Title: Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny Publisher: Capcom Developer: Capcom Date Released: August 26, 2002 Players: 1 Platform: Playstation 2 ESRB Rating: M Initial Retail Price: $49.99

Nearly a year and a half after the release of the first installment in the series, Onimusha 2 promised to deliver a second helping of fast paced demon slicing at the hands of very skilled swordsmen weilding very sharp objects. Taking a slightly different approach to its original, this sophomore effort shows that Capcom really is a lean, mean, survival-horror game producing machine.

Story: Well, Nobunaga Oda's dead, right? Apparently not, and he's still determined to rule Japan, via hordes of demons. Onimusha 2 takes place ten years after the events of this first game, and continues to tell the tale of the struggle between bad genma and good humans. This time though, the role of main demon butcher is played by Jubei Yagyu, a young, and highly skilled swordsman (of Japanese historic legend). One day Jubei returned to his village to find that it had been pillaged by Nobunaga's army. Eventually, he discovers that he has Oni blood running through his veins. As the Oni are the sworn enemies of the genma, Jubei seems to have no choice but to stop Nobunaga from his plot to take over Japan by force.

Main Characters: Jubei Yagyu: the defender and sole survivor of Yagyu village. He must use his Oni powers and skills with a sword to defeat Nobunaga. Oyu: a beautiful female swordsman that specializes in Western style fighting. Her actions, at times, seem highly suspect... Ekei: a master spear fighter, Ekei loves the simpler things in life: food, music, and women. A monk with a mysterious past... Magoichi: a very intellectual and sophisticated man that prefers the use of guns to swords. He is the head of the Saiga Shu gun troup in the Kii prefecture. Kotaro: a young Fuma ninja that relies on his agility to overcome his enemies. His youth provides for an overabundance of curiosity, and he is fascinated with anything from foreign lands. Nobunaga Oda: the bad guy (again). He's still trying to take over Japan using powers granted to him by genma lords.

Gameplay: Onimusha 2 is a lot like its predecessor when it comes to gameplay. You still kill enemies to gather their souls, which you then use to enhance your weapons so that you can kill stronger enemies. Despite the repetition, this concept and its execution is done expertly, and the cool factor of it all will provide hours of entertainment. The control scheme from the original is back as well, which is bound to make some cringe. There are however, two significant additions to this game, and are:

  1. Gold: now you collect gold (in ore form, not the convenient coin form) dropped by enemies to exchange with local merchants for goods.
  2. Gift System: actually part of the gold system, this gift system allows for you to give things that you have purchased to the other characters. You can choose to give the characters certain items based on what you know they like. For example, Kotaro loves anything foreign, so a globe made in Spain would be an ideal gift for the young lad. In exchange for being a philanthropist, you receive helpful items, like much needed healing items, or ammunition for your primitive gun. Also, how many gifts, and the appropriateness of the gifts you give directly affect the outcome of the game, for each of the other four characters (Oyu, Ekei, Magoichi, and Kotaro) can become playable at times, based on your relations with them, as determined by the gifts you give them. This system is set up such that the four characters are grouped into groups of two (Ekei-Magoichi and Oyu-Kotaro), and if you treat one member of those groups better than the other, then they will help you more often, and become playable at times. For example, if you lavish Oyu with gifts (which I'm sure most people elect to do), then she will come to your aid more often, and you'll see very little of Kotaro. This plays a very significant part in the game, as you will see and play different scenarios depending on the choices you make.
Also like the original, if you collect five special souls, then you can turn into an invincible Oni form. Except now, instead of green, these special souls are purple. Wowzers!

Graphics: In the same vein as Onimusha: Warlords, Samurai's Destiny uses pre-rendered, non-interactive backgrounds to create beautifully stunning scenery. However, this time around, the overall feel of the game takes on a more stylized, light-hearted feel. For example, in the opening movie, many of the characters are introduced in play-like settings, with brightly colored wood props, and backdrops that could be out of an old Japanese picture book. The enemies are also slightly less serious, as evidenced by Nobunaga's head henchman, who takes his sweet time to elegantly introduce himself, and pose in various awkward positions, ala the Ginyu Force from Dragon Ball Z. Overall though, this detracts very little form the game, and even gives it it's own unique feel.

Final Thoughts: This is a great game that successfully builds off of the first installment in the series. Personally, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it, and pre-ordered my copy six months in advance. However, it is not without it's downside(s). First, there's still that pesky control scheme. I mean, we all saw how great it could be to control a character in a 3D environment with the analog stick in Final Fantasy X. Would it really be that hard for Capcom to break tradition for the sake of convenience? It's times like these that make me hate purists, which is the only reason that I can come up with as to why a new means of control hasn't been installed. Also, I found the gift giving system to be a little too gimmicky, and detracted from the mood of the game at times. I mean if I'm a badass swordsman on a quest to eradicate a hoard of demons, then I don't want to waste my time giving a talking parrot to some drunk fat guy. It was a nice attempt to spice things up, but one that received a little too much emphasis. So, if you're a fan of the original, then I highly suggest Onimusha 2. As for newcomers, I would suggest the first Onimusha game, as this one might give off false impressions as to what the series is all about.

The Onimusha trilogy: Onimusha: Warlords -- Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny -- Onimusha 3: Demon Siege

Sources: www.gamefaqs.com Long hours giving dirty pictures to a chubby monk.

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