When Muramasa: The Demon Blade first debuted for the Nintendo Wii back in 2009, it created a bit of nostalgia for those who grew up on artful platforming efforts. Moreso than its great sense of style, it's gameplay had dynamic hack-and-slash action, beautifully designed bosses, and an intricate storyline combining traditional storytelling with characters you couldn't help but be drawn into.
With a game that's so graceful and gorgeous, we figured it would be a matter of time before Muramasa made the jump to another platform. The Vanillaware cult favorite will arrive on PlayStation Vita as Muramasa: Rebirth next month. This version of the game will have a number of new features that make this the definitive "cut".
Muramasa: Rebirth will have you switch off between two characters: a warrior princess by the name of Momohime and a rogue ninja named Kisuke suffering from amnesia. The two journey across the land in two different directions to collect the 108 Demon Blades and put down any enemies that get in their way. Considering that a demon army is hot on their trail, there is no shortage of confrontations.
As you pick up demon blades over the course of Muramasa, you can equip up to three of them. Some have different effects than others based on weight and performance and each has a special move that can level even the largest foe once its fully powered up.
These swords take damage over time and they'll break if you don't take care of them, leaving you vulnerable as you try and switch to another blade. Your soul is what's powering the blades, so you'll need to make sure they sustain their strength over the course of your journey. You can also forge souls and other items onto the swords to improve their effectiveness in battle over the course of the game.
One cool aspect of Muramasa is the part food plays. You can simply gorge on items that you find in local villages to spruce your health or you can look through cookbooks and find certain foods to enjoy. It adds a bit of diversity to an otherwise elegant hack-and-slash experience.
Along with eating and fighting, Muramasa also leans a bit on the exploration side of things. You can seek out hidden enemies and other items in the world, including some Demon Blades that are just outside your viewing area. It never hurts to check your map and go a little off the beaten path, just to see what you've been missing.
The boss fights are back too with all sorts of bad boys, from large demons with swooping limbs to demon swordsmen who aren't about to bow to the power of your arsenal. These guys will put up a fight, but if you prep your swords beforehand and talk to some townsfolk in the village to see what you're getting into, you'll be well prepared.
Since the game is now on the PS Vita, the controls have gone through some reconfiguring. Where the original Wii version relied on the use of a Nunchuk and Wii remote, Rebirth maps functions to the Vita's buttons, including the ability to switch between blades. It also enables you to give swords an active switch-out if needed, rather than stopping and going through a menu.
Two general gameplay modes will be available in Rebirth, both of which will challenge your skills. The general hack-and-slash mode will throw tons of enemies at you and test your twitch gaming skills as you bring them down. The other mode calls for a bit more precision with your slices, with some slight sword limitations.
Other improvements that Aksys Games and Vanillaware are incorporating include a high definition visual transfer making the landscapes and monsters stand out better than before. You'll also be treated to a quality U.S. translation, so you won't have to worry about bad dialogue getting in the way of the action.
Muramasa is still a fantastic game for the Wii, but now PS Vita owners will be able to take the experience anywhere they please on June 25th. If you're a fan of old-school 2D action games or you just want something that brings out the best in the PS Vita screen, this is the way to go.