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Wii For the Hardcore: Muramasa Edition

Most Wii games are shovel-ware. Most people seem to feel that hardcore games do not exist in the Wii world, and though wading through Best Buy bargain bins lends some validity to this statement, this does not mean the Wii does not have a good amount of great hardcore games. The big problem is, with the exception of first party titles, games that elitists would fancy don’t usually sell too well. Case in point; Vanilla Ware’s Muramasa.

Released a little less than a year ago, Muramasa has not put a dent or a even a scratch in the North American sales market. The most Muramasa has sold in a single week is barely over 50,000 copies. In total, Muramasa has not even reached the 100,000 mark in North America. As I write, 33.04 million Wii consoles have been sold in just the Americas. You don’t need a calculator and a pen to see how abysmally poor sales have been for Muramasa.

By nature, writers, critics and so called “hardcore” gamers are generally cynical people. Being a self respecting member of all of those camps, albeit a struggling member, means I am not ashamed to warn friends old and new of my rampant cynicism. Thus, with my cynicism in tow I find no reason for Muramasa to have sold so horribly.

By all means, Muramasa is not a perfect game, but it is still a damn good one. Graphically, Vanilla Ware works around the limitations of the Wii to deliver a shockingly good art style. So good in fact, that unaware passerby’s may confuse it for a work of art. More importantly, the gameplay is a fun, utterly engaging mix of fast paced old school 2D action and RPG elements set to the backdrop of fictional feudal Japan. Not surprisingly, the music is wonderfully done and greatly adds to the experience. Not to mention, the replay value is quite high.

Muramasa is not without its criticisms however. First, the story is somewhat lackluster, which is surprising considering Vanilla Ware developed Odin Sphere. Aside from the story, the only other bothersome trait is how much backtracking is required. Thankfully, the story and backtracking do not detract from the experience.

Anyone can complain for miles and miles all over the internet. Unfortunately, only in rare cases does doing so ever solve anything or truly give developers feedback. Yes, the Wii is lacking in video games of the “hardcore” department. On the other hand, when one such game is released, it sells atrociously. Muramasa, sadly, is one of those games and deserves to be played by cynics and optimists alike.


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