Onigiri is available legally for FREE on PlayStation 4, Windows Based PC and on XBOX One, however you must be over the age of 18 to download it from the PlayStation store. While largely a one player game, it is instantly online, as you will rung into other real-life players as soon as you start. The game has become so popular, that on 01/27/2016, it was announced that an anime based on the game is in development and should air by late April on Japanese television stations Tokyo MX and BS Fuji. This review is for the PS4 version of the game.
Video game and anime fans usually complain about the hefty prices of games that are soaked in Japanese culture.
Onigiri is here to solve that problem.
Onigiri is Japanese for "rice ball" but when separated, "Oni" means devil or demon, and "Giri" means "duty" so in a sense, it's "Devil Duty" (insert joke here) as your character is an Oni on a mission.
When you start Onigiri, you are able to select your boy or girl character, and mold him or her to your liking. For the LBGTQ community, there are plenty of androgynous choices right at the start when it comes to looks, though costumes and haircuts will be limited until you play through the game a little bit more. Male or female, your power will be the same, and your chosen Oni will become more skilled with sword-fighting the longer you play the game.
This gender neutrality may come across as surprising however, considering how sexual the game's anime ads are:
Once you've chosen your Oni, you will lead him or her up an obnoxiously long path, until you reach a temple. There, you will meet Kichihougen, a tattooed ginger who will send you on your first quest.
One of your first goals is to locate, protect and eventually fight alongside Shizuka, a bubbly princess who is usually watched over by her guardian and friend Yoshitsune (seen above on the left of Shizuka), who just wants to get her home to her parents, because as is typical, the scatterbrained princess is very capture-prone. Shizuka appears as the main character in all of the Onigiri media, with her pink hair and purple eyes. As the game goes along, she's supposed to become more brave.
Aside from Shizuka's side stories of becoming more brave, the game's backstory is about the Kamigui, a horrible evil that was sealed away by the goddess Amaterasu Oomikami, who sent off three seals to keep the evil at bay. But at the start of the game, one of the seals breaks, and it's up to you and Shizuka to seal it once again.
You will be able to visit different worlds, as long as you remember to equip certain items or reach a certain level. You will be able to use items in mid combat, but generally, you'll find yourself limited to three controls:
L3 stick → This is how you make your Oni run places.
R3 stick and button → Your camera.
R1 → Your main attack button.
O → Open treasure boxes, talk to other Oni.
You will need to learn how to navigate the other controls, to access the weapons menu, your character's equip menu, and a whole variety of options. I advise you to use these features OUTSIDE of combat, as they do clutter up the screen, alongside the sudden pop-up tutorials for gameplay that randomly show up when you run inside a cave.
You'll start off with sword based attacks, but you will gain more "magical" attacks early on. Just keep an eye on your health and don't try anything in "Hell Mode" until you're at least a level 20 Oni, or you will blow right through your supplies.
The game has slow loading times, but doesn't seem to lag very often, even when there are a ton of other Oni on the screen. Defeating monsters, demons and bosses usually grants you money and items, which you can use to upgrade your character the longer you play. You also have access to side quests, but it's up to you if you want to do any of them, or just stick to the main story.
The graphics are okay. Not quite gen 8 quality, but not bad either. It's one of the best looking free games out there, and feels more like a traditional, disc based console game, instead of a freebie. However, cut-scene animations leave everything to be desired, and sometimes, you'll hear two or three of the same character talking over each other if your internet connection starts lagging.
Onigiri promises fan-service, but actually delivers a decent MMORPG, despite graphical errors. It's a good game to start with if you are new to the PlayStation 4 and don't have a ton of money to spend on new games, or if you've never played an MMORPG before.
The game is half in Japanese and half in English, but honestly, you don't need to speak or read either to play. The menu is self-explanatory, you just click on the round you want to play, click on the face of your Sumo Wrestler, click on a Street Fighter character, then hit "START" and wait for the game to load.
Once you have been greeted warmly with the opening ceremony, it's time to play, and while the controls are simple, timing is key.
See the blue and green circles? Those are little Taiko drums that make your horse speed up. Each time a drum hits the arrow on the left side of the screen, you need to hit one of the arrow keys on your keyboard.
↑ controls the blue drums, while ↓ controls the green drums.
When you see a long drum line, you need to tap the ↑ or ↓ button furiously for extra points. If the drums fuse into one, extra long line, you need to tap both ↑ and ↓ as fast as possible, to activate your home stretch combo.
And then this happens.
Yes. Your horse will suddenly catch fire and speed you past the other horses.
But if your horse makes it across the line, you are rewarded with a screen where you can enter your name, and bask in the glory of your score.
But watch out! All of the Street Fighter characters are anticipating you catching up, and each one is ready to spring their famous attacks from past Street Fighter games.
Which can lead to comical results, as seen above. Currently, Ryu, Chun-Li, Blanka, Dhalism, Guile and M. Bison are all potential opponents, while more characters are expected to be added soon.
The overall serious nature of the polygonal Street Fighter characters just adds to the game's charm. It's energetic, goofy, and as much fun to watch as it is to play. Like most Street Fighter titles, it's pretty short, making it a good casual game, but the replay value is high.
Codename Sailor Earth
Codename Sailor Earth first started tinkering with her mother's Atari 2600 when she was only a year old, and then branched out to PC gaming on a GeoWorks computer shortly after her 4th birthday. Today, she is an avid collector of all things Nintendo, but makes time for PlayStation, SEGA and XBOX. She is a huge fan of Retron consoles.