Last week’s announcement that Lost Planet 3 is well into production caught just about everyone by surprise, and not just because Capcom had managed to keep the game’s development so quiet.

Spark Unlimited, the studio responsible for Legendary: The Box and Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, is heading up development on Lost Planet 3. To say that the developer’s previous games have not been well received would be polite understatement, but things certainly appear to be looking up for Spark — the company is now hiring for another game in what it terms an “established console franchise.”

With any luck, Lost Planet 3 will prove to be a turning point for Spark Unlimited. In an encouraging sign, the studio is working closely with key members of Capcom, including Lost Planet creator Kenji Oguro. Still, enough negativity surrounded the announcement of Spark Unlimited’s involvement with the game that Capcom Producer Andrew Szymanski felt the need to defend the developer in an interview with Eurogamer.

“For people who wonder why we made that choice, it’s certainly important to look at a track record and what people have done in the past, but that can’t tell you the whole story.”

“Particularly when it comes to a collaborative effort – what we found is they’ve got the technical ability and the passion and the drive. I don’t think Spark alone or Capcom alone could have created this – it had to be a collaborative effort.”

Capcom, it would seem, is not the only company to trust Spark Unlimited’s “technical ability” with a valuable franchise. Shortly after news of the developer’s work on Lost Planet 3 became public knowledge, Spark Unlimited posted a job listing on Gamasutra.

“Spark is looking for an experienced Lead Combat Designer to join us in making a breakout hit based on an established console franchise. This is an opportunity for you to have a hand in creating a bold new take on 3rd person action slasher with horror elements for the PS3 and Xbox360.”

The job listing goes on to note that ideal candidates will have an “Understanding of sword fighting combat tactics, martial arts and weapons.” On the developer’s own website, the unnamed game is referred to as a “Third Person Action/Horror” title that is currently in pre-production.

Does this sound like a new Onimusha game to you? Yeah, me too.

Needless to say, there is no conformation from anyone as to what the new game could be, and there are plenty of other (less interesting) possibilities — and I’m certainly willing to admit some wishful thinking on my part. That said, when you add “sword fighting” to “3rd person action slasher” and factor in a developer who is already working with Capcom, it’s tough not to think of Onimusha.

Ranters, do you have any insight into what the unannounced game could be? Would you be stoked for a new Onimusha? Let us know in the comments below.

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Source: Gamasutra [via VG 24/7], Eurogamer