Interview: Onimusha 3 sharpens its blade
26th Mar 2003 | 18:51
Onimusha caused a great stir when it released on PlayStation 2. Breathing new life into the rapidly ageing Resident Evil formula it became the console's first million-seller, delighting action fans across the globe, with its traditional, Samurai leanings currying particular favour in its native territory.
Subsequently, via Genma Onimusha and Onimusha 2, the series has grown from strength to strength, under the masterful guidance of Capcom producer Keiji Inafune. Recently unveiled at a press event in Paris, France, Onimusha looks set to raise the bar even further, with jaw-dropping visuals, a brand-new fully 3D engine and the addition of a new hero: movie star Jean Reno.
As Inafune-san rounds of his compelling series, he doubtless intends to go out with a bang, and on this early evidence, Onimusha 3 will be another massive, must-own title. But with its 2004 release date still a long way off and details still thin on the ground, Inafune-san took time out to convince us why Onimusha fans will want to hold on for their most incredible adventure yet:
Why did you choose to include Jean Reno?
Inafune: Whereas Samonasuke, the hero of Onimusha and Onimusha 2, is really popular in Japan, Jean Reno is popular globally. He's a recognisable figure for the West. Also, personally I like him. We originally approached a famous Hollywood actor to take the role, but he was only interested in money. Jean Reno understands what we're trying to do.
Also, Jean Reno has appeared in many Japanese commercials. He's very popular with Japanese women. He's a tough guy but also has a soft side - Japanese women seem to prefer people who are tough yet gentle! [laughs]
What about female characters?
Inafune: There will be female characters, as, just like in the movies, there needs to be romance.
Inafune: [laughs] Well, in Onimusha 1 and 2 we had very beautiful Japanese ladies, so this time we'd like to show a French lady.
Is the reason the game is set in Paris to make it appeal more to the West, then? Why Paris specifically? Why not the US, for instance?
Inafune: Paris and its landmarks are well known to Japan as well as the West and it's a really beautiful city? Why did I not set the game in the US? Because Europe has nicer buildings! [laughs] And the representation of Paris is very accurate - basically exactly the same.
Also, Though Onimusha has been very successful, sales have been poorest in PAL territories, so I want to make a game that will appeal to Europeans.
Why did you decide to make the game fully 3D and dispense with the pre-rendered backdrops?
Inafune: Because we found that with Onimusha 2, the pre-rendered backgrounds were not particularly well received in certain quarters. We had the technology for 3D when we made Onimusha and Onimusha 2, but at that time we could not make it look as good as the pre-rendered environments. That is no longer the case.
The new engine is very powerful. Whereas we could only have a maximum of eight enemies on screen before, that number is now in excess of 20. And for the motion capture we've enlisted the services of Donnie Yen (stunt co-ordinator and star of Blade 2).
Will the forthcoming Onimusha movie follow the plot of the game?
Inafune: The interesting part of the game and the interesting parts of the movie are different - the movie won't follow the script of the game.
What can you tell us about the Dual Hero system? Will there be puzzles and so forth that both characters must solve?
Inafune: You play up to a point using a certain character and then when you reach that point you swap over. As for the puzzles, I can't really say precisely, but it's a possibility... There might be a scene where both the characters appear and at that point they might have to solve some puzzles... [laughs]
Will there be any co-op play?
Inafune: That's part of the reason I created Onimusha Buraiden - to give people a multiplayer Onimusha experience.
Does Jean Reno perform his own voice acting?
Inafune: There will be a French voiceover included in the game. We would like to ask Jean Reno to do his part but because he's a very busy man it would be difficult for him to find time to record that part.
One of the key elements of Onimusha 2 was in the conversation you had with other NPCs - will this element be retained or ditched for number three?
Inafune: The way I see it is that each title in the series will have a different system, so I will not be including that feature from Onimusha 2, and there won't be the item swapping either. I want a focus on action. I will be trying to introduce a new system that is related to the action.
Is Onimusha 3 or Onimusha Buraiden going to be released on any format other than PS2.
Inafune: No! [laughs].
Now the game is in full 3D, will the controls alter?
Inafune: Because the game is now in full 3D we will be making use of analogue sticks, but we established a good control system in Onimusha 2 and we want to make sure that this still works. It's a combination of analogue and what we've used in the past.
Will the 3D environments bring it more in line with Devil May Cry in terms of gameplay?
Inafune: The best part of making this in full 3D is that you can also consider actions both horizontally and vertically in relation to the environments, like Devil May Cry. But I don't believe a Samurai should play like Dante as he has a certain image to maintain. But the weapons Jean Reno is using can be used to take advantage of vertical movement.
Consider the number of enemies you can display at once, is the engine any relation to that used by Chaos Legion?
Inafune: It's much better than the Chaos Legion engine! [laughs] It's the best engine Capcom has. I said there could be over 20 enemies on screen, but there are techniques I'm trying that may increase this number.
We saw Jean Reno riding a bike in the footage - will this make an appearance in-game?
Inafune: Well, I can't really say at this time, but there might be a part where the bike may appear... [laughs]
Where does the storyline fit in to the Onimusha universe?
Inafune: It takes place over 20 years after Onimusha, therefore more than 10 or 12 years after Onimusha 2. The key place is a temple where Nobunaga was killed.
And can you confirm that this is the last game in the Onimusha series?
Inafune: This is the final game in the series and I have no intention of making Onimusha 4. The reason for this is that all stories must have an ending, otherwise you just keep going on and on and on. This will be the final part.