The Mysterious Murasame Castle
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|The Mysterious Murasame Castle|
|Release date(s)||Famicom Disk System
The Mysterious Murasame Castle (謎の村雨城 Nazo no Murasame Jō?) is a video game produced by Nintendo for the Family Computer Disk System (FCD) and released on April 14, 1986. The game was one of the early games released for the FCD, and the second original title after The Legend of Zelda.
The game was only available in Japan in its initial release, though elements from the game were still used in the Wii U launch title Nintendo Land within an attraction called Takamaru's Ninja Castle. The game was released outside Japan for the first time on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console in Europe on May 29, 2014 and in North America on August 7, 2014.
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.
The Mysterious Murasame Castle 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. The Mysterious Murasame Castle was released on the Nintendo 3DS's Virtual Console in Europe on May 29, 2014 and in North America on August 7, 2014. 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 Takamaru 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 this game, 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. Takamaru appears as an Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U and is voiced by Tomokazu Sugita; when summoned, he uses his signature Multidirectional Pinwheel Knife Rook Attack. Takamaru was planned to be a playable character in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, but was cut because he wasn't recognized as much as other Nintendo characters; with his main theme being used in the Duck Hunt stage, hinting at whom replaced him as the rep of the NES era that he was intended to represent.
On December 15, 2015, during the Super Smash Bros. Final Video Presentation, a downloadable Mii Fighter costume based on Takamaru for the Mii Swordfighter was revealed. It was released alongside the rest of the DLC on February 3, 2016.
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- "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.
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- Osborn, Alex (March 23, 2015). "TAKAMARU ORIGINALLY PLANNED AS PLAYABLE CHARACTER IN SUPER SMASH BROS.". IGN. Retrieved 1 April 2015.