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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Ignition Entertainment
Developed By: Vanillaware
Genre: Action Role-Playing
Players: 1
Rated: T (Teen)
Release Date: September 8, 2009
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

When it comes to 2D, Vanillaware games tend to take an artistic approach. There was Odin Sphere and GrimGrimoire, both released for the PlayStation 2 console and feature unique and engaging storylines wrapped with a visual presentation that was simply breathtaking. With their latest title, Muramasa: The Demo Blade, for the Nintendo Wii, you can easily see that their knack for the artistic flare is still burning bright. Couple this visual flare with intense action sequences, and two unique storylines and Vanillaware has the make for yet another 2D masterpiece.

The story within Muramasa: The Demon Blade is a unique tale that is broken down into two storylines, headed by Momohime and Kisuke. Momohime storyline revolves around her being possessed by a powerful swordsman, while Kisuke is dealing with a serious case of amnesia. No matter which character you choose, you will be traversing the lands; looking for answers to standing questions, and slaying anything that gets in your way. For the most part, playing as Momohime or Kisuke will net you the same areas and enemies, with the only differences coming from collecting swords and slaying bosses. A nice construct to the story of The Demon Blade is the fact that you must play through both storylines in order to fully understand what has transpired throughout the game. When you play as only one of the two characters, there are times were the two storylines will cross paths and you are left with a few questions unanswered. However, once you play through the game for a second time with the other characters, those questions and/or concerns are answered in traditional Vanillaware fashion.

When it comes to combat in Muramasa: The Demon Blade, the parameters are a nice blend of complication and ease. What I mean by this is that practically all the fighting moves can be performed with a single button on the controller, however depending on the situation you are presented with or trying to pull off one of many maneuvers at your disposal, things can get a bit complex. Tapping of the button once, allows your character to swing their sword once, however tapping it multiple times leads to performing a combo. Utilizing this button in conjunction with the D-pad allows you to perform impressive attacks. This magical button is also utilized on defense to counter moves and even block if need be. For a Nintendo Wii title, Muramasa: The Demon Blade utilizes no motions controls at all. While you can still use the Wiimote and nunchuck to control all the action, you are better off using either the GameCube control pad or the Nintendo Wiiís Classic Controller.

As you can tell, the sword is your weapon of choice in Muramasa: The Demon Blade. There are more than 100 total swords that can be collected throughout the game. With each sword comes a life meter for that blade, which gets depleted with every block performed. After taking one too many hits, your blade will shatter, forcing t switch weapons on the fly. You can carry up to three blades at any time. Once a broken blade is sheaved, it starts to regenerate its energy while you defeat your foes with another blade. Because there are so many swords to choose from, strategy will become part of your adventure. Some enemies will be week against certain attacks and knowing this will help you prep for a looming battle. Not to mention that some swords grant the holder new abilities or even perform new abilities.

As you progress through the game, you will find that enemies and boss battles will get increasing more difficult. While this will definitely present a challenge for those worthy of the battle, others may find this as a road block in their pursuit to complete the story. Thankfully, Vanillaware added in a feature that allows the game to switch the difficulty on the fly, easing up the journey if it proves too difficult for certain individuals. Optional grinding is available for those who donít want to change the difficulty level, but want to go at the boss with a bit more fire power under their belt.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade boasts some of the most breathtaking visuals you will find in any 2D game currently on the market. From the highly detail character designs to the immersive landscapes, Demon Blade exudes ďperfectionĒ in every possible way. The only real drawback to the visuals comes at the limitations of the Nintendo Wii itself. This in part is due to the console only being able to output resolutions of 480i and 480p, which keep the rich and lush visuals of Demon Blade from realizing their true potential. No matter if itís the PlayStation 2, Nintendo Wii or eventually Xbox 360 and PS3 (hopefully), Vanillaware knows how to bring the best out of a project and a console.

Usually when games retain their native language for voiceover dialog, there is an option to switch it to English for those who prefer being able to understand the dialog. With Muramasa: the Demon Blade, all the voiceover work within the game is done in Japanese. There is the inclusion of subtitles, which will allow players to be able to understand whatís going on. This was also done so nothing would be lost in translation from Japanese to English. The musical score is nicely done and sets the mood for each environment and intense boss battle. In regards to the sound effects, itís nothing to jump up and down for joy over. They are nicely done and blend well with the musical score.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade is a prime example that not every title has to come from Nintendo in order to be a gaming masterpiece. Vanillaware put the hearts into creating this title and it shows through the immersive visuals and the telling of the story. For those looking for a reason to play the game beyond the two storylines, there is always trying to collect of the different swords within the game. For those who currently own a Wii, this is definitely worth checking out. For those who are still on the fence about purchasing a Wii, this is yet another example of third-party titles done right.


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