2. The half-finished original PlayStation version of Onimusha was then scrapped and never released.
The central character of the series, Samanosuke Akechi, is modeled after Takeshi Kaneshiro, who also voiced the character. Real people were used as models for other characters in the series, including the late Yūsaku Matsuda in Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny and Jean Reno (alongside Takeshi Kaneshiro) in Onimusha 3: Demon Siege. Character movements throughout the series were created using motion capture.
The series was initially planned to be only a trilogy, but a fourth installment, Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams was released in 2006. In 2012, Capcom announced a browser-based game Onimusha Soul, which was also scheduled to be released for the PlayStation 3 in Japan in 2014.
Although the protagonist changes in every Onimusha title, he is always a skilled swordsman who embarks on a set mission which involves slaying demons and fearsome enemies during the waning years of the Sengoku period of feudal Japan. In each game, the protagonist has the ability to absorb Genma souls from defeated enemies, which help to restore health, infuse power in weapons and armor, and provide power for the elemental attacks of special weapons.
The player controls their character using the D-pad (although later games such as Onimusha 3: Demon Siege and Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams introduced analog stick control) and travels in a fairly linear method, able to rotate slowly with the input of an opposing direction. Characters tend to move slowly and can only slightly increase their speed with the dash maneuver by tapping twice in any direction. Actions common to many action-oriented games, such as jumping, grabbing, and climbing over obstacles, cannot be performed in Onimusha games.
Onimusha is very action-oriented with an emphasis on combat, and employing some horror elements. The player has an arsenal of weaponry, ranging from katana to elemental-based broadswords. The player possesses a limited supply of spiritual energy which can be used for magical attacks. These magical attacks, which vary depending upon which weapon is equipped and other offensive attributes, can be improved throughout the game by accumulation of souls from defeated enemies.
Based primarily throughout the Japanese Sengoku period, Onimusha: Warlords starts with the feudal lord Nobunaga Oda being killed during a battle. One of the prominent fighters, Hidemitsu Samanosuke Akechi, receives a letter from his cousin Princess Yuki who is concerned about servants from her castle disappearing. Samanosuke joins with the kunoichi Kaede to rescue Yuki and discover demonic creatures known as Genma are the culprits. In order to defeat the Genma, the Oni clan grant Samanosuke powers from their kind. Across his fights Samanosuke discovers the Genma have resurrected Nobunaga and that they are serving him. The Genma plan to sacrifice Yuki and an orphan named Yunemaru to grant Nobunaga more powers. Samanosuke manages to save Yuki and Yunemaru and kills the Genma Lord, Fortinbras. Samanosuke's group then takes different paths.
The sequel, Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny, has Nobunaga replacing Fortinbras as the new Genma Lord and using his new forces in order to unify Japan. One of his targets is the Yagyu village whose clans are in charge of eliminating the Genma. The clan's only survivor, Jubei Yagyu, goes on a quest to avenge his clan. Jubei discovers that he inherited Oni powers from his mother and uses them alongside the Oni's five orbs to battle Nobunaga's soldiers. Across his journey, Jubei meets several allies who also seek the defeat of the new Genma Lord. Jubei manages to infiltrate Gifu castle and confronts Nobunaga alone. Although Jubei kills Nobunaga, his soul swears to return. The spin-off Onimusha: Blade Warriors has the cast from Warlords and Samurai's Destiny in a new battle against Nobunaga's forces.
The third and final chapter from the trilogy, Onimusha 3: Demon Siege, has Samanosuke's clan attacking the Oda forces again. Before confronting Nobunaga, Samanosuke is transported to Modern Paris as a result of an experiment made by Genma scientist Guildernstern in order to let the Genma conquer more lands. In the meantime, service agent Jacques Blanc is a victim of Guildernstern and is transported to Japan in the Sengoku period. There, Jacques is granted oni powers by an oni who tells him to join forces with this timeline's Samanosuke and defeat Nobunaga if he wishes to return home. While Jacques aids Samanosuke in the past, in the future Samanosuke is helped by Jacques' family to investigate the Genma. In the end the two oni warriors are successful in stopping the invasion and return to their respective times. In the past Samanosuke slays Nobunaga and absorbs his soul to avoid another resurrection.
The fourth game, Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams, has Nobunaga's servant Hideyoshi Toyotomi unifying Japan in league with the Genma. His illegitimate son, Hideyasu "Soki" Yuki, goes on a quest to defeat Hideyoshi and stop the Genma. He is aided by several other warriors including an elder Samanosuke who recognizes him as the Black Oni, the God of Darkness. After mastering his oni powers, Soki joins with his friends to defeat Hideyoshi's army. In the aftermath it is revealed that Hideyoshi was a puppet of the Genma Triunvirate who wish to resurrect the Genma Lord Fortinbras, the God of Light. Although the Genma Triunvirate and Hideyoshi are defeated, Fortinbras resurrects. Soki manages to kill Fortinbras and restore country's peace but at the cost of his life.
|Onimusha: Warlords||(PS2) 86
|Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny||(PS2) 84|
|Onimusha 3: Demon Siege||(PS2) 85
|Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams||(PS2) 81|
The Onimusha series has received overall positive reviews with most of the main games on the PlayStation 2, receiving average scores of more than 80%. As a comparison, most spin-offs from the series have not been as successful. The titles have influenced other games from the company including Devil May Cry, Shadow of Rome and Resident Evil 4. The samurai game Genji: Dawn of the Samurai was cited by Inafune as an "Onimusha clone" although its designer Yoshiki Okamoto denied such statement.
The series has often been compared with the Resident Evil series and has been praised for its focus in action. However, the first two games were criticized for forcing the player to use the Directional Pad rather than the left analogue to make the playable character to move. This issue was solved with the third release which generated a good response. Another subject of criticism is the length of each game with opinions sometimes differing due to the replay value they offer. Yoshinori Ono acknowledged the third game's short length and thus made Dawn of Dreams become the series' longest title.
The original game was a major hit on the PS2, becoming the console's first game to sell over a million copies. While Onimusha 2 was also a best selling titles Capcom noticed how it did poorly in European regions. The third and fourth titles received less favorable sales with Keiji Inafune addressing people's concerns about how the former game did not feel like a samurai story while GamesRadar noted the latter was overshadowed by next generation consoles. As December 31, 2012, the series has sold at least 7.9 million copies to date.
Film adaptation project
In May 2003, Paramount Pictures, Davis Films and Gaga Productions announced its joint venture to adapt the Onimusha game series into a $50 million live-action feature film. According to Paramount and Davis Films' Samuel Hadida, "It's samurai fighting against demons – it's very close to this simple pitch. There's also a love story woven in. It's a big adventure movie with lots of special effects." He also proposed the possibility of a film franchise.
In December 2006, director Christophe Gans said that he had Onimusha lined up to film. The film, budgeted at over $70 million, was to begin production in China in February 2008 for a December 2009 release. It was reported that Takeshi Kaneshiro would be in the movie, reprising his role as Samanosuke. Hadida had to delay the filming of Onimusha, which has resulted in the film's Japanese cast working on other film projects during the delay, and being unavailable to start filming Onimusha. These factors meant that Gans would direct an adaptation of Leo Perutz's novel The Swedish Cavalier first. Satomi Ishihara and Tsuyoshi Ihara remained attached to the project.
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