This 2D game lacks depth, but it is so good that even those who aren't in these kind of game are bound to enjoy it.
- Simply outstanding 2D visuals
- Robust combat system is a lot of fun even with its limitation
- Big, engaging and challenging boss battles are a blast
- Amazing music and atmosphere
- 2 storylines with 2 different characters to play through
- Combat is straightforward, simple and overall lacks depth
- Story is difficult to follow at first
- No reason why this game couldn't be on other consoles
Muramasa – The Demon Blade is an exclusive Wii masterpiece. The game is visually stunning, with a terrific presentation, fun gameplay and challenging bosses to confront. The gameplay is simple, lacks a little depth in it and activities other than combat are very few. This 2D action role-playing experience is the best Wii game I played so far. Muramasa is certainly limited, but redeems itself with offering the best it delivers.
The story of Muramasa is difficult to get into, adding to cutscenes with just dialogue of the characters talking in the same 2D background, and strictly Japanese voice acting which is bound to piss off some American or European gamers. 2 characters can be chosen in the game, and while you can just play through one character at a time, the game allows you to change character and start from where you last were with the other character. You need to restart or exit the character's story to enter the other.
At the very beginning you get to choose the level of challenge of the game and you get to choose from 2 (even 3 if you beat the game); Muso, a difficulty aimed for beginners and those not adequate to the genre, and Shura recommended for skilled players. A new mode is obtained if game is beaten in Shura mode. After that you choose the character you want to fight with, either Momohime, who has been possessed by the spirit of Jinkuro, or Kisuke, a young ninja with no memory of his past. The 2 characters don't handle very differently, although there may be some differences in the difficulty of the two.
A great tutorial is a great way to start a game. First of all, there is almost no real reason that Muramasa should be exclusive Wii. There is no waggling or remote shaking, and you can use the GameCube controller for it as well aside from the Wii Nunchuk and Wii remote. We'll just focus on the Wii remote. The tutorial explains the basics of the gameplay and it is a must-see to those playing the game. Kisuke and Momohime play similarly but don't share the tutorial. There aren't big differences in combat for the two, so if you've seen Kisuke's tutorial, there is no need to watch Momohime's tutorial. Tutorial can be skipped.
The game is strictly 2D. Similarly to what PS2's Odin Sphere is, Muramasa is a 2D, hack-and-slash RPG. The gameplay is overall a bit shallow, lacks depth but it very, very fun. Like I said there is no waggling, so you can just sit on the couch or sofa and relax. You won't relax long since the game's intense and huge bosses can be quite a challenge, but they are rewarding and very fun to play against. Combat is straightforward, and eventually repetitive. It's fun nonetheless, the only thing that can become frustrating is blade switching. Throughout the game you will obtain new swords. Once a sword is broken you need to switch. Swords will break if a boss gives you a huge hit, or repel too many attacks. Souls that you find exploring or from defeated enemies will increase your sword's strength. If a sword is broken, you will become vulnerable. That is why you must switch blade with the C button. Broken swords you can use after you switched. This whole progress will allow you to use different sword rather than using always the strongest and coolest one. But over time this process can really become a pain in the neck. Attack with the A button, without the need of shaking the Wii remote. Some blades have special arts which you can use by pressing the B button. Map is small but you can enlarge it with the Z button. The map may not seem helpful at first, and in fact is not all that helpful. Although you will need to know where to go since some stages are really big. Enemies appear in random encounters and you need to defeat them to progress. Going back in some areas will make you fight enemies over, but the lack of extra fights in the game can become troublesome. Combat can sometimes be reduced to pressing A and moving the Nunchuk. It can occasionally get monotonous as well. Although the style of the combat is amusing. After each battle, you might be awarded with extra XP by doing somethings like repelling attacks, take no damage and such.
Sometimes you run into a dead end when you find a barrier. Barriers come in different colors and you won't be able to breakthrough unless you have a powerful demon blade. Items will replenish your health, although using them in battle can be extremely annoying. The battle screen is a bit small, and there will be lots of enemies onscreen. No particular nice activity outside combat aside from exploring, sometimes enter in a house finding an item or an unexpected battle. Battles are almost always over before you know it. The majority of the normal enemy encounter battles can last around 15 seconds, since you can just blast your way through, repel attacks, change sword if necessary and stuff. Bosses of course take much longer to beat. Most bosses are ugly, not by design but have they look, so it is more fun to hit them. They have a large health bar with another smaller bar which decreases a little everytime you finish the big health bar. The more you move forward in the game, the harder the bosses will become. Thankfully the difficulty can be changed at any time, so feel free to change it anytime if you see if the game is too tough for you, or too easy.
I played a few 2D games; from running in 2D, 2D platformers, and 2D fighters. Muramasa is one of the best looking 2D game I've seen in quite a while. Even though the graphics won't be as impressive on the PS3 or 360, for a Wii game looks fantastic. There are some background repetitions and some backtracking may be necessary sometimes, but it is simply a graphical masterpiece. Probably won't care about repetitive background especially when you find a piece of brilliant art such as passing through a village with falling sakura petals. Character designs are great and fitting, and the enemy design holds up well. There are multiple different enemies to encounter, each with their own strengths. After each battle you'll be awarded with XP and sometimes even items. A bit short of RPG elements though, doesn't feel really like an RPG even though you level up.
Cutscenes take place in 2D as well with the only available Japanese voice acting. No English voice acting will turn off some players, but the Japanese voice acting is superb. The audio is world-class, no questions here. Save spots can be found as you travel, and there is normally someone to talk to. All game is voiced. The production values are so awesome that they are awesome+. The controls adapt well for the Wii, but if you are going to give a Wii game give us something that can be done only on the Wii. Battle stages are limited and camera can't be moved. There are times where your player will go slightly off screen on the side of your TV and following the action may be a bit difficult.
My 4th Wii game is the best Wii game I've played so far. There will be more reviews following this one. I never expected to play Muramasa so early in my Wii experience, but I'm satisfied. Any Wii gamers should play Muramasa, but the strictly Japanese voice acting may turn you away, the easy and straightforward combat, and such, but, but Muramasa is a superb example of how a 2D action RPG should be made, not only on the Wii but for any platform.
Graphics = 9.4
Superb quality for a Wii game. Some repetitive backgrounds aren't much bother compared to the quality of some stages. This is exactly how a 2D game should be made.
Sound = 9.0
Outstanding music, and great Japanese voices but no optional English voices are bound to put off some players. Otherwise for anyone else, the sound is a masterpiece.
Presentation = 8.5
There are no full-motion scenes, but the loadings and production values are awesome. The camera can be a bit annoying and the game could have been on other platforms.
Gameplay = 8.6
The gameplay is easy, straightforward and overall lacks depth. That aside, it is still awesome to play, with a ton of sword to collect (and break), a lot of stages to play through with different bosses to confront and crush. Action is fast-paced, combat is a bit flashy and with 2 different characters and difficulty. Feels more like a 2D action game that a 2D action RPG though.
Story = 7.5
2 stories to play through and the game allows you to play which you want anytime. Some backtracking can bog the game down sometimes. Story is difficult to get into at first. Luckily the healthy tutorial in the beginning of the game is gives you all you need to play the right way.
OVERALL = 87 / 100
This superb example of how a 2D game should be lacks depth but it's so good that even those not into these kind of games will immerse themselves in Muramasa