Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Muramasa: The Demon Blade

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            High upon many serious gamers “most wanted” lists of Wii releases in 2009, Rising Star Games has once again delivered on the demands of the console’s most ardent fanbase. Muramasa: The Demon Blade has taken a long time reaching Europe, and now it has arrived, there’s undoubtedly many eager fans waiting to see if it can live-up to the reputation it has earned in foreign markets.

            Immediately striking the player when they begin, as has often been the case throughout the game’s journey to retail, the visual quality is phenomenal. As a 2D Action-Platform game, Muramasa: The Demon Blade is quite simply one of the most dazzling digitised presentations of hand drawn imagery that videogames consoles have yet produced – including the significantly more powerful Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 – Muramasa: The Demon Blade features a huge Electronic Theatre Imagevariety of vivid, beautiful landscapes and some stunning boss design. The backdrops are lively, filled with minor animations throughout, and the character sprites are delicately brought to life with a series of spectacular and unique attacks.

            Muramasa: The Demon Blade features two playable characters, each with their own unique twists in the story and events that would otherwise be missed. With the game providing two intertwining stories, Muramasa: The Demon Blade offers plenty of playtime before you even get to the point of attempting to acquire all of the game’s one hundred distinctive swords. There are two ways to get your hands on these weapons; those earned through progression as rewards for felling bosses, and those forged through collecting Spirits and Souls. Souls are automatically gathered from fallen enemies, while Spirit is gained through eating a variety of foods. Forging new weaponry is simply an option on the menu, but the differing requirements of new swords can result in an addictive minor distraction.

            Of course, there’d be no point to such a huge variety of swords if they all behaved the same. In addition to performing differently with each character, every single sword features it’s own unique attack – the Secret Art – which can devastate enemies, but not without Electronic Theatre Imageconsequence. The Secret Art is governed by Soul Power, and when the Soul Power Gauge is depleted the weapon will break. The player can equip up to three blades at any one time, in addition to an accessory that will increase specific statistics, and can switch between them at any point mid-game. A further layer of strategy is added with this weapon swap, initiating a Quick Draw attack when timed correctly.

            The combat system on the whole isn’t too complex, but works well with the variety of special attacks and enemy types. Parries and running slashes allow players to get the upper hand, and a charged attack provides a great opener for combos. The game continuously puts your ability to improvise within these constraints to the test by mixing-up the combat with combinations of different kinds if enemies. Boss fights in particular present some notable challenges; while following the familiar formula of learning a pattern, the constant need to switch-up combat styles makes each new encounter an enticing prospect.

            Muramasa: The Demon Blade plays through a map which grants the player regular opportunities to stock-up with health items, essential before diving into Electronic Theatre Imagelengthy stretches of combat. These areas present the same dedication to visual fidelity as the action-orientated levels, demonstrating a passion for delivering the best quality possible. Sadly, the same cannot be said of the game’s soundtrack, invariably delivering little more than the unnecessarily traditional videogame jingle.

            In bringing Muramasa: The Demon Blade to Europe, Rising Star Games are likely to earn themselves yet more fans, and the fact that few of these newcomers will be disappointed is certainly working in the publishers favour. The game may not be typical Wii fodder, but this will only endear it to those crying out for more traditional videogame experiences on the console. Beautiful, challenging and entirely memorable, Muramasa: The Demon Blade is a rare gem on Wii, destined to become cherished as one of the system’s most unique and inspiring videogame releases.

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