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Genma Onimusha



Action/Survival Horror



The same ole' short-lived PS2 action, but it still kicks a lot of ass. The Xbox gets it's demon soul-suck on.

Having not been much of a fan of the original incarnation that was released back on the PlayStation 2 a year ago due to it being short-lived, I entered Genma Onimusha (a mere upgrade, not sequel, to its predecessor) as a person who's played and beaten the original would. And that, of course, being the "it's no big deal to see and play an upgraded version" feeling.

If you've played the original, you're not going to find much new here that would make you want to pick this title up, as it still is basically the same game with only minor enhancements. But if you haven't, then Genma Onimusha is the game for you. And for those familiar with the Resident Evil series control, you'll feel right at home.

The story behind Genma is exactly as its younger PS2 brother: playing as two characters - Samanosuke and Kaede (meaning "female ninja") - in a demon congested Feudal Japan in search of the princess who has been turned up missing, it is your mission to save and protect the young princess by all means. And much like Buffy of another mother, this place has some freaky sh#@ going down.

I have to sidetrack for a moment and just say that the intro to this game never gets old. For those of you that haven't played the original as of yet I won't spoil it for you, but I just want to point out that it's bad-ass in all regards. Nice level of action, some gore and is just outright amazing - get the game for the cinemas if nothing else.

"The sound department did a great job with this game. "

Resident Evil fans will find themselves at home with this game, as the control scheme is set up identical to that of the renowned RE series (up is always forward, down is backwards, etc.). For those of unfamiliar with the series this will take some time to get use to and may become a pain, especially if you prefer the more linear games, where the directional pad corresponds to the direction in which your character is currently facing. Characters still seem to move rather slow and groggy-like and it takes forever for your character to do a complete 360 degree spin. This becomes a problem in heavy battles where your enemies are attacking from all sides. Luckily, though, the game has a button that makes your character perform a 180 degree spin for quick attacks.

An arsenal of ninja style weapons, ranging from swords to bow and arrows, is available at your disposal. Samanosuke is even equipped with a demon gauntlet on his right arm that he gets from the spirits, which allows him to absorb the souls of the demons he kills. These souls can then be used for customizing your weapons with added abilities and strength.

"If you haven't picked up the original, this is definitely worth a look. "

You have your basic attack button (which you only need to press repeatedly to unleash a barrage of combos) as well as having your absorb and magical attacks button. To unleash your magical attack you need to collect a certain amount of souls (there are various types of souls: green, pink, yellow and white). Each differently colored soul is used for something different. Yellow souls replenish your health. White souls fill up your power meter. Pink souls are using for customizing your weapons and items. The most important soul in the game, the green soul, allows you to unleash your demon magic, which makes your invulnerable and strengthens your attacks for a period of time. To get souls you merely only have to kill something or find treasure chests or other hidden items.

What's unique about the souls is that unlike most games where you merely only need to walk over the item to pick it up, Genma makes you press and hold an absorb button (much like Soul Reaver). But what's more is that your enemies can also pick up the souls, and if they do the battle becomes much worse, as if they pick up certain souls (such as the green souls) it makes them go "berserk". When in this state they attack more and their strength is increased. It basically makes them go ballistic on your ass.

To counter this you have to try to absorb the soul first, but by pressing the absorb button it makes you vulnerable to attacks. Sometimes you'll find yourself getting into tug-of-war contests with a demon trying to "take your soul". But by tapping the absorb button in this situation instead of holding it you can absorb it faster. You still have to keep in mind that demons attack in packs in this game and while you may be battling with one for a soul another is right behind you slicing and dicing away at you.

There actually is a strategy to this game though. By sometimes allowing a demon to absorb the soul and then killing it you will get more souls in return. But you still have to be careful about which demons you let take it because some are all ready too strong and letting them get the soul makes them even stronger. In other cases, you won't have a choice but to let the demon that you're battling with have the soul because the other demons are killing you while you try to steal the soul and you have to back out of the tug-of-war contest just to stay alive.

Sword action in this game is extremely well recreated. You won't see someone with a big ass sword (although there are pretty big swords in this game) hit you and you get right back up. It'll actually stun your characters and makes them vulnerable for another second while they recover from the attack.

Blocking plays a key role in battles due to the fact that you can be attacking the hell out of something, but it'll still hit you while you're attacking (you don't really get the chance to stun enemies in this game). All enemies seemed to be programmed to attack after so-and-so seconds or after so-and-so amount of attacks. So when you see their arm lift then that's your cue to block. Don't think that continuous attacks will stun them (they are demons after all).

"...get the game for the cinemas if nothing else. "

As aforementioned, you play as two characters in the game - Samanosuke (the lead character) and Kaede (a female ninja). Each feels pretty much the same in terms of control, but they are equipped with different weapons (Samanosuke mainly carries a sword while Kaede has small blades). You'll be automatically switched off to play as each character in different situations. You don't get to switch like in Oddworld to complete a mission.

The sound department did a great job with this game. The clashing of steel and metal swords against a body or against other hard objects is very well recreated and there are a lot of difference effects for each. Hitting a brick wall will sound a lot different than hitting a softer object (like a demon… *laughs*). The music fits the game very well, but you won't hear too much of it with the exception of the outstanding cinemas - which takes us to our next area.

Graphically, the game is only obviously a step up from the PS2 version, which was by no means ugly. The game uses static backgrounds and you'll be able to spot a lot of background interaction as well, such as movies birds and whatnot. Each character, including enemy demons, is highly detailed down to the items on their chest plates and you can even see individual cracks in wood panels.

In the end, Genma is basically a port of a great title. Unfortunately, that's all it really is. The game is still short and you can easily beat it in about 4 to 6 hours (depending on your "mad gaming skillz). And once you do you won't find too much to come back and play for. The combat system easily gets tired out after a while and these things hurt the final score.

By all means being a great game, Genma falters in that its short, repetitive and just plain gets old rather fast. After all, it is old. After playing Capcom's latest for the PS2, Devil May Cry, Genma really only made me want to go back and play that game yet another time due to the game's similarities and the fact that DMC is obviously a superior game. As a matter of fact, I did go back and play it.

If you haven't picked up the original, this is definitely worth a look. If you're a great gamer who will sit through the game for a few hours to play it then the game is more of a rental for you because within those few hours somewhere you will have most likely beaten the game. Genma Onimusha is still a game like no other for the Xbox though and is worth your attention after heeding its shortcomings.

Dameon White
Played some more Devil May Cry after beating this.

Genma Onimusha: The Scores













The Final Word:  Genma Onimusha is very much the same thing as its now year-old PS2 counterpart. If you've played the original, there isn't much new to make you want to buy the Xbox version. But if you haven't, then this is definitely a title worth checking out. Due to its lack of longevity the game can easily become a rental over a purchase though.

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Genma Onimusha Movies
Need help playing our movies?

  • Onimusha (Xbox) [1] 7.85M MPEG
    New characters, fighting, old Chinese masters, fire, special effects and ninjas in this awesome blast of footage from Onimusha Xbox.

  • Onimusha (Xbox) [2] 3.85M MPEG
    In-game, and the hero is battling to save the day.

  • Onimusha (Xbox) [3] 2.85M MPEG
    A small but nice-looking cut-scene.

  • Onimusha (Xbox) [4] 5.66M MPEG
    Remember how you felt when you first saw the brutality of Onimusha? It looks more brutal now.

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