June 3, 2009
Back from the graveyard, or at least the bargain bin if you scrounge hard enough, is the greatest game to come out of Bungie West, the California studio of Halo mastermind, Bungie. Oni is a 1997 third-person extrrrrravaganza, breaking new ground in hand-to-hand combat and attempting to help pioneer the stealth element of the action/adventure genre (before the Tom Clancy name dominated the shelves). I must be frank, Oni is the only game to come out of Bungie West; but that being said it still won a Game Critics Award for Best Action/Adventure Game in 1999, even though it was still in development at that time.
70% of the Actual Size of the Main Menu, it’s tiny
Now I’m a surprisingly big fan of the whole Anime/Manga biz, I love movies like the Ghost in the Shell series, Paprika etc. and Oni tries to capture this Cyberpunk mix of martial artistry and futuristic styling that is an evident constant amongst said movies. Nowadays though it doesn’t live up to the modern graphics of, say Crysis, but is still watchable enough that it can be entertaining.
Even if Pixelated, some views of Konoko are always pleasing to the eyes. And is that a Gravity Gun dropped in paint?
The only main problem from the get-go was the sound, my game had none. I’m sure it would sound really cool, and if I flicked to Lisa Miskovsky on my iTunes it’d feel even more like Mirror’s Edge than what it already does. All the flailing around in the air and sliding and jumping did have a Mirror’s Edge feel to it, and for the most part it was quite fun to see how many different ways I could cartwheel or spin through the air. But a lack of sound made the dialogue sequences hard to follow so story wise all i could gather by the end of the first “Chapter” was that I infiltrated some big warehouse and ran up these levels and rooms and opened doors then at the end I used a big robotic forklift to tip over a truck. Then some “buddies” of mine ran through the door and I guess you get the gist. On to the next Chapter.
End of Chapter 1 of 19 finishes with tipping a Truck; take that Truck
Oni had a surprising stench of Half-Life 2, my character ‘Konoko’ appeared to have at best borrowed parts from Gordon Freeman’s suit and at worst totally stole Samus’ suit and then dunked her hair in a vat of lead. Though in good fashion for the time, all the enemy characters had their “classes” each with a different combat style and each conveniently colour-coded so you know who you’re up against.
Throws are most effective form of combat, and also the most dazzling
Combat wise the hand-to-hand had a variety of punches and kicks and dodge abilities, not to mention the throws. It seemed though that hitting your target was a challenge in itself, as kicking sideways didn’t work unless you were exactly in-line with your enemy. Inverted Mouse also doesn’t help, let us remember this is a third-person game, inverted mouse not helpful when you’re used to having your mouse operate the opposite way, and the in-game menus didn’t provide a way to change it ergo the camera became another challenge to deal with, however generally mashing “Punch” and “Kick” helped ensure you’d survive. The bright hit flash indicator things helped though, different colours flashed as you struck an enemy or as you got struck, according to the level of damage inflicted. Combo’s suddenly became rave parties as colours quickly changed according to the combo you performed.
Muro looks like an extra from Titan AE, while Barbabas got the wrong Terran armor
Which brings us to the enemy scum, err… boss; Barabas. I didn’t get up to playing against him as Oni has a tendency to break, a problem evident through the years of attempted debugging performed by Bungie West. However all that being said, I thought I did play against Barabas in something like Unreal Championship, I mean seriously, he looks like he fell into the same vat of acid that Jack Nicholson did in 1989′s Batman flick and then needed a couple Stim packs to get himself going again.
All in all though, an amusing game to revisit since it’s over 10 years old. Surprised it runs still, though in all fairness it’d be better as one of those Arcade Shooter Games nowadays though whether it’s worth the 2 credits to play is still open to speculation.