Onimusha: Warlords (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Drew Hurley 13.02.2019

Review for Onimusha: Warlords on Nintendo Switch

While the Resident Evil series has persevered through the generations of gaming, returning now with possibly its greatest installment yet, but where are its brethren? Capcom's other best-selling franchises born off the back of it have not done nearly as well. Specifically, the Onimusha and Dino Crisis series have all but vanished, with not even a remaster in the last two generations of hardware! It's unbelievable considering the cult fanbase that both still have to this day. Now, 18 years from the birth of the first title in the series, is getting an HD remaster, and it's available on all the major platforms, including the Nintendo Switch.

Onimusha: Warlords is set during that magical age of feudal era Japan. Once again placing historical legend, Oda Nobunaga, to the centre of the tale. Here, he is killed progressing on his campaign to crush the clans under his feet, when he takes an arrow to the throat. This is all part of a wider plan, though, as a group of demons is planning on using his reanimated corpse to take over the world. A year later, a young Samurai named Samanosuke is dragged into this plot, as his cousin, the Princess Yuki, is taken as a sacrifice for these demons. Along with a kunoichi named Kaede, Samanosuke heads off to try and save his cousin, gaining a demon soul-absorbing gauntlet, along with some magical swords along the way.

Screenshot for Onimusha: Warlords on Nintendo Switch

Onimusha: Warlords takes everything that made Capcom games of the time identifiable. Pre-rendered background, tank controls, limited items, and systems of locked doors to backtrack to after finding key items to get them open. Many of these elements are absolute gaming marmite. Many are of their time. Considering the age of the game, and the lack of remasters to this point, there are going to be many Switch players who have never touched or even heard of an Onimusha title.

Samanosuke has a relatively small environment to explore, investigating a Japanese Castle which has become overrun with demons (or Oni), and they come in a mixed bag of flavours. From the simple swordsmen enemies who are the cannon fodder that can quickly be cut down, to speedy ninja Oni that can teleport around, huge hulking Samurai who deal equally huge damage, Minotaur-looking bull demons swinging huge axes, and it gets even weirder with floating heads, giant bee women, and giant snake dragons. There's a great bestiary here, and to take them on Samanosuke has a handful of weapons at his disposal.

Screenshot for Onimusha: Warlords on Nintendo Switch

There are three elemental swords, an all-rounder lightning Katana, a huge flaming broadsword, and a speedy, double-sided, wind-powered Niigata. Each of these has a special attack which uses some of Samanosuke's magic bar. On top of these, there is a bow and flintlock to find, though the ammunition for both is particularly sparse. The healing items in the game (green herbs!) are equally as sparse. None of the weapons are particularly necessary. It's easy enough to play through the whole game with any of them, it's just down to personal preference.

The combat itself can be quite challenging, as enemies can come thick and fast, and the system for dodging and countering can be far too slow to actually react. There's a reason the developer added in a new 'Easy' mode for this release, as it was seen as a relatively difficult experience. Especially because enemies spawn forever, there's no clearing out set paths, and because the whole system works on requiring backtracking, constant enemies appearing, and the limited health items all combine for a decent challenge. There is a hidden "Dark Realm" later in the game too, which is basically a multi-staged zone where wave after wave of enemies has to be defeated, before heading down to a new layer, where stronger foes await. At the bottom of this realm lays a weapon to make everything easier.

Screenshot for Onimusha: Warlords on Nintendo Switch

When it comes to remasters, the basic formula is to just give it a bit of a graphical overhaul, improve some of the core mechanics a little bit, maybe throw in a few small new bonus features, and away we go. This is the quintessential bare minimum remaster, and coming in 18 years later, that's heavily disappointing. Alright, it was never going to be a remake on the scale of the Resident Evil remakes, but it could be more than this. The textures look better here, but everything else has been left as is, with not even the FMVs looking particularly more impressive. It's a bit sharper, a bit brighter. But it still looks its age.

That can be a good thing, in a way, it's a nostalgia trip. But if this is all they wanted to do, they could have done it a generation ago. Even when in handheld mode, it's hard not to think of this as an old game. Speaking of which, those who want to completely embrace the old school aesthetic can switch from the new 16:9 format to the original 4:3, can do so on the fly at any point. The only other extra features for this release, consist of supporting analogue controls, instead of just the d-pad, and the aforementioned new easy mode.

Screenshot for Onimusha: Warlords on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

A nostalgic-fuelled, absolute blast. It's wonderful to finally be able to play this once again, and it's far too long coming - better on the Switch, as the ability to play it on the go adds even more to this release. Ultimately, though, after waiting 18 years, this isn't enough. This deserved more of a remaster with more extras, perhaps even a remastered trilogy. Hopefully, more is coming. Hopefully, fans will show Capcom that this is what they want. With Onimusha: Warlords reminding fans of the glory days and Resident Evil 2 one of the finest games of the generation, the audience is still there. Now bring on Dino Crisis, more Onimusha, Resident Evil 3 and everything else you've got Capcom!






Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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