Oboro Muramasa was an old game released for the Nintendo Wii, but at the time of its release, the console was starting to lose its overwhelming popularity, leaving this game in the obscure status. For those circumstances, the remake released for the Playstation Vita last year was already relevant, but there was something more in the makings: 4 exclusive new scenarios! This easily made Muramasa Rebirth the best game available in the PS Vita’s U.S. library. It’s even better than Dragon’s Crown, which was also developed by Vanillaware! And here is why!
Genroku Legends is a series of 4 downloadable content chapters that feature 1 new playable character for each campaign. The price is fair enough, being only five bucks for each story and $ 15 for the whole package. The main game even became a freebie of the PS plus and the DLCs get some discounts from time to time, which means the game has become very accessible.You can play the DLCs on the go, which is great for those who already completed the main story on the Wii version and are more interested in this new content. You choose between the main game and the Genroku Legends in a screen at the beginning, which makes this feature feel even more like a whole new game.The time-line for those new stories may vary between each other and the main campaign, but by finishing them all while using the same save slot, you unlock a special scene which reveals how each chapter is connected.In the main campaign, Momohime and Kisuke were essentially the same character gameplay-wise, with almost nothing to distinguish one from the other. However, each playable character from Genroku Legends is completely different from the other, with the only catch being the lack of special weapons to equip.Each protagonist has 3 “weapons” which function like special modes or transformations. Like the Muramasa swords from the main heroes, those can also “break” but get restored after a while without using them. All 4 extra scenarios have the same flow: There are 3 boss fights, two “new” dungeons and 2 endings for each. You start with a boss fight, follow to a dungeon that ends with another boss fight, and continues with another dungeon and a final boss match.I say “new” dungeons because, unfortunately, there’s nothing new about those places, they are just a copy&paste from old assets from the main game, which is one of the few flaws within those DLCs, but it’s comprehensible, since each chapter is about 80 MB.During the first run, you get barriers that put a limit in your path, forcing you to follow the story, but after seeing the ending, you can revisit a campaign with the same character and all the barriers will be vanished, meaning you will be free to challenge every boss from the main campaign using those new characters. By doing so, you get presented with the item “Transformation Guide”. If you equip this and defeat the final boss of the campaign you’re playing, you will see a new ending! This ending could be considered as a “Bad Ending” in some cases, but they usually represent much more than this and are worth the job to get them!At first, it was kind of a pain in the ass to make the second ending, because you had to walk through the whole dungeon of each boss, but thanks to a recent patch, you get access to a warp that will send you directly to the boss lair in the entrance of each dungeon!Another thing to be noted is the difficulty of those battles. Since the two main characters play the same, those boss fights were planned with their set of skills in mind, but now that you have 4 completely different characters, some bosses that were really easy to defeat in the past can become frustrating challenges. Following this logic, the most balanced bosses are the new ones.Since I played each DLC right after their releases, I can’t say for sure, but It may feel kinda boring to fight against the same bosses every time you want to see the second ending of a campaign. But I think I wouldn’t care all the same, because I love the boss battles of Muramasa, and I even wanted to fight against the bosses from other DLC scenarios. I hope this become available with a patch in the future!And now for a short view of each scenario:
Fishy Tales of the Nekomata
You play as the Nekomata who takes the form of Okoi – a young lady who was murdered with her brother during a dispute among clans just for trying to deliver a mere teacup. This awakened the fury of her pet cat, who took upon herself to avenge the death of the siblings. But it won’t be easy, since the main body guard of the enemy clan wields the cursed blade Muramasa.Okoi’s gameplay is one of the fastest. She can go between human and cat form and she is quick in both of them. Her third form is known as “The Avatar” and she becomes virtually invincible while using it, but the transformation gauge depletes really fast, and you don’t get to use this form for a while when it gets empty.
A Cause to Daikon For
This is the weirdest of the DLCs! Instead of playing with a young hero, a sexy lady or an cool warrior, you take control of an ordinary farmer named Gonbe who fights alongside with his friends Tagosaku and Moheiji, but since this was too normal, they get assisted by Gonbe’s deceased wife Otae, who vows to protect her husband & allies during their suicide mission against the nobles who are destroying their village with absurd taxes. This concept was based on a Harvest Moon protagonist as a hero of a Samurai movie, which is why this chapter is so bizarre, but it works perfectly! In fact, this is my favorite DLC by far! I cannot get enough of Gonbe fighting together with his friends against all odds! It’s just so cool and manly!Gonbe’s gameplay is quite unique! If Okoi is speed, Gonbe is sthrengh! He can deal heavy damage alone but business gets even more serious when his friends are summoned to attack together like a shadow clone. A charged crouch attack can summon a giant Otae head for multiple hits, and Gonbe’s wife can even revive him by forcing his soul back into his body! Since Gonbe and his allies are very poor, as an additional flavor, you get almost no money for each battle, but after the first ending, you can become filthy rich like in the regular game.
A Spirited Seven Nights’ Haunting
This is the coolest story among the DLCs. If I were to choose one among those extra chapters to get an anime adaptation, this would be the one without a doubt! You play as Arashimaru, a badass ninja who was fooled into murdering his true family from whom he was separated long ago when he was kidnaped and raised as a Shinobi. He gets cornered in an old temple and releases a devastating technique to defeat all his pursues at the same time, but this attack also breaks a sacred mirror which was a sacred treasure of the local deity, Inaraki. She curses Arashimaru to die within 7 nights, but the fearless ninja shows no concern, since he intents to go on a suicide assault in order to kill all his enemies. Feeling underestimated, the Goddess becomes a white snake/Shirohebi (no relations with the band) and wraps around Arashimaru’s neck to protect him until he dies from her curse at the 7th night.Different from Kisuke, Arashimaru fighting style looks much more like a regular ninja. Throwing kunais, bombs and kusarigamas. Which means Arashimaru’s strength comes from long-distance combat. But that’s not all, he can summon the help of Inaraki to attack alongside with a fire-breathing giant snake! Pretty rad, huh!
Hell’s Where the Heart Is
The final chapter in the Genroku Legends is a special trait for old people like me who grew up watching animes like Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha, because this story is a homage to Takahashi Rumiko’s works. You play as Rajiyaki, the youngest Oni daughter of Lord Enma – the Hell king. She falls madly in love for the former monk Seikichi, a pervert who was trying to hit on Momohime, but ended up confessing to the young Oni by accident.She puts him inside her magical bag and goes on a journey to retrieve the sacred treasures of the seven Gods of Fortune and to win over Seikichi’s heart. Raijiyaki is based on Lum from Urusei Yatsura, while Seikichi is basically every single male protagonist from Takahashi’s mangas (except for Inuyasha, maybe?). Raijyaki’s transformation abilities are also a reference to Ranma ½ and even the art style changed a little to be a bit similar to Takahashi’s art. It would be perfect if they had gotten Yamaguchi Kappei to voice Seikichi, but I am satisfied after seeing this pose:The gameplay centers around Raijyaki’s many forms. She has the child from – which is the fast one, and the adult form – which is stronger, but not the strongest, this title is left to her Demon form, where she gets gigantic and invincible for a short amount of time (much like Okoi’s Avatar form). Strangely enough, Raijyaki also have some elements based on Mario! One of her special attacks have the Oni-girl swinging her hammer non-stop, exactly like the Jumpman did back in Donkey Kong or Smash Brothers! Like it wasn’t enough, she can get a special bonus by making consecutive jump attacks at the head of enemies (although she doesn’t get a 1UP).
Vanillaware uses a flash-based tool to make their animations, but different from regular flash animations, instead of using only a single image as basis to all frames, they use the same amount of images used in a regular frame-by-frame animation, which means we get a combination of both animation techniques. This explains why those animations looks even more vivid and animated than a real person!
Many composers working together with the studio Basiscape to deliver a fantastic soundtrack that is exclusive to the Genroku Legends! Those new tracks are just as good (or maybe even better) than the songs from the main game, and carry the same traditional Japanese spirit. It’s worth to get the complete soundtrack and listen to it even when not playing!
You will listen to many high quality talents portraying the many dialects and formal speeches characteristics of the feudal era. This aspect is flawless, as every single seiyuu has a perfect voice that matches their characters and their voices are very pleasant to the ears!
This game was published by Marvelous AQL and it was localized by Akysys (which is not a abbreviated name to Arc System Works!). However, all the original idea, planning and development was made by Vanillaware, the same guys responsible for classics like Odin Sphere. But because of a bad contract with Marvelous, they can’t show their company name in the main promos and screens, and they have to give the space to Marvelous’ logo…But those guys deserve more credit! They are true artists who are able to prove that games can be much more. It’s games like this that make me proud of myself for playing it, and that’s why Muramasa Rebirth must be on anyone’s game collection. It is worth to get a Vita solely for this game, even if you were to only play the Genroku Legends! A true classic that should be experienced by everyone!