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Onimusha: Warlords, released in Japan as Onimusha (鬼武者?), is an action-adventure video game and the first entry of the Onimusha series, released first for the PlayStation 2 in 2001. Later it was released in an updated form as Genma Onimusha (幻魔 鬼武者?) for the Xbox in 2002. The original Onimusha: Warlords version was also ported to Microsoft Windows, although this version was only released in Asia and Russia. A remaster for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC (via Steam) was released in January 2019.[1]

The game's plot is set in the Sengoku period and focuses on the samurai Samanosuke Akechi who fights against the forces of Nobunaga Oda. After Nobunaga's death in battle, Samanosuke goes on a quest to save Princess Yuki from demons working alongside Nobunaga's forces. The player controls Samanosuke and his partner, a female ninja Kaede, in their fight against demons.


Onimusha Warlords Japanese Unlockable Trailer

Japanese Trailer

While the game borrows elements from Capcom's own Resident Evil survival horror series, such as solving puzzles and a fixed camera, the game is focused more on the action genre with Samanosuke possessing multiple weapons that can be upgraded by defeating several enemies. Capcom originally wanted to release the game for the original PlayStation but the close release of its next generation version resulted in the project being scrapped.

Following its release, Onimusha: Warlords achieved high popularity becoming the first PlayStation 2 game to reach one million sales. Its sales eventually surpassed two million units worldwide. The game has been well received by video game publications and has been recognized as one of the best titles on the system. It also spanned two direct sequels for the same console and another three games within the franchise. Artwork was done by Daigo Ikeno.


The game features prerendered backgrounds. The player primarily controls swordsman Samanosuke Akechi in his fight against demons. The game balances its action elements with puzzle games that involve interacting with the environments and obtaining items to make progress.

The player begins the game with a standard katana sword, and can also obtain long range weapons with limited supply. However, as the player progresses, the protagonist Samanosuke can gain three elemental weapons: Raizan, Enryuu and Shippuu, each with an elemental magic attack. As enemies are defeated, they release different coloured souls that are absorbed by using the demon gauntlet on Samanosuke's wrist: red souls act as "currency" which can be used to upgrade weaponry, yellow souls recover health, while blue souls recover magic power which is used to perform each weapon's elemental abilities.

Some sections are played with Samanosuke's assistant, the kunoichi Kaede. She has her own distinctive weapons and acrobatic abilities, but is unable to absorb souls.[2]



Key artwork of Samanosuke and Nobunaga.

The story begins with a battle between the forces of Yoshimoto of the Imagawa clan and Nobunaga of the Oda clan in a huge field. Samanosuke is seen overlooking the battlefield on top of a mountain when some Oda soldiers come to take his life. However, the soldiers are no match for Samanosuke's amazing swordsmanship and superior fighting skills. As victory seems imminent, Nobunaga laughs until a stray arrow pierces his throat. Afterwards, Samanosuke receives a letter from Princess Yuki of the Saito clan. In the letter, Yuki says that maids and servants have been disappearing and she suspects monsters to be the culprit. She also request that Samanosuke save her from the castle, before she ends up as one of the victims. Samanosuke and Kaede arrive at the castle too late to rescue Yuki. The player then sees an army of soldiers marching with a pale, but living, Nobunaga leading them.

Samanosuke and Kaede split up and head to the keep. After a little ways, Samanosuke finds two ninja Genma and an unconscious Princess Yuki. Samanosuke is unable to defeat them before they escape. As Samanosuke and Yuki have a brief reunion, a gigantic club-wielding Genma named Osric emerges from the ground. Samanosuke attempts to defend Yuki, but is easily dispatched and sent flying against the wall. As he lies unconscious, he is visited by twelve gods of the Oni clan. They give Samanosuke the power to destroy the Genma and absorb their souls with a mystical Gauntlet. As he enters a cave, he finds the thunder orb and the Raizan. As he finds the entrance to the keep, he realizes it is sealed and doesn't have the power yet to open it. In a dry moat, he finds and kills Osric. As it dies, it destroys a part of the wall which leads to a hallway. In the room at the end is a laboratory with a Genma scientist named Guildenstern inside, operating on a human. Guildenstern reveals that he resurrected Nobunaga, and that he made a pact swearing his allegiance to the Genma. Guildenstern then escapes and sends a creature called a Reynaldo against Samanosuke. He defeats it and obtains the fire orb and the Enryuu in the laboratory. With the means to enter the keep now, he goes inside to find the entire place a derelict. Within the keep, he encounters a man named Tokichiro Kinoshita wrestling with a small boy. After the boy escapes, Tokichiro states that he is a servant of the Oda clan and wonders if Samanosuke would be interested in joining. Being a ronin samurai, Samanosuke refuses, saying that he controls his own life. Tokichiro says he will not give up, and leaves the room laughing. As he moves on, Samanosuke sees Kaede chasing the young boy. Samanosuke only has time to learn his name is Yumemaru, before he escapes again and Kaede goes after him. Kaede later learns that he is an orphan, and Yuki has raised him like a brother.

As Samanosuke nears the top of the keep, he sees Yumemaru in the hands of a ninja Genma. Before he can give chase, Tokichiro confronts him once again with an offer to join the Oda clan. He also reveals that something called the Dark Ceremony will take place soon. In it, Princess Yuki's skull will be filled with her own blood. Fortinbras the Demon King will bless it, and Nobunaga will drink it in order to become powerful and destroy the Saito clan, all while offering human sacrifices to the demons. When he finds the room Yumemaru is in, Samanosuke realizes he doesn't have the power to unseal the magical barrier. He fights a strong Genma named Marcellus on the roof, and receives the wind orb and the Shippuu when it is defeated. With this, he is able to rescue Yumemaru and brings him to a secure room in the keep. As Samanosuke tells him about the world, a maid comes in saying that Princess Yuki is underground. Samanosuke tells Kaede to stay with Yumemaru and the woman while he looks for Yuki. While he searches, he finds himself once again in the presence of Tokichiro. With one last request to join the Oda clan, he activates a device and Samanosuke is pulled down into the earth. Meanwhile, Kaede is rendered unconscious by a Genma which looks like Samanosuke, and Yumemaru is kidnapped by a woman. When she awakens, Kaede is led to the prison and finds Yuki locked in a cell. Before she can free her, Guildenstern arrives from the darkness of the cell and leaves Kaede to die at the hand of a powerful Genma. She escapes, once it is dead.

Samanosuke awakens, and kills his counterpart in the underground passage. He makes his way back into the keep and arrives in the room where the woman and Yumemaru are. The woman reveals her true form which is that of an insect-like Genma called Hecuba, and erects a door to the demon world which she flies into with Yumemaru. When Samanosuke faces her, she reveals that Yumemaru is to be killed in front of Yuki which will heighten her sorrow, thus granting Nobunaga even more power when he uses Yuki's skull (the Grail of Despair) to drink her blood. Samanosuke and Kaede eventually vanquish the insect Genma. As Samanosuke makes his way through the demon door, he encounters Guildenstern who summons a more powerful version of Marcellus. Marcellus now has a red pigment all over his body, and some kind of crystal embedded in his chest. After defeating him, he makes his way into Fortinbras' throne room. There he finds Yuki and Yumemaru trapped on the upper level. Before Samanosuke can free them, Fortinbras enters the room. After a brief conversation, the two clash. It would seem that Samanosuke killed Fortinbras, and he frees Yumemaru and Yuki as Kaede enters the room.

As they exit, the place comes crashing down and Fortinbras finds the strength to grab Samanosuke. Kaede, Yumemaru, and Yuki escape as the strain of Fortinbras's grip causes Samanosuke to spit up blood. Some of the blood falls on the gauntlet and Samanosuke becomes a true Onimusha and kills Fortinbras by stabbing him in his central eye. As Samanosuke transforms back into a human, he sees Nobunaga's reflection in Fortinbras' eye. The two stare at each other, as the room continues to collapse. During the ending sequence, Yuki and Yumemaru follow Samanosuke’s advice and travel the world. After the end credits, Samanosuke is seen alive, viewing Inabayama Castle from afar, still possessing the gauntlet, before he departs to parts unknown.


  • Yumemaru - Yumemaru is a young boy that was found wandering the dangerous woods surrounding Inabayama Castle. Princess Yuki has developed a fondness for him, and has adopted him as her brother. When Samanosuke first encounters him, agents of Nobunaga are hunting Yumemaru. Ten years later, he returned under the name "Keijiro" in Onimusha Blade Warriors.
  • Yuki - The tender and kind-hearted Yuki is the sister of Saito clan leader Yoshitatsu. She has always been fond of Samanosuke, since the days when the legendary samurai served under her father. While her heart broke to watch Samanosuke leave so soon after her father's death at her brother's hands, she has envied the proud warrior for being able to leave Mino province and see the world. She herself cannot, since her hand in marriage has been promised to another vassal since she was very young. In a sense, Yuki has been a prisoner all her life. Throughout the years Samanosuke has been in exile, Yuki has kept up with his activities through her brother's agents, and by contacting his uncle Mitsuhide on occasion. Now that a frightening darkness has fallen over Inabayama Castle, strange events are occurring and Yuki is fearful for her life. She writes a letter to Samanosuke begging him to return, and asks Mitsuhide to deliver it so that the faithful warrior might come to her aid. Since Yoshitatsu is busy planning for battle with Nobunaga and is often away from the castle, Samanosuke is the only other person she can rely on.
  • Osric - A gigantic red demon from the Dark Realm who is dispatched to kidnap Princess Yuki, and to stop Samanosuke from interfering in the plans of the demons. Osric returned as a boss in Blade Warriors (misspelled as "Ozrick").
  • Hecuba - A giant purple and green-striped wasp woman who lays larval eggs, hatching deadly orange arachnid-like children called Hecubites. When the mother bug attacks, a well-timed block will cause her to bounce off Samanosuke and unintentionally slay her own offspring that are in close proximity. Since she is a flying boss, a wind attack from the Shippuu is the best strategy. Hecuba returned as a boss in Blade Warriors.
  • Gate Keeper - Also known as Mino Old Man, he is a mysterious tiny man whose appearance is similar to a bagworm moth larva. He drops from the ceiling and is wrapped in a cocoon, somehow being able to appear in different places throughout the game. He takes a liking to Samanosuke, forever inviting him to various levels of the Dark Realm, a dangerous place swarming with strong Genma. He continued this role in the third game.


The game originated in Yoshiki Okamoto's 1997 idea to create Sengoku Biohazard, a ninja version of Capcom's own 1996 Resident Evil (known as Biohazard in Japan), set in the Sengoku period and featuring a "ninja house" filled with booby traps, similar to the mansion from Resident Evil, where battles would be fought using swords and shuriken. According to Okamoto, the house would contain hidden doors behind walls, ceilings that fall down to the player, scrolls, ninja magic and many other ninja techniques.[3] The project was originally intended for the Nintendo 64's 64DD.[3]

Onimusha was planned by Capcom as a trilogy.[4] Its first title was originally being developed for the PlayStation, but the project was eventually moved to the PlayStation 2. The PlayStation version was scrapped and never released. It was about 50% complete before it was cancelled.[5] The Onimusha team's excitement about the PlayStation 2's capabilities resulted in that change.[6] They developed the game basing on the system from the Resident Evil series.[4]

The game's plot was written by Noboru Sugimura and Flagship.[7][8] The storyline was set in the Sengoku period due to how its multiple conflicts could provide an interesting background for the plot. While the historical Oda Nobunaga can be considered either a hero or a villain, Capcom chose to portray him as the latter one.[6] Character movements were created using motion capture. Film actor and singer Takeshi Kaneshiro was the character model and voice actor for Samanosuke Akechi.[9]

In the English localization of Onimusha: Warlords, the word oni was translated as ogre. However, in all subsequent games in the series the word oni has remained intact in the English scripts. It was the only game within the series that gives players the option of hearing the voice acting in either English or Japanese with subtitles (this option was not provided in the UK/EU PAL version) included until the fourth installment, which also had this feature.


The game's orchestral music is credited in-game to composer Mamoru Samuragochi. According to TIME, "to record it, Samuragochi browbeat the producers into employing a 200-piece orchestra, including musicians playing such traditional instruments as a Japanese flute and taiko drums. The result is both haunting and inspirational, reminiscent of majestic scores for films like Lawrence of Arabia."[10] However, he admitted in 2014 that he directed his orchestrator Takashi Niigaki to ghostwrite the music for the game, for which Samuragochi took full credit for composition.[11][12]

Genma Onimusha[]

Onimusha: Warlords was ported to the Xbox in 2002 under the title Genma Onimusha. It was announced by Capcom in May 2001 with the company expecting to be released by late 2001.[13] The Xbox version contains many updates to the game including enhanced graphics, new 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, new explorable areas, a new boss, new costumes and body armor, changes in enemy placements, and a three-tier charge attack to each weapon.

Additionally, the inclusion of green souls adds a new dimension to the game. When five green souls are in the player's possession, the player can activate temporary invulnerability with a slow health recharge. Players frequently have to enter tug-of-war scenarios with the enemies over the possession of green souls; if a green soul is absorbed by a demon, the demon will gain new attacks and they will also see a dramatic increase in their defense. They will also release a greater number of souls upon death.[14]


Onimusha: Warlords was a commercial success, selling over 2 million copies worldwide, with 1.04 million copies sold in Japan.[15][16] The game went Platinum in just under a month in the region, quickly becoming the top-selling PlayStation 2 game ever at the time of its release.[17][18] By July 2006, the PlayStation 2 version of Onimusha: Warlords had sold 800,000 copies and earned $28 million in the United States. Next Generation ranked it as the 75th highest-selling game launched for the PlayStation 2, Xbox or GameCube between January 2000 and July 2006 in that country. Combined sales of the Onimusha series reached 3 million units in the United States by July 2006.[19] Capcom VP of Strategic Planning and Business Development Christian Svensson referred to the first two Onimusha games as one of their most successful titles.[20]

The game has received positive reviews. Critics praised the graphics, sound, and gameplay, but complained about the short length of the game. In Japan, Famitsu magazine scored the PlayStation 2 version of the game a 35 out of 40,[21] and gave the Xbox version a 34 out of 40.[22] As of 2010, the game has a GameRankings average score of 84% for the PlayStation 2 version[23] and 81% for the Xbox port.[24]

Blake Fischer reviewed the PlayStation 2 version of the game for Next Generation, rating it three stars out of five, and stated that "Onimusha is a beautiful game that lacks the refinement of more modern game designs. It's a pretty good ride, but one that you'll forget as new PS2 games appear."[25]

At the SIGGRAPH 2000 conference, Onimusha received the "Best of Show" award for its opening sequence.[26] Complex listed it as one of the most beloved and missed PlayStation 2 games.[27] The reviewer from GameSpot stated he was called biased multiple times when doing the article for the video game.[28] In a 2010 retrospective, GamePro ranked it as the 28th best game for the PlayStation 2.[29] In 2012, FHM included the game's Kaede among the nine "sexiest ninja babes in games".[30]

The 2019 remaster received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics; while its action gameplay was praised for standing the test of time, its visuals, game design, and presentation were said to have aged poorly. The remaster's lack of the additional content found in Genma Onimusha was also met with criticism. Horror media website Bloody Disgusting gave it a 3.5/5, stating "Beneath a new lick of paint and some clever adjustments, Onimusha: Warlords doesn't make for an essential action game in 2019, but it's a great modernization all the same".[31], while Windows Central gave the Xbox One version a 4 out of 5, calling it "not perfect by any means", but going on to state that it was a "wonderful blast from the past".[32] In a more critical review, IGN awarded the game with a 6.5/10, the final verdict being, "Onimusha: Warlords is exactly how you remember it, and in 2019, that's not necessarily a good thing."[33]


See Onimusha series.

The game spawned two direct sequels, Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny and Onimusha 3: Demon Siege, that followed Samanosuke and more warriors in their fight against Nobunaga Oda. While Demon Siege was the closing chapter of the story, Capcom developed Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams due to popular fan response.[34][35] There have also been two spin-offs titled Onimusha Tactics and Onimusha Blade Warriors that focus on different genres. A bug within Warlords inspired game designer Hideki Kamiya in the making of the action game Devil May Cry.[36]


Character artwork[]

Box art[]



  3. 3.0 3.1
  4. 4.0 4.1
  6. 6.0 6.1
  21. プレイステーション2 - 鬼武者. Weekly Famitsu. No.915 Pt.2. Pg.59. 30 June 2006.
  22. Xbox - 幻魔 鬼武者. Weekly Famitsu. No.915 Pt.2. Pg.104. 30 June 2006.
  23. Onimusha: Warlords for PlayStation 2. GameRankings (2001-03-13). Retrieved on 2013-09-01.
  24. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named xboxgt
  25. cite magazine|last=Fischer|first=Blake|title=Finals|magazine=Next Generation|volume=4|issue=4|publisher=Imagine Media|date=April 2001|page=72-73
  30. Gelo Gonzales, 9 Sexiest Ninja Babes in Games (dead link), FHM, March 29, 2012
  36. Electronic Gaming Monthly, December 2001 issue, pg. 56

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