Muramasa: The Demon Blade
|Muramasa: The Demon Blade|
|Designer(s)||Yoshifumi Hashimoto (producer)
George Kamitani (director)
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing game|
|Distribution||Wii Optical Disc|
Muramasa: The Demon Blade, known in Japan as Oboromuramasa (朧村正, literally "Hazy Muramasa") is an action role playing game developed by Vanillaware and published by Marvelous Entertainment in Japan, Rising Star Games in Europe, and Ignition Entertainment in North America for the Wii. The game was released in Japan on April 9, 2009, in North America on September 8, 2009, and in Europe on November 27, 2009.
Muramasa follows the story of Kisuke, a fugitive who has lost his memory, including that of a crime that he committed; and Momohime, a lithe princess possessed by a dark spirit. Gameplay allows players to use the Wii Remote (with Nunchuk), the Classic controller or the GameCube controller. The game allows players to use two different characters and features three difficulty levels.
Within its first week of release in Japan, Muramasa sold all of its shipped copies and reached the top Japan sales list.
A PlayStation Vita port titled Muramasa Rebirth was released in Japan on March 28, 2013. The port features four new short scenarios with four new playable protagonists available as downloadable content. Aksys Games published it in North America on June 25th, 2013.
The game has three different control methods, one that involves the Wii Remote, one that involves the Nintendo GameCube controller and another that uses the Classic Controller, for players who prefer more precision.
Graphically the game is the same hand-drawn 2D art style as its spiritual predecessor Odin Sphere, though inspiration was drawn from Japanese mythology and culture rather than Norse mythology. The game has over 30 different locales set on an overworld spanning across Japan.
Two playable characters are selectable: Kisuke, a young amnesiac ninja, and Momohime, a young princess of Narukami Han, Mino Province. Momohime starts off in the eastern Edo and goes to the western Kyo, while Kisuke goes the opposite direction. Both start with three katana out of 108 to collect and forge and can equip up to three at a time.
Weapons are distinguished into two categories, Blade (katana) and Long Blade (nōdachi). Blades are geared for high agility combat, with fast attack speed and less momentum, while Long Blades are bigger and deal more damage but have less mobility, suitable for sweeping a group of weak foes. Each sword has a Secret Art (ōgi), a powerful attack technique. Overuse of a sword (either by unleashing Secret Arts or deflecting attacks) will deplete its "Soul Gauge" and eventually break it, dropping its offensive capabilities substantially. Sheathed swords will gradually recover Soul Gauge; broken swords are repaired when the gauge is fully restored.
The game can be played in three modes: Muso, Shura, and Shigurui. Muso Mode focuses on character leveling as opposed to action, whereas Shura Mode is more action-based, recommended for skilled players. Shigurui Mode is only available after a player clears the game in Shura Mode. This mode plays in the same fashion as Shura Mode but limits the character's health to 1 and will never grow when the character levels up.
The game takes place during the Genroku era at the time of shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi on Honshū, the main island of Japan. Because of his thirst for power, a conflict over immensely powerful swords, the Demon Blades of Muramasa Sengo, occurs. The swords are cursed and are said to bring tragedy, madness, and untimely deaths. As the chaos from the conflict spreads, creatures from the netherworld are summoned by these blades, along with Dragon and Demon Gods.
Kisuke is a fugitive being chased for a crime he no longer remembers. His only desire is to find a certain katana. After defeating his arresters, he meets Yuzuruha who offers to guide his path. Meanwhile, Momohime, after being possessed by the soul of a foul swordsman Izuna Jinkuro, is forced to flee her castle and accept Jinkuro's offer to complete his plan.
- Momohime (百姫) (Miyuki Sawashiro): A young and introverted princess of Narukami Han, Mino Province. Ending up being possessed by the spirit of Jinkuro, she is forced to flee her castle and head westward to Kyo from Edo. In one ending, Jinkuro saves Momohime by giving her back her body and willingly going to hell. Momohime decides not to marry Yukinojyo and instead becomes a nun to pray for Jinkuro and offer penance for his crimes in hopes of freeing him from Hell. In the alternate ending, when her body is mortally wounded by Kisuke, Jinkuro fused his spirit with hers to save her life. As a result, she loses her memory and forgets her name. Under the name "Oboro", she embarks on a journey to regain her past. In her third ending, thanks to the power of the Muramasa blade to change fate, Jinkuro is transported back to the fateful night that resulted in him accidentally possessing Momohime's body, and ultimately, her death. Momohime goes on to marry Yukinojyo (which is strongly hinted to actually be Jinkuro in his body, having used Muramasa to avoid his accidental possession of Momohime and wait until later to attack Yukinojyo) and lives happily, giving birth three times and living to the age of a hundred. The final scene depicts this.
- Kisuke (鬼助) (Hiroyuki Yoshino): A young ninja with no memory of his past and filled with a sense of vengeance as he goes eastward to Edo from Kyo. He carries a phantom katana as his weapon. He was granted skill in the powerful Oboro style when a ghostly swordmaster, the former master of Jinkuro named Senju, saved his life by fusing his soul into him. Regaining his memory, that he was helping to procure Kuzuryu, Kisuke aids Torahime in taking the Demon Blade back. In his first ending, both he and Torahime die, but thanks to the mercy of Buddha they are reincarnated as a young man and woman named Kanbei and Ohana. Though they do not remember each other, thanks to Yuzuruha's influence they end up meeting again at a teahouse. In his second ending, Torahime dies, but as her final wish she asks him to become Momohime's bodyguard, to which he agrees. In order to make sure the Demon Blades never cause harm again, the two set out on a journey to destroy all of them. In his third ending, thanks to the power of the Muramasa blade to sever fate, Kisuke is sent back in time to the night when he and Torahime were first supposed to die with all of his memories intact, allowing him to avoid the events of that night and prevent his and Torahime's deaths. With the power of the Oboro Muramasa granting him control over all other Demon Blades, he takes Kuzuryu for himself to travel around the world, destroying any evil he comes across until all of the evil within Kuzuryu is used up. Before leaving on his journey he tells Torahime that once he comes back, he plans to marry her. The final scene shows an older Kisuke with longer hair standing on a cliff overlooking a canyon in a foreign country.
- Jinkuro Izuna (飯綱 陣九朗) (Jouji Nakata): The spirit of a foul swordsman who was dying and originally planned to possess Yukinojyo's body so as to claim his political and physical strengths, but accidentally took over Momohime's instead due to her interruption. Regardless, Jinkuro attempts to use Momohime's body to suit his needs before finding himself facing Fudo-Myoou. In the firｓt ending, Jinkuro releases Momohime and goes to Hell, while the second has him save Momohime's life by fusing his soul with hers. In the third ending, after defeating Fudo-Myoou, Jinkuro is sent back in time to the moment where he was about to attack Yukinojyo to take his body. Knowing of the events that would transpire, it seems he decides not to carry out his plan for Momohime's sake, allowing her to live in happiness. He apparently dies of his disease later, though it is strongly implied that he managed to take over Yukinojyo's body successfully this time without accidentally striking Momohime, allowing him to carry out his initial ambition and live alongside Momohime.
- Kongiku (紺菊) (Omi Minami): An Inari Kitsune (fox deity) under Fushimi who shows affection toward Jinkuro, who sees her as a tool to achieve his own goal. In the second ending, her actions resorted with her stripped of her powers and remain in her fox form. In the third ending, she disguises herself as one of Momohime's maids to look over the girl and Jinkuro who is implied to have successfully taken over Yukinojyo's body.
- Yuzuruha (弓弦葉) (Shiho Kawaragi): Another Kitsune who aids Kisuke, she is driven by the loss of control of the Demon Blade that sealed her kind's mortal enemy, Kuzuryu. In Kisuke's first ending, she is responsible for guiding Kisuke and Torahime to meet each other again during after they are reincarnated.
- Torahime (虎姫) (Ayako Kawasumi): The older sister of Momohime, she is a miko of her family for guarding a Demon Blade Kuzuryu. Though killed during the battle, Torahime is allowed to remain among the living for forty-nine days to reclaim Kuzuryu. In Kisuke's first ending, she is reincarnated without any of her memories, but thanks to Yuzuruha, she and Kisuke later meet again at a teahouse. In Kisuke's second ending she dies after her time runs out, but as her final wish she asks Kisuke to become Momohime's bodyguard, to which he agrees. In Kisuke's third ending, thanks to Kisuke using the power of the Oboro Muramasa to alter fate, she does not die on the night the Kuzuryu was stolen and sees Kisuke off before he embarks on his journey around the world, where he promises to come back and marry her once he has finished his task.
- Yukinojyo Yagyu (柳生 雪之丞) (Shō Hayami): Third son of the Yagyu family who serves as swordsmaster to the Shogun's family. He has acquired mastery of a Yagyuu swordsmanship sect and is in charge of espionage. He was originally planning an engagement with Momohime as a ruse to get the Kuzuryu, but it was nearly ruined by the dying Jinkuro when he attempted to possess him. In Momohime's third endinｇ he decides to create his own sword style that surpasses the Yagyuu style, which he names the Izuna style, strongly implying that Jinkuro managed to successfully taken over his body this time. It is then stated that although his name faded from history, he was the perpetrator of a number of terrible events throughout his life which were only uncovered through the diligent studying of a scholar.
- Sayo (小夜): A young female Yamabushi who uses paper charms, explosives, and crows in combat against demons during her journey.
- Rankai (乱戒) (Yasuhiro Mamiya): An evil monk chasing after the Jinkuro-possessed Momohime for personal reasons as he was a swordsman that was crippled in a fight with a then-living Jinkuro. However, in the first ending, after seeing Fudo-Myoou, Rankai renounced his evil ways and travels the country as a wandering monk to repent.
- Tsunayoshi Tokugawa (徳川 綱吉): The shogun, whose thirst for power caused the conflict over Kuzuryu and ordered Yukinojyo to exterminate Torahime with her family.
- Kuzuryu (狗頭竜 "Dog-headed Dragon" ): A Muramasa blade that contains an evil Inugami and entrusted to Torahime's family before Tokugawa claimed the blade. Forging a pact with the human, the Inugami uses Tokugawa to accomplish its own desires to being a celestial deity before using him as host to regain its physical form before Kisuke slays it.
- Fudo-Myoou (不動明王 Fudō-myōō ): The protector of the Buddha, he appears as a giant statue that the Jinkuro-possessed Momohime must destroy while dealing with his emissaries Kongara Doji and Seitaku Doji.
Four new playable characters are introduced in the Vita version of the game, along with their own story and boss characters. Unlike the other protagonists, they do not use swords and each use different playstyle. As of present, the first DLC package has been released in Japan.
- Nekomata Okoi (猫又お恋): A cat youkai who fights with her claws.
- Gonbee (権兵衛): A man from the country, his name literally means "country bumpkin" and also refers to unknown persons. He fights with a hoe.
- Rajagi (羅邪鬼): A young female Oni who fights with a giant axe. She is based on Lum from Urusei Yatsura.
Originally titled Oboromuramasa Yōtōden (朧村正妖刀伝, literally "The Hazy Legend of Muramasa's Mystical Sword"), it was shorted to Oboro Muramasa before release. While being developed, the game was referred to as Princess Crown 3, as Odin Sphere was referred to as Princess Crown 2. Director George "Jōji" Kamitani said he wanted to create a similar atmosphere as The Legend of Kage and Genpei Tōma Den. Audio production was assigned to Hitoshi Sakimoto's studio Basiscape as in Odin Sphere.
The game was received generally positively. Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu gave it a score of 34/40 citing the game's difficulty, short load times, graphics and sound but criticized it for its lack of a climax. The game entered the Japanese sales charts at number 2, selling 29,000 copies in its first week. It opened to similar numbers in North America, with 35,000 units. On June 8, 2009, X-Play named Muramasa the "Best Wii Game of E3 2009". When reviewing, they scored it a 3 out of 5. Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb later explained in a discussion that "just because a game gets Best Wii Game Of The Year, doesn't make it good." It was then stated that they only based their previous crowning of Best Wii Game on the basis that they had only played a small portion of the game. Play magazine praised Muramasa, stating "The art and animation throughout is so refined...the gameplay is intuitive and never grows old; the RPG elements are unique and superbly presented and the score is simply mesmerizing." 3xGamer noted that it had some of the most unique backgrounds and music, which combined to make a solid gaming experience.
The game was later released under Nintendo’s "Everyone’s Recommendation Selection" of budget titles.It was also included in IGN's Top 25 Wii Games, coming in at #21.
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