Onimusha 3 is probably the best hackandslash game mere mortals will play all year. Having been out in Japan and the US for a while now, PAL gamers can finally pick it up today, July 9th, and can expect another thoroughly entertaining action-adventure. The hardcore Ninja Gaiden brigade might find it a little easy, but for anybody without time for the exacting uber hardcore Ninja action, Onimusha 3 may well fit the bill perfectly.
Last month, Mr Onimusha himself, Keiji Inafune, swung by Capcom's Hammersmith offices and granted us some time via an interpreter to chat about his latest and arguably greatest creation. Read it. Go on. And you can catch up on our full, in-depth review of the game here.
Eurogamer: Are there any differences in the PAL version of Onimusha 3 compared to the Japanese version?
Keiji Inafune: The European and American versions are more difficult than the Japanese version. The Japanese version is easy!
Eurogamer: Why make it easier for the Japanese market?
Keiji Inafune: That is down to a difference of audience. In Japan our audience is quite wide, but in Europe or America it's more hardcore.
Eurogamer: What was it like working with Jean Reno, and why choose him specifically?
Keiji Inafune: We came up with the idea of time travel, between a Samurai warrior and somewhere else in the present day. We were thinking about the beauty of the city Kyoto, and wanted to find a city that is comparable to the buildings that Kyoto has - and that was maybe Paris. The first thing decided was the town, and then we had to work out who was to be the actor - and he must be a Frenchman, so we chose Jean Reno. At the same time he is very popular in Japan as well.
Eurogamer: Which films is he famous for over in Japan?
Keiji Inafune: Mainly Leon, but he also stars in TV commercials all the time.
Eurogamer: Did he do the voiceovers? Why didn't you have Jean Reno doing the English voiceover, or give the user the option of selecting the French voiceovers with subtitles, as the US voiceover is quite exaggerated and doesn't really suit the character in our opinion...
Keiji Inafune: Yes he did the French part, but we decided there should be some common language, and French couldn't be it so we got someone else to do the English voice. The other thing was cost, because if we asked [Reno] to do the English voice as well it would have been too expensive.
Eurogamer: It's taken a long time to get Onimusha in true 3D - why did it take you until now to move away from the pre-rendered backdrop style of old?
Keiji Inafune: When we started Onimusha it wasn't even a PlayStation 2 game, [N64, in fact] and we went for the static backdrops more out of necessity to get the high level of detail we needed. It was early in the PS2's life cycle and we hadn't quite tapped into the machine's power, but now we have a new 3D engine which lets us achieve the same level of detail as before.
Eurogamer: We've heard this will be the last Onimusha title. Would you consider working on another Onimusha title after this one?
Keiji Inafune: We'll have to wait and see what the reaction is. If the opinion is very positive then who knows. It depends on the user feedback.
Eurogamer: What about Onimusha on PSP?
Keiji Inafune: There is no plan at this moment mainly because they know very well how to make Onimusha appeal to the gamer on PS2, but we don't know whether it will have the same appeal on PSP. Once we have an understanding of that, then maybe we'll do it.
Eurogamer: Any plans to put Onimusha on other home consoles?
Keiji Inafune: There's a chance of working with Microsoft. If the project is very suitable for Xbox, for example, or we think we can make good money then it may happen. There are some things in discussion, but we haven't decided yet.
Eurogamer: Where did you get the inspiration for the monsters and character design on Onimusha 3?
Keiji Inafune: We have an art director on the project and there is a design team and they exchange views and decide.
Eurogamer: The object swapping of Onimusha 2 didn't go down too well, and you've definitely gone back to the all-action style of the original. Why was that?
Keiji Inafune: The team that made Onimusha is very good at making action games, and is the same team that made Onimusha 3 and they wanted to make it as action-packed as possible, and make it the best action game they could. The team that made Onimusha 2 is a different one, and they went for a more adventure feel.
Eurogamer: Which style do you prefer?
Keiji Inafune: As a gamer, I prefer the action. But if you mean teams, I don't mean I prefer the first team to second team because it's good to have different types.
Eurogamer: What's this we hear about an Onimusha movie?
Keiji Inafune: We're doing one! We start shooting next year for release either next year or the year after.
Eurogamer: Will you be involved in some capacity?
Keiji Inafune: I hope to work on the project as closely as I can.
Onimusha 3 is due out in Europe today, July 9th, exclusively for PS2. For the moment, anyway, by the sound of it...