Oniken – Review


developed by Joymasher (Danilo Dias)

The year, 1988.  The game, Oniken…  or so it would seem.

If you grew up during the old NES era of gaming, when the Nintendo dominated as the definitive home console, then you’ll immediately recognize the influences behind action / platformer, Oniken.  This side-scrolling action game is the epitome of the 8-bit action / platforming genre and everything that a young gamer loved about the era of games that it represents.

Ninja Gaiden, Castlevania, The Legend of Kage, Shadow of the Ninja, Code Name: Viper, Shatterhand, Kabuki Quantum Fighter, Power Blade, and Vice: Project Doom.  Those are just some of the games that would have occupied hour after hour of a gamers free time back in the late 80’s.  I know, because I was there.  It’s very easy to see the fan service paid to the Ninja Gaiden series and the games like it.  In fact, Oniken might as well be one big love letter to the NES, 8-bit gaming, and this style of action game.

The gameplay feels like a classic NES platformer.  It’s 8-bit gameplay for an 8-bit game.  The controls are excellent, though they’re not perfect, they feel just like an 80’s game should feel though, with enough tightness and responsiveness.  Oniken also shows off it’s 80’s-do with it’s difficulty level.  It’s not a game for people who give up easily or get frustrated at the first sign of challenging gameplay.  Playing through the entire game and each of it’s six missions might not take very long, but learning the levels and the patterns necessary to defeat bosses and enemies could take some time.  Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the levels it’s then time to work for a high score within the online leaderboards.

The story, graphics, and sound are awesome for an 8-bit game.  Just look up a few of those NES games I mentioned earlier, they’re some of the best to come out of the 8-bit NES era.  You’ll soon realize that Oniken is as good looking, and also sounds as good, as any one of those titles.  The graphical style is very close to Ninja Gaiden and Shatterhand and the chiptune music is indicative of cartridge based games made during the 80’s.  The story, while a little convoluted (much like 99% of the stories found in NES games back then), is also quite fun and it sets the right mood and atmosphere for this particular type of action game.

Oniken is a game that I would have love to have on my NES when I was growing up, and it’s as much fun to play today as it would have been on the old console.  The game supports keyboards and gamepads, with the clear winner being gamepad controls.  There are online leaderboards as well, so gamers who think they’re good can compete for the best scores.  This is a game that overall, might not be perfect, but it represents perfectly what is, and was, so great about gaming on consoles like the NES back in the late 80’s.

You can’t go wrong with Oniken considering the price of the full game is only $4.99, but you can also try out the demo if you think you might be intimidated by this retro action / platformer.  Head over to the developers website for more info, and pick up the full game or playable demo off of Desura.

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