O is for Onigiri


The aim of my Blogging From A to Z Challenge is to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper.

 [Visit here for links to other A to Z participants.]

Game: Onigiri is an action MMORPG set in a fantasy land reminiscent of ancient Japan in which humans and non-humans such as Oni and other Yōkai coexist. The game has a unique progression system – rather than picking classes, players swap between weapons which each have different skills available.

This is the second of the oriental games that I am looking at – here originating with Japanese mythology.

Release Date: JP: February 6, 2014; NA: July 1, 2014

Developer/Publisher: CyberStep

Genre/gameplay mechanics: players choose one of five traits that will determine which weapons they can use; each player unlocks eight NPC partners that each have distinct personalities and abilities; real-time combat and multiple difficulty modes for each dungeon; stylish anime graphics and Japanese voice acting.

Setting: The game is set in a fantasy version of ancient Japan that is filled with creatures of myth. Landscape and inhabitants have a firm basis in myths, even though anime graphics reduce realism.

Storytelling: Ages ago the terrible Kamikui wreaked a trail of death and destruction across the land before being stopped by the goddess of the Sun, Amaterasu Oomikami. The goddess places three great Seals that forced the Kamikui to retreat. Now one of the Seals has shattered. The player character is an Oni whose peaceful life in the Western island of Onigashima is disturbed by the revival of the Kamikui

All the NPCs have backgrounds and stories.

Formats: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One

Origins (Chronological):

  1. 1st century – Japanese myths were originally transmitted orally, as in most cultures. An early source of Japanese mythology is the Nihongi, or Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan). Completed in 720, this work includes various myths and legends, and it helps establish the genealogy of the imperial family. The Nihongi was greatly influenced by Chinese and Korean history and mythology.
  2. The first written version of the mythology was in A.D. 712 when the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) was compiled for the Japanese imperial The tales tell of the creation of the world, the origin of the gods, and the ancestry of the Japanese emperors, who claimed descent from the sun goddess Amaterasu. Both the Kojiki and the Nihongi contain elements of Taoism, a Chinese religious movement that was introduced to Japan by the 600s. 

Adaptations set in the ‘Onigiri’ universe:

  1. TV Anime – An anime television adaptation of the game was aired from April 7, 2016, on Tokyo MX and BS Fuji until June 30, 2016.


Recommendation: Onigiri has garnered a number of favourable reviews, from Bradly Storm of Hardcore Gamer saying it was “a fairly competent and enjoyable hack-and-slash experience” even though the launch suffered from server-side latency issues to Crunchyroll calling it “a very solid title.”

However, the game has remained low-key with a moderate anime fanbase. Many players have criticized the game for its monotony after reaching a certain level.

MMOs.com gave the following summary:

Pros: +Unique weapon system. +Great NPC Companion feature. +Stylish visuals.
Cons: -Repetitive dungeon designs. -Appeal limited to anime fans. -Collision and imprecise control issues.

Alternative ‘O’ thoughts:

O is also for Oz, as in the L Frank Baum’s wonderful book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or the subsequent films, including the strange prequel in 2013, Oz the Great and Powerful. There were numerous adaptations, including games, but none that sparked my research brain – despite Baum’s origins.

Plus, I needed to look much further East to make my gaming POV representative’ of the breadth of gaming origins. So, tomorrow we are in China.


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