In memoriam, Donald Sutherland

Oni

aka: Aoni
Moby ID: 3242
Windows Specs
Buy on PlayStation 2
$20.00 used, $110.00 new on eBay
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Description official descriptions

It's 2032. The planet is now ruled by the World Coalition Government which annexed 80% of the countries, with the remaining quickly dragged into the WCG. While their official goal was to solve humankind's problems, it was about money. Massive spending bankrupted poorer countries, and soon all traces of individual government disappeared. For those who were poor, the situation didn't improved one bit, and for the richer, maintaining the status was done at the expense of their privacy and personal freedoms. To make things worse, life outside the major cities, far from the atmosphere processors is nearly impossible, as the so-called "Wilderness Preserves" are poisoned, and those who venture into them risk a painful death.

Konoko, fresh out from TCTF (Technology Crimes Task Force, a secret police to take cyber drugs and weapons from the streets, as well as explore the induced technophobia to operate and investigate on a blank check permission) academy is placed under the command of Terrance Griffin and Dr. Kerr and linked to a SLD - an android - called Shinatama, who is neurally linked to her. However, Konoko knows next to nothing about her past, other that she was orphaned at the age of three and felt "different" to other people while was being brought up under the wing of TCTF. After many years in training, she has finally the chance to prove herself to Griffin and the TCTF, and so, heads for a warehouse rumoured to be under the control of the Syndicate, a criminal organization which grew exponentially after a young man called "Boss Muro" climbed to the top of the organization.

Inspired by the classic Anime series Ghost in the Shell by Shirow Masamune, gameplay is a mix between generic third-person shooter and a classic beat'em up. While Konoko has at her disposal several hand-to-hand acrobatic moves (with more unlocked as the player advances), she can also find weapons in the levels, and the decision to go armed or bare-fisted is only up to the player. Each weapon either draws from ballistic or energy cell clips, the number of rounds in each clip depending on the weapon: a Black Adder (a short, one-hand machine gun like an Uzi) can get 30 rounds from a ballistic clip, while a Mercury Bow (a sniper railgun sans scope) only two. Combined with the limited availability of clips, this adds a strategic element to the game, as the player can only carry a weapon at a time, so if a powerful weapons runs out of ammo, the player must choose between keeping the weapon and fight hand to hand with the enemies until Konoko finds fresh ammo clips, or discard it for a lesser gun that uses different ammo. However, if the player runs out of ammo completely when facing a tough challenge, Konoko can "overdose" on hypo sprays (used to heal damage) by using them over her natural health bar, which provides her with faster movement and tougher blows.

Spellings

  • Они - Russian spelling
  • 奥妮 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

171 People (122 developers, 49 thanks) · View all

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Executive Producer
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Original Concept Art
Additional Concept Art
Particle System Art
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Cutscene Animation
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Object Modeling/Texturing
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[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 72% (based on 60 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.5 out of 5 (based on 84 ratings with 8 reviews)

Great potential, complete flop.

The Good
Oni could've been great, awesome even. Combining three crucial elements (being great graphics, fight moves and a voluptuous female), Oni should have been one of 2001's greatest games, but ultimately, it failed.

Regardless, Oni deserves recognition for being the first mainstream anime-based game for the PC. There have been a few anime games in the past, but none of them are actually widely known.

Also, it warrants some merit on the grounds of its terrific "animesque" 3D engine, which while isn't actually fast, isn't slow either, and definitely looks GORGEOUS. The scenes are definitely believable for an anime game, and the fight moves are very well performed.

The music, rare as it is, is pretty good never-the-less.

The Bad
Oni has two major shortcomings, which are enough to render a potentially great game into a complete mess.

The first is a completely inadequate control system. I consider myself a very able person when it comes to getting the hang of control systems in games (I've never had any troubles with games ranging from Doom to Alice to Unreal Tournament), but Oni's control mechnasims managed to completely baffle me. Difficult to learn as they are, it's nothing compared to how difficult they are to use in a furious combat sequence. This might not have been too bad in itself, but combined with the second problem, the game becomes extremely frustrating.

The second problem is save points. sigh Shouldn't the lesson have been learned over the years, especially after Daitakana, which was particularly criticized for its "save crystals" mechanism? This is not a playstation game, and I think that's what the programmers failed to realize - miserably so. Combined with a really unintuitive control system, the lack of quicksave/quickload option in this game makes it completely unbearable to play. A stupid mistake, such as falling off a bridge in the middle of combat (or alternatively overhead-throwing an opponent and falling after him) can, and in fact will, make you go through entire sections over and over and over again.

Bad controls + no quicksave = big no-no.

The Bottom Line
A real flop, a game which could've been made great but fails where it's most important: gameplay.

Windows · by Tomer Gabel (4536) · 2001

Interacting with terminals: the game!

The Good
It's a creative idea.

I found myself taking a liking to the hand-to-hand combat.

Dialogue is reliably entertaining.

The Bad
Graphics are very "meh".

There is not a whole lot of anime to be found in this game.

Guns are absolute ass.

As are the rest of the controls.

Story is not very engaging.

Quality and the style of the drawings is very inconsistent.

The Bottom Line
Oni is one of the first games ever created by Bungie, back before they grew popular with the Halo series. It has been on my radar for a while, not just because it is a Bungie game, which as a studio usually produces pretty good shooters, but also because it was advertised as an "anime action game". I like to pretend that I am immune to hype, but when those three words are named in one sentence, even my jaded hearth suddenly jumps back to life.

It sounded to good to be true and sadly it was. Oni is a game, I can confirm that. It also has a decent amount of action in it, though I'd argue that the majority of the gameplay consists of pressing X in front of computer screens. However, the anime influences are somewhat difficult to trace down. Aside from a pretty nice animated opening, the game relies mostly on in-game graphics, which aren't very stylized or colorful at all. In fact, most of the levels seemed to have been made in the Doom Builder, considering all the gray walls and perfectly square rooms. The only real anime influences I can detect are related to the design of the characters (which all have unnaturally colored hair) and the fact that enemies tend to scream the name of their attack. Apparently the brainstorming sessions consisted of a Digimon marathon and a collection of Tenchi Muyo fanart.

Of course visual design isn't the only element that makes an anime; the story is also important. The story of this game is heavily inspired by Ghost in the Shell, since both works are about a special task-force operating in a cyberpunk city. Players take on the role of Konoko, a female agent, who is fresh from the academy. She is tasked with taking out an evil syndicate that specialize in cyber-crime and contraband. That is the extent of the plot that I could decipher, since the game is written in medias res and I couldn't be bothered playing it for more than three hours.

Konoko and the rest of the cast I was introduced too were actually pretty entertaining and some of the dialogue had me smiling. Voice-acting is also pretty good and I would have continued playing the game if I could.

The real problem with the game is the gameplay. It boasts that the player is free to choose between fighting enemies with hand-to-hand combat or guns. This is true, but I dare you to run up to an enemy and punch him in the face when that enemy wields a freaking rocket launcher. Ammo is also very scarce, so you are encouraged to save it up for when you really need it, so there is not really a choice at all. Deus Ex did this way better, allowing the player to sneak up on enemies and knock them unconscious very easily. You can sneak in Oni, but you lack the means to take out a guard stealthily, so once you're behind him, all you can do is start punching him anyway, which will instantly attract all other nearby guards as well.

The worst part, however, are the legendarily poor controls. I am not lying when I say that this is the most uncontrollable game I've ever played, it far surpasses the likes of Conker's Bad Fur Day. Let me give you an example, a very basic one: In most games you run as fast as you can by pressing the analog stick all the way forward, but in Oni you press it all the way forward two times. Yes, it has three states of movement speed; walking, running and dashing.

The controls also tend to fail you at the worst possible times. Stuff like grabs, sliding or even just moving forward glitch out at the worst possible times. Pulling off grabs is especially random and I lost count of how often I desperately needed one to happen, but couldn't trigger it no matter how hard I tried.

Gunplay is equally useless, praise the lord for the auto-target, because it would be impossible to hit anything otherwise. There are two types of guns, pistols and rifles, whose only real differences are that one uses red ammo and the other green ammo. There is no point in devising a strategy of any sorts, since you'll always be using whatever weapon you happen to find ammo for, which itself is a rare occurrence. The scarcity of the ammunition saps all satisfaction out of the shooting mechanics, because you will always find yourself running out and having to make do without for long periods of time. Also lovely are the many times when the game gives you green ammo while you are wielding a red gun or vice versa. Especially when you then finally find a damn green gun, but can't pick it up, because the "Press R3 to pick up" prompt doesn't show up.

Oni is a game that had so much potential to be mind-blowing, but it's ultimately crippled by some very amateur design. From controls that assign important functions to unreliable buttons like R3 to boxy and colorless level-design, Oni reeks of incompetence. In a world where anime games are almost exclusively dominated by overly long RPGs and fighting games, Oni had a chance to introduce a new sub-genre, perfect for people like me who have too little time for RPGs and are terrible at tournament fighters. A failure of this magnitude must have set off a lot of alarms, because no similar games have been released since, or at least that I know if. If I am wrong, then by all means, please send me a pm.

PlayStation 2 · by Asinine (956) · 2013

Oni, while not as great as it could have been, is a very good game

The Good
I completely disagree with the criticism of this game on the Featured Game column. The criticism states that Oni looks great but plays poorly. I claim the reverse is true. Oni's graphics were drab and disappointing (except for the smooth and varied animation), but its hand to hand combat system created a playing experience that is both unique and superior to most other 3d action games. Intuitive controls (after a short adjustment period), a great range of effective movements and intelligent enemies combined to create some of the most thrilling fights i ever had in an action game, 1st or 3rd person. the save system works perfectly most of the time, with the duration between saves short enough not to frustrate, long enough to be challenging.

The Bad
I expected much more from the story, which was left underdeveloped and cliched. the game's environments were its weakest point - repetitive, underwhelming, with very little interaction.

The Bottom Line
no game is like Oni, no computer combat is like going 1 on 3 in Oni and throwing your opponents left and right, and no gun toting two bit hero can equal heroine konoko's combat fury and finesse. the game does not live up to its full potential, but it is a remainder that new gameplay experiences can still be created if designers stop thinking by the formula. if you're tired of aiming and shooting, strafing and blasting, get Oni and teach those goons a thing or two about female power.

Windows · by ududy (57) · 2001

[ View all 8 player reviews ]

Trivia

Comics

A three-part comic miniseries based on Oni was published by Dark Horse Comics in early 2001. A special #0 preview issue was included with the March issues of GamePro and Gamer's Republic magazines.

Development

Oni was originally intended to be multiplayer, but the designers dropped this when they couldn't get the game engine to perform fast enough over a net connection. There are remnants of the lost multiplayer option in the finished version. The manual still describes the other characters' various strengths and special moves, and once the player has beaten the game (or hacked a certain file), they can play as characters other than Konoko.

Gathering of Goodness

In the American edition of Oni, mailing back the registration card entitled the player to receive a Gathering of Goodness CD that contained patches, demos and movies of upcoming Gathering of Developers games plus a bunch of special god games content.

Title

"Oni" is Japanese for ghost or demon.

Information also contributed by Roger Wilco, Terok Nor and Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe.

Analytics

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Related Sites +

  • Official Webpage (Mac)
    The official product page for the Mac version of Oni on the publisher's website, which provides a trailer, a profile of the game, a demo, and purchasing information, among other such such particulars.
  • Oni
    Official game website
  • Oni Central
    The bungie.org Oni site.
  • Oni Online
    Comprehensive site about Oni.
  • Wikipedia: Oni
    Information about Oni at Wikipedia
  • ZDNet GameSpot
    Game review.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 3242
  • [ Please login / register to view all identifiers ]

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Kartanym.

PlayStation 2 added by Jonathon Howard. Macintosh added by Ace of Sevens.

Additional contributors: Tomer Gabel, nullnullnull, Terok Nor, Kic'N, Unicorn Lynx, Apogee IV, Antti Salminen, Zeppin, Klaster_1, DreinIX, Cantillon.

Game added January 31, 2001. Last modified March 23, 2024.