Muramasa: The Demon Blade: Haze of Action

By Spencer . April 21, 2009 . 12:28pm

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I’ve been playing Muramasa: The Demon Blade as “Princess” Momohime. I put “Princess” in quotes because Momohime is more than meets the eye. It’s not really spoiler material since it’s spelled out early on, but I’ll leave the exact details out unless people press for them in the comments. Anyway, Momohime is a furious fighter, a good thing because Muramasa: The Demon Blade is action packed.

 

While you’re strolling through a dark forest and admiring the scenery, suddenly an exclamation mark (!) flashes. Invisible walls trap players in a battle until all of the enemies (or you) die. Momohime can defend herself with three swords which you’ll need to switch around. Each time you use a slash, sweep, reflect projectiles, or cyclone spin the sword loses a bit of energy. Drained blades shatter and you have to wait a minute before the blade materializes again. Well, you can attack with a broken blade, but it does less damage.

 

Each blade has a unique special move like a rapid thrust (think Raphael from Soulcalibur 2) and a spinning top slash (great for taking out ninjas tied to kites). Other than the special attack swords have pretty much the same moves. There are two types of swords, but you’re going to use the same combos throughout the game. Fortunately, Momohime has a versatile move list which includes a downward thrust, block (hold attack to block), teleporting blur rush, knockback attack when she changes swords, and an air juggle. You can even juggle enemies killed in mid-air before they flicker off the screen to earn more experience. However, leveling up only boosts your stats like HP and doesn’t unlock any new moves.

 

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Muramasa: The Demon Blade loads the screen with more enemies than Odin Sphere. Inside a cave a family of rainbow colored trolls might pop out of nowhere. Skeletal youkai warp around the screen pelting you with projectiles, but there isn’t any slowdown. Muramasa: The Demon Blade is amazingly gorgeous and fluid.

 

When fights end Muramasa: The Demon Blade goes back to being a 2D side scrolling game. There is a sparse selection objects to leap on like tree branches, but it’s pretty much a straight run from one screen to the next. A helpful map tells you exactly where you need to go and if a room has any treasures to find. Even though you travel to different areas Muramasa: The Demon Blade feels like one seamless and long 2D map with a few branching points. For instance, you can “walk” across a bridge in the background to go to another path and talk to a monkey to visit a bathhouse. Following the arrow leads players to a boss. Muramasa: The Demon Blade does an excellent job of creating memorable boss fights even if the bosses aren’t that tough. The beasts look so large, colorful, and cool Muramasa: The Demon Blade’s best moments are when you’re doing stuff like flying over flames with the teleport flash slash to cut a flaming wheel.

 

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Other than slicing and running, Muramasa: The Demon Blade has a limited amount of crafting. Similar to Odin Sphere food is involved, but players don’t grow trees from the souls of their foes. You can gather ingredients to cook. Eating your home cooked meals or delicacies from a restaurant recovers HP and boosts your vigor. Why do you want vigor? It’s the currency used to forge new swords. To prevent players from hoarding vigor and building an invincible weapon in the first area you need to collect swords from bosses and have enough strength/stamina to wield a weapon. Some swords and accessories boost your base stats and let you access more powerful swords early on.

 

If you play the game in Musou mode you can breeze through the game as long as you upgrade your sword. Since I started on Musou mode I didn’t realize it right away, but Muramasa: The Demon Blade’s two “modes” are really two difficulty levels. In Musou the enemies are docile. Shinobi wait for you to make the first move. Shura mode is furious, and likely the mode you want to start playing the game on if you want a challenge. You take much more damage in Shura mode and the enemies like the Tengu dive into you. Fortunately, you can switch between Musou and Shura mode whenever you load a game. I see why Marvelous made two modes. Muramasa: The Demon Blade appeals to more people this way. Core gamers can play Shura mode while someone who just wants to appreciate Vanillaware art can relax in Musou mode. Something for everyone, right?

 

Food for thought:

 

1.) For some reason Vanillaware decided to assign jump to the up button. It works OK, but Muramasa: The Demon Blade would control better if jump was a separate button. Hopefully, the US publisher gives players a choice.

 

2.) Speaking of controls Muramasa: The Demon Blade supports a Wii remote/nunchuck combo, Classic Controller, and Gamecube pad. I started playing the game with the Wii remote, but Muramasa: The Demon Blade feels much more natural with a standard controller.

 

3.) The idea of leveling up is underutilized. Sure, you get stronger, but instead of dozens of swords Muramasa: The Demon Blade would have been a better game with less weapons and a customizable list of moves.

 

4.) Muramasa: The Demon Blade has multiple endings, but they require you to beat the game first. Discovering them is your post game content.


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  • Zhemos

    How long is this game? Is it something you can beat in 10-15 hours but still have fun playing it? Or is it a long meaty adventure? I’m considering buying a wii for it. but I don’t wanna waste my money on a short game i’d probably never play again after i beat.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Spencer

      Think 8-10 hours on a first run with one character/one story. It’s not long, but it’s a memorable game. Short, but sweet.

      • Zhemos

        oooo is it like Odin Sphere where you got 5 different characters to play through the game with, and all their stories linked together?!

        • http://www.siliconera.com Spencer

          Mostly, but there are only two characters and the main ways the characters cross paths is in the hot springs.

      • nefenlied

        8-10 hours is pretty long for a sidescroller, though.

  • nefenlied

    Damn, I hate jump on up button.

    • http://denpanosekai.blogspot.com denpanosekai

      I was hoping that this would be remapped if you played this game with the classic controller. I thought this was a Wiimote limitation.

      DAMN. Yes Spencer. Please pester Ignition with this feature request. Honestly that’s more important to me than dual audio. It sounds like a really stupid decision.

  • Aoshi00

    Sounds good. I love memorable youkai bosses, the lion lantern boss from Mystical Ninja still left a strong impression on me. Call me a wimp, but I think I would start w/ Musou mode too, don’t want to get my butt kicked while savoring the scenery of blowing grass and lapping ocean waves.

    So is Momohime actually stronger/easier than using Kisuke in this game? I still haven’t finished Legend of Kage 2 w/ Chihiro.. But Ignition for the Jpn track :)!

    • http://www.siliconera.com Spencer

      Actually, they’re pretty much the same. I think it’s because Marvelous used the same weapon system which has two sets of attacks + one special per weapon. Their specials differ, though.

  • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

    So, this is something that I’ve been meaning to ask for a while. Do the “invisible walls” slow down the pace of the game, since it isn’t a seamless transition from one backdrop to the next?

    • http://www.siliconera.com Spencer

      Nah. Muramasa is smooth. When a random encounter happens a “!” flashes and enemies drop in. After you slice them up a status screen tells you how you did without changing the backdrop at all. So, if there were platforms when a “!” pops up, the same platforms and whatever topography was present before exists during battles.

      • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

        Nono, what I meant was…does it ever feel like the game is holding you back by dropping enemies onto the screen and trapping you within these invisible walls?

        It isn’t like Castlevania or Metroid or Contra, for instance, where you constantly run and gun. Rather, it sounds like you run, stop, gun and then run some more. :)

        • http://www.siliconera.com Spencer

          Ah I see! It’s run, stop, slice, run then.

          The difference between Muramasa and say Contra is Muramasa doesn’t have levels designed with traps and jumps. It’s really like running a marathon so the random fights don’t feel disruptive. They are the game.

  • MadMirko

    Sounds like a game I’ll play with an arcade stick.

    If the game is focused on action (which it sounds like from the impressions), I welcome the jump function on the up button. That’s the way I expect it to be in 2D fighters, as opposed to a button, which I expect to be assigned for jump in a jump’n run / action platformer or the like.

    Still, having more options is always a good thing. So, Ignition, remappable controls, please.

  • Pheonix03

    How’s the story? Is it as awesome as Odin Sphere and Grimgrimoire’s story?

  • XjaybirdX

    Spencer, How much Japanese knowledge is needed to really enjoy the game? I am really thinking about importing it but dont want to be lost.

  • Cameron

    I’ve had troubles with my copy. When I put in my freeloader and boot up the game, it goes to a blank black screen. I’m using component cables on a HD TV. I think it might be something to do with my settings?

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