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Genma Onimusha Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 85%
Genma Onimusha
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The original Xbox had a tough time during its launch window. Many detractors referred to the system as the "Port-Box", believing that, aside from Halo, the only things worth playing were ports from the Playstation 2. I disagree with that assessment; did they not notice Munch's Oddyssey and Project Gotham Racing? That said, the Xbox did get some enhanced ports that were well worth grabbing, one of which was Genma Onimusha.

Genma Onimusha is an expanded port of Onimusha: Warlords which released on the PS2 a year prior. The premise of the game can be summed up in five words -- "Resident Evil in Feudal Japan". You play a samurai named Samanosuke tasked with rescuing Yuki, princess of the Saito Clan, from a demon army commanded by Nobunaga Oda. The plot is much thinner than Resident Evil's. However, I can excuse it. The game has fun with Japanese myth and history, and the Inabayama Castle is just as much fun to explore as the Spencer Mansion.

Genma Onimusha (Xbox)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The gameplay feels like the natural evolutionary step between Resident Evil and Devil May Cry. All the weapons are useful (though switching between them in the heat of battle can be a bit of a pain). The puzzles are more elaborate than Capcom's other games of this type, on par with Dino Crisis. The upgrade system is well thought-out, especially with being able to upgrade healing items in addition to weapons. The enemy designs are fantastic; they look creepy as hell even now and have patterns to learn like any great arcade game. There are some control issues, however. Clicking the right thumbstick for the item menu is stupid, especially since the "Back" button is readily available, and the triggers are a little finicky which can make blocking a little problematic.

The aesthetics are amazing even now. The PS2 version looked great, but the Xbox version is even better. The character models put some modern games to shame, and the backgrounds are true works of art. I've always loved classical music, and the score provided by a 200-piece orchestra is phenomenal. Even the voice acting (in both English and Japanese) is impressive, though a couple of enemies do ham it up.

The alterations made for the Xbox version are both its greatest strength and its biggest weakness. Adding in a challenge tower with a new boss to fight was a great idea. Unfortunately, seeing the same backgrounds with each floor you ascend can get tiresome. The difficulty jumped up with throwing in more enemies and adding stronger enemies earlier on. Those who relish a challenge will get it here; though, thankfully, there is an easy mode for those who just want to enjoy the game. The green souls are both a great idea and a constant source of aggravation. Playing tug-of-war for them while enemies are bearing down on you gets very annoying very quickly, but getting them is critical. Only the truly hardcore would want a bunch of foes going berserk constantly.

Genma Onimusha is more a "director's cut" of the PS2 original rather than a straight port, and it's all the better for it. Capcom is no stranger to re-releasing its games and milking them for all they're worth, but this is a great example of how it should be done. It still looks and sounds amazing 15 years later, it still plays wonderfully, and the Xbox version's additions enhance the original in interesting ways. With all this, I have to wonder why Capcom hasn't brought this back for the newer consoles like they did for Resident Evil and Devil May Cry. Capcom, make it happen!
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