A young ninja in search of the ultimate blade. A princess possessed by an evil demon. Play as both in this brilliantly stylized 2-D hack and slash adventure. Muramasa: The Demon Blade is definitely a great reason to own a Wii.
If you’ve ever played VanilliaWare’s other 2-D masterpiece: Odin Sphere on the PS2, you’ll have a good idea as to what to expect in Muramasa. Run and jump left and right as you encounter enemy ninjas and Japanese mythical monsters. Defeat them with combo slashes and special moves.
There are a few gameplay hooks during battle to keep you on your toes. You can carry three swords at a time, and they regain power when they’re sheathed. Be careful to not overuse just one sword because if it takes too many parry attacks, that sword will break and it’ll take longer for it to recover. But if you time your sword attacks carefully and unsheathe your next sword at just the right moment, you’ll unleash a super sword attack that strikes all enemies on screen.
After battles, there’s plenty more fun gameplay elements to be had also. By collecting souls and eating food to increase your vitality, you can forge new swords with their own special attacks as well. There are dozens of swords to forge this way on an intricate sword forging tree chart.
Combine items and ingredients to cook food to heal yourself during battle. But be careful because each type of food you make has a ‘fullness’ to it. And if you’re too full, you won’t be able to eat more healing foods until your fullness meter gradually lowers. This is important to remember as you must use careful planning and strategy when cooking food and eating during boss fights.
You can control the game with the Wii remote and nunchuck, GameCube, or Classic Controller. Me, personally, I prefer the Classic Controller as this type of 2-D game seems to respond better with it. And there is next to no slowdown, even with numerous enemies on screen.
The graphics are the highlight of Muramasa. The detailed hand-drawn backgrounds and fluidly animated sprites are a joy to see. You’ll want to just pause the game and admire these works of art. The soundtrack is also equally fitting, and if you enjoyed other games like Capcom’s Okami or even old school arcade ninja action with Taito’s The Legend of Kage, you’ll appreciate the many references to Japanese myths, legends, and monsters.
The compelling storyline and characters will make you feel like part of a wire-fu Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon movie, and both characters have his and her own storylines and objectives, so that doubles the replay value right there. If you’re a hardcore gamer with a Wii, you definitely won’t want to pass up Muramasa: The Demon Blade.
Muramasa is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence, and Suggestive Themes. Most of the sexual and alcohol references are implied in the text only, and some of the food you can cook and eat is made with sake. And some of the female characters are a bit too busty. While the sword hacking and slashing action is pretty violent, there really isn’t any bloody deaths. Only strikes and splashes of ink, and enemies disappear when defeated. Some of the monster boss villains are pretty ugly, though, and may cause little ones to have nightmares. But the many references to Japanese myths and legends could almost be considered educational in a cultural way. I’d probably be OK with kids a little younger than teens playing Muramasa (with some adult supervision), but younger players and less experienced gamers might get frustrated with the harder difficulty in the later levels. It’s still one of the very few good third-party Wii games, though.