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6/09/2011

REVIEW: Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii)


Muramasa is a third-party game for the Nintendo Wii, developed and published by Marvelous Entertainment and Vanillaware. It is an extremely simple 2D sidescroller game which focuses heavily on combat and story-telling. The final result is a great game exclusive to the console. It is very enjoyable and entertaining but one can’t help but feel that it was release way too late.

The game tells two stories in one game. The first one is about a ninja boy named Kisuke who lost his memory and is being chased by several monsters and clans of ninjas, he travels around all Japan trying to figure out what happened to him and fighting his way through the hordes of enemies. The second story is about a girl named Momohime, whose body is being possessed by a demon who wants to find a legendary sword. Momohime is a princess in Japan so the demon uses her influences to easily get into places and betray his enemies.

Graphically, the game uses very beautiful sprites for the characters and enemies, they have great smooth animations when moving and they look very natural, but the best thing about the game’s visuals are the background environments, which include extremely pretty Japanese landscapes like mountains, plains, snow, lakes, seas and forests which look like actual paintings made by famous artists. But while they are indeed very pretty, the traveling system the game uses forces the player to run through those backgrounds way too many times which can results in them repeating over and over.

The gameplay is simple, since the game is a 2D sidescroller. The characters can move around quickly and freely running and jumping in a very cool way. Each time a group of enemies appear, Kisuke and Momohime will automatically pull their swords out and prepare for battle, during the fight is that the player will have the attacks available. It is possible to play with three different controllers: The Gamecube one, the classic one and the Wiimore + Nunchuk combo. Both fighters have the same gameplay style. They can use shorts swords which provide quick slashes and longer swords which are usually stronger but make the two characters move really slowly.

By fighting enemies and advancing through the story, Kisuke and Momohime will get new swords to fight and items that can be equipped for various effects like a boosts in attack and defense or extra HP points. Both characters will also level up which makes exploration and escaping from battles a key factor in the game, it is recommended to explore as many parts of the map as you can so you fight tons of enemies and level up a lot.

The truth is that besides running around the maps and slashing enemies, there’s nothing much to do in Muramasa. But one of the curious things is the forge system where, depending on the character’s level will allow Kisuke and Momohime to forge new swords with new abilities which can turn the tables in difficult fights, especially with the bosses that can be frustratingly difficult sometimes. You can also cook different foods to restore HP if you have the required ingredients but every time you eat, a “fullness” bar goes up and before eating again, the player needs to wait for it to be empty again.

The music is also great, the soundtrack has very pretty Japanese classical tunes that fit perfectly with the environments and fights with either normal enemies or bosses. But just like the backgrounds, there aren’t many songs which will result in them repeating several times through both campaigns. The entire game is also beautifully voiced in Japanese. Every character is voiced which is great because even though the gameplay style is very simple, the player will never encounter any mute text bubbles over the characters.

For closing comments, I can say the game is really worth it. It is a very simple 2D sidescroller but the fast combat style is very entertaining and while it can get repetitive, it provides around 20 hours of gameplay to complete both campaigns and extras. This game is one of the few good titles not made by Nintendo on the Wii. But any hardcore gamer with experience won’t help but feel that this game could have been much better on the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live Arcade with HD sprites and backgrounds but even as a simply Wii title, it is great and should not be missed by any owner of the console.

Pros:

-          -     A fast and intense fighting system that is challenging and entertaining
-          -     Beautiful background landscapes which look like paintings
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Cons:

-         -     The backgrounds, while pretty, can get very repetitive after a few hours of gameplay
-         -    Not much to do besides running and slashing enemies



Graphics and Visual Effects……….8
Music and Sound Effects………….8
Gameplay…………………….…...8
Replay Value…………………...…8
SCORE TOTAL…………………8/10

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