Onimusha Tactics
Game Boy Advance
Reviewed: 12/29/2003


“Average” quality games are released all the time; that’s what makes them the average. But a number of impressive or even fantastic games also seem to come out at least a couple times a month. So what has to counteract those gems to keep the average an average? The answer is “crap.”

Let’s start with the story. The game uses the story of the Japanese historical figure Oda Nobunaga, which has been used a number of times on several systems, from the SNES to the PS2. Anyway, Nobunaga was a warlord who fought to control Japan, but couldn’t quite pull it off, so of course he was cast as the game’s satanic main villain: that just makes perfect sense, right? Oh, wait…

So now he’s somehow back from the fully dead and just “kinda dead,” and his intentions of ruling Japan still linger in his mind. Yeah, you’d think priority #1 would be to get a real body, but no no; political power is far more important. His opponent, for no real reason, is a young man named Onimaru. Like a good young RPG hero with no backstory, he’s reluctant to fight, but must because he has a special power of some sort. Things are looking bad fast for Onimusha Tactics….

There’s really not much more to say about the plot, except that in order to fall asleep while in the middle of playing a video game, one must either be extremely tired, or be playing something that just can’t hold the attention of even the most patient individuals. We’ll move on to the gameplay. Wait, what gameplay? What am I talking about? Onimusha Tactics is missing almost everything that makes tactical RPGs entertaining! There is no item inventory to manage. There’s no money to keep track of. And don’t look forward to new towns with new shops to check out, ’cause you won’t find them here. Basically, there isn’t much depth at all. You see, killing your foes isn’t just good for personal growth (as in levels) like in good games, but winning also makes your starting equipment more powerful for you. You don’t choose how to distribute the power, you can’t choose what skills to learn next, or anything that would add depth or strategy to the game. What was Capcom thinking?

In addition to the game making all of your character growth decisions for you, the plot is intensly linear. With no towns, item shops, or serious side quests/mini games, there’s really no choice but to go exactly where the developers dictate. If you thought the first 2/3 of Final Fantasy X was bad, you’ll be vomitting like a troubled teenage girl just to take your mind off the game, simply because that activity is considerably more fun than playing this game.

The above flaws cause what’s known as “I can’t wait for this to be over” syndrome. This is not a good thing for any game to have the scent of, and Onimusha Tactics reeks so badly of this, you oughtta burn any copy you see and bury the remains (that is, if you can’t get a quick buck from some sucker on Ebay). You won’t just be wishing the game itself is over soon, but each individual battle is dragged out much longer than necessary. This is due to the fact that characters can’t move very far, and the teams are usually placed the entire way accross the battle field from each other. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there aren’t many attacks that have a long range, so the first few turns of every battle will be spent just walking towards the enemy. Woo, fun.

Hey, remember when I talked about Final Fantasy Tactics Advance being a bit too easy most of the time? Well FFTA can’t even stand in the same room as good ol’ Onimusha Tactics. Not so much because the battles themselves are a breeze, but because there is no Game Over. When your party is wiped out, you go back to the world map, with everything you gained before you died. So any strength you gained in battle before biting it is kept for you to take in with you in your next attempt. This means that, over time, they are willing to just spoonfeed you victories. Come on now, they can do better than that. If there was an incentive to play this game in the face of everything already said, where is it now, with nothing at stake?

Onimusha Tactics certainly sounds cool at first, simply because the PS2 games are decent, and the feudal Japanese setting is a unique one in tactical RPGs. But don’t let those draw you in–it’s a trap. Sure, the graphics and sound can’t really be pounded into the ground like the other parts of the game, but they are still only of standard grade, and nothing makes either of them stand out from the crowd of GBA titles. There is little or nothing to redeem this game from its glaring flaws. It’s crap.

-Heath Hindman

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Offensive
Story Horrible
Graphics Average
Sound/Music Average
Replay Value Offensive
The Verdict: 1