Onimusha 4 revealed

Capcom's new PlayStation 2 samurai adventure will feature new hero, villain; playable build due for E3.

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Capcom's Onimusha Trilogy may have concluded with the death of the warlord Oda Nobunaga, but the series is set to return with a new protagonist and antagonist. The latest issue of the Japanese game magazine Famitsu reports that Capcom is currently working on Shin Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams for the PlayStation 2. The development process is again under the watchful eye of series producer Keiji Inafune.

Dawn of Dreams takes place in 1598, 16 years after the last duel between Samanosuke and Nobunaga in Onimusha 3. Japan has entered a period of tranquility; the genma demons have faded away, and the country has united under the rule of Nobunaga's former vassal, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. But peace is fleeting, and the sudden appearance of a bright red star in the sky brings about widespread natural disasters and causes Hideyoshi to go insane. At the same time, the genma demons return to Earth.

Capcom recently posted a teaser page featuring a timer counting down to this weekend. The page, which promotes the upcoming game, features a graphic of a cherry blossom tree. Producer Inafune has revealed that cherry blossoms will be a key to the game's theme and will also play a significant role behind Hideyoshi's insanity. Hideyoshi and Nobunaga are real historical Japanese figures, and Dawn of Dreams takes place in the same year that the real Hideyoshi died.

One of the biggest changes with Dawn of Dreams is the inclusion of an original main character, rather than a hero based on an actor. Previous Onimusha games featured protagonists based on renowned actors such as Asian star Takeshi Kaneshiro and French star Jean Reno. Inafune admitted that the use of famous actors had its advantages, but he decided not to use them for Dawn of Dreams since contractual obligations included too many restrictions on the expansion of the franchise outside of games. According to the magazine, Inafune hopes to move Onimusha's newest iteration to new forms of media.

The main character in Dawn of Dreams will be based on a historical figure from Hideyoshi's period, though his name and identity remain a mystery for now. The hero is a young warrior with two long swords--one red and one blue. His samurai armor is also blue, but his blond hair may reveal that he has foreign roots. He also has two short horns growing out of his forehead, which hints that he may not be as human as he looks.

The official illustration for Dawn of Dreams shows the hero fighting alongside four other characters: a swordswoman, a Japanese monk who fights with a spear, a rifle-bearer (of indeterminable gender), and an extremely tall man with pale skin, large biceps, and a boxer's gait.

Screenshots of Dawn of Dreams show that the game's camera angles have broken with the traditions of previous Onimusha installments. Instead of the semifixed screens of Onimusha 3, this new game features a third-person perspective with the view hovering closely behind the character's shoulder. The Famitsu article hints that players may be able to control the camera for the first time in an Onimusha game.

In terms of gameplay, Inafune comments that the focus in Dawn of Dreams will be more on the action elements than the setting. But that doesn't mean the developers will be cutting down on the script--the game will have double the storyline content of Onimusha 3, says Inafune. He comments that Dawn of Dreams is designed to give more freedom to its players, so they can explore the game itself without always having to advance the plot.

Dawn of Dreams should inherit the fighting systems that gamers have become familiar with, such as the Issen slash, soul absorption, and demon transformation. However, Inafune adds that Dawn of Dreams is being designed so that new players will be able to enjoy the game as much as experienced Onimusha fans.

Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams is currently 20 percent complete, according to Famitsu. The game is scheduled for release next spring. Reportedly, it will be appearing in playable form at E3 next month.

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