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Muramasa: The Demon Blade - hands-on

Developers Vanillaware have created a mothers-lock-up-your-daughters looker; a rich, hand-drawn 2D world, a warm bath of colour that begs your eyes to soak in it. Like the recent Wario Land, 2D enables the kind of intricate art design that would crush a 3D game. The demo opens in a dark bamboo forest – pea-green stalks in the foreground parallax-scrolling against a static background to give the impression of depth. It’s a great impression too.

Enough ogling, time for hobblin’. Your ninja – you can choose from female ninja Momohime or manja Kisuke – is accosted in short bursts by clumps of enemies that must be offed before the fight’s graded. Much like in Viewtiful Joe, combat boils down to a relatively slim move list applied with surgical precision. Bashing the A button deals out crude swordings, though prodding up on the analogue stick sends you skywards, where swipes and leaps can create massive aerial combos.

Our sword breaks. No fear: we have two more. As in Onechanbara, the blade dulls over time, so you must rotate to enable recovery. Adding to the strategy, each blade activates a different special move. Our red sword – we’ll call him Stabby Joe – rips into a single foe multiple times. The long blue blade, Lanky McStabberson, enables our ninja to split into five and pull off a nifty aerial roly-poly. Special moves eat half the blade’s health, though, so should be used sparingly.

We enter a quiet town – no enemies, but plenty of doors with flashing entrance arrows. There’s an RPG edge to proceedings that gives you good cause to explore every nook and cranny of the environment. Hoping for a health potion we enter a friendly looking house, only to find it belongs to the most ill-tempered ghost in Japan, who dedicates the next 30 seconds to kicking our exquisitely penciled ass all over his lounge.

4 comments

  • noofer7 - July 4, 2009 1:36 p.m.

    looks really cool but stop being so poetic, it's scaring me
  • charley235 - July 12, 2009 2:52 p.m.

    im defiently buying, but really, games should be available for everyone, thank you square for giving ff13 for 360, i dont know what i would do if it was ps3 exclusive
  • Pheonix03 - February 12, 2009 10:56 p.m.

    Awesome!! Odin Sphere was phenomonal, and if this can best that, then this will be one of the greatest games of all time (not like Odin Sphere isn't though). Videogame's truly can be art! Vanillaware has proven this.
  • Derwood - February 4, 2009 5:45 a.m.

    This game looks amazing! I loved Odin Sphere and im pissed its just coming out for the wii...the PS2 is calling....c'mon Vanillaware...answer the call!

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