Switch version tested
Review code provided
Contra and Ninja Gaiden have a lot to answer for. Yes, they were incredible games of their time, and yes they inspired other great titles such as Shatterhand and Vice: Project Doom, but they also opened the floodgates to a bunch of mediocre wannabes that flooded the market in the 1990s. Fast forward to today and the demand for retro style games for the Nintendo Switch is higher than ever, and unfortunately, this has allowed even more mediocre Contra-clones to slip through the net. Thankfully, Oniken is not one of them.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world that looks like a mixture of Terminator, Cyborg, and Conan the Barbarian, players take on the role of the mighty Zaku, a feared mercenary who is hired by a resistance group to bring an end to the rule of the Oniken overlords.
Armed only with a sword – which can be upgraded to give extra length (wahey!) – and grenades you must traverse the futuristic settings, battling all manner of strange alien creatures, robotic soldiers and fearsome bosses. You can run, climb, jump and at one point sail your way to victory, but it isn’t easy and you’ll need to find as many medi-kits as you can to get you through.
Oniken was developed by Brazilian studio JoyMasher back in 2014. The game enjoyed some success on Steam, before finally being ported to the Switch this year. It’s clearly a game that will enjoy even more success on the handheld device, as it has the feel of being designed for a console like the Switch, even though it wasn’t.
From the very start, the game has an authentic early 90s feel. The cutscenes look exactly like they would have done on the NES or in the arcades, while the graphics are picture perfect for the genre. Unfortunately, what the game has going for it in terms of authenticity, it lacks in originality. There is nothing new or surprising here – it’s just another game that would have been lost in the shuffle 30 years ago because it simply doesn’t stand out. Oniken will keep you smiling for the first few minutes, but once you settle into the formulaic story you’ll be reaching for the home button to play something a little more exciting.
Oniken is fun for a few hours, but there just isn’t enough to keep you interested for longer than that. JoyMasher is a great brand, and we’re sure they’ll go on to bigger and better but unfortunately this time they’ve not done enough to give the game a higher score.
Beard Score: 6/10
Nintendo Switch Essentials:
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 08/02/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action, Platformer, Arcade
Download link: eShop