Monday, July 11, 2011

THEPLAYGAMER3: ONIMUSHA Warlords










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 went through many changes and was released as Genma Onimusha (幻魔 鬼武者?) for the Xbox in 2002. The game was also ported to PC Windows as Onimusha: Warlords, although this version was only released in Asia and Russia.


Story

The game features samurai Samanosuke Akechi (modeled after actor Takeshi Kaneshiro, also credited as the game's "guest creator"), determined to save Princess Yuki of the Saitō clan and defeat the warlord Oda Nobunaga, resurrected after signing a pact with yōkai demons. The game also features Kaede, a female ninja who provides Samanosuke with help. They both travel throughout all of Inabayama Castle, where they find special weapons and solve various puzzles as they search for clues of Princess Yuki's whereabouts.

Gameplay

Gameplay in the game is similar to that of Capcom's Resident Evil series, but with an emphasis on close-range combat.

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, 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 a sort of "currency" which can be used for upgrading weaponry, yellow souls recover health, while blue souls recover magic power which is used to perform each weapon's elemental abilities.

Some sections are played with Samanosuke's assistant, Kaede, who has her own array of weapons and abilities, but is unable to absorb souls.

Plot

The story begins in 1560 with a cinematic sequence set during a Battle of Okehazama between the forces of Imagawa Yoshimoto and Nobunaga of the Oda clan, with Samanosuke participating in fighting on Yoshimoto's side. As Oda clan's victory seems imminent, Nobunaga laughs until a stray arrow pierces his throat. A year later Samanosuke receives a letter from his cousin Princess Yuki of the Saitō clan. In the letter, Yuki says that maids and servants have been disappearing and she suspects monsters to be the culprit and also request that Samanosuke saves her from the castle before she ends up as one of the victims. Samanosuke and Kaede arrive at the castle but they're too late to rescue Yuki. The last scene shows an army of Oda soldiers marching on with a pale but living Nobunaga leading them on a horse.

The game begins as Samanosuke and Kaede split up and head to the keep. Samanosuke soon finds some genma creatures with an unconscious Princess Yuki. However, as the heroes have a brief reunion, a gigantic genma Osric emerges from the ground. Samanosuke attempts to defend Yuki, but is sent flying against the wall. As he lies unconscious, 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 wakes up and enters a cave, where he finds the Raizan. In a dry moat, he finds and kills Osric. Samanosuke then finds a laboratory and a genma scientist Guildenstern operating on a human. Guildenstern reveals that he has resurrected Nobunaga who then made a pact swearing his allegiance to the demons. Guildenstern escapes and sends a creature called Reynaldo, but Samanosuke defeats it and obtains the Enryuu in the laboratory. He then proceeds to a keep where he goes inside to find the entire place a derelict and encounters a man named Tokichiro Kinoshita wrestling with a young boy. After the boy escapes, Tokichiro states that he is a servant of the Oda clan and wonders if Samanosuke would be interested in joining, but Samanosuke refuses, saying that he controls his own life. As he moves on, Samanosuke sees Kaede chasing the boy and learns the boy's name is Yumemaru (Kaede later learns that he 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 enemy, however before he can give chase, Tokichiro confronts him once again with an offer to join the Oda clan. He also reveals 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 receives the Shippuu. With this, he is able to rescue Yumemaru and brings him to a secure room in the keep. Samanosuke then tells Kaede to stay with Yumemaru and the woman 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. However Guildenstern arrives from the darkness of the cell and leaves Kaede to die at the hand of a powerful genma; she escapes once it is dead.

Samanosuke awakens and kills his counterpart in the underground passage. He makes his way back into the keep and arrives in the room where the woman and Yumemaru are. The woman reveals her true form, which is that of an insect-like genma Hecuba, and erects a door to the demon world which 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. It would seem that Samanosuke killed Fortinbras and he frees Yumemaru and Yuki as Kaede enters the room. As they exit, the place comes crashing down and Fortinbras finds the strength to grab Samanosuke. Kaede, Yumemaru, and Yuki escapes 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 sees Nobunaga's reflection in Fortinbras' eye and the two stare at each other as the room continues to collapse.

During the ending sequence Yuki and Yumemaru follow Samanosuke’s advice and travel the world. After the end credits, Samanosuke is seen alive, viewing Inabayama Castle from afar, and still possessing the gauntlet.

Historical background

Samanosuke is the nephew of Akechi Mitsuhide (Akechi is the surname), the man historically credited to have actually killed Oda Nobunaga over 20 years after the events of the game. Samanosuke is rumored to be an alternative name for one of Mitsuhide's actual relatives who may have been born in 1537 and went by the name Akechi Hidemitsu (which is used by Samanosuke in Onimusha 3: Demon Siege). Some speculate that he was a nephew or cousin to Mitsuhide, others say brother-in-law, but not much is said about Samanosuke (Hidemitsu), just that he helped Mitsuhide in the attack on Nobunaga, and lived somewhat longer than Mitsuhide. His death is also a mystery: it was either seppuku or death in battle against Hideyoshi's troops.

Tokichiro Kinoshita was one of the names used by the man who would later be called Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Oda clan general who defeated Mitsuhide at the Battle of Yamazaki shortly after the latter betrayed and killed Nobunaga.

In the game, Nobunaga is killed at Okehazama, to be later resurrected by demons. Historically, he was actually mistakenly reported to have been felled by an arrow during this battle.

Characters

Samanosuke Akechi

Akechi Samanosuke (明智 左馬介?)

A master swordsman who travels across Japan seeking his rival. Often perceived as a passionless soldier because of his quiet ways, Samanosuke is actually a hot-blooded warrior with a noble sense of justice. In Onimusha 3: Demon Siege, where he is also one of the two main characters, his full name is revealed as Hidemitsu Samanosuke Akechi.

Samanosuke's weapons:

Arquebus is a primitive firearm which is also known as "hook gun".
Bishamon Sword (毘沙門剣 bishamonken?) is the ultimate sword bearing the name of the God of War, obtained by unlocking a door beyond the Evil Gate using the Bishamon Ocarina. Possesses unlimited magical power and high destructive capabilities.
Bow is an ancient weapon that shoots arrows powered by the elasticity of the bow.
Enryuu (炎龍剣, lit. Flame Dragon Sword) is a fire-elemental broadsword that is coupled with the Fire Orb, Kōen (紅炎).
Katana is a type of Japanese longsword traditionally used by the samurai.
Raizan (雷斬刀, lit. Thunder Slash Blade) is a lightning-elemental katana that is coupled with the Thunder Orb, Shiden (紫電).
Shippuu (疾風丸, lit. Gale Blade) is a wind-elemental naginata that is coupled with the Wind Orb, Arashi (白風).


Kaede

(かえで?)

An expert kunoichi, Kaede originally sent by an Iga ninja clan to assassinate Samanosuke for reasons unknown. Instead, she develops absolute trust in him and deep feelings of love (as shown in Onimusha Blade Warriors) for the samurai and joins him as his confidant. Following the events of the game, she spends 10 years looking for Samanosuke until she finally finds him (as seen in Onimusha Blade Warriors). After the reunion, they return to assist his uncle, Akechi Mitsuhide, in absolute secrecy. Samanosuke and Kaede then travel all over Japan, slaying genma wherever they may find them. Kaede was killed by the genma Gargant shortly before the events of Onimusha 3: Demon Siege; in the opening of this game Samanosuke avenges her death, and destroying Gargant and his army.

Kaede's weapons:

Knife is a sharp-edged (single or double edged) instrument consisting of a thin blade.
Kunai are small throwing tools for distance attacking.
Sacred Knife is the ultimate knife available to Kaede. This glowing red knife was blessed by a high oni monk in order to dispel demons.

Other characters

Princess Yuki (雪姫 Yukihime?): Yuki is the sister of Yoshitatsu of the Saitō clan, the master of Inabayama Castle and Samanosuke's cousin. She became aware of strange events in the castle and sends an SOS to Samanosuke. But before he arrives, she is mysteriously kidnapped.

Yumemaru (夢丸?): An enigmatic orphan discovered by Samanosuke while looking for Yuki in the castle.

Nobunaga Oda (織田 信長 Oda Nobunaga?): An exceptional warlord who aspires to unify Japan. With the victory against Imagawa at Okehazama, he rides a tidal wave of success. Nobunaga's victory is short-lived when he is stuck in the throat by an arrow. Though thought dead, he is revived by the genma lord Fortinbras to serve as his general.

Tokichiro Kinoshita (木下 藤吉郎 Kinoshita Tōkichirō?): One of Nobunaga's high-ranking generals, Kinoshita has the warlord's complete trust. Though he has sworn absolute loyalty to Nobunaga, the only thing Kinoshita truly cares about is his own advancement in the ranks of power.

Guildenstern (ギルデンスタン Girudensutan?): A genma scientist who creates many of the Genma's arsenal.

Marcellus: Originally an oni, Marcellus was converted into a genma through Guildenstern's experimentation. This engineered demon, created from materials fetched from the Cave of Treachery, is Guildenstern's pride and joy.
Ozric (オズリック Ozurikku?): The first boss.

Hecuba (ヘキュバ Hekyuba?): A giant wasp-woman genma.

Fortinbras (フォーティンブラス Fōtinburasu?): The genma lord responsible for the incident at Inabayama Castle and the resurrection of Nobunaga through Guildenstern.

Several of the enemies' names (Guildenstern, Reynaldo, Osric, Marcellus, Hecuba, and Fortinbras) come from William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Another historical figure mentioned in the game is Saitō Yoshitatsu.

Development

Onimusha was originally going to be for the PlayStation, but since the release of the PlayStation 2 (the game was about 50% done at that time) it was moved to the PS2. The PSX version was scrapped and never released.

The game's orchestral music was created by a deaf composer Mamoru Samuragochi and performed by New Japan Philharmonic. As opposed to the earlier games in the Resident Evil series, character movements were created using the motion capture technique. Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami is credited as an adviser to the game's production team.

Genma Onimusha

Onimusha: Warlords was ported to the Xbox in 2002 under the title Genma Onimusha. 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 addition 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 souls is absorbed by a demon, the demon's toughness dramatically increases and gains new attacks but upon death the amount of souls gained increases.

Notes

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.

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