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June 24, 2016

Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Part 3)

Go read the previous parts if you haven't!
In Part 2, I completed Momohime’s storyline (or is it actually Jinkuro’s?), and explained a few more things about the game. Now, I’m explaining Kisuke’s side of the plot.

Go, Kisuke! The bigger they are, the harder they fall;
Well, time to see how they- Oh look, a bautiful sunset!
After runniung through the forest, Kisuke is confronted by ninjas who ask him who his boss is, and why he killed so many of his ninja comrades. Kisuke replies that he can’t give an answer, since he doesn’t remember anything; he doesn’t even know why these ninjas are gone after him. To try and stop him, the ninjas unleash a giant robotic-like ninja using pinwheel blades bigger than Kisuke himself. Well, it’s early for a boss, and this one IS pretty tough, but soon enough Kisuke depletes the boss’s bar entirely.

After this fight, I suppose the ninjas run away; Kisuke then meets Yuzuruha, another kitsune, who decides to strike up a deal with him; she needs his strength for some unknown mission. In return, she gives him access to the cursed blades of Muramasa Senji, on his quest to retrieve his memories. Kisuke runs across a portion of the world and finds himself in a city, where he goes all the way to the top of the castle. There, encountering ninjas, he tries to know why he’s being called a traitor. Even Yukinojyo’s there! It’s explained that Kisuke stole the legendary blade that was being sought during the mission where he betrayed his squad, and kept it for himself; he also killed at least six of his comrades and keeps their skulls attached to his waist… How charming. However, his antics may have provoked demons to come out and attack.

Argh. I hate centipedes. It will be a pleasure to kill them.
Just how many are there anyway?
And what big demons, indeed! Centipedes. Lots and lots of creepy, giant centipedes crawling all over the city. Each one of them is bigger than two houses. So Kisuke manages to repair his giant mess… by killing all the giant centipedes, which is actually rather tough considering there’s a whole bunch of them. There’s one good side; those fill the screen. So if you keep slashing away, you could rack up an impressive combo count. With all the centipedes gone, the ninjas show just a little bit more respect for Kisuke – despite still calling him a traitor – and even Yukinojyo chooses to keep Kisuke alive since his talents could come in handy later.

Even Rankai the monk is there. See? Momohime and Kisuke’s stories do combine. Yukinojyo explains that Momohime’s older sister, Torahime, is a shrine maiden and she might have been possessed by a ghost; Yukinojyo tasks Kisuke with defeating that ghost. Off we go! On the way towards Mino, we can come across a few enemy lairs as well as a hot spring where Kisuke may find Momohime bathing.

Holy crap, that horse is freaking awesome. I want one.
With a transcendent saddle.

And she's awesome with a bow. I would probably enjoy this
strong female character... if she really was one. Change
to Damsel In Distress role in 3... 2... 1...
We head into Mino and find Torahime about to lead a group of giant undead samurai towards the palace of the Shogun, in Edo, in an attempt to kill him. Why? Because, apparently, the current Shogun of Japan was the one who ordered the attack on Momohime’s family. By the way, Torahime is riding a giant ghostly horse; if that’s not badass, I don’t know what is. And the boss fight against her is really hard, too; even when you defeat her ghostly guards, she tends to gallop on her giant ghostly horse around the stage, getting away from Kisuke, and shoot with her bow to hurt him. And it would be simpler to reach her if there weren’t so many tall bamboos blocking the way, forcing Kisuke to jump, and perhaps get an arrow in the face! That horse is no pushover, either. Still, after an impressive fight, our ninja manages to defeat Torahime.

Thankfully, she’s not harmed; only her ethereal mount is. He asks what happened, and gets most of the story; he’s a ninja who was tasked with getting the legendary blade known as the Kuzuryu Muramasa, owned by Torahime’s family. That blade apparently contains the spirit of a demon, hence why her family was supposed to seal it away. Along with his squad, Kisuke masqueraded for six months as a servant of their family, until the big attack happened; in it, Momohime was mortally wounded (hence why she starts the game as a body whose souls can interchange in her own storyline), while Kisuke tried to protect Torahime and was, too, mortally wounded as a result. Not that it helped, Torahime was killed too. Except people around these parts have a bad tendency to start walking again like nothing happened, even after they’ve died. Kisuke survived, he doesn’t know why. Same for Torahime, all we know is that now, for some reason, she’s leading a group of undead samurai. I hope we find answers to that soon!

Chasing evil spirits? You may be looking for Jinkuro.
Who you let pass freely to battle a green titan.
...Girl, you're an incredible fighter, but you suck at your
evil-repelling job.
Kisuke decides he needs to follow Torahime, and so he finds his way towards Totomi. There, he runs and jumps on top of tree branches and finds a scene of desolation; the undead samurai, all defeated by holy strength. When he asks where Torahime is, they answer that she ran away to a holy temple in Yamato. Also on the scene is a little girl named Sayo, who doesn’t want to let Kisuke pass, since he’s a trespasser, “like an evil spirit, and evil spirits cannot pass”. Hah, right! Bullcrap! How could Jinkuro pass so easily, then? The young girl, Sayo, does say Kisuke seems possessed by someone or something… Hm, I wonder… Ack! No time to wonder! Sayo attacks! And don’t be fooled by her small size, she hits hard! She keeps summoning crows and scrolls to attack, and really likes to spend a part of the fight suspended by said crows, away from your ground attacks. Which is a good strategy, since you can only activate your blades’ special moves on the ground and many special moves can’t hit enemies who stay in midair.

Is she being lifted by birds? Yeah. Balloons were just too much trouble.
She couldn't control her flight - also, they weren't invented yet.

It's the first time I see a guy having a flashback
and being a bystander in that flashback.
When Sayo is defeated, she leaves, but not without saying that she's surprised the Oboro Style must still be used among living people. Wait, Oboro Style… wasn’t that the power used by Jinkuro to steal Momohime’s body? We’re then treated to a flashback from Kisuke’s point of view, seeing him talk to a spirit called Oboroya Senju. The old master explains that he desires his techniques to remain in use, and thus he offers to give them to the young ninja. Kisuke can walk around this flashback, seeing a dying, greyed out version of himself accepting the Oboro style on the condition that he can avenge the deaths of the people he served, and retrieve the legendary weapon. Oboroya also states that all others apprentices of the Oboro Style were killed by one of their own – clearly Jinkuro – and he can merge his own soul with Kisuke’s, giving him free access to these techniques. So this is what happened! Oboroya merged with Kisuke!

Christ, that spider is ugly. It's a few details away from
having a trollface for a head.
Kisuke goes back to look for Torahime, and she’s run off to Yamato, which was the last place to visit in Momohime’s storyline, and enters the Buddhist temple, which was Momohime’s last dungeon. At first he’s assaulted by monks and ninjas, but we find the higher floors mysteriously covered in spider webs and inhabited by large arachnids… The next room is just a giant web, and in the middle of it awaits Tsuchigumo, the giant spider youkai. It has mummified Torahime and is ready to eat her! Kisuke fights the giant spider and manages to defeat it along with all of its offspring, saving the captured monks at the same time.

Come to think of it, what is it with this game that promises to us “strong female characters” only to have them turn out to not be so strong? Momohime is actually Jinkuro possessing her body… Torahime was cool as a boss yet keeps running into trouble or getting captured…

In the next cutscene, we learn that the monk who had been captured saw Torahime’s burial, he’s certain that she’s dead. When Kisuke asks Torahime, she explains that she passed a pact with the deity of the next world, Amitabha, in order to avenge her death at the hands of the Shogun’s men, and that she has a limited number of days to do so. She then explains that her army of undeads was exorcised by Sayo met earlier, so she needs help fulfilling her mission. But hey, Kisuke can help her, right?

Hey, look, it's the sunset! A scary one. You can just feel the war as it goes
on before this background. It's like the end of time is approaching.

Using souls to attack? That's demonic.
Says the guy who's been using soul-powered blades for a few hours now.
Kisuke runs to Shinano where he finds a battlefield; living ninjas and spirits alike are fighting in a war. Aesthetically, this looks like a very unpleasant location, much like Hell in Momohime’s story. Kisuke soon finds Torahime and her army of ghostly samurai, only to learn they’re out numbered 5-to-1 against the Shura army and are trapped; if they attack, they lose, and if they wait for too long, Torahime's allotted time for revenge will run out, and they lose! Kisuke decides to find the general of the Shura army and defeat him… and so he finds a giant undead samurai monster that goes by the name of Chigurui Bishamon. Kisuke defeats the monster (it’s an easy battle if you ask me), but gets slashed in the back and almost dies, until he’s taken in by Yuzuruha and healed by the power of Inari, the fox god that kitsunes also worship (that includes Yuzuruha and Kongiku). Yuzuruha then explains the story of Inugami, the Dog God who became dangerous so Inari stopped him and took his powers away; since Inari was still a threat, the fox god had to seal it in the Kuzuryu, a blade created by Muramasa Senji and then put in the protection of the Narukami clan… Momohim and Torahime’s family. And the Shogun likely wanted to steal that weapon to unleash the power of the Dog God.

If I can go to Hell, I CAN KILL A GOD!
After his recovery, Kisuke finds out that Torahime has left for Mount Fuji, where she’ll break a special spell that keeps the barriers in place. Once again, Kisuke goes after her. The things one does for love… Our ninja finds himself scaling Mount Fuji and reaching the top, only to discover the undead samurai army defeated – AGAIN! – and Torahime and her ghostly horse, also defeated – AGAIN. Christ lady, you dare call yourself an action girl? All you’ve been doing since I met you in the game is lose and lose! All the time! She explains that her attempt at breaking the barriers awoke the Dragon God, and it got pissed and attacked them. Kisuke decides that he can take on a God, and gets into a fight with the beast. It starts off pretty simple, until the Dragon God uses lighting effects to turn the battlefield completely dark and hide in the darkness, which still lets it use plenty of annoying moves… thankfully, despite all these obstacles, Kisuke beats up the God. It apologizes for its rage after admitting defeat. From there, we learn that the Shogun is possessed by the power of Inugami, and the Dog God is attempting to open the gates of Heaven in order to access the magical well that would give him all of his powers back, immortality, and raise him to the level of a greater demon – hence why the Shogun is doing all those things. Thankfully, the protection around the Shogun’s quarters is weak, so it’s time to attack!

Kisuke thus runs to Musashi. On the way, you can go into an Enemy Lair that pits you against four bosses, so it’s the perfect place to level up before the big final battle. The ninja soon reaches the city of Edo, which seems to be on fire at this moment. There’s a scary red glow in the background where the castle is, and some rooms have backgrounds that are nothing but flames. Even as we get closer to the final battle, we see the place get darker; the final room before the boss is all dark, with fire behind.

I don't like that orange glow.

The ninja enters the final room and finds the Shogun, Tokugawaa Tsunayoshi, who easily defeated and killed Torahime. Hey, you were supposed to stay behind! How the Hell do you want me to stay in love with you if you get yourself in deep trouble all the time? I don’t want a lemming for my girlfriend! Anyway, the spirit of the Dog God inhabits the Shogun, and proudly proclaims that with Heaven’s Gate opened, he’ll become an arch-demon and burn all of Japan to the ground! Torahime says her final farewell to Kisuke who promises to avenge her.

I've been killing vaguely humanoid monsters like this
for days now. They don't scare me. I won't stop till your
fat ass lies lifeless! You'll pay for your attack on the Narukami clan!

The first fight against the Shogun is tough, because the guy keeps summoning ninja spirits to attack, and he also likes teleporting left and right and protecting himself with some sort of red-and-black force field. He also has a load of HP, more than any boss seen so far. Soon enough this annoying fight is over, and we get to the second part; the Shogun unsheathes the sword and some kind of demonic matter comes out, transforming the tyrant into Inugami, a giant dog.

That thing is just monstrous, creepier than any other boss. And there was a giant spider with an ugly face, for Christ’s sake! This giant dog has only two legs, and uses a whole lot of annoying attacks; bring up any annoying attack in the game, he probably has it. Thunder? Yup. Portals that attack Kisuke? You bet. Teleportation? Hell yes. Anything that instantly breaks one of your blades? That too! The new thing here is how Inugami vanishes, only for his jaw to reappear as big as the screen to try and bite Kisuke. Or when the jaw comes from the top, hits the floor in a constant stream of darkness and teeth. Good night kids!


Another very tough fight but Kisuke wins. However, Torahime is still dead; Kisuke travels into the portal leading to Heaven, convinced that an actual good deity would not have let a girl like her die in such cruel ways. Blame the deities, I’ll blame the makers of the game. Kisuke jumps on colorful lotus flowers, and reaches yellow clouds, where he meets the great deity Amitabha, the one who allowed Torahime to come back to life to avenge her clan.

...Holy, very holy indeed!

Hm, who might these two fine young people be?
That anime hair can't lie, though. This has to be Kisuke.
I’m not entirely sure what happens afterwards, I would need more knowledge in the Buddhist religion, but here’s what I got: Amitabha refused to bring Torahime back to life, so Kisuke took his own life in exchange, committing seppuku (No!). Knowing that his criminal deeds on this adventure will take him to Hell, Torahime prays to Amitabha so that she and Kisuke get reincarnated in the living world, to live together, so that Torahime can show Kisuke how to attain inner peace. They were reborn as Ohana and Kanbei, respectively, and the boy only has passing dreams of his adventure, while Ohana was contacted by Yuzuruha in dream. The kitsune is doing this to reunite them in their new lives. End of Kisuke’s story.


….Yeah, it is. Sort of. As I mentioned, every character has bonus endings that can only be seen after each story mode have been completed. Now the player can go back to either character’s final boss to see a wholly different ending. It’s also possible to cut through white barriers and access the bonus dungeons.

I’ll come back in Part 4 to discuss the secret endings and the bonus dungeons!