If you are looking at this game as you would Tactics Ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics, look else were because it holds nothing to these games. Those games had flawless accuracy in gameplay which would make Onimusha Tactics is it's sloppy best friend constantly mooching and not bringing nothing new to the apartments well being.
Since I'm known to ramble on these longer titles, here is a breakdown!
POSITIVES & NEGATIVES!
+ Battles are fast and brutal with devastating finishers called Issen and an abundance of special abilities designed especially for the accompanying character.
+ Genma stones allow for a world of special created weapons and as you progress you acquire newer and more powerful recipes for future creations.
+ Absorbed spirits of fallen genma aid in enhancing those special weapons making them more powerful and releasing special hidden abilities when they are fully charged!
+ Character movements can be sped up!
+ Magic needs to effect a character not a "blank" space like all other tactical games bringing a little less tactics into Onimusha Tactics!
+ There is normally no penalty for your characters dying unless mentioned in the "victory" rules. They just disappear from battle and lose all accumulated Exp. This goes for everyone except Onimaru (the Hero) and even that doesn’t really end the game, it just brings you back to the over-world map.
- The most unorganized tactical game ever created! There is no directional facing, mainly because it's not honorable to attack the enemy from behind! OT is the noblest tactical game ever created! An I hate it for that!
- The organizational menu should be an always assessable option, not a before battle only "extra".
- No over-world open exploration, every area is pre-determined where you need to be.
- Almost every character has low intelligence meaning every "special" attack the Genma use on you will be high in damage.
- By the end of the game over half of the characters that join your squad will become obsolete two times over. Meaning, each time a character becomes obsolete, it is replaced by another character destined to become obsolete... kinda lame really... this is a weird way to omit the always time consuming "class system" featured in every other tactical RPG.
OT is as mentioned sloppy, but it does offer a few new aspects that will make old tactical gamers wish this game had more.
I actually followed alot of the story and for the most part, it was really good! That is until they introduced the concept of "robots" into the plot... what the heck are robots doing in medieval Japan? Besides that, it's quite immersive.
It's also one of the only games I've played as of late that dosen't take itself too seriously. It has alot of nice comical action to take the edge of the very morose storyline.
Far better than any other tactical RPG on the market.
This game offers so much in the way of graphics! Lets begin with sprite design.
Unlike other tactical RPG's, each character is original and have an abundance of specialized moves designed for each class. Sprite action is fluid and move like sliding over glass. Landscape of the battles need a bit of work, but the action of the game really help to mask the repetitive backgrounds and boring landscape.
"Issen" is a fun extra in the game where your character will "show off" their weapon of choice and if the enemy attack them, it's a fancy and well executed instant death for the apposing Genma. Magic (when you actual use a magic producing character) is large and visually just plain awesome. There is also no slowdowns to be mentioned during my gaming experience.
Lastly we'll mention character portraits and cut-scenes.
The character portraits actually convey the needed emotion for the dialogue, and each portrait is hand drawn and look very life like... but I can't help feeling that Ekei's portrait looks strangely like the wrestler The Big Show.
The cut-scenes are in the vein of ancient Japanese drawings which really brings the feeling of feudal Japan to the forefront of this title, it reminds you that, even thought this game has robots in it... it is still feudal Japan!
Very nicely done CAPCOM.
The game hosted a nice bundle of songs. The only problem is that the battle music is used WAY too much, it's good, but should either be remixed for future battles or have a different song play. There are slower songs which convey the appropriate feel of the scene and in all, it's all nicely arranged, but could have used more battle variety.
SFX are nicely used as well, but like many of it's other GBA brothering, they sound very watered down but again, it is a GBA product, so I don't expect miracles.
This game has hardly anything to go back and do once over, from the 25 hours of completed gameplay, there was only 2 redemable factors. So I'll delve into the first real and basicaly only repayable option, The Phantom Realm.
This little side quest is originally accessible around chapter 15, but can't be fully experienced until after the final camp has fallen. This side-quest is basically for you to gain a few small Levels in between harder battles and at the end you acquire a secret character, who starts out at Lv. 1, but will become a powerhouse is you chose to level him. The PR is also a main area to collect Genma stones and souls for weapon forging. Besides that, it was largely ignored by me until the final battles came around.
The other repayable factor is the save option, which lets you save anywhere you want. That includes battles and the phantom realm. A definite must for the tactical game on the go.
Besides those two factors, this game offers NOTHING left to do when it's all over... at least the ending was left open for a future sequel... should I be scared?
It's hard to place a game like Onimusha Tactics. It tried so hard to distance itself from all other similar titles that it eventually became an entity of it's own, and entity that was incomplete. The Onimusha series will not be effected on how this game is presented, and if I was making the game, it would have been a Linear Battle RPG, like the "Tales of" series or the "Star Ocean" series just to show off it's action muscle. Instead it sadly falls face first in the dirt.
Next time CAPCOM... next time...