Review: Muramasa Rebirth for Vita

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Muramasa Rebirth 1

Title: Muramasa Rebirth
Price: $39.99
System(s): Vita
Release Date: June 24, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Aksys (Vanillaware)
ESRB Rating: “Teen” for Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence, Language and Sexual Themes

The original Muramasa: The Demon Sword was a tragedy. It was a beautiful game, but was on the Wii, which meant awkward motion controls were inserted, and Ignition Entertainment botched the translation. Not to mention, Vanillaware had more ambitious prospects for the title, like additional playable characters, but had to be satisfied with only telling Kisuke and Momohime’s stories.

All that is remedied with Muramasa Rebirth. Players are treated to a lavish adventure with a fresh, perfect translation, gorgeous visuals and customizeable controls. Adding the excitement is the anticipation of DLC that will tell the tales of four new characters. The result is a Vita masterpiece.

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Two souls’ quest for an unholy weapon.

Muramasa Rebirth follows two characters, both master of the Oboro Style of combat. Its users possess demon blades, swords forged with souls, and use dark attacks. Those who aren’t masters of the style succumb to insanity, blood lust and murderous rages against friends and foes. Fortunately, both Momohime and Kisuke are immune to the effects due to their prowess.

With Momohime, this immunity is incidental. She’s possessed by the spirit of a warrior named Jinkuro. Jinkuro assaulted her fiance, Yukinojyo, hoping to use the Soul Transfer technique and his Kuromitsu Blade to place his soul into the man’s body. Momohime stepped in to protect Yukinojyo, and Jinkuro found himself in her body instead. Now, the two travel west across Japan to reclaim his sword and retake his intended target.

As for Kisuke, no one knows how he knows the Oboro Style or why he is immune, even him. He’s a ninja, formerly working under Yukinojyo. He lost his memory after a mission to supposedly acquire some sword, and now has amnesia, no sword and multiple people hunting for his head. He gets caught up in numerous affairs, and eventually heads east across Japan in the hopes of reclaiming the Muramasa blade.

The ultimate fate of these two warriors varies. Each tale has three possible endings, with the best ending requiring multiple playthroughs to achieve.

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Muramasa Rebirth does the Vita justice

Muramasa Rebirth is a side-scrolling brawler at its core, though it is an exceptionally stylish ones. Players can wield up to 108 collected swords throughout this adventure, putting them to use against a multitude of opponents. Players can use standard attacks, dash attacks and more to assault enemies, even unleashing a special attack that’s more powerful than usual or waiting until a blade is flashing to release a devastating attack on all opponents on-screen when a sword is drawn. There’s a sense of strategy involved, since Kisuke and Momohime are almost always outnumbered and blades used too often can temporarily break. Not to mention someone can create a combo of up to 999 hits. Don’t scoff – it can happen and I achieved it early in Kisuke’s storyline. The new control schemes make the game a dream to play whether people are playing on the easier or more challenging difficulty level.

Despite brawlers usually being about action, Muramasa Rebirth is more about story and beauty. Each character’s tale is filled with drama and adventure, not to mention an occasional humorous moment. Both Kisuke and Momohime are sympathetic and likeable characters, even more so in Aksys’ translation. The characters have a sense of personality that was absent in Ignition’s translation of Muramasa: The Demon Blade, even minor characters. I became invested in their tales and couldn’t wait to reach my next destination and discover what the future held for them.

Then there are Muramasa Rebirth‘s visuals. Vanillaware is known for their quality, 2D games and this is a tribute to their efforts. It’s a stunning game and pops on the Vita thanks to the OLED screen. It is gorgeous and I’m thankful for the Vita’s screenshot feature, as I’ve been taking lots of pictures as I go. If anyone ever doubted the validity of the argument that video games are art, one only has to point to Muramasa Rebirth as a prime example that they are.

Most importantly, Muramasa Rebirth isn’t a game someone will just play for a few hours. Each story is quite substantial and has three endings. That, combined with the 108 swords to potentially collect, makes for plenty of replay value. Moreover, four DLC tales are currently in development and will eventually make their way overseas as well, injecting more life into an already vibrant game.

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Muramasa: The Demon Blade gets the star treatment it deserves.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade was a great game in its original form, despite its failings. On the Vita, Muramasa Rebirth is a masterpiece. The game is gorgeous, plays wonderfully and tells an extraordinary tale. The fact that you’re getting two characters’ stories, each with multiple replay value, and the promise of future DLC, make this a game that needs to be part of any Vita owners’ library. In fact, it’s such a momentous release that obtaining the collector’s edition, with bonus Vita skin and protector, maybe a good way to show love for this fantastic game. At the very least, having a downloadable copy always on-hand on a Vita means someone will never be bored again.

Site [Muramasa Rebirth]

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  • Brad

    Loved this game on the wii and I like it even more on the Vita. The controls feel more precise and natural and it certainly looks better. While I agree that the translation is much better and the story is easier to follow, I can’t help but feel that the added profanity particularly in Kisuke’s story takes away from the “authentic” Japanese feel of the game. I understand wanting to add emphasis or feeling but it was overdone and some words were used so often that they go beyond being redundant. That being said I truly enjoy this game. By far my favorite game for the vita.