Go read the previous parts if you missed them. Today, I,m looking at the extra endings, which can be unlocked once both storylines have been completed - after which, you equip two particular blades to Jinkuro or Kisuke, and step in the final boss's room... to see what I'm about to explain.
|Equip Tsukiotoshi and Mumei Tamanoo.|
I mean, for anyone who isn't versed in Japanese, these names mean nothing.
They meant nothing to me really, but the game says they're important...
|A battle of wills. Who is the best swordsman|
using demon blades?
Well, I played them both, so I guess I am.
|Haven't you heard? Amnesiacs can stay badass. She may|
be Oboro and not Momohime, but the power of Jinkuro is
within her and she can still slash you to pieces!
In Kisuke’s second ending, he, too, battles Jinkuro-as-Momohime, in another very tough duel. In the original story, the Shogun had found a way into Heaven; in this version, Jinkuro killed the Shogun easily and is the one trying to access the holy fountain of Heaven to become a demon king. Torahime recognizes the body as Momohime’s, but notices there’s something really wrong with the way “she” acts. Kisuke promises to save Momohime by defeating Jinkuro! When the evil spirit is defeated, it leaves Momohime’s body, allowing her soul to go back into it.
Torahime, seeing her
mission completed (the Shogun is dead after all, even if Kisuke wasn’t the one
to do it), has to return to the afterlife. Saddened to see his love go, Kisuke
asks for her final favor, and her answer is simple: She wants him to take care
of Momohime. Later, at the family grave of the Narukami clan, Kisuke learns
from Momohime that she cannot rebuild her clan alone. Oh, do I sense a hook-up?
She also says that there are many demon blades out there, and she will not be at
rest until they’ve all been stopped. Therefore, Kisuke and Momohime go on an
adventure where the ninja will look for wielders of demon swords, defeat them,
and take their weapons away. …I like this ending, it’s the best happy ending of
|The adventure continues.|
To see the third and final ending for each character, you first need to collect all the blades, then forge the Oboro Muramasa. Only problem, the way to it is locked by many weapons that can only be collected by defeating bonus Enemy Lairs and the bosses inside them. One lair has two dragons (like Kisuke’s seventh boss), one has centipedes, one has no less than 8 Big Oni, two of each kind, each with boss-level health and ultra-dangerous attacks no matter what level you’re at. There’s also the final Enemy Lair, titled Total Pandemonius, which claims to require a minimum level of 92 and is made up of waves based on all the other enemy lairs. Enjoy! Soon enough, you get all of the missing swords, and can forge the best weapon in the game: Oboro Muramasa. A sword so powerful, it can cut through fate itself and, perhaps, even rewrite history. The only downside is that you may still need to level up a little before you’re allowed to use it (due to minimum Strength/Vitality restrictions). To get the third and final ending for each character, you need to defeat the final boss again, with this sword equipped.
|Definitely something isn't right with these two. Well, actually,|
"Kiku" seems nice enough, but Yukinojyo is acting weird.
Though he can't be as awful as the one in the previous
|Yes. Traitors must die. At least the Kagami clan is|
alive and well, this time.
Christ, the people at Vanillaware need to learn to write good endings. Maybe that one went in line with the Buddhist philosophy that was a part of the story… I still don’t enjoy it. For all the work I went through to get there, I guess I was hoping for something less bittersweet.
|See that at the top? A single hit point.|
Not that you even have to, as the other difficulties also have their own little bonuses: By playing as a character in post-game, you can go and complete all the dungeons the other character went through, with bonus rewards when you do. This is the only way for each character to collect all of the cookbooks and accessories.
Alright then, so it’s time to give my final words about this game. Is it worth playing? Yeah, I’d say it is. The beauty of the graphics is one of the major selling points, and for good reason. This is, without a doubt, one of the prettiest games of all time. When it comes to 2D graphics, anyway. The characters are perfectly animated, the backgrounds are lively and colorful, and even the darker parts are impressive to look at. The amount of detail put in every sprite, in every screen. Simply marvelous. Although, as a result, cutscenes with special animations are few and far between (outside of the ending cutscenes of course, where some new images of the characters may appear – as an example, Kongiku disguised as the human Kiku, or Kisuke and Momohime’s reincarnations, which wear different clothing). Even the swords and their special attacks required different sprites!
Talking about the gameplay now, this game does have a lot of interesting ideas: Using three swords that break when they receive damage or when you use their special talents too often, the forging tree in Muramasa Senji’s forge (I don’t like as much the “Minimum Strength/Vitality” requirements, but that’s minor), the Cooking mechanic (and the fullness mechanic, which prevents you from cooking too often or using all of your healing items at once), the restaurants and peddlers, the quick way to travel around the map… Many great ideas there. I also love that you can enter Enemy Lairs and fight either hordes of enemies or multiple bosses at once. Even better, in postgame with a character you can revisit all of the other character’s dungeons and defeat the bosses in them! The one thing that annoys me with dungeons is that, for all of them except the last one for each character, once you’ve completed one, you need to backtrack all the way to the entrance. In empty rooms, without a single encounter until you’re back on the map of the region you were in. Which is easily three wasted minutes.
Also discussing the map, it’s really large, almost labyrinthine. Easy to get lost if you don’t know where to go. Thankfully, your next destination is always indicated somewhere on the map (which you can access by pressing the - button on the Classic Controller), though unless you have a map of that region (bought from a peddler), on the first playthrough you can’t be sure on what’s the shortest path to get there. In a way, it’s not so bad since you need to level up in order to use stronger weapons; on the other hand, it’s easy to get lost. The accessories and some swords give plenty of interesting bonuses.
Now, the story… First off, as much as I want to praise Vanillaware for this game, I have to admit there are big problems. First off, the translation is rather poor. I can understand why they wouldn’t have English voices, but the dialogue is often insufficient to understand. This game deals with certain philosophies related to Buddhism, so anyone without knowledge of this religion will be lost. Second, this game is deeply rooted in Japanese culture, and it’s often difficult to understand what’s going on unless you know about Japanese history and mythology. All the bosses and some of the enemies are based on youkai. In itself, that wouldn’t be a problem, but combined to the poor translation…
Part of the problem is that this beautiful folklore and mythology is associated to a story that starts as both main characters can’t remember what happened before, and the ensuing adventure connects the dots. For starters, we only get half the story with each character – Torahime or Kisuke are never mentioned in Momohime’s story, and though each character can cameo in the other's story in hot springs, their exchanges never bring much. This kind of plot works a lot better in film; it can be done well in some games, but the way they chose to tell the story here makes it difficult to follow, and leaves players puzzled. I couldn’t get into the plot at first, this was the main reason I wasn’t playing this game more at first. I carried through, so I succeeded in the end. Adding to this, I believe I’ve stated my dislike for the way this game treats female characters? Promising to us no less than two strong female character only for them to turn out not so strong… Yeah.
Thankfully, the end result is enjoyable, and I feel like its strengths are in its gameplay. Pay attention to the story if you want, let it accompany the gameplay; or don’t, and just enjoy this game for the awesome action RPG mechanics.
If you want to try it, there's also a PlayStation Vita version of this game, with four bonus chapters to play. It keeps things pretty much the same, but the bonus chapters may be interesting to play through, as they are also connected to the large story in a way or another.
Let’s see… what’s next week… Hm, I wonder what I should do… Should I do something special, or wait a little longer before doing the third year anniversary review? I think I’ll post something special before the anniversary review. Something out of my comfort zone. How about an album review? Let’s try that. I wrote something some time ago that I really enjoyed, and I feel like sharing it with you people. Does that sound good?