By Video_Game_King 19 Comments
Muramasa: The Demon Blade( Hell, look at the games I have this time around!) Muramasa and Samurai Shodown. Or at least I planned the latter. Unfortunately, I couldn't beat it because the game refused to show Rimururu on screen at all. I assume this was because we were both in agreement on how stupid her name sounds. (How the hell do you pronounce that with an air of intelligence?) Well, I still have 66% Japanese. I was hoping for 100%, but 66% is still quite a bit. Protect your schoolgirls and prepare for cultural confusion in 3, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1!
Here's the story: long ago, there was these two famous swordsmiths: Muramasa and, just for the hell of it, Sephiroth. One day, they stuck their swords in the water and decided to see which one attracted the most retard fish. Muramasa got the most fish, but somehow, Sephiroth and his hairless chest won. "Wow, that's a shitty story", you say to yourself, wondering where the hell I'm going with this. Well, don't worry about that, since the game has NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY OF THAT. OK, not entirely nothing; it has as much to do with Muramasa as the new Alice in Wonderland movie has to do with the actual source material, soooooo mostly the same. A bit misleading, since the title of the game alludes to exactly what I was talking about, but whatever, I get some stories about Goku the ninja and a young girl being possessed by demons. Oh, and there are fox women and Buddhists, for some reason. It's hard to make fun of the story, mainly because it does the only job it should: give you a reason to move forward through the game. The only complaint I can lodge is that the stories only interact with each other when the two protagonists see each other naked in monkey hot springs (OK, that one's actually totally real); other than that, the story is beautiful in its simplicity. I just wish the rest of the game was this honest about itself.
Like it or not, Muramasa is, at heart, a beat-em-up. You run from left to right, occasionally running into a group of ninjas who need you to draw a bloody line on their waists to tell them how far their pants should be pulled up. You build up combos that would put Killer Instinct to shame, shoving food down your throat from time to time. If it was just that, I'd give this game about .6 points more, and several paragraphs less, I imagine. But no, this game tries to hide its Double Dragon-esque roots by adding an open world concept a la River City Ransom. Should be cool, right? River City Ransom was, like, the GTA of its time! But that was because it had a large, interesting world with lots to do and decent reasons to revisit areas; Muramasa, on the other hand, has a fairly linear world that limits you to its way of progression, even if the map it draws is clearly the worst one for your given situation. Oh, what's that? I can explore the world? And do what, asshole? This game's Japan makes Omaha look like a very interesting place for your next vacation; the only things you can do are go on scavenger hunts and find giant trees that let you beat people up for new equipment.
Oh, I forgot to mention that this game has some RPG elements, too. They're pretty light, though, limiting themselves to level ups, making new weapons, and finding equipment and stuff. Like the story, it doesn't really intrude on the gameplay, so I can't make jokes about turn-based combat or confusing progression. I wish I could, because the sword forging aspect looks more daunting than Perfect Cherry Blossom, even though it's rather easy to figure out which blades make which better blades. (Why you need one blade to make another isn't exactly explained.) That's one thing I almost love about the game: the sword system. You have almost everything you need to bring the combat to pure awesomeness: a variety of abilities wider than that whole political gap you Americans are dealing with, slash time differences to balance the ultra kickass blades against the ones that make plastic spoons look deadly, and a breaking system to make sure you don't just grind enemies into the ground with your special abilities. Oh, wait, that breaking thing, THAT'S why I spread the word "almost" about the entire paragraph: because it doesn't do shit. Oh, sure, you won't be able to use the blade for some time, but don't worry; you have two other blades, ready to kill as soon as they exit the scabbard. Oh, they all broke? Don't worry, they'll regenerate faster than you can say "Ryu Hayabusa."
So, as I've spent the last four paragraphs establishing, the game doesn't like to admit that it's a beat-em-up. Which is odd, because it's actually pretty good at what it does. OK, so I've mentioned that you can pound the A button to victory, but there is a fair amount of strategy and quickness to it, switching blades and jumping to key enemies to keep your combos from reaching something less than 958. Really, the only major problem is that it's too easy; enemies prefer to die in groups, and the game seems to have taken its death hints from BioShock, since the only consequence for death is that you've used up a few of your items. I thought it was just that I'm so super awesome that the game stood no chance in the face of my awesomeness, so I decided to up the difficulty to see if it changed anything. A few minutes and one battle later, all that happened was that being hit became slightly easier. I can see this affecting boss battles noticeably, but it does nothing to fend off the A button beatings in the near future.
Oh, speaking of bosses, one last thing before I finish this blog: before and after each one, there's a group of random NPCs hanging out in the vicinity. For whatever reason, you have to talk to ALL of them if you want to get through the game at all. It's not like they offer advice or significantly flesh out the story, so it comes off as a cheap way to make the game longer. Not that it's successful at that; each story lasts about 8 acts, which is around 6 hours of going to point A, beating somebody up, and repeating 7 times for an ending. There's nothing wrong with that, and Muramasa would've been much better if it did a better job fleshing things out or (and I've said this before) being honest about its shallow nature. But no, it does neither. It provides something that lacks depth but pretends it has that depth, so I'll give it the Dan B- SHIT!!! SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT!!!! I forgot to mention the graphics! Look, all you need to know is that they're really, really good. They're rich, luscious, radiant, and a bunch of other colorful words to tell you how much this game looks like a Japanese painting, only better because it doesn't look like this. And don't think it's only 2D stuff; it also has some very subtle 3D artwork that makes the game feel more alive. OK, we're good? Good. Dan Brown Award. Done.
- Wow, this game looks awesome!
- But it's kinda shallow. Why won't it admit that?
- Seriously, you couldn't have cut the open world part for.....I don't know, more ways to mash the A button?
All I know is that this is a Saturn game of some type. And that it sucks.
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee ( Oddysee....Odyseee....hmm...) Odd. I see a pun in that title, and a somewhat insulting one at that. I think that's pretty much the best way to describe this game: Odd. OK, that's pretty obvious to anybody with the ability to read. Just look at the title: two words that begin with Odd. The only way to make this thing odder would be to make Abe's name Odd. Do I have anything else to say about the game, other than its odd nature? Oddly enough, I do. Keep in mind that I'll be milking this odd thing the entire fucking blog. You have been warned. Twice.
A third warning: this game stars the Ritalin'd up cousin of that annoying frog biker thing from 8 years ago. It seems the Ritalin has also altered the universe around him, since he's now a poet who works for Soylent Green. However, unlike Charlton Heston, he finds out the big twist rather early, meaning he spends the rest of the game trying to undo it. That's it. That's all the story you'll get. I've told more elaborate stories for why I forgot my homework in elementary school. I'd comment more on how the King of Hobos mugged my computer the night before my book report was due, but that is a tale for another blog. This blog is about Oddworld and its complete lack of story. Aside from Abe's occasional odd ramblings, I'd say that the story's mainly told through the odd/dark atmosphere, but that would be lying, wouldn't it? The levels don't have anything to do with the story at all ever; like every other game ever, they're there for the gameplay. Why I'm mentioning this as if it's noteworthy confuses me immensely.
What is noteworthy is that this isn't some random platformer, but rather a Prince of Persia-esque platformer/puzzler thing where the goal isn't "shove your foot into everything's face", but rather to solve the puzzles that lay ahead to get from level to level. Also like Prince of Persia, the controls are oddly locked in place, so much so that you'd think the world is a decently drawn graph paper sketch. What really sucks is that most of the puzzles are very reflex-based, turning the aforementioned D&D platforming system into a giant fuck you. Then again, the puzzles range from very easy to slightly less easy, the only thing bumping them up to normal difficulty being the previously discussed twitch-based gameplay at times. Dodging enemies, climbing ledges, and possessing enemies all lead to satisfying endings. Wait, what's that? Satisfying endings? You fool, I was going for the possession thing. This is sort of where the game takes on its own special twist: you can hum a tune that will lodge itself in the heads of one type of enemy, somehow putting them under your control. It may sound somewhat cheap that all the other enemies will bite your face off for your cacophonous Rick Roll, but keep in mind that there are only three other enemies in the entire game, and two of them are oddly stuck in their own crappy worlds for about an hour each.
Anyway, back to the enemy possession: long story short, it's like playing as suicide bomber Abe with a gun. In other words, oddly goddamn awesome. Why are they the same? Do I need to explain? I do? Well, that made me look like an asshole. Great. Anyway, both Abe and the suicide bomber bots must, from time to time, use their odd grunt system to progress. Somebody will give or demand of them a password, and you must recite it back. And end with a fart. Unlike the enemy possession, however, this feels more like random busywork the developers shoved into the game to make it feel much odder. Why they did this when the game already has an asshole society and an oddly non-sexual item called "New 'N Tasty" is beyond me; maybe it wasn't to be odd. Maybe it was to lengthen the game. Understandable, since the game is short, but guess what? It works because it's short, a fact which any Oompa Loompa can affirm for you. But unlike Oompa Loompas, this game actually has the chance to become longer with a Jet Force Gemini-esque rescue thing. Oddly enough, it's about the same as in Jet Force Gemini: either get all of them or you get a crap ending. But guess what? I'm happy with that. The ending treats you like the asshole you are for letting them die. Of course, it may be that your species is naturally fucked, since you'll die so many times that you'd think you were in Rapture, but it's reasonable for the game to assume that you're an odd type of violent poet. In fact, that's the award I'll give this game: Titus Andronicus Award. Look it up.
- The only notable thing about the story is Ritalin the Poet.
- However, the game has quite a bit to it: controlling enemies, jumping about levels to solve puzzles...
- ...yet you still can't defend yourself against the locked controls. Or anything, really.