So today’s game is awesome and is the first article written by someone other than me. Nick, a good friend of mine, has volunteered to help out and keep the content coming. I mean come on, so many games so little time right? So I hope you’re ready to enter a world of….
Swords and Samurais and Souls… Oh, My!
Onimusha: Warlords (2001-PS2)
Way back in the year 1560, there was a samurai named Akechi Samanosuke (pronounced… sah-mah-no-soo-kay) fighting alongside the Yoshimoto forces in the Battle of Okehazama. Kind of a mouthful, I know. The enemy is the Oda Clan and their leader, Nobunaga. The Oda clan is winning, like post-Iron-Man-Robert-Downey-Junior-winning … until an arrow pierces the throat of a defiant Nobunaga. He was too busy laughing at all of the death and swordplay going on to realize that an archer had gotten in throat-shooting range. No worries, the vicious leader survives. How does one survive an arrow to the throat in the year 1560? Simple, Nobunaga entrusted his life to his top genma scientist, Guildenstern.
Guildenstern is a mad-scientist who ALSO has a major hook-up with demons. They’re BFF’s. When he’s not composing landscapes and pruning bushes in his zen garden, G-stern enjoys manipulating the bodies of fallen soldiers and creating a myriad of intense monsters
and foot soldiers with supernatural abilities.
This axe is heavy… will you hold it in your belly for me?
Samanosuke, let’s just call him Sam, receives a letter a year after the Battle of Okehazama stating that his cousin, Princess Yuki, is afraid for her life. People in her village have been disappearing. She mentions the possibility of monsters. But, by the time Sam shows up (I’m assuming he was busy developing the fine art of drifting), Princess Yuki has been kidnapped. He easily finds her, but is bested by the monster-foot-soldiers. He is approached by the Oni, who grant him a magic gauntlet that allows him to absorb souls as well as the ability to summon mystical powers! You pretty much start the game with a bad-ass-lightning-sword and device that nibbles on souls. SOLD! As you kill the demons, they’re souls are released and you suck them into the gauntlet. Once you fill it up, you can release a special attack that involves quick strikes followed by a lightning bolt strike. Then, you’re off! Working your way through puzzles, battlefields, monsters, and boss-monsters.
For 2001, the graphics in Onimusha were top-notch. One specific scene that has been permanently engraved in my memory is where Samanosuke is outside at night. A magnificent, yet ominous, moon glows in the background. The moonlight shimmering off of a nearby pond. As you splash through the water, coy-fish make an attempt to avoid him. (this is during actual gameplay, not a cutscene). Water looks like water, demons feel evil and are incredibly unique, and the bosses are overly detailed. Character movements were created using motion capture. Resident Evil creator, Shinji Mikami, was credited as an advisor to the production team.
Starting the game with a lightning sword and a soul gauntlet sounds like it should suffice. But, Onimusha tells your mature sensibilities to shut up and provides you with the ability to earn a fire sword and a tornado-ey staff.. with blades on the ends. PLUS, you will eventually pick up a bow for shooting arrows, a goddamn blunderbuss, and a final sword which is literally the game-ender. By the way, did I mention that you are leveling up your weapons and armor the entire time you’re playing? Cause you are… and they look more and more ridiculous with each upgrade.
Sorry, I slipped… just gonna pretend to tie my shoe..
How many hands do you recommend to hold it?
The controls will have you feeling like you’re willing Samanosuke to make maneuvers and attacks. Onimusha made me feel like I was a highly skilled samurai with different blocks and side-stepping abilities. Although, while fighting the higher-level bosses button-mashing can be tempting. Ever since the end of the Onimusha series, I’ve craved the same feelings that this game provided me. Devil May Cry and God of War come very close. There are also mind-boggling puzzles that get progressively harder to mix things up.
I won’t get into the sequels, although I will say that they did not disappoint. Growing off of the first and becoming far more expansive with additional characters, baddies, and weapons. Highly addicting, Onimusha: Warlords was played and beaten over the course of one weekend by myself and a committed friend. Just couldn’t put down the controller. If you still have a PS2 lying around, I urge you to pick up a copy of Onimusha: Warlords or any of its sequels!
Samanosuke don’t give a shit