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Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii) Review

Review for Muramasa: The Demon Blade on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

When Muramasa: The Demon Blade was first announced in late 2007, many were reluctant to get too hyped up about it due to a lack of hope for any localisation. However when the title was confirmed for an international release in late 2008, excitement quickly rose as Wii fans found themselves looking forward to one of the most unique Wii exclusives yet. Was it worth the wait? Does it play as beautifully as it looks? You’ll just have to read on.

Maybe you’ve seen screenshots and art around the web, or maybe you’ve seen the box despite its limited stock supply. If you didn’t know about Muramasa beforehand, then the first thing you’d notice about it is the visuals and style. Whether they take your fancy or not, the world of Muramasa, and everything in it, is aesthetically gorgeous; even the ghastly old monks have a certain spark of charm in them. It also looks and plays quite similarly to its spiritual predecessor, Odin Sphere, Vanillaware’s previous project on the PS2. Everything is a brilliant mix of cartoony and artistic, and it gives you the feeling of witnessing a moving painting at times. Sound familiar? Those of you who have played Okami could potentially see many similarities between the two, in terms of artistic direction, the fantastic musical score and the heavy focus on Japanese mythology.

That’s what Muramasa is all about too; Japanese mythology, a beautifully healthy dosage of swords, huge gods, and ridiculously huge demons. Those of you who know their Japanese mythology are bound to notice some familiar phrases and names, but for those of you who don’t, never fear, as you’re not expected to. The plot is quite confusing, regardless of your prior knowledge on these things, and while it’s suggested to just enjoy what the game has to offer, those of you who put a little extra effort into figuring out the plot once it’s all finished will have some very interesting stuff to think about, adding another layer to the game.

Screenshot for Muramasa: The Demon Blade on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Speaking of what the game has to offer, Muramasa flows very well, and not just in terms of the superb character animation. At the start you pick which character’s story to play: Kisuke, a young ninja boy with a nasty case of amnesia, or Momohime, a cute princess possessed by the spirit of an aggressive (but mostly dead) swordsman named Jinkuro. Both characters play the same, with very minor differences in stat growth, and different angles of looking at the game’s plot. They’re even both given similar assistance by some very foxy… foxes.

You’re then given a tutorial on how to play, and you can do this with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, the Classic Controller, or a GameCube controller. The whole game is button-controlled - there's no unnecessary waggle here - regardless of which control scheme you choose. The swordplay is very simple, and with the exception of a couple of moves you’ll soon be slicing your blade around like a pro. All movement is done with the analogue stick (you can also use the D-pad on the GameCube or Classic controllers), including jumping, which does take a while to get used to, but in the long run it works better this way than mapping jump to a button, as the control stick is also your ticket to pulling off some crazy katana techniques with the A button. Pressing up and A will allow you to pull off uppercuts and more air-based combos, and holding A while pushing different directions will have you zipping back and forth, juggling your opponents. So yes, with the exception of a few moves that break up the combos a little, the combat flows extremely well. New players will find themselves getting used to the control scheme and pulling off fantastic looking swordplay in no time.

Screenshot for Muramasa: The Demon Blade on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Not even a broken katana can stop Kisuke or Momohime’s pointy assaults, as forging a plethora of different blades to swap between plays a central part of the gameplay. After some crafty kitsunes set up a contract with an ancient legendary blacksmith, you find yourself wielding the power of Demon Blades, and even after breaking these blades can fix themselves if you collect enough Soul Points - also used for creating new weapons -, it really doesn’t take long at all either. If you’re ploughing down an Armageddon of ninjas and your katana suddenly breaks in half, don’t worry; just press the C Button to swap to your next one, of which you can have three equipped at once. This means that if you’re not completely careless, you’ll hardly ever find yourself without a blade to use, and even then you can use items to fix them up right away. If you’re feeling more confident that you can preserve your blades then you can even press B to unleash your current blade’s special art, a powerful attack or combo which takes up a lot of the blade’s Soul Power. Use it too often and your sword will snap like a twig, so attack wisely!

Screenshot for Muramasa: The Demon Blade on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Despite the lovely flow of the combat system however, the gameplay structure is far from perfect, and you will find yourself running to your next destination for quite a while. Those who love to backtrack may want to think twice about it, as running for a long time between destinations can become tiresome and really break up the action. The difficulty can also be a little random at times, and whereas items will seem mostly useless for the beginning part of the game (as well as not easily affordable as money is hard to come by), you will have a sudden need for healing and support items during some of the far tougher bosses, so it’s always good to have some on hand. You can also learn how to cook by getting cookbooks and ingredients, meaning if you find the correct ingredients whilst in the middle of nowhere, you can cook up a nice meal to replenish your health when there are no shops or restaurants for miles around. Be warned though, as the detailed animations for meal time can make you hungry.

Screenshot for Muramasa: The Demon Blade on Wii- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

The swordplay is great fun, and easy to get the hang of; however running for long periods of time can get boring for some.

Graphics

Every ounce of every moment is beautiful, the characters and environments are full of life. Muramasa puts most 3D games to shame.

Sound

There is no dubbing, but you’ll have no problem taking the great voice acting seriously in its original context, plus the music is as artistic and atmospheric as the visuals.

Value

While the main game lasts about 8 - 10 hours per story, each story has three endings, tons of swords, and multiple difficulties to choose from. Those who love to replay games will find they have plenty to do.

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

About this score
Rated 9 out of 10

Muramasa may not play quite as beautifully as it looks, but you can be confident in the knowledge that whizzing around slicing ninjas with a big katana is definitely as fun as it looks. Those of you who have been looking for a unique little action game to dust off your Wii with, or have been following this particular release, look no further. Muramasa is everything it has been hyped up to be and more.

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21.02.2010

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Developer

Vanillaware

Publisher

Rising Star

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (10 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

its really hard to find in the uk! only option i could find is Amazon.co.uk

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

welshwuff said:
its really hard to find in the uk! only option i could find is Amazon.co.uk

Try independent game shops, also HMV might be stocking it.
Definitely worth getting soon before it becomes impossible to find! Smilie

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery
Senior ModeratorCubed3 Member

Brilliant Second review Josh! I highly agree with everything, especially the unnecessary backtracking at parts, but it's so beautiful and action packed that I couldn't care less.
It's an awesome game and sorely overlooked, another little gem that the Wii is hiding. More people need this title.

I really want this one. I'll be buying it once I can find it available somewhere, probably amazon by the looks of it.

Thanks for posting!

Purchased mine from shopto a while back when it was £17.99.

Game is fantastic looking but the gameplay i feel is slightly repetitive, not a bad thing... more retro but still a title to enjoy and throw on for 30 minutes

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Kyle in DE, USA (guest) 24.02.2010 18:33#6

Just finished this game here in the US and I loved it. The scenery makes all the backtracking not too difficult, and you get a couple shortcuts along the way. It is an interesting technique that you have two characters using the same map one working west to east, the other east to west so you get two different stories, games and I think two entirely different sets of bosses.

Overall, I would say that Muramasa and NSMBW proves that the 2D genre should not be dead, but in fact should be used more often as it is a more natural environment for gaming. If I were to start making a 2D game(action especially) I would use Muramasa as a template of how to make a modern 2D game.

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