The Nintendo Wii has a library full of games that no one ever knew they wanted until they actually played it, and Muramasa: The Demon Blade is definitely one of those games. Last week, we got our hands on the game, courtesy to the nice folks at Media Rerun, and I’ve written a review for you if you’re considering purchasing this unique game. Is this game still worth the cash, even three years after it’s launch? Read on to find out. If you love Japan, you’ll LOVE Muramasa.
Muramasa: The Demon Blade takes place during the Genroku era at the time of shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi on Honshū, the main island of Japan. If you didn’t understand anything I just said, you don’t really need a background in Japanese knowledge to enjoy this game. This adventure chronicles the events of the lives of two unlikely heroes; a demon-possessed princess named Momohime and a rouge ninja who lost his memory named Kisuke. The people living in this time have a crazy thirst for blood (killing people, not being vampires), and end up fighting over these powerful swords called “Demon Blades”. This is where we start.
Both Mohomime and Kisuke have different stories (each lasts roughly 8 hours), and it’s really cool to visit the places where the other character has already gone, and even to talk to some of the same characters. I found the game’s fully voiced dialogue to be a great feature, but the voices are only in Japanese, which probably made the game better anyway. So, if you know Japanese, you’ll enjoy this a lot, but if you don’t read all that text, you will end up very confused with story and gameplay.
After beating Mohomime’s story, I found out that the game has alternate endings, meaning multiple endings. Depending on what blade you use in the Final Act, the ending changes. I was a bit disappointed with the ending I got with her (don’t be a nun, Momohime!!!), but at the same time glad that I could make her ending much happier with the right sword equipped. What sword decides what ending you’ll get? Beats me, but nonetheless, this is a great element for those who enjoyed the game but wanted a different ending.
The gameplay is easy to grasp. You control your character with the Nunchuk control stick, attack with the A button, and use special attacks with the B button. You can equip three blades at a time, and you can switch between them by pressing the C button. If you block attacks or take damage, the soul power of your blade goes down. Once your soul gauge is depleted, your blade breaks. The only way to fix your blade is to collect the souls of fallen enemies, but until then, you can switch to another blade (by pressing C) to unleash a powerful quick draw attack. Embracing this play style will help you vanquish your foes with great power and style.
In each of the game’s acts, you get to explore a new area, fight new enemies, and at the end, face a powerful boss. After finishing an act, you have to backtrack through the previously beaten level to reach your next destination. This gameplay element may sound bland, but passing places that I’ve already been makes me look back and think about what I’ve achieved thus far, and also gives me a better sense of location in Muramasa’s world. I could walk in one room and say, “Hey this is where all those ninjas ambushed me”, or “That’s where I took down all those unrealistically proportioned floating snow fairies”. In most games where you beat the boss, and you’re instantly warped outside and set in the direction of your next objective, you feel a little less. This element really helped me get used to the game’s world, and also helped me enjoy it just a bit more than I normally would have.
My only major complaint? The fact that you push up on the control stick to jump, instead of simply pressing a button. A few other publications mentioned this in their reviews of Muramasa: The Demon Blade, and while it could be confusing and frustrating at first, it’s not as big a deal as you might think. Also, even though there are hundreds of blades to collect, their abilities aren’t that different from each other. Overall, the gameplay in this game is enjoyable, and you really feel like a ninja playing Muramasa, even if you normally suck at this kind of game.
The first thing you’ll notice when putting the game disc in your Wii, is that the game has a very unique art style. In fact, it might seem just a bit weird to you at first. No need to worry, you’ll get used to it pretty quickly. If you’ve heard anything at all about Muramasa, you’ve probably heard people say things like, “The graphics in this game are breathtaking”. This statement is true, but you really have to be either Japanese, or a huge fan of Japan (like Ryan Baxter) to fully enjoy the art style. I also hear people say, “Momohime is really attractive”. That is also true.
Also, the game has some great music and easy to navigate maps, which make Muramasa: The Demon Blade much more accessible than many other games localized from Japan.
I don’t have much to complain about in this game. In all, the gameplay is solid, graphics are awesome, and the story is enjoyable. If you aren’t into creativity or uniqueness, you might not enjoy Muramasa: The Demon Blade, but for those of you who want something new, you should check out this great game. Oh yeah, and the foxes? They are adorable, and even more so in human form. True story.