The Mysterious Murasame Castle
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|The Mysterious Murasame Castle|
|Release date(s)||Famicom Disk System
|Distribution||Floppy disk, ROM cartridge|
The Mysterious Murasame Castle, known as Nazo no Murasame Jō (謎の村雨城?, lit. "The Riddle of Murasame Castle") in Japan, is a video game produced by Nintendo for the Family Computer Disk System and released on 14 April 1986. The game was one of the early games released for the FDS, and the second original title after The Legend of Zelda. The release was initially scheduled to coincide with the release of the FDS itself, but setbacks in development caused it to be released much later, contributing to its relative lack of popularity. Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Konami's Castlevania were also released for the FDS in the same year, but Nazo no Murasame-jō failed to achieve the same sort of commercial success.
Originally, the game was never released outside Japan, though the IP was still used in the Wii U launch title Nintendo Land within an attraction called Takamaru's Ninja Castle. However, in May 2014, Nintendo of Europe confirmed the game would see release on the Virtual Console service on the Nintendo 3DS handheld.
The game takes place in Edo period Japan ruled by the fourth shogun Tokugawa Ietsuna. Murasame Castle, located somewhere in Japan, houses a gigantic stone statue known as Murasame. The people lived peacefully until one stormy night, when a shining golden object fell onto the castle from the sky. Deafening shrieks arose from the castle, and the shining object is later revealed to be an alien creature who gives life to the stone statue Murasame and takes over the castle. The alien creature extends its power to four other neighboring castles, giving the daimyo lords each an evil sphere of power. The lords are taken over by the alien's evil power, and use the spheres to summon ninja armies and monsters to attack villagers. Hearing of these strange occurrences, the shogunate sends Takamaru, a samurai apprentice, on a secret mission to investigate the castle. As Takamaru, the player must infiltrate the four castles to defeat each castle lord, before going on to face the alien entity itself.
The game is played in top-down view with no scrolling; a setup similar to that of the first Legend of Zelda game. The gameplay itself differs from Zelda in that Nazo no Murasame-jō is a fast-paced linear action game with time limits. The game has only a limited number of power-ups, forcing players to rely on their own action skills more than anything else.
All of the game's levels take place in Murasame Castle and the four neighboring castles, and the appearance of enemy characters (including samurai, ninjas and hannya) borrows heavily from existing Japanese culture. Each level, divided into two parts: the path to the castle, and the castle itself, is of considerable size, and the player must defeat generic enemy characters to reach the innermost region of the castle where the castle-lord resides. The player is often attacked by multiple enemies attacking from all different directions, lending to the game's high difficulty. Though there is an ending demo prepared after the final boss, the game reboots by looping back to the beginning at the conclusion of the demo.
The player's only weapons are a katana and shurikens; upgrades to the shuriken can be obtained, but are lost whenever the player loses a life. The katana can only be used when Takamaru is close to an enemy or projectile (excluding fireballs), while the shurikens can only be used when he is farther away. The katana can also be used to deflect projectiles. Other items are fireballs, which are more powerful than the shurikens; a lightning-themed explosive, which gives heavy damage to every enemy on screen; and a cloak, which makes Takamaru invisible and invulnerable to enemies and objects for a short period of time. Extra lives can be obtained by rescuing damsels in distress, but they are sometimes disguised devils who stubbornly chase the player around the castle.
- Takamaru becomes invincible when the player picks up more than 99 lives. This trick was first revealed in the Famicom Magazine, and was initially believed to be a hoax before being verified by players. Achieving this requires concentrated gameplay for almost half a day and complete mastery of the game.
- A hidden code revealing the weakness of the alien creature was included in the instruction manual. The code was supposed to be decoded using morse code, but it was later discovered that there was a typographical error in the manual that rendered the code meaningless.
Nazo no Murasame Jō was later ported to Game Boy Advance on August 10, 2004 as part of the Famicom Mini Series, and to the Wii's Virtual Console on August 19, 2008, both exclusively in Japan. Nazo no Murasame Jō is slated for release on the Nintendo 3DS, and may feature camera support, 3D support, or analog support. This release was featured amongst other games from the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super NES to be released for the 3DS on a tech demo called Classic Games at E3 2010.
A television drama of the same name was produced by Fuji Television in 1986 with a plot loosely based around that of the game. The game also made cameo appearances in other video games. In the Nintendo GameCube game Pikmin 2, one of the objects found in the game is the Nazo no Murasame Jō game disk. In the Wii game Captain Rainbow, Takamaru appears as a supporting character. In the Wii game Super Smash Bros. Brawl, a song titled "Nazo no Murasamejo - Douchuumen", based on the overworld theme heard before entering the castles, appears as an unlockable song for the Mario Bros. stage, along with himself as one of the many unlockable stickers. In the Nintendo DS game WarioWare D.I.Y., one of the microgames in the Japanese version is based on Nazo no Murasame Jō, which was replaced with a Pikmin microgame in non-Japanese versions. In the Wii game Samurai Warriors 3, Takamaru (Voiced by Hiroshi Okamoto) appears as a bonus character in the Murasame castle mode. The series is also featured in Nintendo Land for the Wii U as Takamaru's Ninja Castle.
- "European download update revealed for May 29, 2014". The Nintendo Channel. May 26, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- 6/18/10 5:00pm 6/18/10 5:00pm. "Mega Man 2, Yoshi's Island Among Teased 3DS Sorta-Remakes". Kotaku.com. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
- "DVD「おニャン子クラブ in 月曜ドラマランド」発売イベント". AV Watch/Fuji Television. Retrieved 2008-08-26.
- "YouTube - Captain★Rainbow "The Failure of the Light Diet"". 23Makoto23/Nintendo/Skip. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
- Official Virtual Console version website (Japanese)
- Official GBA version website (Japanese)
- Nazo no Murasame-Jou guide at StrategyWiki
- Nazo no Murasame Jō at HardcoreGaming 101
- Mysterious Murasame Castle at NinDB