Muramasa Rebirth: Fishy Tales of the Nekomata Review - enuo9 Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Muramasa Rebirth: Fishy Tales of the Nekomata Review

Muramasa Rebirth isn’t for everyone. First of all it’s a port so the target consumers are the gamers who don’t have a Wii but have a Vita, then you have to reduce that audience even further to VanillaWare fans and those who enjoy side-scrollers, and after that point the numbers aren’t great. But then what does this port have to entice new players that the Wii version didn’t? Well aside from much crisper visuals not much. Enter the DLC.


Fishy Tales of the Nekomata is the best kind of DLC, the kind you don’t need because the core game is so good but still want because it promises hours of extra gameplay at not a whole lot of extra money. I certainly didn’t need an excuse to pick this game back up, but I was certainly surprised by how much quality there is to be seen here. Let me save you some time by saying this added content is absolutely worth it, but if you still need convincing, than read on.


This story centers around a girl named Okoi, who after getting ambushed and nearly killed while trying to deliver a teacup, becomes possessed by a cat named Miike. Now possessing formidable new powers, the two travel across the country to uncover Okoi’s assassination attempt as well as get revenge on Miike’s owners. The story comes nowhere close to the grand scale of Kisuke’s or Momohime’s stories, but it’s very well told and more than serviceable for the action ahead.


Let’s talk about the visuals for a minute, VanillaWare’s games are always visually stunning and this new content is no exception, but I was very surprised by just how extravagant it all is. Okoi herself is amazingly well animated, and convey an incredible amount of personality through the simple acts of running, jumping, or crouching in the hot springs. And that goes for Miike as well, there’s an immense amount of detail in Miike’s fighting stance, running animation, and even her crouching animation in which she’ll curl up on the ground like a cat will. This goes for the bosses as well, which are rendered in excruciating detail, the amount of care that went into all of this is absolutely astounding, and we haven’t even gotten to the gameplay yet.


Muramasa isn’t a terribly complex game; it’s a side-scrolling brawler which utilizes swords and secret arts to take down waves of enemies. That said, it’s extremely well done and incentivizes good reaction over simple button mashing, and while the core game is excellent, this new content put a refreshing spin on the formula. Okoi forgoes swords in favor of razor sharp claws, she’s able to move very fast and her attacks keep her constantly moving. Her dodge roll is also slightly more effective than the two main characters, and since it can be mapped to one of the shoulder buttons, can become much more pivotal in combat. You’ll also be switching from Okoi to Miike in combat, and she proves her strength by being just as fast and utilizing a variety of powerful spells, and in addition to that, you also have your avatar form to use when things get really hectic. Depending on whom you’re in control of when you switch to avatar you’ll become something different. If you’re controlling Okoi, you’ll transform into a giant powerful tiger, if it’s Miike, you’ll change into a giant evil cat head, made of cats.


Okoi’s progression is governed by a skill tree which is used to gradually increase the strength of all three forms, adding more attack power, strengthening her secret arts and unlock new abilities to augment combat, and while the story isn’t very long, once it’s complete you can test your mettle against all of the core game’s challenges and bosses to fill out all of her skills as well as find powerful new equipment, making the experience much longer and more fulfilling than it would be otherwise.


Also, there’s one more thing I should mention, Muramasa is a game very heavily rooted in Japanese culture, and this new content takes it to the extreme. The entire first boss fight is a hellish spectacle of Japanese folklore that could legitimately give nightmares if you’re not prepared. Of course if you’ve already played this game you should know that by now, but even I wasn’t entirely prepared for what I saw, and I’m very hard to shock. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s worth noting what you’re getting into.


All told, Fishy Tales of the Nekomata is a welcome addition to an already excellent game, and an absolute steal at only $5. It’s probably not enough to entice new players; but it’s a must-buy for those of us who do have the game. Its one thing to make DLC in an attempt to make more money, but this was clearly a labor of love on VanillaWare’s part, and sometimes, that’s enough to garner praise. The fact that it’s a whole lot of fun doesn’t hurt either.

 

9/10

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