Muramasa: The Demon Blade Review

Muramasa: The Demon Blade Review

Muramasa: The Demon Blade comes at a time when hardcore titles on the Nintendo Wii are far and few between. It was initially released in Japan earlier this year as Oboromuramasa, and quickly became one of the year's hotly anticipated games for the Nintendo Wii. However, while Vanillaware, the developer, are still relatively unknown, they were behind the critically acclaimed Odin Sphere and GrimGrimoire and they certainly have the pedigree to create a spectacular game - is this the case with Muramasa: The Demon Blade?

The story is actually segmented into two separate affairs, although there are slight cross-overs. One story focuses on Kisuke, a renegade ninja who is being chased for a crime he's unaware he committed, while the other focuses on Monohime, a young girl who has her soul possessed by swordsman, Jinkuro Izuna.

The story in each instance is divulged in small cutscenes at the end of each act, which means there isn't a massive amount of room for development. This is a shame as it stops it from becoming overly engrossing and the material was easily good enough to allow for further expansion. It would have also been nice to see more integration between the two stories, as this too could have made the experience much richer.

While the game does lack a compelling story, this can easily be ignored due to the compelling gameplay. Muramasa: The Demon Blade is all about swordplay and it revolves specifically around the usage of katanas. Each character carries around three katanas, and there are two types: Odachi and Tachi. They do handle differently, but the moves are effectively the same, and since the combat is basically controlled by a single button it's not too daunting. Because of the simplified combat it's can be tempting to just mash the button and hope for the best. This will only get players so far though, as in a rather genius move, the developers decided to make the block button the same as attack. This means that the majority of enemy attacks are actually parried purely by attacking and while it is extremely satisfying, it does come at a cost. Every attack that's deflected causes wear to the sword, and after a sword has withstood a certain amount of damage, it will break.

Carrying three swords is the key here though, as the Muramasa swords have special qualities. If they are placed in their sheath, they will repair over time and this adds a whole strategic element to the gameplay. While keeping track of the fast paced action on screen, players need to also be aware of the state of their swords, as while broken swords can still be used, they do negligible damage and can't be used to defend. While it may seem as though the combat is quite limiting due to the small selection of moves, that doesn't stop it from being extremely satisfying and addictive and it can't really offer more.