Muramasa - The Demon Blade  - Review

Muramasa - The Demon Blade
Ages: Teen

The game will have you searching out Wikipedia for the history of the Japanese Edo period, swords, and demons for starters. The sights, sounds, art and story are straight out of the Japanese ethos - with not a quarter given to the West - except for the English subtitles. The music is contemporary but with traditional instruments and the voices sound straight out of Kurosawa movie.

As I see it, the plot centers around the Muramasa blades. The sharpest blades, able to break other blades, is made by Sergo Muramasa, a skilled but insane swordsmith whose swords are imbued with blood lust. The legend is that the sword must draw blood before it is returned to its scabbard - your enemy's or yours. Despite the curse hanging over it - the blades are desired by everyone - gods and humans alike.

There is much legend, attributes and even lineage to the swords - hundreds by the time you complete the game. Players start out with three but as the need arises, new blades can be forged in Muramasa's forge, provided you have collected enough spirits and souls.

You can play as Momohime, a princess with some sword skills or Kisuko, a renegade ninja who has lost his memory. Momohime becomes inhabited with the soul of Jinkuro, an evil swordsman who had planned to inhabit the soul of her intended. Many dire consequences to follow. Kisuke, on the other hand is more straightforward. He wants to find out who he is and in the meantime, collect Muramasa swords. In a nice touch, Monohime travels from West to East - left to right on the screen, Kisuko in the opposite direction and from right to left. Eventually they will meet up and combine their forces to fight against Tokugawa, the shogun. I am guessing at that last part.

It is a side-scroller - but one of unusual beauty and attention to detail - trees heavy with lavender wisteria blossoms, dark forests with every color green you can imagine, cities, tea houses with tatami underfoot and scrolls hanging, lanterns lighting the pathways and then a surprise - a hot spring. The only other game I remember having so much beauty was Okami by Capcom. Vanillaware has put in so many nice touches. Eating is important to restore health and so there are cookbooks, and ingredients. You not only make the food - as you eat it, it disappears from the dish.

There are two levels of play: Muso (Normal) and Shura (Hard). In the Muso mode you can pretty much get along by using the A button for attacks and the C button to switch blades as the blade power ebbs in battle. The combo attacks are obvious combinations of A with another button/motion (Wii). As a character, Kisuko fights more that Momohime, in fact almost constantly. I am a long way from finishing and I think the stories are different enough to want to play as both characters. I'm trying both at the same time. I suspect the difference between Normal and Hard is that the Hard mode requires the player to really become conversant with the blades, their special character and strengths, and to be able to fight with more skill. It is, after all, a game about swords.

Fun Factor: Great to inhabit that era and easy enough for a casual player
Female Factor: None of the female characters, be they goddesses, animal spirits or a princess are wimpy.
Player Friendly: The manual gives plenty directions on how to fight. I wish they had given me more background and story information.

Reviewed by: Editor - 09/09

  • Muramasa - The Demon Blade
  • © Ignition/Vanillaware
  • Platform(s): Wii
  • To Order: WII $46.99