NSFW Gamer Review: Muramasa: Rebirth

NSFW Gamer Review: Muramasa: Rebirth

I know what you’re about to ask. Can a game ported from the Nintendo Wii to the PlayStation Vita be taken seriously?

Surprisingly, yes.

Vanillaware has done a fine job bringing one of their best titles onto a platform that is arguably a much better fit.

Read the full Muramasa: Rebirth review after the jump.

Muramasa: Rebirth
Systems: PlayStation Vita [Reviewed]
Developer: Vanillaware
Publisher: Aksys Games
Release: June 26, 2013
MSRP: $39.99 (Game only), $59.99 (Blessing of Amithaba Collector’s Edition)

NSFW Gamer Review: Muramasa: Rebirth

Right off the bat, this game is lush, vibrant, and gorgeous. Known for their crisp hand-drawn graphics, Vanillaware have taken full advantage of the Vita’s OLED screen and 960×554 resolution. It’s immediately striking how many colors and textures can be brought to life on the screen at once. There are also some nifty camera tricks, such as the background going to a fish-eye lens effect while the foreground stays the same, and an early section where the background rolls behind you, sort of like you’re in artificial gravity. They really have to be seen to be appreciated.

NSFW Gamer Review: Muramasa: Rebirth

The sound quality is just as amazing, with many variations of Eastern instruments blended in the soundtrack. The voice acting is all Japanese with English subtitles, something that Japanophiles will scream for, but may be something of a “meh” feature for everyone else. The game focuses on two distinct characters, the demon-possessed Princess Momohime, and the amnesiac ninja, Kisuke. Each adventure takes around six to eight hours to beat, but that’s only for those who pass on the many extras, such as the hidden hot spring events, beating the evil caves (a tiered-challenge game-within-the-game), and attempting to collect all 108 swords. I first played the game on Legendary (Easy-Normal) mode with Momohime, then Chaos (Normal-Hard) mode with Kisuke. This is the approach I recommend, as I found Kisuke’s combos, specials, and general approach to be a touch more challenging than Momohime’s game. Veteran side-scrolling hack-and-slash gamers can probably just jump straight to chaos mode, though. Whichever you choose, the animations, personality, and combat method of both characters are distinct and fun. When you watch Kisuke toss his saya into the air to have it slide onto his sword in an almost cocky manner, you’ll know that this is a game concentrating on style and substance in equal measure. There’s also a fair amount of humor in the game, giving me a couple of good chuckles as I went along.

NSFW Gamer Review: Muramasa: Rebirth

NSFW Gamer Review: Muramasa: Rebirth

Boss fights are a real treat in this game. In a duel with a samurai under Kisuke, it felt like a battle against a true swordsman, and my life depended on winning. There’s also a battle against a “demon of the mountain,” in Momohime’s story, and it captures the feeling of trying to bring down a true titan. Think Galactus in Marvel vs Capcom, but without the dial-a-combo fighting system. Given how well God of War captured that in 3D, it’s interesting to see Vanillaware nail the same “oh-gosh-this-guy-is-huge-how-will-I-win” in a sidescroller.

NSFW Gamer Review: Muramasa: Rebirth

Speaking of the fighting system, it was a bit of a surprise to find that the game is lacking in anything using the touchscreen or rear touch pad. Given that Dynasty Warriors Next, a not-too-dissimilar game that integrated them very well, it left me initially scratching my head. Not even the menu screens can be touched to save, load, etc. However, when I gave it some thought, I remembered that this is a port of a Wii game, so the addition of touch controls could well have been considered a tacked-on feature instead of a game-changer. Other than that, the controls are terrific, allowing you to guard, dash, and perform each individual sword’s secret art and aiming for the 999-hit combo trophy with ease. There’s also the addition of a jump button, something I understand was a major point of contention in the original release. Wii fans, thank you for making enough noise.

NSFW Gamer Review: Muramasa: Rebirth

There are a handful of flaws, though. For one, there is no true fast-travel option between the different areas of the game, and that’s a problem when you have to do a lot of backtracking like you do here. The scenery may be pretty, but its allure does start to wear off over time. Also, enemies start to get repetitive by the end with the random encounters, but as long as we’re not tossing back to turn-based battles, I’m a pretty happy camper to unleash more combos that I’ve mastered to devastate the myriad ninjas, goblins, and “wooly eyeballs.” Yes, that’s a thing, and it’s weirder than it sounds.

NSFW Gamer Review: Muramasa: Rebirth

Altogether, in a world where ports are often considered to be malignant cash-ins that are rushed through development, Muramasa: Rebirth can receive no such accusation. From the handling, to the friendly-to-a-portable stage lengths, to even an awesome Cthulu reference, it seems like they really wanted to let the gamers have their cake and eat it too, and I can say they were definitely successful.

Game 4.5/5

NSFW Gamer Review: Muramasa: Rebirth

You may think that being a port of a Wii game that Muramasa: Rebirth would be decidedly tame, and for the most part, you would be right. A few bits of cleavage can be seen in many costumes, and Momohime’s thighs are quite nice, but in general, there’s nothing that’s going to make you play one-handed. However, the hot spring events show surprisingly more of Momohime than I was expecting, as you can see above. Beyond that, your sex-o-meter won’t be lighting up very much.

NSFW Gamer Review: Muramasa: Rebirth

Hotness 1.5/5

Blessing of Amithaba Collector’s Edition details.

NSFW Gamer

First off, the case that comes with it is a fairly nice piece of kit, particularly if you don’t own one yet. With built-in screen protection it’s almost a must-buy. Folding the protector back also lets it double as a nice media stand. Personally, I had a NERF case before, and for anyone else who owns one, if you make the switch, you may miss the larger form factor, rubberized grips, and, most importantly, three-game storage caddy on the back. However, if there’s a father-and-son team who both own Vita’s but only one case, you can’t go wrong.

The abridged soundtrack starts off with a bombastic beat, and maintains a level of high energy across all five tracks, while still staying true to the classic Eastern instruments. I would even recommend it to martial arts enthusiasts for their workout- it’s that good. The Vita skin gives a nice facelift to the handheld, and is a screen scratch protector all its own. Not bad if you’ve had your Vita for a while and would like it to be a little more flashy (or if, like me, you got the Liberation bundle and would rater cover up the glaring white that reminds you of a flawed purchase). Finally we have the lithograph, which looks like a beautiful watercolor hand-painting even through it’s a print. You’ll want to frame this one once you see it – I did.

Collector’s Edition 5/5

– Brad Cowan aka “DevilSugar”

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