Muramasa: The Demon Blade Review
Muramasa: The Demon Blade is a game released on the Wii console released in 2009. It features two playable characters, a female kunoichi and a male ninja. Dive into the mystical world of Muramasa, slashing your way through hordes of ninjas, onis, and even gods.
Set in the world during the Genroku era, the plot of Muramasa centered around the Demon Blades; cursed swords which even though immensely powerful, will bring about corruption, madness and deaths to those who wields them. The country, ruled by the shogun, Tsunayoshi Tokogawa at the time, was especially fighting in control of these swords. Conflicts rise and as the battle over the control of these swords escalates, otherworldly creatures begun appearing from their realm, being attracted to these cursed swords. Momohime and Kisuke, both trapped in the middle of all these conflict, somehow possess the power to use these swords at will.
The plot sometimes may seem over-the-top, but oddly fitting. A lot of mythological names or themes are mentioned so fans of classic Japanese folklore would no doubt be fond of this game. The game is pretty short too, and likewise, the plot of the game isn’t exactly lengthy either. Ironically, the game lacks replay values even though it has different endings (specifically three different ones for each character). To initiate second ending, one can just load the save file, and enter the final boss area once more, however, with the weapons you received from the final boss in your first playthrough. In that sense, most of Muramasa’s endings don’t really require much effort to obtain, except for the third endings, which require intense grinding. The endings themselves, don’t really have much impact as well, which is a slight disappointing point.
Muramasa is side-scrolling beat em up game; genres such as this usually has pretty simple gameplays and Muramasa is no exception. It is however, just a few steps more complex then ordinary side-scrolling games. Muramasa has a lot of movements you can execute at any times and it may takes time to actually remember them, each moves ideal for dealing with different types of enemies or situations. Do an air-slash for gliding ninja and a charged attack for tough samurai; or just go all the way and use your secret art. Battle gameplays are especially fluid which requires quick responses in guarding and attacking to bring down your foes.
In the end though, it doesn’t take rocket science to comprehend the controls; even if you got slightly confused during the tutorial, a bit of real-time combat experience will have you mastering the controls in no time. Ultimately, I would say Muramasa has quite a satisfying battle gameplays with moderately simple difficulty.
Aside from the swords you get from the plots, you can also craft other swords to your liking to aid you in battles. Said swords play a big role in your fights and what’s even more fun is that you don’t just use one but three swords at once in combat. You can combine three swords with varying secret arts to use in battle, as each swords has their own unique effects and by sometimes switching to another sword with full soul bar, you will unleash the deadly quick draw (lai) attack, killing of all enemies visible on screen.
One of Muramasa’s main highlights is it’s visuals. Huge amount of details are given to the graphics and especially a lot is focused on the backgrounds. Even though it’s 2D, backgrounds are highly detailed, and even breath-taking at times. Smooth animations like flower petals flowing or snow falling are constantly on the run in the background or foreground. The world indeed gives off the vibe of classic era Japan, but even mystical aspect of the visuals are immensely close to the original mythology and the beliefs of general people as well; the sights of heaven, filled with clouds and azure skies, and the sights of hell, filled with crimson flames and dead humans being tortured in the background. The amount of focus given to the slightest details in the background is indeed awe-inspiring.
Of cause, aside from the backgrounds, the illustrations of all these mythological deities, gods and other mythological beings are quite close to their believed appearances too, especially for beings like Fudo-Myoou. The character designs are quite top-notch too, each drawn in detailed sprites. Kisuke has black mark under his eyes and it is quite oddly matching with the mysterious aura of the rogue ninja. Likewise, I’m also quite fond of Momohime’s oriental designs.
During the course of the game, you can also eat delicacies to restore your health and souls but what’s fun is seeing the food being eaten in motion. Likewise, each food is drawn in great detail and you could even control your character eating it as the food slowly gets gobbled down in motion. If you managed to obtain some recipes, you can even see your own cooking animated on-screen in similarly great detail.
The sound are once again, second to none. The main genre behind Muramasa’s soundtracks is oriental, mixed with a bit of other musical instruments, are a pleasure to the ears. During the gameplay, each soundtrack will have two different versions, a slow-paced version where the characters are just moving about, and a fast-paced one when the characters are fighting. The former has more of the genuine Japanese traditional tunes while the latter is mixed with a bit of mainstream. Whenever characters are fighting, the music will always smoothly transitioned into the fast-paced version, and will then blend into the previous version back once the characters are done with their fights. The way they used the same track but rearranged differently to suit different situations, is quite a nice choice, especially with how common the fights are.
Muramasa: The Demon Blade is a wonderful game. To some, it may be one of the best Wii games ever, and to some, it may not be the best. Nevertheless, it is fun and interesting enough that most Wii players should check it out if they haven’t already done so.