Though Genma Onimusha somewhat feels like a Resident Evil game, it has much more in common with Dino Crisis 2 or Devil May Cry's action-based gameplay. For instance, the puzzles in Onimusha are built for speed. In one scenario, two paths are presented. One way has a door that requires a green key. The other is a path that ends in a room containing the green key. This may sound too straightforward--and perhaps it is a bit--but it's very refreshing to not have to constantly backtrack or deal with inventory boxes, as you spent most of your time doing in Resident Evil games.
While the largest change from the original version of Onimusha is the new kind of soul energy, there are a host of minor improvements. For instance, Genma Onimusha boasts new enemies, areas, costumes, and cutscenes; Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound; more enemies onscreen at a time; and a burst attack, which can be used to perform a charged-up super attack on opponents. Though graphical standards have been raised much higher over the last year and a half, Onimusha is still one of the best-looking games of its type, with its lush and varied rendered backgrounds, incredible CG sequences, in-game story sequences which look better than the CG sequences you'll find in some other games, and numerous impressive little graphical effects, like enemies that explode into bloody smoke when they die or the green glow that trails the eyes of the zombie ninja. The Xbox version of the game is sharper looking than its PlayStation 2 counterpart, but since it was ported rather than built from the ground up specifically for the Xbox, it doesn't quite push the system's graphical limits.
It may sound like a small change, but the addition of the green soul energy gameplay element makes Onimusha's battles both tougher and more entertaining than before, further refining a combat system that requires more skill and strategy than the spastic fighting of the similar Devil May Cry. However, although making the game more difficult does extend its length somewhat, you can still beat it within a few days. Some entertaining extras open up upon completion of the game, enhancing its replay value, but those who are used to being able to play through the game as a different character (as in most RE games) might not find them to be enough. While it is relatively short, not having to backtrack nearly as much as you would in similar games makes up for a lot--and the improved battle system makes it more likely that you'd want to play through it more than once.
Whether this is the version of Onimusha that its creators had always intended it to be or if they simply spent their extra development time wisely, Genma Onimusha is an ideal port--one that significantly improves upon the original game rather than adequately adapting it. Xbox owners would do well to give this game a look.