Muramasa: The Demon Blade Review for Nintendo Wii

Muramasa: The Demon Blade Review for Nintendo Wii

Muramasa: The Demon Blade is one of those games you can’t resist playing just because of how cool it looks. A princess possessed by a demon; a ninja with a forgotten past. You’ve seen a stage; now you want to see more… whether you’re attracted to the floating petals of the blossoming cherry trees, the harmonious oriental landscapes, or the nasty, vicious-looking foes you have to fight, there’s a whole lot to like in this game.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade screenshot

For starters, the character design is outstanding; the enemies are based on ancient Japanese mythological creatures, and the main characters, Momohime and Kisuke, are very charming but tough – the power and energy they radiate makes you feel comfortable under their skin and gets you ready to fight against anyone in your path. It’s not like you’re invincible, but their buffed-up look and fast-paced moves charges you up with a nice dose of adrenaline.

Okay, perhaps I’m exaggerating a little as far as getting charged with adrenaline, but the truth is this game is action-packed. The gameplay style mimics old-school feats like the archaic Ninja Gaiden titles, Double Dragon, and many others. Though the story and visuals make Muramasa look a lot deeper than that, this game is a side-scrolling beat-’em-up in its bare essence. Arcade game enthusiasts will love this title, as you can power through it like a ninja – literally. The controls don’t offer much combo variety, but they get the job done. You can perform different attacks depending on which direction you’re heading, if you’re jumping up towards an enemy or down with force, and if you’re pushing or holding the attack button. However, the most important factor in these fights is the sword you wield.

There’s an astonishing amount of blades to be had. Of course, you don’t get them all right off the bat. Instead, the game incorporates an interesting RPG element: the possibility to upgrade the sword depending on which level you’re at, your strength and vitality, the spirit you have, and the souls you’ve collected. When you’re ready, you can go see Senji Muramasa (accessible from the game’s menu) and have him forge a sword for you. The huge Blade Lineage Tree contains several different paths, different swords, and, of course, different requirements for each blade. It’s no joke; there are dozens of swords you’ll have access to throughout the game, depending upon your chosen blade path.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade screenshot

Each blade is different. Some are more powerful and others are less, some are faster, some are slower, etc. But, best of all, they carry special power attacks called Secret Arts – there’s the Moon Ring, the Flash, the Giant Sun Orb, the Kamaitachi, the Misty Slash, etc. These powers are really fun to use against enemies and oftentimes make a huge difference during combat, especially boss battles.

Other RPG-style features include the collecting of souls and currency to attain items, ingredients to concoct special formulas, healing pellets and potions, items to restore your sword, charms, and a lot more. You can easily equip them on the main menu, and one can carry up to three swords as well as a special outfit/charm for extra power, defense, or whatever it may be. Your sword might break during an encounter, so being able to swap blades with just the push of a button certainly comes in handy. You can also use the different Secret Arts if the battle is too tough to handle with just standard hit combos. At the end of each battle, you get experience points that go towards leveling up, just like in a standard RPG.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade screenshot

I’m not a huge role-playing fan because those games tend to be too slow for me, but this one doesn’t make me suffer. It has just the perfect combination of RPG elements to keep you motivated as well as fast-paced action that keeps you going. If you choose to play Muso style, the game doesn’t require a lot of skill; you can pretty much cut through enemies with ease and keep going. On the other hand, if you’re not intimidated by challenge, you should play it Shura style; you’ll have to evade, defend yourself, and use the Secret Arts judiciously in order to advance.

Offering different control styles is smart. Muramasa: The Demon Blade lets you pick between Nunchuk style, Classic, or GameCube Controller. I admit I like to play most Wii games with both the Nunchuk and the Wii Remote, and this time it’s no different. The thumbstick on the Nunchuk allows for extra agility, and the big A button is perfect for performing attacks. The GameCube controller offers similar gameplay, but the Classic controller feels a bit cramped, plus the character doesn’t seem to move as smoothly. Of course, it depends on your personal taste, but this is my conclusion after trying all three.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade screenshot

Other than that, there’s only one way to play the game: the story mode. This single-player experience offers a decent amount of value, as there are two different storylines to follow and two different characters to play with. Both stories are separate from each other, and they lead you to different endings. There aren’t many cutscenes to explain what’s going on, but the few that there are, are engaging and very artistic. The rest of the story you’ll find out by talking to characters you meet on the way; you’ll end up traveling through a vast map with assorted environments, townsfolk, and new foes.

The background music is very pleasing, and its oriental style is undeniable and perfectly fit for the game. You’ll also hear a few cool sound effects coming from the different beasts, but perhaps this is where I would have like to see (or rather “hear”) a little more. They certainly look ugly and wicked, so pumping up the volume with scary growls and shrieks would have helped to get players even more focused on the task at hand – kicking some serious butt. This is just nitpicking though, and it’s nothing to worry about.

Even though Muramasa: The Demon Blade only offers the story mode, the two difficulty levels, the two different storylines and upgradeable characters, the extra challenges, the boundless amount of swords, and the dazzling Japanese visuals make up for a great experience most players will enjoy. If you’re into arcade action and don’t mind some RPG’ing as you go, this game might be one to look for the next time you visit the game store. Or, if in doubt, rent it out!

The Japanese mythology-inspired visuals portrayed in this title are admirable – it’s the best thing this game has to offer. Less repetition and more cutscenes would have sealed the deal. 3.6 Control
They’ll remind you of Super Smash Bros., which will be a good thing for many and not so good for others. It needed a few more combo attacks and less button-mashing. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Instrumental music with a clearly oriental style is the perfect soundtrack for this game. Cool sound effects, but it needs a few more to get you to hate the beasts. 4.0

Play Value
It’s a surprisingly long game, since it offers two different storylines and endings with two different characters. There are also challenges scattered throughout, as well as an incredible amount of swords to forge or collect.

3.9 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • From the subtle movements of a character’s hair and clothes to their explosive battle animations, every detail is expertly animated by hand for amazing visuals that cannot be mimicked with 3D polygons.
  • Playing as a male ninja or female kunoichi, you have a wide variety of ninja skills at your disposal as you progress through the levels in not only side-scrolling fashion, but vertical progression elements as well.
  • Gameplay transitions seamlessly from player-controlled elements to story sequences to keep the player engaged within the world.
  • Rather than the often told fables of Greek and Norse mythology, take an adventure through less commercialized, but equally rich and mysterious, Japanese mythology.

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