Muramasa: The Demon Blade
Intense anime-styled action for your Wii
Posted 3 years ago By - JD Speedy
Muramasa: The Demon Blade is an odd game for the Wii. It’s not made by Nintendo, it isn’t a mini-game collection and it has nothing to do with Carnivals. Nope, it’s a gloriously Japanese ninja-anime style brawler with a dash of RPG elements. It’s also a whole lot of fun when everything comes together.
But right off the bat, I have to acknowledge a few setbacks that prevent this game from being the reason to dust off your Wii.
Firstly, there’s the fighting system itself. While there are a myriad of tutorial screens that describe complicated movesets that involve holding down buttons, dashing and sword combos; the fighting eventually breaks down to just mashing the A button as fast as you can and roughly aiming your ninja at dudes. It’s more rhythm based than precision and often, it feels like you’re not fully in control. Ninja Gaiden this is not. But conversely, the simplistic controls make it easy to pick up and play, even for Wii gamers who don’t often tread outside of the Wii Sports realm.
Muramasa also cribs some elements out of the MetroidVania book, by locking you out of areas locked until you can find or create certain weapons. Unfortunately, I felt this a bit of a drawback in the gameplay as the maps are confusing, the goals hard to find and your next target hard to discern.
But enough about the drawbacks, Muramasa also has an incredibly fun story that beautifully embraces Japanese storytelling. You’ll find no badly dubbed English voices in this game. What you do get, and thank god for that, is the original Japanese language track and English subtitles. But that’s the best way to enjoy anime and makes me so happy they didn’t try to Americanize the game.
And once you get beyond the simplistic controls and sometimes confusing maps, the gameplay is quite fun. You level up constantly (which often lets you hoard health items) and so long as it’s your first time through an area, and not the aggravating backtracking, the enemies are a diverse and odd looking sort that are truly satisfying to cut down.
Graphics and Sound
On top of having a fantastically anime-style story, Muramasa is also one of my favourite looking games on the Wii. It just exudes its own style from every angle. From the animations to the character models; it looks like a living, breathing cartoon. It’s one of the key elements to succeeding on Wii and here the nail has been hit square on the head, if you can’t make it look realistic, find a style that can work, without the expensive tech. Because they followed these tenets so well, the action is gorgeous in combat and mesmerizing for backseat players.
And the music in the game is spot on as well. It helps the game emote in all the right parts. When the action is tense, the music reflects that tension, but it can also hit any other cue as well. I just can’t rave enough at how successful the tone in this game is communicated and how synchronous the music is to the graphical style and how they both are with the story.
As both a blessing and a curse, there is a ton of content in Muramasa. The curse part is that there isn’t a whole lot of need to find every weapon or every hidden treasure in the game except the previously mentioned ‘key’ weapons. And due to this excess of weaponry, it can sometimes be hard to discern the difference between two weapons, save its attack strength. In my experience it’s often best to keep a weapon set stringently slim so that each weapon can feel much different from all others. This can make each one feel like a real treasure and spur you on to finding more. VanillaWare have gone the other direction here, overloading it with choice but not making that choice hard. There is always one sword that attacks for more than a previous pickup and wielding them rarely felt different or even yielded a different result.
The game is fantastic looking, sounds great, and has a fantastically cliché anime plot. That said, for the average gamer, it may be hard to keep motivated through the slog of weapon-locked doors, poorly communicated goals and befuddling maps. And because of the samey feel of combat, you may end up traversing the same sections over and over and fighting the same baddies over and over. If there weren’t such an emphasis on the combat, and there is really no distraction from it, there might be more to love.
It is a beautiful game that is a victim of its own success as the story so badly eclipses the gameplay. Muramasa is an imperfect jewel. It’s a precious stone for sure, but the cut’s not quite right.
- Great dialogue and pitch-perfect Japanese VO
- One of the best action/adventure games for the Wii
- Easy learning curve
- Gorgeous visuals
- Lack of diverse weaponry
- Confusing maps
- Confusing goals
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Release Date : 2009/09/08
System : Nintendo Wii
Publisher : Ignition Entertainment
Developer : Marvelous Interactive
Category : Action-Adventure
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10