Originally Posted on May 25, 2006: Link.
One of the least talked about and underappreciated game in 2003 was Otogi 2: Immortal Warriors, the sequel to another media-lacking title a few years prior, Otogi: Myth of Demons. This explosive 3rd person hack-n-slash title brings a lot to the table that others in the genre don’t, and that’s true depth. Everything from the story and the characters, to the creatures and environments themselves are all pulled together into a beautiful, poetic extravaganza that keeps you glued to the television set, leaving a flood of saliva as you carry your 5 warriors to battle against demons, ghouls, skeletons, and other nasty things that go bump in the night across 27 stages (and numerous bonus stages) that gives you dozens and dozens of hours of excitement and entertainment.
Like its predecessor, Immortal Warriors is set in Japan and steeped in real-life folklore and mysticism. While Raikoh, the famed undead warrior from the original game, “Otogi: Myth of Demons”, fought valiantly and defeated scores of demons, he was not able to vanquish them all before returning to his grave. The demons have now resurfaced from hiding places within the sacred Capital, and they are ready to attempt ultimate domination once more. In response, five brave warriors ritualistically take their own lives to resurrect Raikoh. The ritual fulfilled, Raikoh rises along with the selfless warriors, and with their individual mastery, they wage war on the evil demons.
The playable characters include Raikoh (the sword-brandishing balanced fighter from the first game), Kintoki (a slow but powerful axe-wielding heavyweight), Tsuna (my personal favorite, a duel-sword wielding wolf with an attitude), Sadamitsu (the weak but fast-moving and high-combo female of the group), Suetake (an odd-looking man with a wooden wheel as his weapon and the ability to jump indefinitely), and Seimei (the great sorceress and leader of the group who can inflict great damage with both attacks and spells with the help of her fans). Every one of these characters have their own strengths and weaknesses (for example, Raikoh is probably the best choice for the beginners, while Seimei should be left to the veterans for now).
If you’re a fan of wanton destruction and gorgeous scenery, then look no further. The gameplay featured in this game is absolutely stunning, and it drips with cool style. The first thing players may notice is how simple it is to pick up and play this game. Everything is pretty much laid out in front of you. You have the light attack, the heavy attack, jumping, spells, dash, and a lock-on feature that will really help out when the going gets tough later on in the game. Also, the progression through the game is based on the player’s actions, allowing for several different endings.
However, this is where the game gets fun, and that’s the inclusion of an over-the-top combo system and the use of devastating spells that truly make this title stand off on its own. With the help of fully-destructible environments, players can watch as their sword gracefully slams a nearby enemy through virtually any object in the environment. Hundreds of enemies can show up on the screen at any time, and players can utilize a wide assortment of strategies to take out their foes. You can set up a small combo with a light attack, followed by the devastating heavy attack to slam them into the nearest wall where they leave a crater, and follow that up by casting a huge fire phoenix to come out and absolutely tear apart the enemy, along with the rest of the landscape. This is why the fast and furious battle system in Otogi 2 is so very well executed, and another reason why it’s a big upgrade from the original. The only downside, of course, is that the player may experience slowdown amidst the chaos, and in return, struggle with both the camera and the lock-on system. These problems can be overlooked, however, because of the fantastic presentation that is delivered.
If that doesn’t satisfy you, then maybe the tremendous boss battles will, which, I believe, is the real backbone to the game. Balancing on this side of insane intensity, these fights will surely test both your reflexes and your strategy skills. Big, mean, fighting machines is just an understatement, as these creatures are both intimidating in stature and frightening in their lightning-quick speed. Whether you’re duking it off with dead horsemen, or trying to hold off a giant spider, the battles players will face will leave them both breathless and excited to see what the next stage has in store for them.
The graphics in this game are bar none the greatest you will see among the current-gen consoles, even if it did come out 2 years ago. From beginning to end, players will face an onslaught of some damned beautiful visuals, with a close attention to detail given to every tiny speck in the environment that players can’t find anyplace else. Everything from character models to enemy and level design really shows what the new engine for this game is capable of producing.
The audio itself really adds to the atmosphere. The music was entrancing, with mysterious melodies in the background bringing a haunting focus to the chaos around the player. The taiko drums mixed with the pluckings of a Koto instrument and the soft, drifting female vocals brings real immersion to the game itself. The sound effects don’t disappoint either; whether it be the thick sound of an enemy being struck or the sound of them crashing through a wall is enough to make anyone shed a tear in the beauty of it all.
Otogi 2: Immortal Warriors happens to be one of the finest games to be released during the Xbox’s lifespan, and is backed with amazing graphics, smooth animation, and beautiful carnage, altogether improves upon its predecessor in nearly every way deemed possible. The consumer will even be entertained long after the game has been completed, thanks to its numerous unlockables and great replayability (after finishing the game the first time, the player can activate “2nd Play”, which lets you replay the game from the beginning with the items and levels you acquired your first time through the story mode. It is a worthy addition to any RPG fan’s collection. Although the combat isn’t as complex as one might want it to be, it offers up just enough satisfaction and thrilling excitement to warrant the purchase. Currently, you can find it for about $30 in the stores, but you have a much better chance of finding it in a used gaming store for around less than $20. This is gaming bliss at its finest, so don’t let it slip through your fingers. You owe it to yourself to play this game.