There’s a lot of things to keep track of in this game, so please go back to read Part 1 if you missed it. Or else, good luck following this story. So… many… Japanese… names…
Alright, so we’re now in the province of Mino. This place is like a giant castle with a town around it. Jinkuro has to fight his way through undead giant samurai, cannons, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Jinkuro even takes the battle inside, and eventually reaches the final rooms.
Yeah, I know I seem to be skipping a lot, but one of the issues with this game is that, on top of being an action RPG, it has very few NPCs; most of them appear right before a boss, after it, or in the intro and ending. The story is thus told during those moments. There’s also next to no animation in cutscenes, outside of characters talking or slightly moving as they stand still. All this is probably an artistic choice, considering the insane amount of work that went into the hand-drawn sprites and backgrounds. It would be even more work to draw special animations that are only seen once, twice, maybe thrice in the whole game.
|Oh yeah, like mortal samurai can do anything against|
demon swords! I swear, you fat asshole, your head...
It will ROLL!
Danjyo is also the traitor who ordered the attack on Momohime’s family, so Momohime’s soul wants to kill him; Jinkuro asks where the Kuromitsu blade is kept. One of the swordsmen explains that he saw a Red Oni take everything that was in the storehouse where the blade used to be. Later, as Jinkuro meets Kongiku, the kitsune explains that Kuromitsu was made out of a weapon that came from Hell and that the Red Oni – a demon, clearly – was probably trying to take it back to Hell. Jinkuro knows that a festival in Rikdogatsuji, in the province of Yamahiro, will be the perfect time to go into Hell to retrieve the blade!
Eh, it’s not my first venture into Hell when it comes to video games. Let’s do this. Jinkuro-as-Momohime runs across many parts to reach Rikdogatsuji, and finally falls into a hole that takes him directly in Hell. …Well, that was easy. The fights ahead are anything but easy, though; every fight now features a gigantic demon at least twice Momohime’s size. First a Red Oni, then a Blue Oni, then a giant minotaur and another similar creature except with a horse’s head. And those are TOUGH, even with your best weapons of the moment.
|Holy crap! I'll give it to you Momohime, when you have your|
back at the wall, you do show great courage.
|Guess who's getting their brain hemispheres separated|
by a demon blade tonight? You, giant oni!
Jinkuro is still on his quest for immortality, and he decides there’s only one way to go: If Hell led him nowhere, the answer must be in Heaven! Oh good, we’re gonna invade the palace of the Gods! I can’t see this backfiring in any way! Jinkuro travels towards Takamagahara, in the province of Ise, to look for a path that leads to Heaven. As we get closer to Heaven, yellow clouds start appearing on the way; and so do poisoned butterflies. And the higher we go, the more paper-like the world around gets. Like the game is transcending its own existence to go back to the paper the hand-drawn sprites came from… nah, that can’t be it.
|That's a tall woman.|
The old swordsman knows that there are other ways into Heaven and asks where the closest one is; it’s in Yamato, near Mount Kongo... but it’s also the location of Rankai’s monastery, where his sect prays. So yeah, I suspect there’ll be a big fight against Rankai soon enough…
Once again, defeating a boss gives Jinkuro a new weapon. It’s late in Momohime’s story, so I’ll explain this now: Remember the forge I mentioned in Part 1? Whenever you have enough Spirit and Soul, you can have the Muramasa Senji forge a weapon for you. However, some of the weapons cannot be forged by Senji; those weapons are surrounded by a colored square. Those are weapons that can only be acquired by defeating certain bosses. And the way the forging tree works, you cannot obtain certain blades until you’ve earned a blade from defeating a boss. Therefore, your progress in forging strong blades is hindered by your progression in the story. Thankfully, each boss-earned blade opens the path for a few blades, allowing you to gain power to make the next boss a little easier. Momohime and Kisuke both have their own half of the forging upgrade tree, and the final blades need both characters to get to a certain point in the story. The most powerful blades can only be accessed after you’ve beaten the game with both. There’s also a number of boss-earned blades that I suspect belong to bonus bosses that can only be found after the game has been beaten once. Those also need to be acquired in order to forge the last few blades. After Jinkuro defeats Raijin, there’s about 37 blades available for him to use. On 108.
Jinkuro runs through Yamato, reaches the large monastery, and finds a path that leads to Heaven. Well, gotta give it to the guy, for the undead soul of a criminal he sure has determination. Alright then, let’s get to the final boss!
We enter the room of the boss and meet with… Yukinojyo? That guy who was supposed to marry Momohime? The guy admits that he ran to the Monastery to tell Rankai about Jinkuro’s arrival ahead of time, and makes another shocking revelation: The Kuromitsu blade, the object we’ve been looking for, has always been in Yukinojyo’s possession! Yukinojyo offers up the body of a captured criminal to transfer Jinkuro’s soul in, so that Momohime’s soul can go back in her body. He wants to see the process as it takes place, but Jinkuro figures out that Yukinojyo wants to steal the process for himself, in an attempt to also become immortal. Geez! So much for your so-called heroism, Yukinojyo!
|Now this is one giant statue..|
...But I've killed much bigger, in this very game.
|Um... What does the almighty, God-defeating Jinkuro|
have to say? Oh, he gives up? I have the impression
that it's the wiser move.
…but the God represented by the statue, Fudo-Myoou, is still very alive, and swears that Jinkuro will never get into heaven! The God decides to become a giant demon and ravage the land… And next thing we know, Momohime awakes on the floor of the Buddhing monastery, her soul back in her body, wondering what happened to Jinkuro. Walking around, she sees that Kongiku has reverted to a normal fox, and the ex-kitsune says she wished she could have talked to Jinkuro a last time before he left. Rankai has been scared by that God he believed in suddenly going crazy, so he decides to stop his walk of revenge. Jinkuro’s Soul, a little further, explains that the god’s rampage forced his soul out of Momohime’s body and Momohime’s soul back inside it, and she’s free again. More importantly, she’s no longer “dead”. As good as new! A flashback shows that despite Jinkuro’s best efforts, he was unable to actually defeat the rampaging god Fudo-Myoou, and thus chose to mend his ways, apologize for the wrong he’s done, and set things right with Momohime’s soul. Even if that means he's going to Hell.
After Jinkuro’s soul is gone, Momohime decides to quit her arranged wedding with Yukinojyo to become a Buddhist nun and pray for Jinkuro’s soul, sensing that there was something good in him and that she might “save him”. Ah, please. Bad guys don’t need saving. The sooner they go on the road to redemption, the quicker they die! Haven’t you learned anything? Proof, he became sort of a good guy and now he’s dead! …Wait, he was already dead before that… Dammit Nicolas, stop confusing yourself!
|On the right: Jinkuro, when he was alive.|
On the left: Yuzuruha, a mysterious second kitsune who
accompanies Kisuke on his journey.
First off, the game makes use of enemy scaling. When you level up, you get access to stronger weapons through Muramasa Senji’s forge, and thus your attack level increases. However, every enemy you encounter will also become more dangerous; they gain HP and attack when you level up. You still stay reasonably stronger than them thanks to the swords you unlock, but this also means that very few, if any, enemies on the world map will be defeated in a single slash. As such, it’s technically useless to level-grind too much, as you’ll find yourself having to fight stronger enemies anyway. However, you still need to grind for experience a bit since the unlockable swords in Muramasa Senji’s forge have requirements such as a minimum stat of Strength and Vitality on the character you currently use, and those only increase with your level.
|A treasure chest! Yes! And there are no mimics in this|
world, so it's safe to open!
Talking about side-quests, even after you’ve completed one storyline you can’t access all of the locations. As I said in Part 1, the swords you unlock by defeating bosses allow you to cut through colored barriers blocking your way, but if you only complete Momohime’s or Kisuke’s story, you still don’t have the blade that cuts through white barriers. Those usually lead to bonus dungeons, or to particularly tough enemy lairs. Therefore, you need to complete both storylines in order to access everything. Also of note, each storyline has three endings, one which you can see with a character when you beat its storyline the first time, one you see after you’ve beaten both storylines and equipped certain swords, and a third one seen after you’ve created the strongest sword in the game and equipped it (a feat that can be achieved only after beating most bonus dungeons). Gotta give it to Vanillaware, they sure know how to give longevity to a game.
Alright then, I believe we’ll meet in Part 3 for Kisuke’s story. Be there Friday!