Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams
Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams, released in Japan as Shin Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams (新 鬼武者 Dawn of Dreams), is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Capcom for the PlayStation 2. It is the sixth installment of Capcom's Onimusha overall series, while being the fourth game in the canonical main series. It was released in Japan in January 2006, followed by North American and European releases in March. The plot is set in medieval Japan decades after the events of Onimusha 3: Demon Siege and focuses on Soki, a warrior who possesses Oni powers. Soki is on a quest to stop Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who has unified Japan in league with his demonic army of Genma, and he also joins forces with several allies who all share the same goal in stopping the demons and Hideyoshi plans of wanting to conquer the world.
|Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams|
|Developer(s)||Capcom Production Studio 2|
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, hack and slash|
While the game retains the action elements from the previous Onimusha, it offers a more varied amount of weapons as well as the option of going back to previous stage to unlock new content. The game also introduces a 3D camera as well as the ability to continuously fight alongside AI controlled characters who move depending on the player's orders. Dawn of Dreams was announced by Capcom due to high fan demand and several Capcom members realizing they could expand the action elements from Onimusha after working on Shadow of Rome. The game was designed in order to appeal to skilled gamers rather than the general market which resulted in appealing designs rather than realistic.
Following its release, Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams received good critical response. Writers praised the new action and exploration elements but also criticized some elements from its presentation including its dialogues and voice acting. However, the game generated poor sales. Dawn of Dreams also received a film adaptation and two manga spin-offs.
Dawn of Dreams utilizes a complete 3D rendition of its environment rather than pre-rendered backdrops. In addition, the player is now able to control the camera for most of the game, as opposed to the static camera angles employed within its predecessors. The player primarily controls a swordsman named Soki who retains the abilities from previous Onimusha heroes such as magical skills and the ability to absorb the demons' souls upon defeating them. The demons' soul allow the player increase the power of his weapons and protection as well as restore the character's health and magic powers. Soki can also enter for a short time into the Oni mode which increases his powers.
When obtaining enough experience, Soki levels up which gives the player the option of increasing any of Soki's skills and obtaining a new move as a result. Across his journey, Soki meets several allies who join him in combat. The player is responsible for handling their weaponry and level up. During gameplay, the second character that is not controlled by the player can be issued commands via the directional buttons. The player can also control the supporting character, allowing him to use the character's unique skills to perform an action Soki is unable to. For example, Jubei can take advantage of her low size to walk through weak floors while Tenkai can interact with spirits. There is also the co-op mode that allows the second player to control another character.
Upon finishing a stage, the player rests in an area where they get the chance of going to a previous stage with a determined partner and unlock new items. Soki's teammates are able to combine the items Soki obtained in order to create a medicine. Additionally, a shop system allows the player to purchase weapons that they can upgrade, along with valuable supplies such as medicine and accessories that convey a variety of benefits.
There is a Dark Realm that the player can freely choose to enter after a certain point in the game. If the active character is wearing one of the secret Street Fighter II costumes in the Dark Realm, the associated character's theme will play from the Panasonic 3DO port of Super Street Fighter II Turbo.
The game takes place fifteen years after the defeat of Nobunaga Oda at the end of Onimusha 3: Demon Siege. Nobunaga's former vassal, Tokichiro Kinoshita takes the name of Hideyoshi Toyotomi as he unites Japan and brings an end to the Sengoku Period. But the peace comes to an end when the "Omen Star" appears in the sky: Several natural disasters occur as Hideyoshi sends his armies to attack the mainland Asia as the Genma resurface. Hideyoshi, like his master before him, uses the Genma to enforce his power while they gather "cherry trees" across Japan to Kyoto. Only Hideyoshi's illegitimate son, Yūki Hideyasu, refuses to follow his father and fights him under the name of Soki. With a bagworm creature named Minokichi as his sole companion, Soki spends two years burning the trees that the Genma are transporting with Danemon Ban among those Soki killed in battle.
Soki eventually comes across Akane "Jubei" Yagyū, a young member from the Yagyu clan who inherited Oni powers from her grandfather. Joining forces with Soki to infiltrate where the trees are being prepared for travel to Kyoto, Jubei is revealed to have been sent by her grandfather to assassinate their clan's traitor Munenori Yagyū. As Jubei fails to defeat Munenori, Soki encounters his childhood friend Ohatsu and attempts to convince her that Hideyoshi is evil by revealing the "cheery trees" to be Genma Trees: structures created from human bodies that produce Genma Insects which control whoever ingests them. But Munenori incites Ohatsu to remain by his side as Soki is forced to run off to save Jubei. The two later come across a monk named Tenkai Nankobo who has been searching for the one who carries the power of the "Black Oni", the God of Darkness. The group proceed to the castle of Hideyoshi's retainer Mitsunari Ishida, facing the lord's brainwashed warrior Sakon Shima as they save Roberto Frois, a Christian missionary from Spain who wants to take revenge on his guardian Luís Fróis for allying himself with the Genma. During their journey, Soki also sees a mysterious man in white.
When the group attempts to go after the Mother Genma Tree in Kyoto, Tenkai watches his party fall apart when Jubei and Roberto are each captured while going after their respective nemesis as Soki runs off to face Hideyoshi. Ultimately, with Ohatsu siding with Soki, Tenkai seemingly sacrifices himself while instructing Soki to go to a temple at Mt. Hiei. There, learning Ohatsu was infected with Genma Insects as they are now effecting her body, Soki meets a tengu girl named Arin who enables him to become the "Onimusha", the Oni warrior capable of saving mankind, to save Ohatsu. Soki and Ohatsu manage to save Jubei and Roberto as they learn that Hideyoshi is only a puppet used by the Genma Triumvirate: Claudius who is symbiosis with Mitsunari, Rosencrantz who took over Fróis's body, and Ophelia. While Roberto destroys the Dark Stone powering Hideyoshi, Claidus reveals there is another stone and that his kind's goal is to resurrect their god once the Omen Star descends on the world.
Rejoined by Tenkai as they head to the other Dark Stone, Soki's group encounter Lady Yodo, Ohatsu's sister and Hideyoshi's royal concubine. But to Ohatsu's dismay, she learns her sister is dead and that her corpse is inhabited by Ophelia herself. After defeating Ophelia, the group arrive to the Genma laboratory where they confront Cladius as he stops Roberto from attempting to destroy the remaining Dark Stone. But a restored Sakon arrives at the last second to purge Cladius from Mitsunari's body, the Genma assuming his true form before being slain and causing an explosion that obliterates Rosencrantz with Fróis finally at peace. But the group find themselves in a difficult situation as they have six days to reach Hideyoshi, Minokichi sacrificing himself to enable his friends to reach Kyoto.
Upon reaching Kyoto as it is now consumed in Genma energies while they sally forth, Roberto, Tenkai, and Ohatsu remain behind to face the resurrected Genma Triumvirate while Jubei settles things with Munenori after he ingested enough Genma Insects to possess the power of both the Genma and his Oni heritage. Soki reaches Hideyoshi, who reveals to possess the Genma Seed that would allow him to become the vessel to the Genmas' god. However, upon being defeated, a mortally wounded Hideyoshi is betrayed by Ophelia as she rips the Genma Seed out of him before she is destroyed by Lady Yodo, whose soul was sealed in the Mother Genma Tree as it attempts to consume everyone within its reach. Though the group save Yodo and Soki makes peace with his dying father, the group find that Munenori stole the Genma Seed during the commotion and resurrects the God of Light: The Genma Lord Fortinbras. Tenkai gives Soki his gauntlet, which contains the soul of another Genma Lord, to give Soki enough power to destroy Fortinbras before he is fully reborn. But the attempt fails as Fortinbras, killing Munenori when he attempts to assassinate him for power, is revealed to be the mysterious man in white. Refusing to bow before the omnipotent foe despite the odds, Soki manages to kill Fortinbras before leaving Jubei and the others to sacrifice his life to destroy the Genma trees. The world then returns to peace and Soki's allies continue with their lives: Ohatsu marrying into another family while tending to her nephew and Yodo, Roberto returning to his homeland to ensure the Genma do not establish a place of power there, and Tenkai departing with Arin to parts unknown (revealed that they are actually Samanosuke Akechi and the tengu Ako). As for Jubei, she continues her journey to find someone.
Although Onimusha 3: Demon Siege was announced as the last Onimusha game, Capcom's Keiji Inafune explained it was actually the last title within Nobunaga Oda's storyline. Following the release of Demon Siege, Capcom got multiple requests by fans to develop another Onimusha game. Rather than making it a sequel titled Onimusha 4, the team thought about "resetting" the franchise as they planned to overhaul the gameplay. The game was officially unveiled in April 2005. The reveal included the game's premise and new main character. The cherry blossoms were defined by Inafune as the theme behind the game. Development of the game took two years. The making of the game was a very different process the previous Onimusha games had. At first there were few staff members so they worked in the game design. Later, the team was expanded with artists and programmers. Following this, the team often reunited several times to discuss ideas to finalize the design of the game.
As a result of not being part of the same saga, Dawn of Dreams was given new gameplay elements. While Nobunaga's trilogy gave the player a clear goal and a fixed camera, Dawn of Dreams offers a free camera meaning that players have the freedom to explore areas. To avoid having issues with the camera, the lock on function was made more clear while the joystick's right analogue allows to change enemy targets. The staff worked to keep the game at 60 frames per second while retaining the same graphical quality from previous games. In order to expand the exploration elements, players were given the possibility of going back to previous stages and obtain items thanks to items or abilities unlocked across the game. There was also the objective of giving the player far more options such as multiple weapons and strategies for non-controllable characters. When compared with the change the Resident Evil series had with its fourth installment, Inafune viewed the changes as smaller since Onimusha has always been focused on action unlike Resident Evil which changed from survival horror to action since its fourth title. He also mentioned the fighting system would be more intense than in previous games. When developing Shadow of Rome, producer Yoshinori Ono and Inafune realized they could innovate Onimusha by giving it more action elements. As Ono did not like some of the puzzles from previous games, he decided to make them optional by the players the option of obtaining the desired item by breaking the puzzle.
While previous games offered a mix of realism and fantasy, Dawn of Dreams had the concept of "cool". This affected the main character who was designed with the idea of making him look cool. Soki was not modelled after any famous Hollywood star unlike previous heroes. This is due to Capcom only trying to appeal hardcore games rather than team's original goal of expanding the games to the general market. This resulted in more complex game mechanics. Additionally, the use of actors gave Capcom restriction when making projects involving the franchise outside of video games. Inafune expected Dawn of Dreams to be adapted to other forms of media. In order to add returning characters despite not being able to live in Dawn of Dreams's storyline, the staff used alias. This generated early speculations most notably the Tenkai's true identity being Samanosuke Akechi, the returning hero from previous games. Ono did not respond to the fans' questions, expecting them to learn the true by playing it. Despite the focus on action rather than the setting, the team did not reduce the plot's length and instead they gave it twice the content of storyline than Demon Siege. Ono considered Demon Siege "quite short" and thus expected players to complete this game in between 30 and 40 hours.
The game's music is composed by Hideyuki Fukasawa and Jamie Christopherson. Fukasawa, who first came onto the video gaming music scene with his work on Chaos Legion, is responsible for most of Shin Onimusha's in-game music and soundtrack, while Christopherson was in charge of the game's cutscene orchestral scores. "Startin'" and "Rainy Day" by Japanese entertainer Ayumi Hamasaki are featured as the opening and ending themes for the game respectively. "Startin'" was composed by Kazuhiro Hara and arranged by CMJK; "Rainy Day" was composed by Roberto "Geo" Rosan of Sweetbox and arranged by Yuta Nakano. Hamasaki wrote the lyrics for both songs.
Two manga tie-ins have been published by Udon Entertainment, filling in some of the background information behind the game:
- Onimusha: Twilight of Desire, by Takashi Yaguchi, talks about the battle between Tenkai and the nephew of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Toyotomi Hidetsugu, who was at the time utilizing Genma Power introduced by Ophelia. This story takes place before the game and is also part of the reason why Hideyoshi came to utilize the Genma Power.
- Onimusha: Night of Genesis Volumes 1 & 2, by Mitsuru Ohsaki, explains some of the story between Soki and Hideyoshi, Soki's subsequent quest to destroy the Genma trees, and the machinations of Soki's birth family, the Tokugawa. It also details Jubei's inheritance of her grandfather's name and the awakening of her Demon Eye, as well as her start of her quest to hunt down Munenori.
A film adaptation, which compiles all the CG cutscenes from the game with newly animated ones to tell the story from Akane's perspective, was released on DVD in Japan on July 26, 2006, by Avex Trax. The film has been licensed in North America by Media Blasters.
In 2010, a commercial for a pachislo version was released. Sōki has also appeared as a playable character in the 2008 fighting game, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes, and its international release, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars with his allies appearing in his arcade ending, as NPC's.
Dawn of Dreams underperformed upon release according to Capcom. It was the 41st bestselling game in Japan in 2006 with a total of 325,872 units shipped. Capcom VP of Strategic Planning and Business Development Christian Svensson referred to Demon Siege and Dawn of Dreams as less successful games than the first two Onimusha. In 2012, GamesRadar listed Dawn of Dreams as one of the titles they wished to be re-released in a HD collection since they noted the original game did not achieve good popularity as result of the next generation consoles having been released in the same period.
Despite its poor popularity, Dawn of Dreams received positive critical response by video game publications. It has had aggregate score of 81/100 on Metacritic. Praise was aimed commonly at its new action elements that give player a more varied combat. IGN commented that "you won't be fighting the smartest enemies in the world (and some of the puzzles can be tedious) but the combat is fantastic and the challenge is just right". The unique of the controllable characters were noted for giving the player the idea of returning to previous stages and unlock new items. Although the new two player mode has been welcomed by critics, GameRevolution noted some issues within it that made it less appealing.
While GameSpot praised the quality of the voice acting, VideoGamer.com criticized it and was disappointed with how the European release of the title lacked the original Japanese audio unlike the North American release. The presentation received general positive response due to its graphics and cutscenes. Some critics noted some translation issues that affected the script. Nevertheless, the plot generated good responses by VideoGamer.com. VideoGamer noted while at first it could be difficult to understand to newcomers, the plot became more interesting as it moved on.
During 2007, Keiji Inafune commented that as Dawn of Dreams lacked characters based on real actors he felt there was entertainment value missing. As a result, he commented that should he ever make another Onimusha game he would add more of these characters. Inafune also talked about making a follow up to Dawn of Dreams but he was more interested in developing Mega Man Legends 3.
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