At the beggining of the game, Onimaru and Oboro (his sister), are told by Sandayu (the man who raised them), the truth about their parents. They are told that they are descended from the Oni Clan, a clan that until now was thought to only have existed in fairy tales. Sandayu tells Onimaru that the Gauntlet he posses once belonged to the original Oni Clan. When they were defeated it was preserved by their descendants, and awaits the time when the Onimusha will rise again. Sandayu also tells him that he is the re-incarnation of the Onimusha, and that he alone has the power to defeat the Genma King - Nobunaga Oda. At that moment a soldier arrives and reports a Genma army near by. Onimaru suddenly realises what he has to do. The two of them rush into battle and so the game begins. Although I have no particular love for this story, it doesn't mean I dislike it, though I think CAPCOM could have done a better job by making it a bit deeper. Don't get me wrong, the story is far from bad, just not as good as other aspects of the game. It will also help if you're a fan.
I personally loved the gameplay and thought it was just as good as Final Fantasy Tactics. In fact, I actually preferred it. It's definitely less complex, but in my opinion funner. There is no extra damage added when attacking from behind or to the side, for the simple reason that as soon as you face an enemy unit, it becomes aware of your presence and as a result turns to face you. Occasionally a character 'Issn' ability will become available, which can be selected at the end of a turn, and allows for a powerful counter attack should they be hit. Like in all tactics games, there are several different classes ranging from Swordsmen to Mages. Onimaru, like most main characters, uses a sword and is naturally very strong. During battles, up to eight units can be chosen, and by the later part of the game your party will consist of about 30 members. There is also one secret character that can be unlocked by completing the Phantom Realm - a 16 levelled cave accessible via the world map for the purpose of training. Since there are no random battles you will need to spend quite a lot of time in there to keep your characters up to scratch.
A great deal of customisation can be done, and this is where it gets fun. By gathering Genma Stones, which are received after beating enemies, you can create completely new weapons, armour, and items. You will also find Scripts which allow you to make new things. Every time you kill a demon, it's soul is absorbed, and can then be used to power-up weapons and armour. Similar to the PS2 games.
The graphics are perfect for a tactics game. They are also done in a nice style that I don't think could have been improved. Character faces are great, and there are different expressions for each one. The amount of detail is also worth mentioning. To be honest there's not much more to say. It's all good.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the choice of music CAPCOM have gone for. It gives the game a Japanese feel, and works with the scenery, which is also Japanese, of course. Basically, it gets you in the mood for a bit of samurai action!
Well, I've played it through three times, and enjoyed each one. Obviously RPGs are time requiring games, and therefore none will be replayed to the extend of a racing game for example. However by RPG standars I believe it's safe to say that this game can be enjoyed way after the first time through, and the more you like Onimusha, the more you will enjoy playing it, even after you know the story. Another useful thing I've failed to mention is that there are 3 save slots, making it perfect for multiple files. So yeah, Onimusha Tactics scores high in this area. The one thing I was disappointed with was the fact that there wasn’t anything like New Game Plus, for players who were going through it for their second or third time. That would have definitely been a nice touch.
May I point out that it's a rare game, and I would advise buying it on sight if you are at all interested by what I've said.
Copyright © 2005 Mike Montgomery