Guild's Muramasa: The Demon Blade Review

Discussion in 'GBAtemp Reviews & Guides' started by Guild McCommunist, Nov 26, 2009.

Nov 26, 2009
  1. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    It's about time I "gave thanks" today and finally fulfilled my promise to the user chosen review. So, I'll start with the Wii side and pick up Muramasa: The Demon Blade. I'm not going to give my typical long-winded sentence that leads to a precursor of how my general review will go, I'll just go flat out and say this game is vastly, incredibly, undeniably over rated purely because it looks good.

    [​IMG]

    So, Muramasa follows two stories and two different characters. There's Kisuke, an amnesic criminal whose being chased for a crime he can't even remember and Momohime, a sword-swinging princess whose been possessed by a dark spirit and forced to carry out its plans. The rest of the plot I couldn't really comprehend with my child-sized brain. You'll get pretty much random cutscene interludes that layout the story, but even then I still couldn't grasp what was happening. It's qute honestly poorly segmented and could definitely be a little more fluent. Still, if you like typical "amnesia and possession" storylines and can grasp the cutscenes, you may have yourself a good romp. Otherwise, the menus are nicely laid out and stuff like that.

    The real heart, or lack of heart here, is the gameplay. Muramasa is just not all too fun. The RPG aspects are pretty basic. You'll level up, get some different equipment, etc. You have three blade slots to switch between and only one slot for an additional equippable item. Even as a minimalist's RPG I would've liked less emphasis on blades and more emphasis on equipment. There's also a blade forging mechanic which is relatively deep, but yet again it's just getting another sword (even though the ones you receive in game are already super powerful). As for combat, it's just pretty mindless. Run around, hack baddies, switch blades if yours gets broken. Over and over again. There's a varied amount of enemies, but it really just comes down to slicing and dicing and buttom mashing. An also annoying feature I found was the lack of a single button to jump. Instead, you have to hit up on the respective analog stick you're using. As for level design, it's quite honestly just completely boring. Many times you'll run through a square on the map (since levels are divided into small areas that are respresented as individual squares on the map) and nothing will happen. No jumping to a higher platform, no talking to locals, no fighting. Even when you do fight enemies, you'll just enter a combat sequence, mash them, and run through section after section without anything to do. Boss fights are nicely diverse, but are really just "hack, switch blades, heal, repeat". I forgot to mention that there are two storylines to followIt seems like Vanillaware was attempting to make a "look at the pretty pictures" game than a real, competent Ninja Gaiden-esque game.

    The game is really meant to be a show off piece of graphics and a nice display of sound, and it does both of those nicely. The game is entirely nicely drawn 2-D, from backgrounds to characters. It just looks very pretty. I personally think that other 2-D games, like A Boy and His Blob, look better and have better character animations, but that could just be my personal opinion. The sound is a very traditional Japanese music soundtrack, kind of like Okami. I actually do like traditional Japanese music (none of that J-Pop crap), so I enjoyed it. Voice acting is all kept in Japanese, whether you like it or not. I think an English option would have been nice to have for the voice acting, but no cigar.

    Overall, Muramasa is a game purely sold on style that shuffles core gameplay mechanics under the carpet. While it's a feast for the eyes and has a pretty nice soundtrack, the core gameplay is quite honestly weak, repetitive, and boring. The levels are barren, the fights are nothing but glorified button mashing, and the RPG aspects aren't impressive. It has some nice boss battles, but the game can't be saved purely on that. Game developers really need to make a game that's more flash than flair, and Muramasa is a shining example of why.

    Presentation: The story isn't exactly presented well and the plots, while decently entertaining, can be hard to follow. Menus are nicely laid out. 6/10

    Graphics: Impressively drawn 2-D art work all the way through. No slowdown or anything when there's a lot of enemies on screen is impressive. I think that the animation here isn't as good as A Boy and His Blob, but that's just nitpicking. 9/10

    Audio: A nice traditional Japanese soundtrack blends with the impressive visuals. The Japanese voice acting is preserved in the NTSC/PAL transition, which helps authenticity, although an English option would be nice. Other hacking and slashing sounds are nice. 8.5/10

    Gameplay: Flat out weak. Lots of barren, useless sections of levels segmented by generic hacking and slashing fighting. There's practically no diversity from level to level. RPG aspects are pretty minimalist, which can be good, although an emphasis on more upgradeable armor instead of blades could have been used to great success. The blade forging mechanic is cool, but you'll already receive a new and super powerful blade each level. Boss fights are fun, but it doesn't help offset the boring, empty levels and repetitive combat. 4/10

    Lasting Appeal: There's two different stories to go through and each will take a decent amount of time to finish. There's also additional modes, but each of them are essentially just the story mode with slightly different tweaks. Even with all this, the boredom of empty levels and generic combat won't keep you hooked for long. 6/10

    Overall: 5.5/10
     
  2. X D D X

    Member X D D X GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Nice review, although i'd disagree. I've finished the game and still think that some of the boss fights and extra dungeons are fun. Also you didn't really mention the cooking, i thought that adds some more depth to the game. I'd probably give it a 7-8.
     
  3. Jaems

    Member Jaems GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    I think you went a bit harsh on this game.

    I found the combat very fun; it is, after all, a mindless hack'n'slash action game. The majority of hack'n'slash titles fail to even offer as much as Muramasa when it comes to combat mechanics. And like most in the genre, becoming repetitive in gameplay is somewhat inevitable. Also, you have to remember this is a 2D action RPG with a design almost reminiscent to those of Metroid & Castlevania - although offering less in terms of customization. Backtracking is expected.

    I guess this appeals mostly to retro-lovin' fags.
     
  4. luke_c

    Member luke_c Big Boss

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    +1
     
  5. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    The combat is basically mash one button, use special, change blades, repeat. Even for a hack n' slash it's just mindless. And at least other games under the name "hack n' slash" can be rather varied. Take Dynasty Warriors, one of my favorite hack n' slash games. You run around defeating hundreds upon hundreds of grunts mindlessly, but at least there's different tactics you must employ each time. This one is run through level, beat up bad guys, repeat. Hack n' slash games are supposed to have at least some hook to make it as little repetition as possible. This has none of those.

    And backtracking is boring here. At least with Metroid and Castlevania there's enemies to fight and stuff to do. This one is basically running through empy, uninspiring sections that are essentially flat tracks of land. With Castlevania and Metroid, you get to fight bad guys and do some platforming.

    Way too many people say "Well, this game looks beautiful so the gameplay has to be good". It's quite honestly just boring.
     
  6. Jaems

    Member Jaems GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Well, it doesn't matter how simple or routine the combat is. As long as it's fun.

    Muramasa delivers that, I believe, being fast and frantic; and for action-game lovers, we are extremely satisfied racking up combos.
    For example, Devil May Cry doesn't exactly have the deepest combat system ever - talking about the first one here, though, Dante's Awakening is cool too - and most people were fine doing the same moves and techniques in repetition. For me, it was throwing someone up in the air and finishing them off with my Alastor. I never got sick of doing it, but it was undoubtedly repetitive, not unlike Muramasa's combat.

    And something you fail to understand is that hack'n'slashers are supposed to be mindless. All you're supposed to care about is racking up combos, and watch them numbers rise up. The majority of hack'n'slashers just shove a ton of enemies on the screen, room after room, and let you have fun. Muramasa is guilty of doing exactly that.
    Honestly, the only thing that makes Muramasa any different from most hack'n'slashers is the 2D style, and the lack of acquired combo sets (f.e., Triangle/Square/Triangle does "The FuckerUpper Punch"). Dynasty Warriors is an exception, however, since it's not a traditional action game; in fact, they even promote it as a "Tactical Action Game".

    And frankly, although it is varied and cool for taking a different approach, Dynasty Warriors isn't exactly the funnest game either. [​IMG]

    Admittedly, this game is nowhere as near as good or deep as Metroid or some Castlevanias.
    But to be fair they throw enemies at you in most "empty" sections. and I very much enjoy cutting them in half, even if I have to do it twice.
    And I find these sections very inspiring because of the top-notch animation and art design. I don't really mind running through them because they look and sound so cool.

    tl;dr version: Like most action-hacknslash, Muramasa gets boring. No biggie.
     
  7. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    Well, it really does depend on whether you're able to get into the groove of the game or not. For me, after hours upon hours of playing, I never got into it. Dynasty Warriors, on the other hand, gave me massive amounts of controller throwing fun. Hell, I actually snapped a controller in half playing that game (that's not a hard feat since mine was a crappy ass controller). I can see people liking this game if they get into the groove of it, but if you didn't, you'll have the same feelings I did.

    I understand hack n' slashes are supposed to be mindless, but the big thing with a HnS (that's my abbreviation, I'm too lazy too type it out) is how much you can make it less mindless and how long you can keep it until it gets repetitive and boring. For this, the empty and completely useless levels as well as boring back tracking made me already bored, and the action parts of it weren't good enough to make my drowsy eyes burst out of my head. A good HnS is a game that won't get boring for a good deal of time. A bad one is one that gets boring fast.

    I think we just both have different opinions and I respect that. It's perfectly fine to like this game. It's not like saying you like an Imagine game. We're both giving excellent arguments but we'll both have an ideological difference that prevents either of them for really working. Still, I love a spirited argument, especially with someone who isn't an ass and whose rational, so continue [​IMG]

    I gotta get my Thanksgiving on so farewell.
     
  8. Overlord Nadrian

    Banned Overlord Nadrian Banned

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    +1
     
  9. GameSoul

    Member GameSoul youtube.com/variantdevil

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    I had tons of fun with this game. I'd give it a 8.75/10. I just wish there was some form of multiplayer on it [​IMG]
     
  10. woodchuck78

    Newcomer woodchuck78 Newbie

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    The problem with this review is that your comparing it to an RPG, which its not. Most sites define it as an Action game, and its a good one at that. You gave more of your opinion on the genre than a review of the game. But its nice to see some info on the game.
     
  11. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    A) Every site classifies it as an ARPG.
    B) I only briefly mentioned RPG aspects. The rest of the complaints were about repetitive combat and boring levels, something not associated with RPGs.
    C) It is an ARPG. Levels, ugradeable weapons, becoming gradually more powerful as the game goes, etc, are all RPG aspects.
     
  12. airpirate545

    Member airpirate545 GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    I totally agree with your review for once lol. All of the commercial reviews for this game have been about how pretty the game was and they acted like the rest of the game's flaws were just small cons. I played the game and the game just wasnt very fluent in its gameplay or its story.
     

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