Monday, March 8, 2010

RECOM: Muramasa by Gwaihir Scout

Muramasa: The Demon Blade
by Gwaihir Scout (Contributing Author) | Edited by Mop_it_up (Site Editor)

Muramasa is an enjoyable 2D action game featuring cool swords, hordes of monsters, and very large bosses. It is notable for its distinctive (and gorgeous) style of artwork, using 2D hand-drawn art for the character models and backgrounds. The basic premise is that you control Momohime and Kisuke as they travel across Japan from boss to boss, stopping frequently to fight off a wave of monsters, with the next chunk of story delivered when you reach the boss. The story itself is nearly nonsensical, with almost no exposition given.

The highlights of the game are the artwork, the music, and the combat itself. The artwork, as previously mentioned, is highly unique for a modern video game, and combines with the fantastic music to give a great atmosphere to what would otherwise be a dull overworld. Things only get really interesting when you reach an enemy encampment and have to fight through to reach the boss. The bosses are very fun. They are mostly enormous creatures with huge life bars, requiring a fair bit of agility and patience on your part to bring them down.

Now for the combat, which is the only true reason why this game is worth your time and money. Your characters are sword-wielders, and use a fighting style which is inhumanly agile and acrobatic. You can literally perform aerial dashes from one end of the screen to the next, slashing whatever you pass. It's a great deal of fun, and important to avoid getting hit. It's also extremely easy to block, using the same button as to attack, and you will block automatically if you are attacking when you get hit. However, if you block too much or too strong an attack, your sword will break and you will still take some damage. At this point your sword is almost worthless. Fortunately, your swords are magic and will repair themselves while in their scabbards. You can hold three swords at one time.

Here's where it gets interesting: You make or find more swords as you progress through the game. Each sword has its own set of attributes, particularly its Secret Art, which is a special move that the sword can perform at the cost of some of its strength. These range from spin attacks and special slashing combos to throwing fireballs or calling lighting from the sky. These take practice to use effectively, particularly as using them means you will not be able to block as much damage before your sword breaks.

The best part of the game doesn't come until the post-game content. After you beat the game with both characters, you can use all swords with both of them, and all bosses can be re-fought with boosted stats. Whereas before your choice of swords was mainly based on their strength, now you can pick your favorite Secret Arts or stat boosts and really enjoy yourself. There are also enemy lairs that throw wave after wave of monsters at you, including simultaneous bosses. It's a true endurance test and really shows the best of what the combat system has to offer. There are also new final bosses and endings for you to find. Unfortunately, you will have to level up both characters, which can be a chore because they both control exactly the same.

Don't worry too much if you're not that good at this kind of game. I'm only so-so, and I didn't have much trouble beating the game on easy mode. You don't have to use the Secret Arts that much, and mistakes in dodging are usually only fatal if you're too slow to keep your health up. A few bosses can be trouble, though, and you will have to learn to dodge their attacks if you're not stuffed with healing items. I haven't tried the difficult mode myself, but I understand it can be as hard as old arcade games. (There's also a crazy-hard mode if that's too easy for you.)

1 comment:

Maxi said...

Excellent Recom Scout!

It was written nicely and informative. This game is on my backlog to get eventually.