Muramasa: The Demon Blade

Micah Kolding

Platform: Wii


 Princess Momohime has vanished from her castle, her body invaded by a restless ghost with a mind for revenge.  Kisuke has no memory of his past, his only clues being the accusations levelled against him by a ninja clan that calls him traitor. Both warriors must travel all throughout the magical world of feudal Japan, fighting deific foes and wielding blades of demonic power in a quest too big for only one destiny.

 There are two different story lines in this game, that of Kisuke and that of Momohime. Both of them are mechanically the same: they venture through the 2d side-scrolling world of the game, fighting off random encounters of ninjas and oni in real-time combat to gain experience, forge swords and topple big, bad bosses. They utilize a simple but engaging set of combat controls that allow for a fast-paced, skill-intensive experience that should be refreshingly satisfying to anyone tired of solving all their problems by levelling up. Both characters also have their own advancement trees of swords to forge, each one with their own special attributes and magical techniques that put yet another fun spin to the game's battles. Combine this with an assortment of innovative boss battles that know how to keep you guessing and a wealth of limit-pushing side challenges, and you've got a pretty good adventure.

 The biggest fault that this game has is the long stretches between the boss battles. First of all, you'll spend your entire first play through with precious little in the way of fast-travel, forcing you to walk to every destination and back in a manner that invokes the early '90s in a less-than-nostalgic way. The world is vivid and beautiful, but doesn't offer much to claim your attention other than the random encounters and the odd treasures. The random encounters are fun enough, but the consequences for losing are nil; when you die, you reset at the beginning of the room with all items you might have used returned to you. Such battles ultimately add up to trading time for experience points. It's a fun but insubstantial routine that can get old fairly quickly.

 The final sum is that this is a game worth spinning. There may not be many people aspiring to achieve the special endings, but it's still a good story and a fresh mechanic that should last you through at least one play through with both characters. If you like fantasy adventure and dynamic combat, Muramasa is a good bet.


About the author:

Micah Kolding is a teacher, writer, and cartoonist from Davis, California. His sharp and satiric edge has appeared in the likes of The California Aggie and The Sacramento Book Review, as well as on stage.


copyright 2006