In memoriam, Donald Sutherland

Oni

aka: Aoni
Moby ID: 3242

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 72% (based on 60 ratings)

Player Reviews

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

Two distinct genres that work well as a hybrid.

The Good
"Gun-toting Japanese cartoon chick." How can you not like a game with that premise?

While it's a fairly typical action game, Oni scored big with me on intangibles: The little things that differentiate it from your typical 3rd-person run/jump/shoot contest and add up to a great gaming experience. The unique circular status indicators. The other characters giving you new mission objectives as you move about. The ability to whack people with your gun when you run out of ammo. The little comments you can make Konoko say by hitting "ctrl" when fighting the bad guys. The characters, dialogue and plot really feel like they were lifted from a Japanese anime, or at least a good American imitation of one.

I'm also going to venture a bold and different opinion and say that "save points" aren't all bad. For me it's horribly frustrating to really be getting into a game, to the point that a save completely slips your mind (that's an immersive game world, that can make you do that), only to get yourself killed off and have to go back to the start of the level. Oni is well-paced and the difficulty balance is quite fair, so it rarely takes more than a couple of minutes to get back where you were. This also prevents you from overwriting a good save right at the worst possible time, when you're trapped and out of ammo and your life is low. With save points, you're at least reassured that you'll have a couple of seconds to react to nearby enemies after you restore. And it does prevent me from abusing the save-anywhere feature: I've been known to cheat my way through a difficult section by saving every few steps and brute-forcing my way ahead. I will concede, however, that it's not a perfect system. The ideal solution might be for the game to save regularly but also give a couple of quick-save slots to the player for the heat of battle or for a particularly difficult section.

The Bad
Graphics are adequate, but the engine gets a bit sluggish in open areas if there are three or four enemies coming after you at once. The scenery is pretty stark, though some of the character animation is nifty.

The learning curve for the control system is quite steep. There's a lot to take in at once, and it's different from any other control scheme I've experienced. (Thank goodness for the practice level.) I ended up sticking to flips and basic punch/kick combos and I did okay. Fighting was more fun than using the weapons, some of which -- the machine gun in particular -- were practically impossible to aim because of the recoil effect. Instead of making the game's action feel more realistic, it only made it frustrating. And the gameplay gets a little repetitive toward the end, with wave after wave of the same enemies.

The Bottom Line
I like Oni. I like it for the simple reason that it's a little bit different than anything else I've ever played. While I've never enjoyed 3D run-and-shoots, or pure fighting games with all the complex moves, the two work well together here, with the anime theme rounding out the experience nicely. Oni is definitely worth checking out. (My advice: Sift through the bargain bins at your local mall or Menards. I got my copy for $5.00!)

Windows · by Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe (1673) · 2002

An excellent game w/ a couple of faults

The Good
Awesome gameplay. The Martial Arts action is to die for. The game is pretty much a beatem up, and while there are weapons you won't want to use them that much. It never gets boring beating the living mess out of thugs. The moves are excellent and the controls are great. You won't have much trouble learning the controls after going through the training mission. The game has a very cool anime feel. The story is also one of the best around.

The Bad
The biggest fault is the lack of a save at will feature. While I only got frustrated twice because of it, it still should be a feature in the game. This is the biggest and most deadly turnoff of the game. Secondly, the graphics are blah and very bland, there is pretty much no detail at all in the worlds. But the architecture of the buildings can be pretty cool sometimes. Lastly the game begs and pleads for a multiplayer mode. Hopefully all these things will be addressed in a sequel, which I hope they are making.

The Bottom Line
A very good combat game with great moves and controls, served with a great story. Lackluster graphics and an awful save game system do detract from the game, but do not keep it from being a great game. Highly recommended as one of my favorite games and it is now my guilty pleasure. I bought it for $9.99 and I know I got a steal. Overall Just plain FUN!!!!

Windows · by JMoore (6) · 2002

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

Probably the most entertaining game I ever played

The Good
This game is just great. Why, you ask?
Well it's certainly not the graphics, or the music, or the sound... I just don't know. Oni is cool, and that's it. It's like the Fonz.

Oni is a 3rd person perspective action game with a strong influence of 'oriental-pop' aestethics (namely, manga/anime). We play the role of a purple-haired girl called Konoko, the top-of-the-notch special agent for a law enforcement organization called the TCTF, with genetically enhaced physiscal abilities and all.
Every city in the world is enclosed in a 'bubble' inside which gigantic atmosphere processors create a safe environment for human beings, since the 'world outside' has become a deadly poisonous place.
The game starts with a brief training course, after which Konoko's first-ever field mission takes place: the hot pursuit of the leader of the terrorist organization known as The Syndicate, a mysterious man called Muro. Throughout the fast-paced pursuit, Konoko will get to uncover the secret plans of Muro, as well as his origin, his true nature, and some other dirty secrets that will give place to a few —hopefully surprising— plot twists, involving even her own nature and little-known past.

Gameplay-wise I would say Oni places somewhere inbetween the likes of BLOOD OMEN 2 and MAX PAYNE —which has been by the way developed by the same people, Gathering Of Developers (GOD).
Now, the first of those games is strictly a close-hand combat game, while the second is more of a shooter kind of game. Oni has both combat options, and that's where its greatness begins, we have the option to choose in which way we get to dispose Konoko's enemies, whether from a distance, or getting our hands dirty.
However, although Oni might be played as a shooter game, it's pretty clear from the very beginning that the idea is to use close-hand combat. In this aspect, the games succeeds brilliantly, implementing the most smart and user-friendly combat interface I've ever seen.
We've got two attack keys —punch and kick—, and the possibility to combine them in a lot of different ways, in order to perform a large number of combos. Not only that, but combining the two attack buttons with any of the movement keys, we get to perform a lot of other attack/evasion moves; some moves even are a combination of attack AND evasion.
We could think of Oni as a 3rd person perspective action game, in which the combat sequences have the complexity level of games such as Street Fighter...
OK, maybe it's not THAT complex, but it's certainly pretty close, for a 3rd person perspective game. And it's cool because the fights in Oni can involve as much characters as we bump into in a certain area. Sometimes there even will be one or two that will actually be fighting in our side.

So, the combat sequences are undoubtly one of the things that make this game stick out notably. Even when I had learned a LOT of moves, every now and then I would pull out this OTHER move that I even wasn't aware was possible!
What's more, throughout the game Konoko will keep learning new moves to add to her combat 'portfolio', which will surely keep renewing the fighting.

Related to this, I must say that I LOVED the control interface. The implementation of the mouse in Oni's control interface is one of the 2 best I've seen in a PC game. I didn't even need to finish the complete training to get really comfortable with the controls, and never got an issue to report about this. Pretty soon I was confident enough to perform all kind of circus numbers with this agile heroine.
For some people it might take longer to get used, specially to the combat moves and the combos, but once you manage to; you have to agree that Oni's control interface is as smooth as it gets.

Next, the difficulty level. I'm 27 years old as of June 2003, and I've been a videogame player for about 16 years. I don't know if that has something to do or what, but I noticed that videogames are so STUPIDLY EASY nowadays. The only thing to spice things up is the implementation of a 'hard' mode, which more often than not consists of ridiculous things like requiring 300 hits to kill a boos, taking a good half hour to win the final fight. This way, 'hard' difficulty level in most games doesn't win you out of difficulty, but because you simply get bored of hitting keys/buttons for that long.
I readed some guides/walkthroughs to games such as SILENT HILL 2, in which the author strongly advices to avoid fighting the enemies, and I wonder why should anyone do that? They are SO easy to beat! And this happens over and over again, with almost every game on the market today.
Oni, however, has the most balanced difficulty level I experienced in a long time. It's hard enough to put a true challenge, but not too hard as to get you frustrated.
In Oni, we don't have the freedom of saving at will, but the game will do it upon reaching certain areas, and you know what? I think that is a good thing. The savepoints are far enough from one another as to keep with the difficulty level, but not as far as to make you replay a too long stage. It's not frustrating, and it eliminates this 'kill one guy, quicksave; oops, got hit, quickload' sickness so common nowadays.
We are too spoiled by 'quicksave', and we're getting too lazy.

Another thing I liked a lot is the lenght of the game. There are about 13 main levels, and each one is divided in 4~5 sub-levels. Combined with the difficulty level that every now and then makes you replay a given stage 3 or 4 times, the game can take a good 2 or 3 weeks of intense gameplay to reach the ending. That's 'bang for the buck', I say.
Every level varies enough in its appearance from one another as to make sure you won't get bored with the views. In every new level there is at least one new type of enemy with a particular fighting technique that you have to learn in order to successfully combat, which adds a lot to the variety of the game. Hell, even Konoko changes clothes every second level or so.

The storyline is nothing to write home about, but it's pretty interesting for this kind of game, even featuring a few plot twists (nothing TOO surprising, though).

The graphics are not brilliant, but they are quite correct, specially character design. The manga/anime influence is very strong, and we all know how good are those guys designing uniforms, weapons, and armours.
And girls, of course :P

The game offers an interesting deal of replayability, since, once you have beaten it, you get to unlock a number of 'cheats' that range from the all-famous 'god' mode to the ability to choose the character to play among almost any character that appeared in the game.



The Bad
Although I said the graphics are good, they could certainly be better. The textures specially need a lot of work, and the backgrounds are pretty poor. There are a number of cutscenes made with in-game graphics that take place in the city, and the buildings look really awful. You can certainly tell that they didn't put any effort in the city design.
In fact, (not counting the excellent control interface) the whole game gives a pretty low-profile impression, from a technical point of view. There isn't even the slightest work in facial expressions, for example. Not even any kind of lip-synch.

The cutscenes are made with in-game graphics, except for the intro and outro sequences, which are 2D-animated. These two I didn't like at all. They are poor in every aspect, and specially the drawing of Konoko is not good, she doesn't even look like the in-game Konoko, or the one in the conversation shots, or the one in the main menu background, or the one in any of the publicitary shots, wallpapers, et cetera.

There is one last pretty serious issue, which is the lack of an option to redefine controls.
In fact, the 'readme' file points out one way to do this, which is MANUALLY EDITING a certain file with a text editor. I don't think I have EVER seen such a lame thing, not to mention little serious.

The Bottom Line
Oni for sure doesn't have anything to make history nor anything for the like, but it's certainly a game that has been unfairly underrated. You have to go past that low-profile general looks, and give it a 15-minute gameplay try. I bet you'll like it.
With a fine manga/anime influenced atmosphere, extremely smooth controls, a really extense gameplay, lots of different enemies with their own combat techniques, and a huge variety of close-hand combat options; Oni is certainly a GREAT 3rd person perspective action game.

Personally, I dare to say that this is one of the top 3 most entertaining games I've had the pleasure to play. And as I've said before, if a game is fun enough as to keep you playing all the way to the end, and even make you want to replay it, what else can you want?

Windows · by Slug Camargo (583) · 2003

First game of this type that I ever finished.

The Good
The number of moves and stunts this game allows you to perform while playing is quite thorough. This is the first game I found where it is possible to sneak up on someone and then break their back, for example. Another example you can run full tilt, then slide along the ground, pick up a gun laying there, and then shoot an enemy. Mastering these types of maneuvers can be very satisfying.

Some complain about the control system that Oni uses, but I found it quite good, and I'm usually VERY bad with games like this (Mortal Kombat, OMF2097). I was able to pull off most of the moves consistently in battle. Some moves are meant to be difficult to execute so that the game doesn't become too easy.

I personally think the save system in the game was appropriate, because in other games where the player can save at will, I have a tendency to abuse this feature. Oni's save system only forces you to MASTER the control of your female protagonist, which is what you want for a fighting/action game like this anyway.

An enemy in the game had to either spot you or hear you before attacking, this made for very interesting game play since at times sneaking around was necessary. Some enemies would taunt you while fighting, although a bit repetitive after awhile, this still added some interest to the flow of the game.

Some levels were huge, and the game engine seemed to handle indoor and outdoor scenes flawlessly. The level design was usually quite good, and provided a variety of environments to explore.

The Bad
My biggest complaint would have to be the drab graphics on the first few levels; although, the first level IS a warehouse, so what do you expect? It's true that some levels could have used more detail, it's also true that you're too busy fighting to really be bothered with the color and size of the game designer's choice in textures.

Some opponents in the game where REALLY tough to beat and required up to 10-15 retries before finally beating them (although I really consider this just part of the game and not a huge turn-off).

The Bottom Line
I finished this game at the normal level of difficulty and I rarely finish action games of any type. This game was fun and addictive, although admittedly a bit frustrating in some spots.

If you are not patient or easily bored with having to replay parts of a game because you got killed, this game may not be for you. You will occasionally have to replay some parts of a given level many times before moving on.

Overall I found the integration of various gaming styles to be well done, and there were no problems that I noticed which could prevent someone from finishing this game without cheating.

Windows · by jlebel (2190) · 2004

A very engaging game that blends hand to hand combat with gunfighting.

The Good
The best part of the game is the plot line of a futuristic science fiction bordering on cyberpunk. The plot is carefully crafted and all the elements like consoles, news etc. supplement the plot line perfectly. The game also features a great sound track and imaginative weapons for gun fights.It has a great hand to hand game-play and the levels give a sense of a large real size of buildings. It gives every bit a sense of being part of a good Japanese anime. The entire game is played in third person camera.

If the cheats are enabled in the game and one can switch characters and also switch fighting styles correspondingly. One can experiment with ninjas, henchmen or the antagonist himself.

The Bad
The ending was abrupt. It left me wanting a cut scene at least. After an engaging adventure the game story ends without any closure.

I also found two combat moves with similar key mappings. This created some problems during game-play.

One cannot save games at will. The game auto saves at predetermined checkpoints.

Once a game is started, the options menu disappears form the main menu.

The Bottom Line
The game has a very nice story to it with the protagonist discovering more about her dark past as the game proceeds. The first thing one realizes is the sense of space in the levels. The levels are huge and adds to the realism of the adventures. There is a interesting blend of hand to hand combat and futuristic weapons. The sound effects and game music blend well with the levels and situation.

Windows · by DS___ (7) · 2014

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

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

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Jeanne, Scaryfun, Wizo, Patrick Bregger, ti00rki, Cavalary, shphhd, Zeppin, vedder, COBRA-COBRETTI, SAGA_, verify, Alsy, GTramp, DreinIX, Xoleras, Alaka, nyccrg, CalaisianMindthief, Parf, mikewwm8, Cantillon, Big John WV, Open_Sights, Lain Crowley, 64er, jumpropeman, ☺☺☺☺☺.