Cheat Code

Sep 23, 2009 at 12:00 am

Muramasa: The Demon Blade
Vanilla Ware

According to Japanese legend, Muramasa Sengo was a peerless swordsmith and a violent, ill-balanced man who bordered on madness — a trait passed on to the blades he forged. It was said the sword must draw blood before it can be resheathed, even if the user injures himself or commits suicide. So … Muramasa: The Demon Blade takes this legend, and puts one of these swords into the hand of a ninja? Count me in.

Muramasa's storyline is split between two protagonists; Kisuke, the amnesiac ninja, who apparently did some seriously bad shit before his memory loss, and Momohime, a young princess, who's unfortunately possessed by a demon. The storyline's a little sparse overall, but what's lacking is more than made up for by the art. This game is beautiful, like a mixture of anime and classical Japanese paintings, the backgrounds are lush and absolutely a joy to see.

Gameplay is brisk and easy to jump into. Each character can equip up to three different swords, each sword with its own quality. Swords generally fall into two classes, "long" and "blades." Long swords are good for heavy damage, though combo linking is more difficult, and blades, while not as strong, are more suited for combo linking, and aerial combat, which you'll do often. Each sword has a special attack, which depletes "soul power" (parrying does the same); once a sword's soul power is empty, the sword "breaks" and must be resheathed, upon which the sword replenishes itself to do more fucking-up. Action is so fast you may lose track of your character, since they all dart about in a frenzied manner. As you run from fight to fight, the action never really stops. Muramasa also features satisfying boss battles, and various difficulty settings for pros and noobs alike.