Oni is a third-person action game developed by Bungie West, a division of Bungie Studios, and released in 2001. It was Bungie West's first and only game. The game was innovative and broke new grounds by blending weaponry with hand-to-hand combat, resulting in a unique, yet familiar game for third-person shooter enthusiasts. Due to concerns that the bandwidth of the average consumer at that time was inadequate to handle most of Konoko's moves (specifically weapon stealing), multiplayer was omitted from the released version. This disappointed players and affected the game's longevity.
The game's universe is heavily influenced by Masamune Shirow's manga series Ghost in the Shell. The main characters Konoko and Commander Griffin bear a strong physical and character resemblance to Shirow's main characters Motoko Kusanagi and Daisuke Aramaki.
The story takes place on or after the year 2032, shortly after the establishment of a political entity named the World Coalition Government (WCG). This entity currently controls 80% of the world's land area that is livable (the rest, under the guise of wilderness reserves, is toxic), and was created as a solution to the world's economic problems.
The Technological Crimes Task Force (TCTF) is a paramilitary law-enforcement agency within the WCG. When the WCG came to power, they blamed abuse of technology for the world's previous difficulties. The TCTF serves to oppose this abuse, to prevent a return to these difficulties (or so say the WCG politicians). In truth, the TCTF is a kind of secret police - they enforce the law, but more for the suppression of loose technology and the government's opposition than for the public good.
As the various governments were combined under a single banner, the various criminal/terrorist organizations and rogue states did likewise. The TCTF's largest foe is a worldwide crime network called The Syndicate. The Syndicate is led by a single individual named Muro, who has been outwitting the TCTF for years.
The story's main character is Konoko (voiced by Amanda Winn-Lee), a TCTF special agent fresh out of training. Konoko is under the authority of Commander Terrance Griffin, and is teamed with a Simulated Life Doll (an SLD: an android) named Shinatama. The game's story revolves around Konoko's activities for the TCTF, her hidden past, and her special abilities.
Monday, Nov 22, 2032
It starts with an assault on laboratories by a criminal organization named simply as The Syndicate; who is being led by a mysterious, yet dangerous man named Muro. Konoko, through her neural link with the TCTF's AI Shinatama (actually known as an SLD, or Simulated Life Doll: an android programmed with Konoko's brain patterns), her connection with Commander Griffin and Dr. Kerr, moves in to investigate. All the while, Commander Griffin and Doctor Kerr are seen arguing over Konoko's situation, cut in from time to time by Shinatama reporting on her bodily functions (adrenaline spikes, likewise).
Konoko ventures into the Syndicate Warehouse and the mole of TCTF, Chung, is found dead at the scene. Konoko clears out the warehouse, and then is sent to the Musashi Manufacturing Plant, belonging to the BGI Corporation, the company that used the warehouse previously. The Manufacturing Plant manufactures illegal technology. The BGI Corporation is some kind of "shadow front" for the Syndicate, and Musashi Manufacturing is BGI's daughter-company.
Konoko and her team are sent to the Manufacturing Plant. Inside the plant, Konoko and Commander Griffin realise that the plant is just a diversion/trap; while Konoko and her team are inside the plant, the Syndicate is attacking a bio-research lab. But later on, Konoko has to stop a deadly AI brain (not surprisingly, also called "Deadly Brain") which can potentially destroy the entire city if reaching full potential, or even dominate the entire digital world.
Upon her exit, she is called to Vago Biotech, the Bio-Research Lab, which is under the attack of The Syndicate. Muro and his strikers are raiding the lab to steal experimental gene surgery equipment. Upon her arrival, Konoko faces Barabas; a hybrid creature (part human, part machine; possibly a Chrysalis Symbiote) that is one of the main figures of The Syndicate. Upon Barabas' retreat, Barabas messages to Muro, telling him that "She (Konoko) is too strong.".
Muro moves towards the Vansam Regional Airport. He was trying to escape by plane, while Syndicate troops attack the airport as a diversion. He was using the airport cargo hangars as a temporary base of operations. But Konoko was in hot pursuit. She loses Muro, but manages to land a tracking device on the plane. Muro, while departing, speaks to his henchmen, who inform him that "They do not know of the condition of the Chrysalis". Meanwhile, the TCTF loses the tracking signal from Muro's plane, allowing him to finally escape. Konoko then returns to her regular life.
Wednesday, Nov 24, 2032
Shortly after, the TCTF Regional Headquarters itself becomes compromised by an excessive attack of The Syndicate. Reaching the rooftop of the HQ, Konoko finds out that Barabas has kidnapped Shinatama. Unable to control herself, Konoko first defeats Barabas, and then experiences a strange feeling overtaking her: what the game refers to as a "Daodan Spike".
Konoko tracks down Shinatama, and despite Griffin's objections, rushes to save her. All the while, Muro is torturing Shinatama to retrieve information in a nearby Atmospheric Conversion Center (a central facility to the recent civilization which filters poisons from the air). While venturing deeper into the facility, Konoko finally finds Shinatama. Shinatama says that she won't live, and in a heart-wrenching scene, reveals that Konoko's real name is Mai Hasegawa, and that she was involved in some sort of project. Griffin, in a desperate attempt to prevent Konoko from getting further with that information, sets the auto-destruct sequence of Shinatama, revealing that the tiny android was armed with a bomb with enough explosive power to be classified as a small nuclear warhead. Konoko flees, and TCTF starts pursuit.
Friday, Nov 26, 2032
Looking for her origins, Konoko goes to the Regional State Building, and there, is encountered by both TCTF and The Syndicate. She finds a terminal to access to the information, but as she is doing it, Muro's elite ninja, Mukade (possibly another Chrysalis Symbiote) swipes away the data concerning her. Konoko follows Mukade through the city's rooftops and finally, corners him. Mukade states that they are one and the same; that they should surrender to their essence, and revel in it. Enraged, Konoko kills Mukade and retrieves the disk.
Konoko goes back to Dr. Hasegawa's laboratory, where she discovers most of her past. Apparently, Dr. Hasegawa was a college teacher, and had fallen in love with a student of his, Jamie Kerr, who was also an activist who believed that the government was hiding secrets. One day, Jamie and Dr. Hasegawa venture into a forbidden zone of wild life (overgrown plants were covering it), and Jamie cuts her leg. However, in a matter of moments ("almost immediately", Dr. Hasegawa suggests) the wound gets infected and starts to kill her. Unable to bear seeing her in pain, Dr. Hasegawa shoots Jamie (to "ease her pain"). He has made a discovery through that incident, that the world outside of the atmospheric converters was extremely poisonous and destructive towards human biology. He leaves one note, "I will not let this tragedy happen again. Her brother will help me. He misses her as much as I do." Konoko learns that Jamie's maiden name was Kerr, and that she was Doctor Kerr's sister.
Monday, Nov 29, 2032
Konoko infiltrates the TCTF Science Prison #112 to find Dr. Kerr, who tells her about the solution they developed. They had named it a "Daodan Chrysalis" which was basically a hyper-evolved form of a cancer cell. By implanting a person with the Chrysalis, they would let it adapt to the biology which contained it, and grow as the host suffered damage, or experienced negative emotions (which are met with hormonal spikes). However, further than that, over a duration of time, the Chrysalis would start to grow the host as well, replacing the organs of the host with its own extensions. As Konoko asks about her past, Dr. Kerr tells that The Syndicate had discovered it, and Konoko's father was killed. Dr. Kerr also reveals that, Muro is Konoko's brother, the child he left behind as he escaped with Konoko to TCTF; in order to use the technology of TCTF and establish their security. Griffin, however, opposed greatly to the self-sustaining nature of the Chrysalis and wanted it kept under strict control. Before he can reveal more, Dr. Kerr is killed by a TCTF Black Ops member, who attempted to shoot Konoko. After killing Kerr's killer, Konoko then decides to claim revenge on TCTF. To escape the Science Prison, she is forced to test the theory she has just heard, by attempting to escape through acid vats.
Wednesday, Dec 1, 2032
Konoko doesn't stop; she infiltrates the TCTF Regional HQ single-handedly, all to learn that Griffin had used Shinatama to do something. Upon tracking Griffin down to his Omega Bunker, Konoko finds out that Griffin constructed his own security cell (a Deadly Brain) with Shinatama's brain, one that knows Konoko the best. As Konoko shuts Shinatama down, Shinatama begs Konoko to stop her, to kill her. In the end, as Shinatama's leftover body marches to Griffin, and Griffin shoots it down, Konoko takes the gun and holds Griffin at gunpoint.
At this point, the player is faced with the choice of shooting Griffin or walking away. The choice has no effect on the overall plot, but changes the final fight sequence at the game's end.
Friday, Dec 3, 2032
After this, Konoko reaches the Syndicate Mountain Compound that Muro is using. Upon her arrival, she discovers Muro's master plan, Project "Sturmanderung": Muro is planning to reroute the atmospheric conversion centers to pollute the clean world; a disaster from which only the Chrysalis can save humankind. As Konoko quotes, "He's planning to kill everyone who doesn't sell his soul to him for a Chrysalis." Quickly devising a counter-measure, Konoko tries to reroute the atmospheric conversion centers, but doesn't interfere in time. Instead, she has a single choice left: destroy the mountain compound and the conversion centers connected to it. Then, she heads to the rooftop to face Muro.
Here, if the player killed Griffin, the final showdown ensues between Konoko and Muro's new self as he has accomplished to pass to the next stage of Chrysalis evolution - the Imago stage. This choice makes the game somewhat more difficult to complete, as instead of fighting a large number of weaker enemies, one must face a superboss -- periods of invunerability, massive size and damage, etc. However, if the player chose to walk away, then Muro stays in human form, he and his henchmen face Konoko, upon which Griffin comes along to help her. The overall plot remains the same, the ending included.
After the explosion, Konoko is shown roaming the ruins of the city, and monologuing to herself that, the Chrysalis may save humankind in the form of evolution after the disaster that had occurred, but that the fate of humankind is unclear.
A note... This is just an idea for those of you who have the game; talk to the people and access the computers scattered around the levels, the information contained there will enable someone to fix up any errors on this page. Especially refercences to the timeline of events and the fate of mankind...it's all in there.
Gameplay and Features
In Oni, there are several ballistic and energy cell weapons, including handguns, rifles, and rocket launchers.
Oni features hand-to-hand combat, a genre of gameplay previously found only in console games. Since the player is only allowed to carry one gun at a time and ammunition can be scarce, hand-to-hand combat eventually turns out to be more common than the use of weapons. The heroine has punches, kicks, throws, and flips at her disposal, as well special combos and "super moves" that unlock as she progresses through levels. The various moves are executed through varying combinations of attack, directional, and/or jump keys. Each enemy class also has its own set of moves.
The main character, Konoko, can use the entire level as her combat arena. She can explore and move about freely, instead of being confined to a small arena and fighting a small group of enemies (as in the case in many console games of that era).
The game allows Konoko to explore 14 levels of varied sizes, ranging from medium-sized to large, entire-building levels. Bungie hired a professional architect to design the buildings for authenticity. When released, one criticism often leveled at the game was that of the sparse, bauhaus nature of the levels, citing a lack of malleable in-game objects and an overall sterile feel. For the game's enthusiasts, however, the size and explorability of the levels more than compensates for this perceived weakness.
The animation engine implements a method of interpolation which tweens key frames, enabling the characters to execute combat moves smoothly.
A 4-issue comic book mini series was published by Dark Horse Comics. The pilot issue (#0 of 3) was packaged with the PC version of the game.
- E3 1999 Game Critics Awards: Best Action/Adventure Game
Concept Art can be found on Bungie's website via archive.org.
Print Art can be found on Bungie's website via archive.org.
Screenshots can be found on Bungie's website via archive.org.
FAQ from Bungie
Q: What is Oni?
A: Set in the year 2032, Oni is a third person 3D action adventure with weapons and hand-to-hand combat featuring Konoko, a highly skilled agent. It is available for Mac, PC and PlayStation2.
Q: What system do I need to play Oni?
A: You can play Oni on a PC, a PlayStation2 or a Mac.
PC System Requirements:
- Windows 98/ME (with Service Pack 3 or higher)/2000.
- 266 MHz Pentium III processor or higher.
- 64MB of RAM.
- 800MB free hard disk space.
- Hardware accelerated 3D graphics card (OpenGL compatible).
- Video Modes Supported: Voodoo 2+, TNT2+, Rage Pro+, Intel i890.
- Supported graphics: 3DFX Voodoo 2, ATI Rage Pro, ATI Rage 128.
- Only OpenGL, Glide and Software Rendering supported on WindowsNT.
Mac OS System Requirements:
- System 8 or higher.
- 300MHz PowerPC or higher.
- 64MB of RAM.
- 800MB free hard disk space.
- Supported graphics, 3DFX Voodoo 2, ATI Rage Pro, ATI Rage 128 (All G4 based Macs, some non-beige G3 Macs) and CD-ROM.
Q: So why is there so little info about Oni on this website?
A: Although Oni was designed and created by Bungie, it was actually sold as a trademarked property to Take 2 Games - who once owned a share in Bungie, before we were acquired by Microsoft.
Q: Who makes Oni?
A: Although Oni was developed by Bungie, it was published and is now owned by Take 2 Games.
Q: What happened to multiplayer?
A: Multiplayer was scheduled to be a part of Oni, but was removed close to the game's completion in order that it would meet a timely release.
Q: Will I be able to drive any vehicles?
A: Konoko driving vehicles, such as the motorbike, will only be seen in cutscenes. In-game vehicle controlling is not featured in Oni as it is in Halo.
Q: What are the flashes that appear during fights?
A: The flashes let you know if you are actually striking an opponent in close-quarters combat. The color of the flash indicates damage levels. Green is light, yellow is medium and red is heavy. Those colors apply to the amount of damage you're taking as well as that which you are dishing out.
Q: Can I save movies of my antics?
A: Although you can record and watch movies, they cannot be saved or exported - except to video tape or an outside video recorder, should you have that facility.
Q: Who developed Oni?
- Michael Evans - Project Lead/Lead Programmer
- Kevin Armstrong - Programmer (tools, UI, sound, input, various)
- Chris Butcher - Programmer (AI, particle system, various)
- Jason Duncan - Programmer (sky, game mechanics, various)
- Steve Abeyta - Art Lead/Character Animator
- Chris Hughes - Character/Environmental Modeller/Environmental Animator
- Alex Okita - Concept Artist/2D Art/Particles
- Design Hardy LeBel - Lead Designer
- David Dunn - Architect
- Michael Wu - Level Designer
- Project Management
- Hamilton Chu - Producer
Q: Why is there no blood in Oni?
A: Two things "killed" blood: First is the fact that the blood sprays tended to conflict/overlap the hit flashes (which as everyone knows by now are an integrated part of the fighting system, and second it was decided that Oni should be accessible to a broader audience. Graphic sprays of blood probably would have pushed the game to a higher consumer rating.
Q: Can I use a gamepad in Oni?
A: Oni for PC and Mac should support some Gamepads - check your drivers and of course the PS2 version uses the PlayStation2 dual shock pad.
Q: How do I change the controls in Oni?
A: Look for the key_config.txt file inside the Oni folder, or if you're using a Mac, hold shift as you launch Oni.
Q: What happened to the giant robot?
A: The huge white mech known as "Iron Demon" was removed from the game before it was released thanks in part to AI and animation issues.
- Interview with lead engineer Brent Pease
- Officially confirmed to be set in 2032 by Bungie.net's Oni FAQ, although this is still debated due to how tightly the events of Oni would have been packed together, and that the FAQ went up during the Bungie/Microsoft take over. According to Konoko's in-game diary, November 22 was a Monday. This is true for the years 2032, 2038, 2049, etc.
- Bungie.net (archive) - Oni: FAQ