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Hands-on: Onimusha 2

Onimusha 2 for the PlayStation 2 has hit store shelves in Japan. Check out our first impressions of the game


Capcom's samurai action adventure title Onimusha 2 was recently released in Japan. The game starts out with a movie sequence that depicts the villain, Nobunaga Oda, and his genma legions attacking the town where Jubei Yagyu, the main character of the game, was born and raised. After Jubei discovers the tragedy, he is called upon by a mysterious figure who gives him the powers of an onimusha, enabling him to absorb the souls of demons.

The gameplay should be familiar to those who played the first game, as the two games are quite similar in that respect. You will find a variety of weapons as you progress through the game, each with a magical attack that can be used when you fill the appropriate energy gauge. In Onimusha 2, these weapons also have a second special attack that can be used by pressing the R1 shoulder button to charge the attack and then the square button to release it. In addition to the yellow, blue, and red souls you can absorb (just like in the first game), Onimusha 2 includes a purple soul that allows you to become an onimusha, or demon lord, once you've absorbed five of them. While you're the demon lord, your katana attacks will become more powerful, you can shoot homing lasers at enemies, and you're granted temporary invulnerability. You can't choose when you want to become onimusha, though, so your best bet is to gather four of them and then grab the last one during a boss fight.

In Onimusha 2, there are four support characters that are accessible during the game: Magoichi, a gunman; Ekei, a spear expert; Fuma Kotaro, a ninja; and Oyu, a female warrior. These characters can be located in towns throughout the game. To get them to cooperate with you, you will have to give them particular items that they are looking for. If you give them many items, they're much more likely to join you in battle. The game will actually branch out differently depending on the support character you choose, and there will even be occasions where you will control the support characters directly.

So far, the audio and visuals of the game are quite impressive--unlike the previous game, which really looked like it was originally developed for the PlayStation. Though the environments use prerendered 2D backgrounds, there are numerous parts where quality FMV is used. In addition, the game has a much more fast-paced action feel to it overall, especially when you are moving across the field map and attacking enemies. Leveling up your weapons and armor takes quite a bit more time than in the first game, so you'll be spending a significant amount of time roaming around the same area looking for red souls. In addition, after dying several times in the game, it will allow players to choose between the normal and easy mode of the game, so novice players shouldn't have a problem. Overall, Onimusha 2 is a sequel that features a number of improvements on the original and seems to live up to the fans' expectations.

The game is currently available in Japan. An official North American release date has not been announced.

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