Onimusha Tactics
Game Info
GameBoy Advance
Strategy RPG
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Mild Violence, Suggestive Themes
The Good

• Onimusha storyline is nicely done
• Characters look unique even as small sprites
• Item and weapon creation is a nice addition

The Bad

• Way too linear, even for a strategy RPG
• Requires little strategy
• Audio and graphics could be more interesting


It's become more and more apparent that during this generation, the place to go for Strategy RPGs is the GameBoy Advance. With titles like Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Tactics Ogre: The Knights of Lodis already available, Capcom has decided to throw in their lot and bring the world of Onimusha to the GBA in a Strategy RPG form.

The story for Onimusha Tactics falls in line with the rest of the series - Nobunaga and his legions of demonic genma are ransacking feudal Japan. When Onimaru's home village is attacked, the young man and his allies rise to fight against the warlord. It's not too long before Onimaru is given a mystical gauntlet and told about his heritage as a part of a genma-fighting clan. From this point, players are dragged through a series of linear battles, each beginning with a portion of what proves to be an interesting story.

The game is set up in a REALLY LINEAR fashion. Players will go from one spot to the next, with a portion of the story to set up the battle. Before battle, you'll be able to equip weapons, armor and items on your team members. Once in battle, you'll move your team members around on a battlefield, selecting actions, like attack, item, and the rarely available, Issen - a super counterattack which rarely turns up and can be a challenge to pull off. After your team finishes up its turn, the enemy units will take their turn. This repeats until one side or the other is defeated. Once the battle is over, you're given the choice to save before moving onto the next location. Except for a side dungeon in the Phantom Realm, the game offers no additional diversions.

Unlike other SRPGs, Onimusha Tactics doesn't have a class system. Each character learns a different set of special abilities as they gain experience. Early on, you'll have limited magic points at your disposal, so using these special abilities must be planned out if you don't want to left wanting late on in battle. At the end of battle, you'll be given a score based on how you did. This score doesn't give you any experience or really anything else except "bragging rights".

After a certain point in the game, you'll start to collect various genma stones when you defeat enemies. These can be used to create new weapons and items, but only after you've found the "recipe" for said items. Since the game takes you from one location to the next, there is no shops to just buy stuff - you have to make everything you want. You also gain the ability to spend souls absorbed by Onimaru's gauntlet to improve the level of your character's weapons and armor.

Graphically, Onimusha Tactics is decent but not really impressive. The character models and their designs are pretty unique and stand out well during battle, but the oni monsters tend to get repeated way too often, which really takes away from what could be some great design all around. Spell effects, when used, look pretty good. The battlefields, though, are pretty drab and only rarely show a hint of personality. In fact, a lot of the battlefields look to have been taken from previous strategy titles. The audio is decent, but never really all that interesting that it detracts you from the standard gameplay or average graphics.

What really kills this title is that little strategy is required to play it. With no initiative-based turn system, it doesn't really matter how quick your ninja is as moving her in close to the enemies ensures that all her opponents will get a turn to hit her before her next turn comes up. Things like the effects of the environment or anything else that might require strategical though seem to have been left out of this title. Also, the enemy AI is pretty poor - they rarely even move unless you come into their range and can actually be distracted from ganging up on weaker allies. Even though the Issen technique isn't well implemented, you shouldn't have any fear of that hurting you as you can easily finish most battles without it ever even coming up. While the story proves to be pretty good, some of the script, be it by poor translation or poor writing, is awkwardly delivered.

If you're looking for a good strategy RPG, skip this title as the linear path the game takes and the none-too-deep gameplay will pretty much bore you to tears. If you've played the other two title mentioned or are a fan of the Onimusha series and want more of the story, you might want to see if you can rent this or wait until it's cheap.

- - Vane

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