Muramasa arrived yesterday from Gamefly, and I put in a couple of hours with it. I'll tell you right now, it's a definite buy for me. The only reason I rented it rather than immediately purchasing it is, well, money and the lack of it. But the game has just been checked off as a birthday present for myself. Let me tell you why...
Gorgeous...simply gorgeous. A lot of you are probably too young to remember, but there was an animated movie that came out years ago called Fantastic Planet, and though Muramasa is very different in its artistic sty1e, the way it animates reminds me a lot of that movie.
Anyway, I'm not sure what some folks were expecting from the game, considering it's from the developers of Odin's Sphere. Muramasa is a hack-n-slash, and though it's been compared to a Metroidvania, it's not quite that deep. Combat seems to be the main focus, but that's fine with me.
Again, I haven't put much time into the game, but here are my impressions:
It has a less-is-more approach, and the A button, along with the analog stick, does a lot. I think you can use the GCN or Cl@ssic Controller, but I'm using the Nunchuk and Wii Remote. The A button is your attack button, but if you keep it held down, you'll block. If you kneel with the analog stick and charge A, you can do a really cool, lunging attack; sideways and A does an aerial swipe, and up and A will do an uppercut-type attack that can make some enemies go airbourne, allowing you to juggle them.
Jumping is mapped to up on the analog stick, and before playing the game I was a bit skeptical. 1Up, in one of their previews, said it was a bit sensitive, but I really, really love it. It is kind of sensitive, but it also makes stringing combos incredibly easy.
So, you've got the A button, which does all the things I already mentioned, but then the B button unleashes the special attack for whichever sword you're using at the time. You can hold up to three swords at any given time (which you switch out with the C button -- item usage is mapped to the D-pad), and it's my understanding there are 108 swords total in the game. Attacking seems to be the same for all of the swords in the game, but the special attacks are all quite different. You've also got a sort of life gauge for each sword, and when they're all maxed out, you can pull off a switch-sheath attack that damages all enemies.
Here's where all the great comboing comes in...
I already found a favorite, a sword that has a really awesome special attack. So, what I'll do is, before going into battle, I'll arm myself with the sword that is listed first in my inventory. When my gauge is full, I'll switch to my favorite sword, which unleashed the switch-sheathing attack, I'll follow that up with a special attack, and then finish off enemies with various combos based around the A button. You can also roll dodge, parry, and lob projectiles back at enemies, which were all necessary from the very early parts of the game.
And yet, the game feels a little shallow thus far, in terms of story and level design. The presentation is, of course, amazing, and the dialogue is very well written. The Japanese mythos is incredibly authentic, but the story is really just a backdrop to the combat. I'm cool with that, but I suspect some folks might grow tired of the game quickly, especially if they were hoping for more RPG elements.
I could go on and on telling you about the different components of the game, but I know no one likes to read a huge blog (which this, unfortunately, has become -- sorry). Maybe I'll riff on it more later. Great game, though. One of those that makes me wish I were playing it when I'm not.
@ tu2pac: Yup, got Odin's Sphere in our collection already. ;) Great game, too, and every bit as beautiful.
I have seen the video review of this game, and you can play with the Gamecube and Classic Controllers. This is one game I really look forward to playing someday. :) It's great to see games that still have 2D visuals.
I'm a fan of this company's work ... but I refuse to buy a Wii. Enjoy the game! Try Odin Sphere (PS2) if you haven't played it yet.
I'm reviewing it for my site, so I should be renting it today. I haven't been this excited for a game in, a long time.
This is the kind of graphical presentation that could really make the Wii fly, if my opinion mattered at all. They flub when trying to compete with 1080i. It just can't- so stick with this style. It's not fair, but people are put-off by the graphical shortcomings of the Wii and tend to overlook good games because of it, I think. @grigjd3: Heck I remember a few Atari games that were quite creative with just the one button to work with. :)
Honestly, the gameplay in this game just doesn't really click with me. That being said, I do want to rent it just for the beautiful art style, which, judging from screenshots and impresssions, is ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL, in that anime sense.
It's good to hear about games which get back to the basics. Developers used to only have a directional pad and two buttons to work with. They learned to be quite creative. Since then, controllers have gotten larger and more complex yet game control often has not improved.
I've really been anticipating Muramasa, and have been selling off some of my unwanted games to fellow local gamers. Hopefully, I'll have enough money soon to get the game!
As for the shallow story, I never expected the game to be deep in the first place. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing, but I agree, the presentation is simply gorgeous.