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Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii) artwork

Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii) review

"Muramasa: The Demon Blade is a side-scrolling, 2D title from Vanillaware, featuring beautifully-drawn art and fluid animation. "

Muramasa: The Demon Blade is a side-scrolling, 2D title from Vanillaware, featuring beautifully-drawn art and fluid animation.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade is also a game that takes after such releases as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and its following imitators, meaning you'll be traveling through dozens upon dozens of screens on a world map.

This combination gave the game the potential for a great experience, and I came into it hoping for one. However, this was somewhat shattered when I was dropped into a forest and ordered to keep moving right, because the left path was blocked off. I kept running through screens of the same forest, and while they were nicely drawn, immediately gave off a repetitive vibe. Along the way, I encountered gangs of ninja the same way you would encounter them in a JRPG: randomly. This usually meant that you would run through one, two, and possibly three screens without entering combat. Not even five minutes in, and the game already wasn't giving a good impression! But hey, it was only the beginning, and I figured it would only improve from here.

In some ways it did, and in many ways it didn't.

During the trek through a mythological setting of Genroku era Japan, I fought off monks, slashed through kappa with my various swords, talked to a fox girl whose giant boobs wobbled whenever she breathed, smacked down enormous demons, and had a spanking session with a voluptuous, female version of the thunder and lightning god, Raijin. Muramasa has its moments, but it also has many instances of repetition. When it comes down to it, this game makes you go from one point to another with minimal effort.

See, something like Symphony of the Night actually felt like an adventure, because each section of the castle was its own little world, including enemies unique to their areas. Entering new portions of Dracula's castle was fun and exciting because of the new challenges and layouts that await. Muramasa gives you no such feeling. Vanillaware kept reusing enemies and backgrounds to the point where it became annoying. The first time you see a wheat field in the background, you'll be blown away by the fluidity and the amount of wheat wavering on screen. However, it'll quickly lose its appeal thanks to the developers' insistence on repeating the background 2 million times all over the world map. Same goes for every other background, but especially so with the forests; since there's almost a dozen variations, from the default, mystical forest and snowy forest, to the mountain forest with no leaves and the bamboo forest, it gets old, fast.

Now, I know it took a lot of time and effort to create the detailed art and animation for the game, and that easily explains why everything was repeated so much. However, with that in mind, it would have been much smarter to go for a different approach, one where they were not forced to exhaust their resources for the sake of a giant world. Muramasa would have worked so much better as a straight-up action title, and this is clearly visible within the game, because when you actually reach or near a destination, the game actually picks up! You meet new enemies (which would then be reused endlessly, afterwards), saw some backdrops that would never be recycled outside its area, and fought lively bosses that earned them their title. But these moments would only last briefly, and before you know it, you were back to traveling unnecessary lengths.

With all that in mind, let me throw this out there: the game actually has two stories to play through, each with a different character. Unfortunately, the two characters only have slight differences in combat, and their tales take place on the same world map, only with starting positions on opposite sides of the map. Vanillaware could have done something similar to SotN's inverted castle, like, maybe rearrange the screens on the map. It would've at least been different than repeating the long, annoying marathon through the same, bland map. Seriously, people, Muramasa: The Demon Blade is a video game with a fantasy setting, you could've used your imaginations! Instead, you just went for being a "me too" title with huge chunks of filler spanning two stories.


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (September 10, 2010)

Even after reviewing all these Double Dragon games, it's crazy to think there's still a ton of games left to review due to varying interpretations.

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CoarseDragon posted September 13, 2010:

You said the two characters move in different directions. Does that mean one of them moves from left to right and the other moves from right to left? If so that is pretty lame and if they use the same screens that's even worse.
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pickhut posted September 13, 2010:

In a sense. I guess I should have been more specific, because I meant they start on opposite sides of the world map. Interestingly, they both start out in the same-looking forest, and they both can only move to the right at first, which is really damn lazy.
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CoarseDragon posted September 13, 2010:

I get it. Does sound lazy. To bad, they should have had different areas for each character.

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