Musashi set to make PS2 debut in March

Square Enix's samurai hero returns after six-year hiatus; stylish action RPG features "manga shading" and new game mechanics.

In 1998, Square Enix released Brave Fencer Musashi, considered to be the PlayStation's answer to Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series. While Link continued to battle on in Hyrule and sell millions of units, Musashi fell off the radar, never seeing another incarnation on the PlayStation.

Square Enix has decided to revive the series, and it looks as though Musashi will be back with a bushel of bushido on March 15. Musashi Samurai Legend will be the PlayStation 2 debut for the flamboyantly coiffed hero.

In the PS2 game, Musashi will be summoned by Princess Mycella to save her land's citizens from danger. After Mycella is kidnapped by the Gandrake Corporation, it's up to the swordsman to bring her back to safety and stop the evil company from taking over the land.

Much of the game's manga-inspired graphical presentation returns. The characters will look eerily familiar to those acquainted with Square Enix's cash cow, the Final Fantasy series, as longtime FF artist Tetsuya Nomura is on board as the character designer. The game also features "manga shading," which in practice looks like cel-shading, except that all of the shadows in the game have been hand-drawn by artists rather than a graphics engine.

New gameplay features freshen up the series for current-generation consoles. A duplication system allows gamers to "steal" combat moves from enemies by properly imitating the target's actions. The carrying system allows the character to hoist both enemies and allies. Enemies can be hurled at other foes, allies can be tossed and subsequently caught in midair while Musashi hacks and slashes targets, and both friends and enemies can be swung around as weapons. The slicing mechanic allows Musashi to learn 20 ways to artistically express himself by resculpting foes with his blade into various shapes.

Musashi Samurai Legend is rated T for Teen and will retail for $49.99. For more information, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

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