Onimusha Tactics - Reader Retroview  

Judo Chop!
by Jeremy, the Duke of Otterland

15-45 Hours


Rating definitions 

   Demons known as Genma are terrorizing Japan, led by Oda Nobunaga, and a warrior, Onimaru, and his sister, Oboro, must gather warriors to stop them, with the former gaining control of a relic called the Oni Gauntlet, which allows him to absorb the souls of the foes he defeats. Onimusha Tactics follows their struggles over forty-plus episodes to battle the Genma and their master. In 2003, the game was Capcom's first foray into tactical RPGs at the heels of many others to come out that year, and it shows.

   Onimusha Tactics utilizes a standard grid-and-elevation-based tactical battle system, with the player, before every battle, managing characters and selecting a party of up to eight characters to participate (or fewer in the case of some battles). During battles, your party and the enemy have separate turn sessions, with the commands of moving, attacking, using SP-consuming skills, using an item (with each character able to equip up to two before battles), or ending a character's turn. Once in a blue moon, however, the option of ending a character's turns becomes "Issen," which is a powerful counterattack when an enemy attacks that character with a normal attack; since foes tend to use skills other than regular attacks, though, this command, in most instances, becomes useless.

Soon all of Japan will be fenced! Nobunaga's latest scheme for taking over Japan--turning people into fences

   Characters, like in most other TRPGs, gain experience by performing most actions, and level up when their experience reaches a hundred. As you fight enemies, moreover, Onimaru absorbs their souls with his gauntlet, and once they die, players may gain Genma Stones and recipes to make equipment, accessories, and items with the Stones. Players can make equipment before each battle when managing their characters, with Onimaru able to use enemy souls to enhance weapons and armor. It's annoying, though, to waste souls on enhancing equipment that better gear will eventually replace throughout the game, and it might've been nice to redistribute souls spent on weaker equipment.

   Not a whole lot of strategy is necessary to win battles in Onimusha Tactics, given the relative lack of customization, and as such, the game is a little easy, although there are many poorly-designed maps, for instance, those where you have to win within a certain number of turns. There isn't any penalty for losing battles, though, as the game merely dumps players back to the map screen if they lose a fight. While it's nice that the game doesn't completely screw you over when you die, it somewhat augments the game's ease. Ultimately, the game's battle system could've certainly used a bit more diversity and strategy, although it's certainly not without its strong points.

   Interaction could've certainly used some improvement, as well. It might've been nice, for instance, if you didn't have to wait before a battle started to manage your characters, and since your party ultimately grows to titanic proportions, maintaining all your characters can be tedious, and an "Equip Best" option might've been welcome, as well. As far as sidequests go, Onimusha Tactics takes a cue from the main installments of the series and includes the Phantom Realm, where players can descend up to sixteen floors to fight extra enemies and gain additional experience, souls, Genma Stones, and recipes.

   Onimusha Tactics filches pretty much all its mechanisms from other games, such as enhancing equipment with souls and the Phantom Realm from the main Onimushas, and making equipment with raw materials is nothing new to RPGs.

Four on one? No fair! The latest sport to hit Japan--spore-ball

   The story shows a lot of potential, but pretty much goes to waste throughout the game. Onimusha Tactics has a nasty habit of plunking in endless characters with little meaningful development. Whoever wrote the story, moreover, is certainly familiar with the term "deus ex machina" (though some events do involve godly intervention), with many plot resolutions seeming a bit silly and spontaneous. Overall, the story would've benefited from focusing on fewer characters and having a better flow of its events.

   The aurals are one of the better aspects of the game, although that really isn't saying much. Some of the music did have a tendency to stick in my head, despite its lackluster quality and redundancy, although the sound effects could've used improvement.

   The graphics are another high point, with some decent character and monster art, although the sprites at times seem a bit sloppy, and many environs contain some unusual color schemes.

   Breezing through the game, one could probably finish it in as little as fifteen hours, although if you make repeated attempts to plow through the Phantom Realm, playing time can very well boost to the range of forty-five hours. Onimusha Tactics, ultimately, is one of the weaker tactical RPGs to come out in recent years, and only the most loyal fans to the series will find much to celebrate. If you're in the mood for a solid tactical RPG, look elsewhere; if you want solid samurai action, play the main Onimushas (which one could easily classify as RPGs) instead.

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