Onimusha: The Best Series Everyone Already Forgot About

Onimusha CoverAfter a flurry of six games in just five years, there hasn't been another Onimusha game since March 2006.  I understand that the series always played second fiddle to Capcom's other series, Devil May Cry, but man, Onimusha always had an awesome combination of historical inaccuracy and great hack-and-slash action.

I played and loved the four main games in the series, even the one that takes place in France with Jean Reno.  The first time I ever played an Onimusha game was at my uncle's house; the only thing I knew about Onimusha: Warlords was that it played like Resident Evil and was rated Mature.  This seemed to indicate to me that the game would be scary or something, but what it turned out to be was simply a blast to play.  Fast action, great puzzles, a storyline with famous Japanese figureheads that I recognized, and more gore than scare.  My kind of game.

The Timeline

I was instantly sold on the series and immediately eBay'd the first two games.  Onimusha: Warlords is suprisingly short, like Portal length.  It's short and sweet though and manages to pack in a ton of content, power-ups, and weapons in just a few hours.  By the time I was getting around to the second one, Onimusha: Samurai's Destiny, I had hooked my roommate too.

The second Onimusha packed in some RPG elements this time around and delivered a longer gameplay experience.  One of the biggest additions was the critical hit, called an issen. Now, my roommate could pull these off with ease, but I always had trouble getting the timing down correctly.  The game didn't seem to have all the magic of the first one, but it was still great fun.

I was seriously pumped for Onimusha 3: Demon's Siege when it was released as this was the first Onimusha title to come out while I was a fan.  I was just finishing up my sophomore year of college and for my birthday I received Onimusha 3 and a translucent green Halo-themed Xbox.  I tried the Xbox first, and it didn't even finish booting before it crapped out.  My limited edition Xbox didn't work. Lame.  So I tried Onimusha 3 in my PS2, oh, you need a dual-shock controller to play this game.  Of course, my dual-shock had been stolen at the beginning of the year.  I'm zero for two.

We headed to EB Games (maybe Gamestop by then) which was a 45 minute drive away.  They didn't have my replacement Xbox in stock, but they did ship me a new one (which, for the record still works perfectly and is going strong with XBMC installed), and I purchased a proper dual-shock controller.  As far as I can tell, the dual shock is only really necessary to tell how hard you hit a button, seems totally unecessary, but Sony managed to strangle another $30 out of me.

Oh yeah, Onimusha 3 was great fun and much more true to the original's theme than Samurai's Destiny.

Fast-forward a few years and Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams was set to release.  Since I was finishing up school and about to start my real life, I put this game off a bit, but my roommate who I had hooked earlier on the series bought Dawn of Dreams and lent it to me before we parted ways.  Dawn of Dreams was a very different game than any of the previous three, while the action was still excellent, the story was told through a series of episodes and the cast of characters was big and varied.  I had to kind of force myself to play through the game though as it was really long for an action title (30+ hours) and the story was just so-so.

Ancient History?

According to sources, the series has sold about 8 million copies, which is not bad at all for four games in the main series (can't forget the crappy Super Smash Bros. ripoff Onimusha Blade Warriors and the portable strategy spinoff Onimusha Tactics).  So why the sudden stop of sequels?  If anything, Capcom loves sequels and generally does a pretty good job creating them, so why stop at four?

Some of the blame may lie with series' executive producer Keiji Inafune (INAFKING), who has been a rather busy man lately.  After Dawn of Dreams was released, he went on to produce Dead Rising, Lost Planet, Mega Man ZX, and Mega Man Star Force, and this was just 2006!  Rumors had also started circulating around an Onimusha film, and circulating... and circulating... I never expected to actually see this film but I never expected the idea of it to still be tossed around years later.  Inafune has supposedly finished writing the screenplay and Takeshi Kaneshiro (the actor who the main character of Onimusha was based on) was to play Samanosuke, it just hasn't started filming.

So with the film in development hell and not even a whisper of Onimusha 5, what's a fan to think?  Actually, fans of the series aren't even thinking about it much lately, check out the Google Trends graph for Onimusha from 2004 until 2010:

Onimusha Google Trends

Capcom can really only blame themselves for this too.  You have an incredibly capable and talented producer who obviously likes the series, so unless Inafune has some major qualms against making more games, then get to it! We will buy them!