Molotov Cupcake Avatar Posted on 9/30/2009 by Molotov Cupcake
Games
Reviews
A visually stunning action/adventure that should easily go down as one of the very best games for the Wii. Highly recommended!

Muramasa: The Demon Blade is a pretty face with the brains to boot - in short, it's what some might call a complete package. It does miss the mark in terms of staying power, as the characters simply do not have enough personality infused within their short snippets of plotline in order to be truly memorable, but with smooth, fast-paced combat and interesting tweaks to what is the "norm" associated with 2D adventure brawlers, it will easily go down in the books as one of the Wii's gems, and one of the games that you'll need to pick up if you purchase the system. I can't wait to see what developer Vanillaware has in store for the future of the Princess Crown saga - perhaps localization of the original game? One can only hope!
Release: September 8, 2009
Rating: T
Publisher: Ignition Entertainment
Written by Brittany Vincent (editor-at-large)

Though Odin Sphere for the PlayStation 2 was quite the admirable entry into the long line of action RPGs in the gaming realm, it wasn't without its share of problems. Horrible slowdown wreaked havoc upon those who journeyed within to conquer the game's many challenges. Its spiritual successor, Muramasa: The Demon Blade has done away with this hindrance and has delivered a polished, gorgeous, and engaging 2D brawler that offers its own unique brand of poetic violence and frenetic action that's unlike anything else on the Nintendo Wii console.

Right off the bat, you'll note that Muramasa resembles that of an exquisite watercolor that has come to life. Each and every detail painstakingly thought out and represented to the best of the Wii's graphical ability is something to be appreciated, and the game provides such in full force. From protagonists Momohime and Kisuke to boss characters and minor NPCs (non-playable characters) have been given the utmost of care to their outward appearance, which ranks Muramasa higher than a glut of other 2D brawlers out there. The hype surrounding the breathtaking artwork you may have bought into was absolutely accurate - you'll find yourself bowing out of battle occasionally simply to take in the sumptuous sights and sounds of this world in motion.

Still, just because a game can show its prettiest side to us, it's got to bring much more for the sake of substance. Unfortunately, unlike Odin Sphere, Muramasa has little in the way of an actual story. One of my main concerns when it comes to games such as these are the attention to plausible and engaging storylines, and what's here simply didn't offer enough for my tastes. I'm happy to appreciate what's before me as a simple brawler, though with such loving attention given to the visuals, it's unfortunate that a plotline was not as high on the priority list. The thin threads of narrative you'll be following are that of Kisuke's struggle with lost memories and Momohime's struggle with a possessor - neither are particularly interesting and in any other venue this fact would be a marring deterrent, but it's hard not to enjoy a game with such aesthetic quality.

We know it looks fantastic, and perhaps light on plot - now what? Muramasa employs many of the tricks developer Vanillaware learned in Odin Sphere, complete with sword/katana attacks, special moves, and death-defying leaps and bounds performed by Momohime or Kisuke, depending on who you choose. Using a combination of devastating aerial combos, blitzkrieg multi-hit attacks, and secret arts, you'll need to slash through hordes of enemies encountered throughout each location on the world map. Both characters can perform different feats, and within the wide world of Muramasa there are over 100 blades to collect in order to enact the most damage as possible. It's prudent to keep watch on how many baddies you're slicing up with each sword, though - too many parries or even repeated use of the weapon's secret ability spell out breakage of the arm. This calls for an extra layer of strategy that turns an otherwise pedestrian hack and slash mechanic into a much more difficult endeavor.

Taking down the myriad of enemies you'll face throughout either storyline will net you souls in order to create swords, as well as spirit points for various other uses. In combination to forging new swords and upgrading the weapons in your possession, there is a wealthy of items available to pick up throughout the world as well. You must pick up items in order to replenish your health or simply create your own via cooking. Still, nothing is as simple as it appears in Muramasa - cooking is yet another layer to be puzzled out. You will need to keep note of a fullness gauge that will prohibit ingestion of other food items until it empties. This means that no matter how low on health you are, you'll be out of luck if you're still full. Unfortunate, but still very challenging.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade is a pretty face with the brains to boot - in short, it's what some might call a complete package. It does miss the mark in terms of staying power, as the characters simply do not have enough personality infused within their short snippets of plotline in order to be truly memorable, but with smooth, fast-paced combat and interesting tweaks to what is the "norm" associated with 2D adventure brawlers, it will easily go down in the books as one of the Wii's gems, and one of the games that you'll need to pick up if you purchase the system. I can't wait to see what developer Vanillaware has in store for the future of the Princess Crown saga - perhaps localization of the original game? One can only hope!







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