Samurai meets princess. Samurai loses princess. Samurai butchers a supernatural army to win back princess. That's the basic premise that fuels Genma Onimusha, an action/adventure title that should be called Onimusha Redux: this is an improved version of the PlayStation 2 game with new areas, cleaner visuals, and a richer audio track.
Onimusha's unique play system is what keeps things exciting every step of the way. Not only can you hack apart enemies with a variety of weapons and magic, but you must also absorb soul energy in order to power your attacks. Deciding when to strike and when to stock energy is half the challenge. Vets of the PlayStation 2 version will find cool new techniques, too, like a sword power-up system, and diabolical monsters, such as fiery Samanosuke doppelgangers and a doll-sized nightmare named Ayame. You'll also solve puzzles lifted right out of the Resident Evil handbook: pull the tab, assemble the artefact, and line up the numbers in order to open the chest.
The game's aesthetic execution, though, is marvellous. The Xbox's cleaner visuals and even finer razor-sharp details will pleasantly surprise fans of the PlayStation 2 version. The sound has also been improved - especially when played in 5.1 surround. And although the stirring music compositions are fitting for the onscreen action, their lack of variety quickly becomes apparent.
Genma Onimusha may not be a completely new game (you have to wait until Onimusha 2's release for that), but the new play elements and steep challenge will keep even hardened samurai wannabes thoroughly entertained.