Muramasa: The Demon Blade

I couldn't find a topic for this game, sorry if this is a duplicate.

Has anyone else played this yet? I picked it up Friday and have put 5 hours or so into it now, it's a rather decent Wii game.

First off, the game is gorgeous, probably the best looking Wii game I've played so far. The art style is really amazing, the backgrounds look incredible, and there are a lot of really unique looking enemies. It's been said a lot, but this game really does look like a painting in motion. This is really the approach that more Wii games should be taking, a heavy emphasis on art, instead of attempting to compete with the other consoles on a technical level, like The Conduit did.

The music is also good, it's not as amazing as the art, but it gets the job done. Presentation throughout is pretty slick, the game is something of a showcase of style over substance.

The story is incomprehensible for the most part and very Japanese, in fact the voiceovers are in Japanese with English subtitles. Which is probably for the best, it would be kinda weird to hear this game with English voice acting.

I've found the gameplay itself to be a little repetitive, especially the random battles. There's not much depth to the combat system, it's a button masher the majority of the time. There's a combo system as well, that keeps track of how many times you've hit enemies without messing up or getting hit yourself. It can be fun to see how high you can get it, but unfortunately the random fights don't really last long enough to get it very high.

The only variety comes from the swords, you can bring three of them into a fight and switch between them at will. Each sword has it's own special attack, picking the right swords can make things a lot easier. Swords can also break, you have to keep an eye on their power level and try to switch the sword out before it breaks. If it does break, it's not a huge deal, it will end your combo an do some damage, and then you can switch the sword out.

The upside is that the boss fights are really well done and are generally a lot of fun. Boss fights are long, challenging enough, and pretty unique, they go a long to keeping the game from becoming a boring button masher.

There's some very late 'Metroidvania' style gameplay going on as well. You'll come across colored barriers from time to time, and you'll need to have the correct sword to break through it to progress. There's also a lot of backtracking, which is unfortunate, it really slows down the game a lot and doesn't give you much to do while you're backtracking.

There's a leveling system, but it's not all that interesting. It's very basic, each time you level it bumps a few stats that let you use better swords. There's not new skills or anything that you get for making it to higher levels.

There is something called 'Forging' though, which is sorta kinda like a skill tree. It lets you create new swords, which does give you access to whatever unique ability that sword has. It's a little confusing though, the tree is gigantic, and there's lots of swords on it that I can't figure out why it won't let me forge. You use souls to forge new swords and you get the souls from defeating enemies.

Anyway, I'm having fun with it, but I do wish there was more variety to the random encounters. It's oddly addictive in a way, I do find myself getting into that 'just one more turn' mindset, though in this case turn is getting to the next save point.

What's everyone else think of it?

I loved Odin Sphere, and I want this game badly. Alas I do not have a Wii, and currently do not have a job (otherwise I would buy a Wii just for this game). I really wish they had rocked this out on multiple platforms.

I haven't picked it up yet, but I've been meaning to. It looks sooooo pretty.

I just ordered Muramasa today and I'm hoping I enjoy it. Sadly, I've never played Odin Sphere. I own it, but it's part of my huge gaming backlog.

By the way, I heard on Drunken Gamers Radio that jumping is mapped to the directional pad instead of a button. Does it work for you?

I would have definitely preferred having a jump button over using the directional pad, but I've mostly gotten use to it. Jumping can be a little frustrating, it doesn't feel quite right, but it's not a huge issue since there's no precision platforming required. The biggest problem with it is fighting flying enemies, but it's not unmanageable, just a little frustrating from time to time.

I've been keeping my eye on this one for a while. Does it ever lag as bad as Odin Sphere could at times?

Kosars wrote:
I would have definitely preferred having a jump button over using the directional pad, but I've mostly gotten use to it. Jumping can be a little frustrating, it doesn't feel quite right, but it's not a huge issue since there's no precision platforming required. The biggest problem with it is fighting flying enemies, but it's not unmanageable, just a little frustrating from time to time.

At least they don't make you jerk your hand to jump.

Sounds good. I'll have to pick it up.

Fxeni wrote:
I've been keeping my eye on this one for a while. Does it ever lag as bad as Odin Sphere could at times?

I didn't play Odin Sphere, so I can't really compare, but the frame rate is very smooth.

LobsterMobster wrote:
At least they don't make you jerk your hand to jump.

That brings up something I forgot to mention, there is no waggle controls in this at all, I've been playing it with the classic controller. It's nice to see a game on the Wii that isn't tacking on motion controls just for the sake of it.

Kosars wrote:

That brings up something I forgot to mention, there is no waggle controls in this at all, I've been playing it with the classic controller. It's nice to see a game on the Wii that isn't tacking on motion controls just for the sake of it.

While I agree with you entirely that they shouldn't throw in motion controls just because they can, it does beg the question: why the Wii?

LobsterMobster wrote:
Kosars wrote:

That brings up something I forgot to mention, there is no waggle controls in this at all, I've been playing it with the classic controller. It's nice to see a game on the Wii that isn't tacking on motion controls just for the sake of it.

While I agree with you entirely that they shouldn't throw in motion controls just because they can, it does beg the question: why the Wii?

Market Leader.

LobsterMobster wrote:
Kosars wrote:

That brings up something I forgot to mention, there is no waggle controls in this at all, I've been playing it with the classic controller. It's nice to see a game on the Wii that isn't tacking on motion controls just for the sake of it.

While I agree with you entirely that they shouldn't throw in motion controls just because they can, it does beg the question: why the Wii?


The developer, Vanillaware, said HD was just too much to take on for this project, among other things.

Fxeni wrote:
I've been keeping my eye on this one for a while. Does it ever lag as bad as Odin Sphere could at times?

GameTrailers.com review said there is still some slow down, but nothing as big as Odin Sphere's slide show boss battles.

Dominic Knight wrote:
I haven't picked it up yet, but I've been meaning to. It looks sooooo pretty.

This, like any game that comes out after August goes directly on my birthday / Christmas wishlist. That said, I can't wait to play this and if I do not get it by Christmas, I'll be be out looking for it the next day, knowing this is a game that is likely to disappear forever in the not too distant future.

It is the cover story in the latest PLAY magazine.

LobsterMobster wrote:
Kosars wrote:

That brings up something I forgot to mention, there is no waggle controls in this at all, I've been playing it with the classic controller. It's nice to see a game on the Wii that isn't tacking on motion controls just for the sake of it.

While I agree with you entirely that they shouldn't throw in motion controls just because they can, it does beg the question: why the Wii?

There isn't any reason that it needs to be a Wii title really, I assume it was mostly a budget decision, since Vanillaware is a small developer. The Wii should be a good system for smaller developers with a small budget, it seems like that should be a big advantage for the system.

Kosars wrote:
There isn't any reason that it needs to be a Wii title really, I assume it was mostly a budget decision, since Vanillaware is a small developer.

That would be my guess. The Wii is the current console with the highest worldwide penetration market, something extremely important for such a niche game. And I can imagine the kind of 2D artwork they create probably increases exponentially higher, perhaps even more than 3D art would, once you move it to 720p. That said, I am surprised they didn't bother making a PS2 version, although maybe the Wii gives them just enough extra power to have that impressive animation without the slowdown problems so they decided to put all their chips in that basket.

Actually, I wonder if Odin Sphere will play much better on my PS3: no slowdown and a crisper image through the upscaling and smoothing. Maybe I'll give that a shot.

As one who played Odin Sphere on PS3 I must caution you. The PS3 doesn't eliminate the slowdown during the larger boss battles. I think it's a problem with code rather than processing power.

XBL: Red rover, red rover, Send Muramasa right over!

Bought it, finished it. Fantastic game. I'm now going on completing the challenges.

I don't think this game qualifies as "button masher." Goodness knows, I've tried button mashing when I was getting desperate and it only ever succeeded in getting me killed faster. A considered approach and a good sense of timing goes a long way. Of course, it will only ever matter on the Shura mode - the Musou mode is so easy anyone can get into it - even button mashers can enjoy this game.

As far as story went, I understood it perfectly fine. I don't really understand what was so imcomprehensible about it. Of course, I am an Asian and I have some knowledge of Asian history in general and Japanese Edo period history in the specific. It's no more incomprehensible than Odin Sphere, IMO. For the Western localization, I think Vanillaware could have put in some briefs about Edo period culture and history, but most people probably won't read it anyway.

There is not a lot of penalty to dying so if you're a gamer who's got experience with brawlers and fighting games, you should definitely be playing on the Shura, or even the Shugurui mode. The added challenge makes the combat lots of fun. In fact, I'm going back over the map just looking for fights - it's just so, so good, especially with all the customization on the moveset you can do by switching blades.

Leveling is a combination of sword unlocks and stat upgrades. The higher level you are, the better your defense/attack stat and the better your HP. You also gain access to better versions of earlier sword powers, and completely new awesome sword powers. Universe II is just so, so cool, though Moonlight Glint is pretty nice, too.

Swords are forged through a tree. Each sword has prerequisite swords and spirit and soul requirements. If you do not meet all the requirements, you cannot forge the blade. Blades that have colored borders cannot be forged - they must be found.

Between-boss encounters generally come in several flavors (not an exhaustive list):

Oni
Ninja
Samurai
Monk
Animal
Tengu
Frog

Samurai and Frog encounters are more or less same-y for the most part, but Oni encounters depend on which Oni you're fighting, and Ninja, of course, depends on which kind of ninjas, and how many. Monks and Tengu have varieties, too, but it's harder to tell them apart.

It's got that "ooh, shiny" factor in it that keeps you wondering what the next blade offers. Is it a cool new power? Better static bonuses? Unique status bonuses? Power upgrade? Powers usually upgrade in the predictable fashion, but a small upgrade can sometimes mean a dramatic increase in usability and impact, so it's interesting to try out better versions of existing powers - it's never just a numerical increase.

LarryC wrote:
It's no more incomprehensible than Odin Sphere, IMO.

That's not setting the bar super high. Odin Sphere was gorgeous and interesting but won't be winning any awards for intelligible storytelling. It wasn't that any one story was hard to understand, but the mixture of chronologies made keeping track of who did what when a bit of a headache.

Alright, then how about Baldur's Gate. The story does have some complex details, but the essentials of each story is pretty fundamental, assuming you're familiar with Shinto Buddhism and Feudal Japan, which most Japanese are. Similarly, it's hard to appreciate details in Baldur's Gate if you're not familiar with American idioms and Western folklore.

LarryC wrote:

As far as story went, I understood it perfectly fine. I don't really understand what was so imcomprehensible about it. Of course, I am an Asian and I have some knowledge of Asian history in general and Japanese Edo period history in the specific. It's no more incomprehensible than Odin Sphere, IMO. For the Western localization, I think Vanillaware could have put in some briefs about Edo period culture and history, but most people probably won't read it anyway.

I've finished Momohime's story now and I did figure out what was going on by the end. Incomprehensible was probably a poor choice of words, bizarre would have been better I think. The story is steeped in mythology that I really don't know anything about, but it doesn't do anything to help you understand it or help you understand the world. I guess I can't fault the game because I don't know much about it's setting, but I think a lot of people will be in the same boat, it would have have been nice to have more background information.

I'm not far into Kisuke's story, but so far it seems much more straightforward than Momohime's was.

Kisuke is a simpler character with simpler motivations - comes of his being amnesic and all. Momohime's story is much more complex because the character motivations would be alien to a Westerner, let alone the period politics that modify and drive those motivations. It's well beyond the scope of a video game.

For my part, I played Kisuke first. They don't actually play the same, despite having similar controls. Momohime's blades don't have the same powers, she doesn't hit as hard, and she's the teensiest bit faster, IMO. Could be mistaken about the speed, but Kisuke definitely hits harder.

Late to the party, but picked this up last week and between my brother-in-law and I we've put about 10 hours into it and are really loving the hell out of it.

Depending on the difficulty mode you pick and whether you choose to go through the shrines (essentially very long challenge rooms where you fight 100 guys consecutively), button-mashing will either be sufficient or get you totally destroyed. While it isn't by any means a technical fighter or anything, you definitely need to pick your moves, block at the right times, and deliberately choose when to apply your special moves and switch out your swords if you want to succeed.

As others have mentioned, the game is utterly gorgeous, and almost worth the asking price just to experience visually. I like watching this game, not just playing it.

The other things LarryC and Kosars said strike me as being pretty correct. I'm really happy I picked it up and I hope it does well for Vanillaware. It isn't a perfect title but it was obviously made with a ton of love by people who were really enjoying what they were doing. Nothing about it feels like a throwaway effort at all.

You don't actually go through 100 guys consecutively - that's only for the easier Lairs. The harder Lairs have you fighting like 3 level bosses and a bunch of regular guys at once.

Contrary to what you might hear on reviews, Secret Arts totally changes how this game plays. When on Shigurui Mode, your inability to take any sort of hit whatsoever (1HP permanently) means that you have to block everything and that means that essentially, your Soul Power is also your Life Meter. Secret Art spam is universally considered the most powerful thing in the game - you can survive just about anything and everything if you set up your character just right and know how to spam Secret Arts correctly.

I just beat Mohime's story and I was very pleased with it. I didn't get into Odin Sphere at all but I can see where the comparisons are being drawn. I really enjoyed mixing up the blades to get different bonuses, and the difficulty was just the right level of challenging. Some really crazy boss fights in there!

I'll probably start Kisuke's story soon. For 50 bucks there's plenty of gameplay to be had here.

I'm continually finding it surprising that none of the podcasting crew are even considering trying the game out, with the exception of one. They see "Japanese" and "RPG" on the game cover and automatically assume it's a Japanese RPG that's not worth their time, even though they seem to like Disgaea and Final Fantasy just fine. The game is pure action top to bottom, and it's SO SO good.

They did say something about eating crow with regards to Muramasa, but maybe that's just in correcting the type of game it is.

I agree with you that it's a good game, but at the same time I can also see it not being high up on a lot of people's 'must play' list. Being on the Wii is probably hurting it for one thing, it's just not the console that people who are into this sort of thing are playing right now. This is also a busy time of the year with big game releases, so it's target audience are already have a ton of other games they want to play right now. I also don't think they've done a great job conveying what sort of game this is, which is evidenced by the podcast crew's reaction to the game.

It could be a game that people come around to next year, after the bigger games are out and maybe the price has dropped. I actually haven't finished it myself, moved on to some other new games. I do plan to get back to it though, I certainly think it will be worth finishing.

I look forward to the show, but it is "interesting" to see that they are getting backlash for not being interested in a game. Many, many games fall into this category. And while the reviews are okay, they aren't phenomenal. I'm unsure what's so different about this game, that it deserves both the backlash and a potential bow to the pressure of a backlash. If they ignored Uncharted or Halo, I'd understand-- these are games that are cultural events for gamers. Not sure why this game is qualifying as such.

With that said, if I had a Wii I would certainly give the game a chance-- if for no other reason than good wil towards Shane Bettenhausen.

What makes Muramasa worthy of it's own fanboy defense force is the concept behind it. The idea of a developer saying '3D ain't nothing, we're going to make the prettiest 2D sprites EVAR!' is something worth defending. If for no other reason than because I want to see more 2D games treated with that type of artistic treatment.

That's fair, and makes sense why it is special. It just feels that perhaps the potential backlash is larger than might be deserved, though not sure it is large at that (thinking of another thread in the forums now where it was stated that there was an unspoken social responsibility for the conference call to comment on and try the game).

Kosars:

That's exactly my point. "Being on the Wii" is somehow automatically a point against every game made for it, even though it shouldn't be. Every game deserves to taken separately as its own entity. I had believed the podcasting crew to be above such biases, but apparently, they're not. I mean, I have a Wii and a PC and I do not distinguish between their libraries because I have both machines. Their collective library is what I consider my games library and I consider all games in that set equally.

There are far, far, far more shovelware on the PC right now than there will ever be on the Wii. There are games right now on the PC that I won't play even if you paid me to do so.

The GWJ crew plays and comments on a bunch of very obscure games - they LIKE finding obscure games to try out, particularly rabbit. This game is not that obscure. It's got a fantastic ukiyo-e art direction. It's a freaking 2D brawler with 108 Special Moves. Since when have we gotten that many examples of such a game?

demonbox:

Every review that relatively pans the game faults it for problems it doesn't have. Xplay comments that this game forces you to backtrack through dozens of empty screens after a boss battle. It doesn't. You have an item that allows you to warp instantly to the world map. Many sites comment that you can button-mash through the game. You can - on the easiest mode. Harder modes demand that you know the moveset and use it to advantage.

Many mediocre-sounding reviews note that you start out the game with every move. You don't. You have a skill tree 108 blades long, and many blades have both passive and active powers that totally change how the game plays - which you wouldn't know if you never tried them and beat the game on the easiest mode. Then these guys complain that the Hard mode is too hard - it's not. There is no significant penalty for death, and using the Special Arts (which just about everybody ignored) makes the battles much easier, especially if you have the right selection.

Some gamers consider this game a killer app - they bought Wiis just to play this game, and they walked away completely satisfied. It's so good, some gamers will pay $300 just to own this game.

For the Forum

I have Batman AA, and I choose to play Muramasa over that. Of course, I am a nut for 2D brawling. I'm considering getting a 360 on the strength of Dishwasher and Castle Crashers, even though I already have a gaming rig and there's going to be considerable title overlap.

Muramasa is pure win. You get to play a ninja princess named Peach possessed by a master swordsman, using a moveset nearly as involved as a 2D fighting game (seriously - no exaggeration), and brawl against screen after screen of Japanese mythological monsters, ninja, and demigods, all with a smooth framerate and rendered with woodblock print art direction.

Gaming doesn't get much better than this.

LarryC wrote:
Some gamers consider this game a killer app - they bought Wiis just to play this game, and they walked away completely satisfied. It's so good, some gamers will pay $300 just to own this game.

It's the closest I've come to kind of wanting a Wii.

Still not buying one though.