Brave Fencer Musashi
|Brave Fencer Musashi|
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing game|
Brave Fencer Musashi (ブレイヴフェンサー 武蔵伝 Bureivu Fensā Musashiden?, lit. "Brave Fencer: The Legend of Musashi") is an action role-playing game developed and published by Square (now Square Enix) in 1998 for the Sony PlayStation. The game involves real-time sword-based combat in a 3D environment, and features voice overs for most dialogue. It also features other role-playing elements such as a day-night cycle and resting to restore energy. The story follows Musashi, a young swordsman who is summoned to a parallel world to defend Allucanet Kingdom from the Thirstquencher Empire. His journey is primarily focused on obtaining the Five Scrolls which are able to enhance the powers from his sword Lumina, and searches for them while interacting with people from Allucanet and a nearby village.
Brave Fencer Musashi began production in early 1997, and was directed by Yoichi Yoshimoto, produced by Yusuke Hirata, and was scored by Tsuyoshi Sekito. The game was a departure from Square's previous role-playing games, which brought the team several difficulties during development. The game received positive critical response; reviewers praised the graphics in comparison to other similar games of the time, and found the gameplay, especially the action elements, very compelling. Musashi received a sequel in 2005 for the PlayStation 2 under the name of Musashi: Samurai Legend.
Musashi is an action role-playing game, in which the player fights against enemies with a sword in action-based combat, with some role-playing elements. The player controls Musashi, who fights a variety of enemies using his swords Fusion and Lumina and searches for five scrolls which will increase Lumina's strength and grant him new abilities. There are also several minigames and puzzles scattered throughout which must be completed to advance the plot. The two swords he uses have varied abilities and uses. Fusion, which resembles a katana, is the more utilitarian of the two, used to chain rapid combo hits but has can also be used to absorb Bincho energy (an MP equivalent) or absorb the enemy's skill. The other sword is Lumina, which cannot be effectively used in combos by itself; its real strength lies in Scrolls obtained through the game which imbue Lumina with various elemental properties. Lumina is primarily offensive but thanks to the five elemental scrolls it gains new skills that facilitate the platforming. The two swords are often used in conjunction with certain techniques which are granted by various rescued townsfolk.
The game features an in-game clock and day-night system that affects the townsfolk and some of the creatures in the field (namely, the Minku - creatures from whom Musashi can obtain berries to increase his overall health stat), as well as forcing the player to pay attention to Musashi's fatigue rating that goes up over time with lack of sleep, which as the name implies will have a deteriorating effect on his combative ability.
The player can either go to an inn to recover Musashi's health or make Musashi sleep outdoors without a full recovery and with danger he may be attacked by enemies. To pass time, the player may also opt to collect the various action figures -which resemble more detailed models of nearly all the characters and monsters- available at the town toy store which stocks new items at the start of every chapter. Along the way, Musashi obtains parts from the Legendary Armor which allow him to perform actions such as climbing or performing double jumps.
A boy known as Musashi, reincarnated from the legendary Brave Fencer Musashi who saved the Allucaneet Kingdom from a monster called the Wizard of Darkness 150 years before, is summoned to the Allucaneet by its Princess — named Fillet — to save it from the invading Thirstquencher Empire. Musashi is given the blade Fusion, and is charged with the task of obtaining Brave Fencer Musashi's sword — Lumina, the Sword of Luminescence — before the Thirstquencher Army does. Although Musashi has no intention in saving the kingdom, he agrees to do so in order to return to his homeland. After Musashi recovers Lumina, he finds that most of the people from the Allucaneet, including Fillet, have been kidnapped by the Thirstquencher Empire. In order to rescue all the residents from Allucaneet and defeat the Empire, Musashi starts searching for the Five Scrolls, items representing the elements able to highly expand Lumina's powers.
With help from the treasure hunter Jon, Musashi finds the Earth Scroll and defeats its crest guardian to expand Lumina's powers. After the guardian's defeat, half-vampire and half-zombie creatures known as Vambees appear in the village. While searching for a way to stop the Vambees, Musashi finds the Water Scroll and defeats it crest guardian in the basement where the Vambees come from. While Musashi searches for the next Scroll, Fillet summons Musashi's rival, Kojiro, who uses her as a hostage to challenge Musashi. When finding the Fire Scroll, Musashi defeats Kojiro and rescues Fillet. Musashi then searches for thieves from the Thirstquencher Empire and makes his way to the next crest guardian. It is then revealed that Princess Fillet is actually one of Thirstquencher's thieves disguised and that the real Fillet is still in their hands. Musashi then continues his journey and finds the Wind Scroll and defeats its crest guardian in an ants' nest.
After finding the fifth and final Scroll, the Sky Scroll, Musashi discovers Thirstquencher's base, a floating ship known as the Soda Fountain. Musashi attacks the base and defeats the Sky Guardian. Thirstquencher's leader, Flatski, forces Musashi to give him Lumina in exchange of the Princess, and frees the Sky Crest. However, this unleashes the Wizard of Darkness, who was in fact sealed within Lumina and not by Lumina. It is also revealed by Jon the original Brave Fencer Musashi sealed The Dark Wizard within the sword. Furthermore, it was he who entrusted the crests to the crest guardians to prevent The Dark Wizard's seal within Lumina from being broken. In effect, the present Musashi's quest merely aided The Dark Wizard's revival. Musashi recovers Lumina and defeats him. After returning the Princess to Allucaneet Kingdom, Musashi returns Lumina to the place where he found it.
Executive producer Hironobu Sakaguchi stated that the idea for the game first came up in February 1997. The original idea for Brave Fencer Musashi was having Miyamoto Musashi fighting in an alternate world from where he belonged. While the game conceptualized as an action oriented, Musashi was originally meant to be a wanderer. However, he was later changed to an itinerant Samaritan in order to have him interacting and helping other characters. The story was made with the idea During development, the team used an action base which was crucial to the game's fighting mechanics. Director Yoichi Yoshimoto was focused on the game's fully polygonal aspects that were a departure from Square's previous works. For this game, the team worked to move polygons in real time and how lights affected their appearances.
When developing the characters for the game Sakaguchi did not have a positive opinion of how popular would the game become. However, after the staff designed the graphics and the gameplay, he was surprised by the work, commenting that it was more interesting. Characters were illustrated by Tetsuya Nomura but were designed by Koji Matsuoka. When the game was localized for an English release, translators had to change alcohol-based names with soda-pop names due to problems with rating boards. This made several jokes be lost in translation. The game's title was changed from "Brave Fencer Musashiden" to "Brave Fencer Musashi" in order to avoid confusing players with the titular character's name.
Brave Fencer Musashi was originally released in Japan on July 16, 1998. It was re-released on June 29, 2000 as part of Square's Millennium Collection along with merchandise including postcards, a combination camera and cellphone strap, a handy strap, and keychain fobs. Another Japanese re-release was for the PlayStation Network on July 9, 2008. In the North American market, it was packaged on October 31, 1998 with the PlayStation 1998 Collector's CD Vol.2, which contained a demo of Final Fantasy VIII. A Japan-exclusive mobile phone incarnation titled Musashi: Mobile Samurai was also released in 2005.
The game's musical score was composed by Tsuyoshi Sekito. It is his first composition work with Square. The Brave Fencer Musashiden: Original Soundtrack was released by DigiCube in Japan on July 23, 1998. It consists of 78 tracks spanning two compact discs in a boxset that also features a small mini-artbook with selected pieces from the game.
Brave Fencer Musashi sold approximately 648,803 copies in Japan during 1998, making it the 17th best-selling game of the year in that region. The game was given a 32 out of 40 by Famitsu magazine.
The game generally received positive reviews by critics. The graphics were praised; the GameSpot review called them "very well done" and superior to other Square RPGs of the time. The IGN and GamePro reviews similarly praised the game's "excellent visual design". The GameSpot and GamePro reviews also praised the voice acting quality, while the IGN review noted the "stellar soundtrack" but found the voice acting to be annoying.
The gameplay was also generally positively received; IGN and GamePro especially liked the action elements. GameSpot, while feeling that the action elements were the primary focus of the game, still liked the wide variety of role-playing elements present. The IGN review, however, wished that the role-playing elements had been reduced even further in favor of the action parts of the game. All three reviews compared the game to The Legend of Zelda, which according to GameSpot was because the game had been discussed prior to release as a direct competitor to that series. Both GameSpot and IGN felt that the comparison was invalid, as Musashi focused much more on action than role-playing, resulting in a game that was not a direct competitor at all.
After the release of the game, plans were made for a sequel, but were then delayed for years. A PlayStation 2 sequel, titled Musashi: Samurai Legend, was developed by Square Enix and was released worldwide in 2005.
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