Review: Muramasa: The Demon Blade
The following is a review of Muramasa: The Demon Blade, for the Nintendo Wii.
Let’s get it out of the way; Muramasa: The Demon Blade is the game that finally made my purchase of the Wii worthwhile.
Muramasa is in some ways similar to Super Metroid in that you progress around the game by moving from screen to screen, with enemy battles occuring randomly, as you move towards the act’s boss. Many paths are locked, only becoming accessible after you defeated set bosses, leading to some level of back-and-forth (especially for the male character Kisuke). Enemy lairs can also be unlocked in the same way, allowing your character to fight in multi-stage battles against set enemies.
All-in-all, this results in an linear path from boss to boss, as each act takes place, with the random battles and (typically) multiple paths to objectives adding in a good level of diversity. Normal enemies level with you, so outside of mastering combat, no battle will seem boring.
Featuring two characters, each with their own story line and bosses, you can play the game from each character’s perspective in any way you want, adding another layer of diversity to the game.
The game also features a robust weapon crafting system, with a total of 108 weapons (all swords) that can be unlocked, but which feature level-based requirements. For those that don’t want this experience, however, each boss unlocks a weapon (again, unique for each character), allowing players to switch to these new weapons as the game progresses.
Typical to games of this genre, a leveling component increases character health, strength, and vitality, which impacts what blades you can equip.
Based solely on my own gameplay, each character’s story lasts around 9 hours, allowing for a fair amount of exploration and forging of new blades. For the most part, grinding for levels is unnecessary, especially considering that dying carries almost no penalty at all, during boss and lair fights.
The post-game allows you to unlock the remaining blades, as a handful of these can only be acquired after you have beaten the game with each character. Additional, alternate, endings are also available, again for each character. In total, this resulted in over 25 hours of gameplay.
The biggest draw of the game, coming up in almost any discussion, and which I’ve therefore left for the last, is the art and story style. The art of the game is simply beautiful, with the power of the Wii stretch to the breaking point. It would have been something to see this game on the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3, where areas would have loaded faster the pixel borders would have been near-invisible.
The spoken language throughout the game is Japanese, with English subtitles, and no way to each either of these. While this may distract some, it leads to a much more ‘real’ experience.
Overall, I must give this game a full 5 stars. There are few drawbacks to the game, with the only semi-semi-major ones being from what I believe to be hardware-related issues (the few second loading from screen to screen and the visibly square pixels), and the art, music, and forging element adding considerable value.
I believe that the fast nature of battles (many standard battles will last seconds, while some boss battles may last dozens of minutes or more) allows for a very high level of replayability.
If you consider yourself a gamer and your Wii has a coat of dust, go check out some gameplay videos. If it looks good, go buy this game.
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