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Muramasa: The Demon Blade

by James Jones - June 2, 2009, 1:01 pm EDT
Total comments: 5

Update: Now with video. Dicing demons has never been such fun.

"Muramasa the Demon Blade" is a hack-and-slash vertical scrolling title (like the Viewtiful Joe series), from Vanillaware (the creators of Odin Sphere), steeped in Japanese mythos.

The E3 2009 Demo allowed the user to pick their character, and play that character’s first level. The game features two characters: Kisuke and Momohime. I picked Momohime, a princess that is possessed by a spirit.

First impressions are that the game is absolutely gorgeous. Every element of the title is a hand-drawn sprite. The art style clearly draws a lot of its inspiration from traditional Japanese art. The character animation is fluid and the action on screen in quick and flashy. The flashes from each strike of the sword are gratifying.

The stage I played, and I would assume all stages, are broken up into chambers that are connected at each end. These stages can be explored vertically, by jumping up tree branches, and horizontally in order to find hidden items. Throughout these chambers I was often ambushed by a set of enemies that I was tasked with removing from this plane. After each wave a screen comes up that “scores” your performance.

Controlling the combat is done either with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck or with the Classic Controller. At E3 the only option available is to use the Wii Remote/Nunchuck combination. The analog stick allows you to jump (double jump, and glide), walk, and crouch. Slashes of the sword are done with the A-Button, you swap swords with the C-Button (which you must do when swords break after too much abuse), and you use items with the D-Pad. It all worked well, but I think that the classic controller will probably be the best choice for playing this game when it releases.

As for all 2D brawlers, combos are the name of the game. In the demo I saw at least seven combos. My personal favorite was done by holding down the attack button (A) and pressing left or right on the Analog stick. This caused Momohime to fly in a flash from one side of the screen to another, killing all in her path.

Slashing my way through each wave of enemy didn’t seem very difficult in this early level; almost all of them were “ninja apprentices,” which go down only after a few blows. Later in the level I was faced with a pair of samurai, who were capable of blocking my blows. To defeat them I had to break their sword, which I accomplished by pummeling them with strong attack after strong attack.

The demo ended with “The Blue Monk,” a giant cyclops demon with a nasty expression. The size of the boss, releative to your character, is very menacing. I pounded on him for over two minutes before he finally went down. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he actually had two health bars: one that goes down with each blow I land and one that goes down only when I empty the first. It was really satisfying to eliminate him.

Overall Muramasa is very good. The graphics are amazing, and the combat is frenetic and exciting. The choice of control options at the demo may have been a mistake, but it is something that can easily be rectified when we get to play the game at release.

Francesca taking care of the boss.


NovaQJune 02, 2009

The Wiimote/Nunchuck controls do sound a little off. Why is there only up-jumping if both Z and B are unused?

It sounds by the later enemies and boss of this first level that the game won't just be a pretty push-over. I'm looking forward to it!

I may have miss-remembered the controls.  If that is the case I apologize to the readers and the publishers.  The fact of the matter is that I didn't have to think about them, they are pretty good.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusJune 07, 2009

James, it's good to hear that the action element is great. Does it have an RPG element if you know anything about it? I remember Vanillaware's last action RPG, Odin Sphere on the PS2 had a decent RPG system but the action part was a little dull and lacking however the art style was fantastic.

Well you can level up, and you can get new swords.  Beyond that I don't really know much about the RPG elements.  Once the level was over the demo was over.

The up-jumping put me off at first, but then I realized that it feels like a fighting game, which does put you in the right frame of mind for Muramasa.  The platforming bits were very, very thin in the E3 level.

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Muramasa: The Demon Blade Box Art

Genre Action
Developer Vanillaware

Worldwide Releases

na: Muramasa: The Demon Blade
Release Sep 08, 2009
PublisherIgnition Entertainment
jpn: Oboro Muramasa Youtouden
Release Apr 09, 2009
PublisherMarvelous Entertainment
eu: Muramasa: The Demon Blade
Release Nov 13, 2009
PublisherIgnition Entertainment
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