TGS 2003Onimusha Blade Warriors Impressions

We try out Capcom's upcoming brawler set in the Onimusha universe.

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We tried out a playable demo of Onimusha Blade Warriors (also known as Onimusha Buraiden in Japan), the fighting game set in Capcom's Onimusha universe. The game seems like a combination of fast-paced, arcade-style combat--such as the kind featured in such games as Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. and Capcom's own PowerStone series--and skill-based elements from more-traditional 3D fighters. The brief demo gave us an idea of what to expect from this promising game.

The game will feature both single-player and multiplayer modes. Blade Warriors' multiplayer modes support up to four players at once using the PlayStation 2's multitap controller add-on. The demo featured six selectable characters, including the main heroes from the first two Onimusha games. The final game will have a roster of roughly 20 characters. The number of selectable arenas offered a much smaller sampling of what will be in the final game, since they were only three to choose from in the demonstration version at Tokyo Game Show: a bamboo forest, a grassy field at sunset, and a large house.

Blade Warriors' battle seem to draw upon early 3D fighting games, since they use the same locked, 2D-style perspective that was used before newer games introduced true 3D movement. Each of the arenas featured some environmental elements that kept it from being stagnant. The bamboo forest and grassy field featured three distinct planes that could be switched to by double-tapping up or down on the D-pad. The large house level let combat take place either on the ground, or on the roof.

The actual combat mechanics seemed to draw a great deal of inspiration from the Onimusha games--characters have the same basic set of moves and abilities, like soul absorption. Blade Warriors also offers a few interesting new features, like pick-up items that you can divest your enemies of by attacking them successfully, or magic energy that you and your foes will try to absorb away from each other. In terms of items, Onimusha Buraiden's system seems pretty similar to that of Super Smash Bros.. You'll find a variety of items ranging from fans to guns to enormous Mario-style red hammers that you can use for a limited time. Given the nod to Smash Bros., it's hardly surprising to note that the four-player brawls in Onimusha Buraiden get quite hectic, especially with the added madness of multiple planes and energy absorption.

The game's graphics are shaping up very well; Blade Warriors seems to have detailed character models and environments. The available cast of fighters looked good and moved well while the environments offered more of a variety in quality. The bamboo forest and grassy field looked quite cool, thanks to good use of color and lighting. The large house level, on the other hand, seemed a bit drab in comparison. Otherwise, the game's frame rate was fast and smooth.

Although our time with the game was limited, Onimusha Blade Warriors seems like it could be a solid, arcade-style brawler that could stand on its own even without the Onimusha name. The game is fast, has accessible gameplay, and looks good. Blade Warriors is expected to ship this year in the US and Japan.

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