Muramasa: Rebirth is a Vita remake of the 2009 Wii title Muramasa: The Demon Blade. Rebirth is arguably an improvement over the original, as players enjoying the game on Sony’s handheld will gain the benefit of high definition graphics (albeit on a tinier screen) in addition to a better control scheme. Apologies to any Nintendo fans out there, but I am not keen on the Wii’s motion controllers. Vigorously waggling that glorified dildo once caused me to suffer a strained wrist, which put a dampener on my partaking in other pleasurable activities. Yes, I enjoy playing tennis on a regular basis… if you were thinking something else please take your mind out of the gutter.
When the game loads up, players are given the opportunity to play as either princess Momohime or an amnesiac warrior named Kisuke (whether it’s video games or anime, it seems like Japanese tales cannot resist the urge to include a cast member who is suffering from memory loss.) Although the game world remains unchanged, regardless of whom you pick, each protagonist has their own unique story that comes complete with a distinct selection of foes. Kisuke’s quest involves uncovering his past whilst fending off the assaults of ninjas that have been hired to assassinate him. Momohime’s chapter deals with her body being possessed by a wicked spirit named Jinkuro, who is seeking a cursed blade that will permit him to transfer his consciousness into a manlier host.
Gameplay wise, Muramasa: Rebirth is a 2D hack n slash romp set in post-feudal Japan. Using an assortment of swords, players travel across the land slaughtering any samurais, beasts or yokai that get in their way. Weapons range from nimble katanas to long blades, which are slower to swing but pack a stronger punch and have the added bonus of a greater reach. During combat it is possible to alternate between a trio of swords, which is handy as blades can temporarily shatter should a character sustain too much damage or get overzealous with durability sapping special moves. Over the course of their adventure players can bolster their armoury by forging over one hundred demonic weapons. New swords can be fashioned by harvesting souls from defeated enemies and consuming spiritual energy from food (no wonder Rosie O’Donnell has such a “spirited” personality.)
My rating for Muramasa: Rebirth is a five out of five. As expected from the developer behind Dragon’s Crown (aka busty sorceress simulator) the game’s visuals are simply gorgeous. The backgrounds are brimming with detail and the animation is so fluid that at times it feels like you are manipulating an actual cartoon. On the audio side of things, the game’s spoken dialogue is delivered entirely in Japanese with the aid of English subtitles. The lack of a translation works in Muramasa’s favour, as it feels more authentic given the game’s setting. The same can be said of the title’s soundtrack, which has a very Japanese flair to it.
From beginning to end I had a lot of fun playing through Muramasa: Rebirth. My only complaint would have to be that Vanillaware is guilty of padding out the story by forcing players to revisit areas that they have previously cleared. Completing Momohime’s campaign took me around six hours, but Rebirth is by no means a short game. There are two stories to experience, multiple endings and plenty of swords to unlock. If you are willing to fork out on inexpensive DLC the content on offer can be supplemented even further with a quartet of new playable characters. It’s well worth checking out for anyone who owns a Vita. Okay that’s enough typing. I need to preserve my wrist as I am off to watch Showgirls… um I mean play some Badminton.