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Muramasa: The Demon Blade Review

Brad Gallaway's picture

Not nearly as sharp as it looks

Muramasa: The Demon Blade Art - Momohime and Kisuke

HIGH The hand-drawn artwork is incredible eye-candy.

LOW Feels empty and barren; a rough sketch of a bigger game.

WTF Did the developers honestly think that style trumps substance?

First things first—I need to say up front that I am a huge fan of Vanillaware's art team. Their visual designs are appealing, their artistry is clear to see, and the attention to detail given to every aspect of their presentation puts them near the top of the 2D game scene, hands down. They've done outstanding work in previous efforts, and Muramasa is no different. In fact, it may be their best work overall, and that's saying something. If games were critiqued solely on looks, Muramasa would be practically flawless.

However, it's a fact that it takes more than graphics to make a game. It can't be disputed. Although I have nothing but admiration for the intricate illustrations making up the face of Muramasa: The Demon Blade, I'm sad to report that I found nearly every other aspect of the title to be lackluster and incomplete to a ridiculous degree.

Although this 2D side-scrolling hack-n-slash game presents two characters (one a possessed princess, the other an amnesiac ninja) they're merely palette swaps for each other with no discernible difference in function. An argument might be made that each was worth including since they have different storylines, except that the plots are blurted out via impromptu dialogue snatches with little context and even less significance. There is no serious attempt made to give depth to the characters or their situations, and to say that the storytelling borders on nonsensical is being generous.

With nothing to sink dramatic teeth into, it falls to the graphics and gameplay to carry Muramasa's burden. The visuals certainly do their part, but there is precious little play to talk about.

To be fair, the mechanics of swordfighting are more elegant than they appear at first glance. By assigning attacks to one button and mapping different abilities to the D-pad, it's possible to have either character flashing back and forth across the screen in a deadly dance of upslashes, air dashes, or defensive rolls. Once the system is understood, it functions quite well and has a certain energy to the rhythm of orchestrating movement. Unfortunately, Vanillaware gives players little reason to take advantage of it.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade Screenshot

Basically, every world in Muramasa is a series of empty squares laid out in linear fashion—and when I say "empty squares," that's exactly what I mean. The player starts at one end and crosses each zone until they reach a boss or some other event at the far end of the line. There are no puzzles, no platforming, no tricks or any interesting events... the player is simply pushing through from one side to the other and fighting a couple of quickie battles along the way. It's mind-numbingly boring, and I have a hard time believing that the developers have never had exposure to any of the countless titles prior to Muramasa which feature levels that actually progress, change, or develop in some way.

Adding insult to injury, these areas are recycled side-by-side, and there are an absurd number of them to cross. It's extremely common to pass through four or six identical areas, one right after the other with no difference between them and nothing noteworthy happening. Not only does this bring on an intense and constant sense of déjà vu, the sporadic ambushes from enemies are over in a matter of moments. The majority of the player's time with Muramasa is spent mowing down speed bumps while traveling between small segments with a bit of spark.

I will admit that when the end of each desolate, repetitive area is eventually reached, the boss battles are fairly interesting. Since their life bars tend to be quite long, the extended battles have a fair bit of kick, and a modicum of strategy is called for. That said, there are only a handful of them sprinkled throughout the game, and asking players to put up with the tedium of endlessly crossing these areas just for brief snatches of substance takes a lot of gall.

In a cursory attempt to add depth to this wading pool, Muramasa does feature a sword-development tree where a large number of blades can be unlocked by collecting the requisite points and leveling up to a required degree, but it's of little interest. Each sword feels like the last, with little effect on the generic combat or how it plays out. I felt no motivation whatsoever to earn the next blade, and the feature was produced in such straightforward fashion that it feels like it's there more out of obligation than because it actually enhances the game. At no point was there ever any "gee whiz" factor of getting a new piece of kit, and if the entire sword concept was removed, nothing significant would be lost.

In every way save the graphics, I found Muramasa: The Demon Blade to be a failure. It certainly appears to be an attractive package at first glance (doubly so on the Wii given its comparatively weak library) but the entire experience felt repetitive, shallow, and unfinished... a half-formed idea needing more meat on its bones rather than a completed project capable of commanding respect. To be brutally frank, the game failed to keep my attention for even the first hour, and the next two I put in were exactly like the first. I love the art—really, really do, but graphics alone can't carry a game. Besides its looks, Muramasa doesn't have a leg to stand on. Rating: 3.0 out of 10.

Disclosures: This game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Wii. Approximately 3.5 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game contains alcohol reference, fantasy violence, and suggestive themes. The violence consists of the characters slashing at enemy ninja and demons, and the suggestive themes are a few quasi-risque reveals of female characters. None of this will corrupt any youth as far as I'm concerned, although stuff of this sort is best left to the teens (and above.)

Deaf & Hard of Hearing: You won't have any problems. All dialogue is subtitled and there are no important audio cues necessary for play. Totally accessible.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Wii  
Developer(s): Vanillaware  
Publisher: Ignition  
Series: Muramasa  
Genre(s): Arcade  
ESRB Rating: Teen (13+)  
Articles: Game Reviews  

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Thank you for the honest

Thank you for the honest review, Brad. After playing about six hours into the game, I had the exact same feelings you did. I'm quite surprised at the positive reviews Muramasa is receiving. Trudging from one identical area to the next, with nothing save a few tree branches to jump around on? I can fire up most NES games and get deeper and more varied gameplay!

Some people are saying that they like VanillaWare's "back to basics" brawling. But why pay $50.00 for it? Download River City Ransom for $5.00! It might not have terrific art, but it has co-op, more personality, and guys that say "Barf!"

3 out of 10 no just NO

I can see this game getting a 7 out of ten at the least. Not all areas are flat there are several with cliffs and trees to jump on and aerial combat becomes an absolute requirement. You failed to mention that each sword gives you different special attacks. Which is by the way A KEY COMPONENT OF THE GAME PLAY! Also though the two characters are very similar in basic attacks they get different swords which in turn gives them completely different special attacks. Also surviving in this game requires good item management and you didn't even mention the cooking system. You also didn't mention that your swords break and it takes a lot of skill to know which ones to switch to. What were you playing on Muso the whole time? That difficulty just requires you to button mash. I never play that one I always play on Shura difficulty which requires special attacks be used efficiently. Anyway there were a lot of features you failed to cover. Well whatever I guess if you don't like it then you don't but I'm having a blast with this game so what ever.

After reading

After reading this:

----
Disclosures: This game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Wii. Approximately 3.5 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
----

I decided to just skip reading everything else in the review and give Brad Gallaway's review a 3/10. Why bother reading the rest? I only need to read 25% of it to make an informed decision.

How slow did you take it, to

How slow did you take it, to be in the flat areas for an hour? Wow man, thats just sorry. Im with my friend here, you left out ALOT! Cooking, special attacks, later areas, the different diffculties. Also you bitch about the lack of platforming, how far did you take the game? Did you even make it to Musashi or Kisuke's city, cause they are big time platformers. Also the big areas are dull and repeditive and their beautiful to look at, plus the random battles happen more often then you give credit. 3.5 fucking hours is all you gave this game and you DID NOT COMPLETE IT!? Seriously dont give a game such a bad rating without playing it full way, I mean really.

Dispite what my friend said about diffculty I play it on Muso myself, I only plaied Shura for the Dragon god and the first level. I plaied most of the game on Muso cause Shura proved to much for me and putting it on Shura for the Dragon god is just my love and respect for dragons.

All in all I give this game ATLEAST 8 if not 9, hell im weird and think the rating system from big names is harsh so I would even give it a 10.

Just to respond to your

Just to respond to your comments, we purposely put that disclaimer there so that people who read the reviews can get a very clear idea of how much time and effort each critic put into their piece. We're being completely open and honest, and if you think that 3.5 hours isn't enough time to really see what the game has to offer, then you can make that informed decision. We're not trying to hide anything. However, I will say in my defense that if the game can’t grab a person in nearly 4 hours, then there's something fatally wrong with that design.

As far as the other stuff goes (cooking, special attacks, sword breaking) if I thought it was worth mentioning, it would have been mentioned. The way I see it, all that stuff is entirely peripheral to the giant, gaping hole where the gameplay should go. If you guys liked it, that's great… it's no skin off my nose. As for me, that stuff was basically a couple sprigs of parsley on empty plate.

It is not the first time

It is not the first time Brad does this and I find it completely unacceptable. Imagine a film critic giving one star to a film from Tarkovsky because during the first 20 minutes nothing happened - in terms of conventional narrative. This kind of approach to game review should not be tolerated, especially here where everyone wants games to be "upscaled" to a higher level. If you didn't play the game, find someone who did and publish that review. Some games start slow or bland and then pay off. Just like some books and films.

There's a big difference

There's a big difference between playing video games and watching a concert or movie: most games are MUCH longer. And, to be honest, video games aren't really the most productive way to spend one's time. Why should someone waste hours of their life playing a game they don't even enjoy?

Is an RPG that improves around the 20 hour mark worth the time investment? Should I really watch or read Return of the King if I hated the story in Fellowship and Two Towers? There's something to be said for cutting one's losses, and as long as a reviewer admits it straight up front I think it's acceptable. Yes, there are a lot of extra things in Muramasa, but the central mechanics are the fighting and exploring, and if those two activities are dull and repetitious it doesn't make sense to keep playing.

Muramasa review

this is basically the most retarded review ive ever read, the game looks better than most ps3/360 games, the gameplay works great and it may be a bit repetitive but then what AAA games havent been? gears of war was repetitive as HELL, for example!

honestly you guys should be ASHAMED of this review

But Brad isn't a common

But Brad isn't a common player, he's a game critic. If you don't have the time to properly review a game then pass the job to someone who will and then publish a review. You have the right not to read Return of the King if you hated Two Towers but you can't seriously consider yourself a critic if you turn 20 pages and review it for a site. These type of reviews seem more like the ones I find at a shopping store like Amazon. I bet that if the game was bought he would probably review it differently.

Seriously?

You're professionals (and after reading this "review", I use that term loosely). I haven't cracked my copy open just yet, but here's a little piece of advice for the future: don't review a game until you've completed it!

That's like going to a movie and giving an honest critique 30 minutes into it.

First off, stop with the

First off, stop with the faulty analogy comparing movie reviews with video game reviews. They are 2 different mediums. You do not have to play the whole game to get the just of it.

I'm quite shocked and appalled at the response people are giving towards Brad's review. He has made one critical point that everyone has ignored.

"However, I will say in my defense that if the game can’t grab a person in nearly 4 hours, then there's something fatally wrong with that design."

Video games should be pick up, and play. It's considered very bad game design to go so far into the game without it drawing you in. This is but one of the problems that plagues this game, and it's very common in many Japanese titles; style over substance.

I agree with the person who said that if you want this type of gameplay to just go buy an older game, because they're sure as heck are better at doing this than VanillaWare are. If you can't even compete with games from the past, you don't deserve to be in this industry.

Don't let the negativity get to you, Brad. Your review is one of the least biased I've read on this game. It's nice to see that not everyone is easily suckered in by pretty visuals.

The concept of a game

The concept of a game grabbing you is completely subjective. GTA may bore me to death after 30 minutes but millions of people find it extremely attractive. Because of that, I could never write a professional review about it.
There is nothing wrong with style over substance. I actually like the idea of a medium serving beautiful painted art through a videogame. Now that's being subversive. Games can be so much more than mechanics, can't they?
However, this is not the main problem here. The fact that a reviewer does not fully play a game and score it officially, is my personal problem with this review.

Poor review

I could understand the game wasn't to your liking,but a "3/10?".First of all,the whole game was hand drawn,and secondly the gameplay rocks! I didn't find it a problem having too backtrack though levels because I enjoyed the forge system so much.

The game is good and doesn't reflect your score "at all!".The only games I see which deserve a 3/10 or the ones which are glitchy and don't work,which Muramasa does!

Players and critics have different responsibilities

As a player, I have no obligation to complete a game if it doesn't appeal to me at first blush. No one is relying on my impression of a game to make a decision.

A critic, if s/he's to be taken seriously, doesn't enjoy that luxury.

I know games are often longer than films. Tough shit. No professional literary critic would review "Infinite Jest" based on the first 50 of its 1079 pages. No professional film critic would review the original "Solaris" based on the first hour of its four hour run time. And no professional game critic would (or at least, should) review any game without at least trying to reach the end credits. Save your limited impressions for a message board post or a response to a complete review. Don't expect readers to "weigh" the fact that you only played the game for 3.5 hours in judging your official review. We didn't come here to judge your review--we came here to get impressions of a game based on a reasonably comprehensive playthrough. If you don't have time to give a fair review based on a reasonably comprehensive playthrough, you're not doing anyone any favors by reviewing a game based on an incomplete experience.

Remember that your score will be incorporated into a metacritic average that could determine whether the developers are entitled to a bonus, or even continued employment. In such cases, to publish an official review based on so limited an experience is not only unprofessional, but irresponsible.

Critics don't need to love a game to review it

ckzatwork wrote:

The concept of a game grabbing you is completely subjective. GTA may bore me to death after 30 minutes but millions of people find it extremely attractive. Because of that, I could never write a professional review about it.

It is precisely because you do not like Grand Theft Auto that you can write a "professional review" of the game. The job of a critic is not to come to some sort of indisputable conclusion about a game.

Providing you present your opinion, back it up with solid arguments as to why you hold such an opinion of a game and are consistent, then you've done your job.

Whether a critic, in this case Brad, backs up his review with solid arguments is one thing, whether or not he loves a game that "everyone else" loves is quite another. And really, it is not his job to look over the landscape and parrot what every other outlet or game forum is saying.

Thanks for keeping it subjective.

Hey Brad,

I really enjoyed this review. Knowing the quantity and quality of your reviews in the past, it spoke volumes that you would stop and put the game to rest after a (relatively) short time. Your arguments made a whole lot of sense to me and I think I got more out of your response than I would have if you had stuck to the tried and true formula of "Graphics, Gameplay, Sound, Funfactor."

I hope you continue to bring this sort of personality and honesty to your reviews.

Thanks,
eaps

glitchy games get 3s?

Stevens wrote:

I could understand the game wasn't to your liking,but a "3/10?".First of all,the whole game was hand drawn,and secondly the gameplay rocks! I didn't find it a problem having too backtrack though levels because I enjoyed the forge system so much.

The game is good and doesn't reflect your score "at all!".The only games I see which deserve a 3/10 or the ones which are glitchy and don't work,which Muramasa does!

Right there you gave your opinion and that is what Brad was asked to do.

That you think only games which are glitchy and don't work deserve a 3 out of 10 is your opinion, but you can't hold that out as some sort of editorial standard. I am sure others would dispute your conclusion. Does that make you wrong? Does that make those that criticize what you just said wrong?

Are we allowed to "walk out" on a video game?

aesquire wrote:

I know games are often longer than films. Tough shit. No professional literary critic would review "Infinite Jest" based on the first 50 of its 1079 pages. No professional film critic would review the original "Solaris" based on the first hour of its four hour run time. And no professional game critic would (or at least, should) review any game without at least trying to reach the end credits. Save your limited impressions for a message board post or a response to a complete review. Don't expect readers to "weigh" the fact that you only played the game for 3.5 hours in judging your official review. We didn't come here to judge your review--we came here to get impressions of a game based on a reasonably comprehensive playthrough. If you don't have time to give a fair review based on a reasonably comprehensive playthrough, you're not doing anyone any favors by reviewing a game based on an incomplete experience.

You act as though book critics don't ever skim through dull 1000+ page books or movie critics don't tune out during a long, boring movie. Unlike the book or movie examples you are using--nice examples by the way, though you can hardly compare Muramasa to Solaris or Infinite Jest--there isn't a way for game critics to skip to the "end credits" or the interesting points. Books and movies are linear and should you encounter a dull part--especially in the case of a book--you can get to the middle or the end with the turn of a page. (A DVD screener affords the critic the fast forward and skip buttons.)

A theatrical release is (usually) just two hours before you get a conclusion and can go home. But that doesn't mean movie critics don't walk out on bad two-hour movies. Hell, their walking out is a critique in itself and I don't hear people criticizing that, if anything that is the review people tend to want to read.

No one hears someone say, "That movie was so bad I walked out" and then turn to them and say, "Really, then you opinion is invalid! Go back and watch the whole thing before I will even listen to you!"

It is only with video games where people scream when a game is reviewed but not completed?

Who's fault is it that the game drags for however many hours? The critic or the developer? The developer makes a decision to create a slow-paced game or a game that reaches a boil very slowly and guess what? That's not everyone's cup of tea. Should someone not take to such a slow start then they had better hope that others would love it. But gamers can't seem to take that. Gamers seem to take it personally. Like critics are interlopers of their little club, coming in and crapping on whatever the gamers hold dear.

Gamers really need to get over this because it just seemed rooted in some insecure place. Maybe it is born from always defending games as an entertainment medium and viewing someone who hasn't done something so natural--beating a difficult or flawed video game--as some outsider just out to hurt their hobby. Maybe it is an extension of whatever causes gamers to latch onto a console or platform and defend it, and attack others so blindly. Whatever the reason, you really need to let it get past it because no meaningful discussion of the video game medium can ever happen it a person's opinion is negated because he or she didn't labor through each and every horrible playing experience for what amounts to little more than hardcore cred.

Quote:

Remember that your score will be incorporated into a metacritic average that could determine whether the developers are entitled to a bonus, or even continued employment. In such cases, to publish an official review based on so limited an experience is not only unprofessional, but irresponsible.

When we start getting a cut of those bonuses then maybe we'll rethink the whole objectivity thing. :)

Seriously, we aren't responsible for getting those developers paid.

Just for the record

For those of you that totally disagree with Brad's review (or even those who do, but don't know about this), I'd like to point out that GameCritics encourages and welcomes user-submitted reviews.

If you think the game has a lot more to offer that only presents itself beyond the first 4 hours, by all means give it write up and score of your own.

ckzatwork wrote: There is

ckzatwork wrote:

There is nothing wrong with style over substance.

And this mindset is precisely what is wrong with Video Games today. Instead of making the game play well, many developers are too busy trying to add unimportant tech into the game, or try to push their own personal or political views. Most developers only makes games for themselves and other developers, not the consumers, then have the gull to get upset and attempt to belittle us when we don't buy into their crap.

Muramasa is a dull, repetitive, forgettable game. If it wasn't for its visuals, there wouldn't be anything to differentiate itself from all the other lackluster titles on the market. It pains me to see ignorant reviewers give this game 9's just on visuals alone, and it pains me even more to see so many gamers defend them.

Thanks to everyone for the

Thanks to everyone for the comments. Sorry if some of this is a repeat.

Anyway…

I can understand the sentiments about people wanting reviews written ONLY if a game's been completed, but that's just not always realistic, or even necessary. If a game is terrible or severely unpleasant to the point that a critic like me feels compelled to stop playing, then that in itself is a commentary on the game.

--and just to be clear, I have no problem finishing games. Over the course of my career, I've finished close to literally *a thousand* games. Some are two hours long, some over a hundred. If the game is good, I’ll put the hours into it, no question. However, there's no reason to push through and suffer who knows how many hours of a bad game just to say it's finished.

Nothing that came at the end of Muramasa could have redeemed the four hours I saw, so it's really irrelevant to finish, given that our reviews tell you exactly how long we played and whether or not we finished at all. It's up to you (the reader) to assign a value to the writeup, and that honesty is more than most other sites out there give you.

I don't know about you, but when someone I trust says they played Game X and it was so boring they quit it before the end, that tells me something valuable to know. YMMV of course, but like I said... you can judge the value of the opinion for yourself.

Finally, there’s no way on earth I’d ever let the Metacritic average sway my opinion of a game. Compensation and bonuses have nothing to do with me, and I bear no responsibility whatsoever for any potential agreement between a developer and a publisher. If a game is bad, it’s bad. Period. Any critic that starts thinking about some developer’s employment status before critiquing a game needs to hang up their critic hat and go do something else, IMO.

Anonymous wrote: ckzatwork

Anonymous wrote:
ckzatwork wrote:

There is nothing wrong with style over substance.

Most developers only makes games for themselves and other developers, not the consumers, then have the gull to get upset and attempt to belittle us when we don't buy into their crap.
.

I have to disagree with you here. Most developers design games for consumers. That's why the market is flooded with sequels and clones - it's the safest approach if you want your games to sell. When I said that there is nothing wrong with a game just being stylish I was trying to say that games can be undressed from their conventional mechanics to offer something else, something more conceptual, something entirely visual for example - please note that I'm not referring specifically to Muramasa. I have not played Muramasa and I just commented Brad's review because I still think it should be published as an impression and not a full review of a game. I love Brad's sensibility to games and most of the times I agree with his reviews and that's why his neglect to finish a game and promptly review it seems inelegant to me.

"Review" vs. "Impressions"

Perhaps some simple semantics could be applied here.

"Review" is commonly reserved for completed games, while "Impressions" applies to incomplete play-throughs. While the disclosure at the end is nice, titling this post as a "review" is a bit misleading.

Still a good read, though. I value your take on games, regardless of the semantics, Brad.

Muramasa Demon Blade review

Just saying. Why the hell did you give this great game 3 out of 10. Only some glitchy games that hame sucking graphics & horrible music etc deserve that.
I went to the gamerankings to watch the reviews so why only you gave it 3 out of ten when everyone else gave it 8-9 out of ten.
If it would be 3 out of 5 then I would understand. I guess you just don´t like RPG´s
Your not gonna change my mind. I´m still gonna buy this game

"Why the hell did you give

"Why the hell did you give this great game 3 out of 10."

Um...he wrote 10 or 11 paragraphs telling you exactly why he gave the game a 3 out of 10.

Finally, there’s no way on

Finally, there’s no way on earth I’d ever let the Metacritic average sway my opinion of a game. Compensation and bonuses have nothing to do with me, and I bear no responsibility whatsoever for any potential agreement between a developer and a publisher. If a game is bad, it’s bad. Period. Any critic that starts thinking about some developer’s employment status before critiquing a game needs to hang up their critic hat and go do something else, IMO.

This is a complete mischaracterization of my argument. My argument was that it is irresponsible to review a game based on incomplete exposure. I brought up the fact that managers account for metacritic scores in making bonus and employment decisions to emphasize the point that "professional" game reviews have real life consequences for developers. I wasn't saying that you should allow this fact to influence the substance of your reviews. What I *was* saying is that you should take your job seriously. Reviewing a purported 20-30 hour game based on its first 3.5 hours is not what I'd call "taking your job seriously."

My contention isn't with your score; it's with your methodology. Maybe Murasama deserves a 3/10. I don't know (I don't even own a Wii). I can think of plenty of popular, highly regarded games to which I've assigned a mediocre score over the years, and agree that you shouldn't be criticized for assigning a low score to a popular or highly anticipated title. But your methodology is fair game.

Having finished the game and

Having finished the game and seen the "true" ending for both Momohime and Kisuke, I would have to say that I feel Mr. Gallaway would change his mind about Muramasa after a full playthrough, and not for the better. The things he found merely irksome in his first four hours of play would probably have infuriated him towards the end, especially the long slog of re-fighting bosses you've seen before so you can level up enough to use the Oboro sword. Muramasa, though lovely, is sloppily designed and fundamentally incoherent in the interplay between its elements. Especially in comparison to the brilliant Odin Sphere, that makes it a disappointing failure.

As to the question of whether it was fair for him to give a review on the basis of just a few hours, I'm with Yahtzee on this one. If your decision is that the game is a miserable experience, then a few hours is enough to justify that judgment, even though others may have a different opinion. I'm more skeptical of glowing reviews coming from an incomplete play than I am of negative ones.

Aesquire> I hear you, but

Aesquire> I hear you, but we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one. there's no 'code of conduct' or certification process for reviewers, really. i bear no responsibility to anyone but myself and this site when it comes to my reviewing, and this particular piece (written from an uncompleted playthrough) is acceptable by both those standards.

the game had issues and bored me to the point that i felt literally compelled to stop playing, and i clearly explained this in my review. AFAIC, my cards are on the table and the case is closed. if you feel that i didn't adequately cover the game, i invite you to submit a reader's second opinion. we'd certainly post a well-written counter-piece.

...and no disrespect intended, but mentioning the absurd publisher policy of applying Metacritic to game developers' livelihoods (as i stated earlier) has nothing to do with me, and i fail to see how it has any relevance here.

Sparky> Those were exceptionally well-written pieces, sir. my compliments! we'd certainly run those pieces here, if you were so inclined. kudos!

...and no disrespect

...and no disrespect intended, but mentioning the absurd publisher policy of applying Metacritic to game developers' livelihoods (as i stated earlier) has nothing to do with me, and i fail to see how it has any relevance here.

*Disclaimer*--I'm a game developer and I have not played Muramasa.

You seem to shrug the metacritic score off as "no big deal", but it is a big deal to the people who created the game and the people who sign their paychecks, and it's pretty callous of you to not take that seriously. In the eyes of metacritic, you are a professional game reviewer and you should act as such. The only truly legitimate reason I can accept for a critic, of any stripe, to not see a game/book/film to the end is a game stopping bug/book or film spontaneously combusting.

Yes, yes, yes, we all have lives, and games are long, and we can't devote enough time to do this "properly"...so why do it at all? Go write personal reviews on your blog rather than a professionally recognized site if that's the case. Metacritic averages are often misleading and misrepresented, but it's the reality we live in, and as both a consumer and a developer, I would like to think that those numbers were arrived at after a thorough playing and critique of the game in question.

I know you're an aspiring writer, Brad. How would you feel if a book reviewer crapped all over your writing, and then later admitted to reading only 15% of it? Not only that, but this reviewer's opinion also affects the possibility of your publisher giving you future work? You'd be furious and you'd have every right to be.

Hell, maybe Sparky is right and you would have given it a worse score had you seen it to the end. That's cool. At least we'd know your critique was informed.

If gamecritics.com is going to be recognized by score aggregate sites as a professional source, then every writer on the site should be willing to step up to the plate and treat this seriously.

We developers treat it seriously, and all we ask is that you do, too.

Thanks.

>>*Disclaimer*--I'm a game

>>*Disclaimer*--I'm a game developer and I have not played Muramasa.

>>You seem to shrug the metacritic score off as "no big deal", but it is a big deal to the people who created the game and the people who sign their paychecks, and it's pretty callous of you to not take that seriously.

You know what I think is callous? The fact that a publisher would actually base compensation and/or employment on Metacritic.

The fact that this practice has come into existence in the recent past is something that would take up an entire thread of its own, but let me be perfectly frank in saying that I don't believe any publisher should use the aggregate score of third-party as some kind of measurement with regard to the performance of their developers. There are so many factors that go into how these aggregates come together, and many of them are absolutely beyond the control of anyone. I think it's completely absurd that a publisher would implement a system like this and if you want my honest opinion, I think it's absurd that developers agree to such a system.

..And before you write back about how tough it is to make a living and that we all do things we don't want to do, I know all about it. I've been a freelancer for fifteen years in the game realm as well as elsewhere, and I know the feeling of needing to earn a paycheck, and doing things that you might not want to do for the sake of being able to put food on the table.

I get that.

The fact is, Metacritic should only be used as a general guideline, and I don't believe that developers should agree to anything that uses it as a metric. I support developers, I love what they do, and I'm glad that they are there. Honestly, I wish the developing community would band together and revolt until publishers agreed to stop using Metacritic for paychecks and bonuses. If there were some way I could participate and help make that happen, I absolutely would.

>>In the eyes of metacritic, you are a professional game reviewer and you should act as such. The only truly legitimate reason I can accept for a critic, of any stripe, to not see a game/book/film to the end is a game stopping bug/book or film spontaneously combusting.

Exactly who are you to say that I'm not acting as a professional game reviewer? There's no code of conduct, there's no certification process, there is no formal training anywhere.

If you believe that no critic anywhere should give feedback on something unless they've been through the entire body of work, then we'd have a fraction of the critics (videogame and otherwise) that we do today. It's just a fact of life that not every critic goes through every bit of material before doing a write up. If you think they do, then you're sadly misguided.

The only difference here is that GameCritics is completely honest about how much time and effort we put into our reviews. I could have easily published this piece and put the word COMPLETED at the end of it, and no one in the world would've known otherwise. Probably would've saved myself a lot of hassle, as well. Did I do that? No. I have confidence in my work, I believe that there should be a higher standard of ethics applied to the reviews community, and I put my money where my mouth is.

>>I know you're an aspiring writer, Brad. How would you feel if a book reviewer crapped all over your writing, and then later admitted to reading only 15% of it? Not only that, but this reviewer's opinion also affects the possibility of your publisher giving you future work? You'd be furious and you'd have every right to be.

You know what? Been there, done that, and accepted it as a fact of life. In the literary world, it's very common to have an agent or editor chuck a manuscript in the trash after reading a half-page synopsis. It's even more common to have an entire book turned down on the basis of the first two pages. That's just the way the world works. Honestly, I'd be thrilled if every editor and agent out there agreed to read a full manuscript every time someone submitted one, but you know what? They don't. They don't even try. They don't even pretend to try.

I gave nearly 4 full hours to Muramasa and in the entire span of time, the developers absolutely failed to deliver compelling gameplay or spark my interest in any way, shape, or form. Four hours is a hell of a lot more than most aspiring writers ever get… hell, if you’ve got a script in hand, you can count yourself blessed to score three minutes with a good agent.

The bottom line is that if you want praise, accolades, or to succeed, you have to be on your game from the get-go. Muramasa was not, I called the game on it, and I've moved on. Seriously, there are tons of games that I've loved that ended up having an abysmal Metacritic score, and there are a lot of games I really can't stand that rank at the top of the chart. I can’t try to out-think the way Metacritic works or position my piece to make sure a dev gets his christmas bonus.

As a reviewer, the only thing I can do is give my honest opinion, back up my writing with examples and arguments, and then put it out there for people to digest. That's all a critic can do. Trying to somehow factor in Metacritic and bear some share of responsibility for a developer’s weak effort is not something that applies to my role here at GameCritics, and really, I don't think it should apply to any critic, anywhere.

I feel for developers who get stuck with these Metacritic contracts, I really, really do, but the bottom line is that if the game is entertaining and interesting, I'll stick around until credits roll. If it's not, I'll let people know what I thought about it and tell them that it wasn't good enough to finish. If the game is poor to the point that it can't keep my attention for one hour, they’re on their own.

I take my work as a reviewer quite seriously, but being serious doesn't equal finishing every game. I guarantee you, there's not a reviewer in the industry right now who has finished every game they've ever reviewed. It just doesn't happen. Like I said, the only difference here is that we’re honest about it. Like it? Great. Don’t? well… you can read other reviews, but who knows how honest they are?

Misquoting and X-Play Review

You seem to shrug the metacritic score off as "no big deal", but it is a big deal to the people who created the game and the people who sign their paychecks, and it's pretty callous of you to not take that seriously.

No where did Brad say it was "no big deal". If you're also going to accuse Brad of not taking his job seriously, you might want to accurately quote him and perhaps read the hundreds of reviews Brad has published here before you decide to challenge his integrity.

What you and a few others have implied is that Brad's review is simply invalid because he only played the game for roughly 3.5 hours. Are the ideas expressed in his review irrelevant? It's interesting to note that X-Play made a lot of the same criticisms and largely came to the same conclusions that Brad did. They even said that "after 5 min of gameplay, you've seen everything the combat system has to offer".

This debate once again calls attention to the fallacy of comparing video games to movies and other mediums. If you really are serious about the intellectual growth of video games, let's start evaluating games as its own art form rather than holding it to standards not applicable to games.


So let me get this straight.

So let me get this straight. This game would be just as enjoyable as Imagine Party Babies? Or maybe that new Cory in the House game. The bias really shows in your score. Shouldn't a reviewer keep in mind who is going to be reading their review or more accurately not? It might be your opinion, but people will only look at your highly exaggerated score and base their purchase off of that.

As far as your review goes, yes they do reuse their backgrounds fair bit, but they never get any less entertaining to look at. That said, it sure as hell beats having grey and brown being thrown at you every time you turn a corner (I'm looking at you Gears).

The way you described the gameplay wasn't really all that great either. It's like me saying Marvel vs. Capcom was incredibly repetitive with it's whole "hit it till it dies" thing. With Muramasa you have a lot press different ways till it dies. Please don't tell me you were expecting anything more from a 2-D beatemup. The thing that makes it better from other games in the genre is the weapon tree the game features.

Please don't review you a game if you're not going to take it seriously.

"Although this 2D

"Although this 2D side-scrolling hack-n-slash game presents two characters (one a possessed princess, the other an amnesiac ninja) they're merely palette swaps for each other with no discernible difference in function."

Each character has unique special arts assigned to each blade that make huge differences in the game. Windmill is for air enemies like tengu, for example. The special arts are essential for the harder difficulties like Shura and the one hit death mode. This is like saying Ryu and Ken are the same because they have the same special moves - turns out those moves vary according to the character and in a way that fundamentally changes the gameplay.

"An argument might be made that each was worth including since they have different storylines, except that the plots are blurted out via impromptu dialogue snatches with little context and even less significance. There is no serious attempt made to give depth to the characters or their situations, and to say that the storytelling borders on nonsensical is being generous."

This is a fair point that applies to most anime too. I didn't play odin sphere so I didn't expect story and thought it would be more like anime. Like video game stories are good? Italian plumber falls into a tube and saves a princess? SF4 or mortal kombat?

"With nothing to sink dramatic teeth into, it falls to the graphics and gameplay to carry Muramasa's burden. The visuals certainly do their part, but there is precious little play to talk about."

Yeah, you didn't play on hard. Tell me how long it took to learn to juggle enemies with air combos. Did you try enemy lairs? What's your strategy for 100 monks? Did you air dash and juggle individual ones until you could hit them all? Did you choose the long or short blade to interrupt their slow attacks? You didn't even try here.

"To be fair, the mechanics of swordfighting are more elegant than they appear at first glance. By assigning attacks to one button and mapping different abilities to the D-pad, it's possible to have either character flashing back and forth across the screen in a deadly dance of upslashes, air dashes, or defensive rolls. Once the system is understood, it functions quite well and has a certain energy to the rhythm of orchestrating movement. Unfortunately, Vanillaware gives players little reason to take advantage of it."

You didn't play the enemy lairs, apparently didn't do hard mode, and you certainly didn't fight the latter bosses where you have to get to the top of the screen to hit them (multiple). Or choose blades for special arts that worked best on certain bosses, let alone cooked the right meal for the benefit most essential for a given boss or enemy lair.

"Basically, every world in Muramasa is a series of empty squares laid out in linear fashion—and when I say "empty squares," that's exactly what I mean. The player starts at one end and crosses each zone until they reach a boss or some other event at the far end of the line. There are no puzzles, no platforming, no tricks or any interesting events... the player is simply pushing through from one side to the other and fighting a couple of quickie battles along the way. It's mind-numbingly boring, and I have a hard time believing that the developers have never had exposure to any of the countless titles prior to Muramasa which feature levels that actually progress, change, or develop in some way."

If you got to the ninja bases or stairs to heaven you would realize that this is entirely false. Running on rooftops then ascending stairs or clouds to the enemy. The last monk base for mohimbie is much more intricate than you let on - oh yeah, you didn't get that far.

"Adding insult to injury, these areas are recycled side-by-side, and there are an absurd number of them to cross. It's extremely common to pass through four or six identical areas, one right after the other with no difference between them and nothing noteworthy happening. Not only does this bring on an intense and constant sense of déjà vu, the sporadic ambushes from enemies are over in a matter of moments. The majority of the player's time with Muramasa is spent mowing down speed bumps while traveling between small segments with a bit of spark."

They aren't identical, the layout differs. Precision in writing, huh? Different areas have unique feels. Lastly you apparently didn't use the bronze mirror - yeah, it warps you to the last save. So all that running is cause you didn't read item descriptions?

"I will admit that when the end of each desolate, repetitive area is eventually reached, the boss battles are fairly interesting. Since their life bars tend to be quite long, the extended battles have a fair bit of kick, and a modicum of strategy is called for."

You didn't play on hard. Or find the enemy lairs for challenges. This is why we spend more than 3.5 hours on a game. Desolate? The areas hide items in them that are accessories or cookbooks, essential to progress. Didn't you look for them?

Are you seriously saying the tengu levels high in the trees look like the snow queen levels and these all resemble the forests or hell?

"That said, there are only a handful of them sprinkled throughout the game, and asking players to put up with the tedium of endlessly crossing these areas just for brief snatches of substance takes a lot of gall."

Enemy lairs have other bosses. Each character has a different boss for each sword save the last. There are 9 acts and 2 final bosses if you beat it with each character.

"In a cursory attempt to add depth to this wading pool, Muramasa does feature a sword-development tree where a large number of blades can be unlocked by collecting the requisite points and leveling up to a required degree, but it's of little interest. Each sword feels like the last, with little effect on the generic combat or how it plays out. I felt no motivation whatsoever to earn the next blade, and the feature was produced in such straightforward fashion that it feels like it's there more out of obligation than because it actually enhances the game. At no point was there ever any "gee whiz" factor of getting a new piece of kit, and if the entire sword concept was removed, nothing significant would be lost."

I'm almost certain you didn't play on hard or even attempt this game. Those special arts are essential for enemy lairs or bosses. They tear through normal enemies but determine the essential fights. Windmill sucks against ground enemies...but against tengu or floating bosses, it kills.

Special arts are essential in the game and determine exactly how long i use a sword before I switch and what I use it for - should I parry with it or another? Should I melee with it at all? You can't beat the game on hard without overleveling or figuring this out.

"In every way save the graphics, I found Muramasa: The Demon Blade to be a failure. It certainly appears to be an attractive package at first glance (doubly so on the Wii given its comparatively weak library) but the entire experience felt repetitive, shallow, and unfinished... a half-formed idea needing more meat on its bones rather than a completed project capable of commanding respect."

It deserved a player willing to try it on hard, explore the game, and who knows beat em up strategy.

"To be brutally frank, the game failed to keep my attention for even the first hour, and the next two I put in were exactly like the first."

Yeah...I can say the same about most FPS games other than quake or unreal. I still would give the games an honest attempt at assessment if I were paid to do so. I have more time to play on my own to the detriment of my profession while you get paid to play video games and still can't spend more than one afternoon on this?

Why did you even review a beat em up? You clearly don't understand them, the strategy involved (in the fights, not "puzzles"), or even understand that maybe there's a hidden depth in combat you're missing.

I'd love to see you upload a video of your air juggling combo skills. Your strategic use of dashes to avoid being hit or fly out of danger. How you isolate enemies in a lair and avoid getting hit, along with special arts and blade management. This is the depth of a beat em'up, and I'm sick of games sacrificing this for meaningless features incidental to combat.

I get the feeling that video would reflect the lack of effort you put into this.

Don't bother reviewing any more Wii games

Playing 3.5 hours out of a 30-odd hours game doesn't get you anywhere near the core of the game. There are plenty of bad Wii games, and Muramasa isn't one of them. The fact that you don't bother to go into the game thoroughly and just diss it for being eyecandy is simply unjust.

Other than beautiful graphics, Muramasa's story is deeper than the synopsis. The gameplay is also more complex than just hack-n-slash. Many critics probably thought the same way as you at first. However, most of them bother playing through at least halfway and realized it's a great game, thus the high scores everywhere.

From most accounts, the game

From most accounts, the game is 6-8 hours long, not 30. 30 hours of this game would not only be pointless, but insufferable.

Besides that, if a game utterly fails to bring anything to the table in the firsr four hours, that's pretty much a fail any way you look at it.

i get that the game has fans, but the bottom line is that it's a pretty-looking, shallow title that's outclassed by other titles in every way except visuals.

"From most accounts, the

"From most accounts, the game is 6-8 hours long, not 30. 30 hours of this game would not only be pointless, but insufferable."

Find this account. Most estimates are mid-teens for the minimum number of hours to complete both stories minimally. This ignores every enemy challenge lair (several, around 9), forging new swords, and getting all the endings from those new swords. You could do one character's story arc in 6-8 hours...but that would neglect half the game and a totally different set of bosses for the other character.

Don't talk to people who own and played the game for more than 3 hours like you know more about it from an offhand forum account you misunderstood. I have 30 hours to full completion minus maxing levels. There is a one hit to death difficulty mode I didn't try. If you actually enjoy this sort of game it's like leveling up in an RPG - boring and tedious to me, but probably extremely fun to people who enjoy Fallout 3 and Demon's Souls (like yourself).

I think part of this comes from a philosophy of yours that is diametrically opposed to a beatemup game. It follows:

"Although I think a case can be made for Doom 3 as art, I think an equally strong one can be made that it's not. It's a product made to certain specifications, and it fulfills a certain need, but it doesn't reach; it doesn't really try for more. But you know, some games and designers do.

Maybe Carmack should have said that his games aren't art, and left it at that."

Games are entertainment. The story in most is so far from passable they fail miserably as art, except maybe (to a limited extent) Fallout 2 and chrono trigger. The problem besides awful awful writing is the lack of free choice, replaced by constrained options forced on you by developers. The art is in freedom of choice and this can only exist artificially in games by the very nature of programming.

Only games like Chrono Trigger and Fallout 2 have the open ended gameplay required to even simulate the free human expression necessary for art - an actual feeling of an actor making choices for himself. Look at Fallout 3 and the discussion of destiny in the ending - there is no human choice in the game. Only forced alternatives held together with hackneyed writing.

Beatemups and most games don't attempt such a technically challenging and budget taxing goal. They're entertainment. And despite what you think that's why beatemups sell. That was the point of No More Heroes! That the story is an EXCUSE for the gameplay - even without a reason to fight the final boss you do so anyways as an act of playing the game! Of all the titles you played this was the closest to art by showing you the static nature of a video game and you missed it!

Do you ever wonder why so many people (in both critic rankings and users) disagreed with this review? I can tell you right here, as I mentioned earlier up above. Look at this quote from your madworld review, another critically acclaimed beat em up:

"Still working my way slowly through MadWorld. Not that it's really difficult or long, it's just that I get bored of it and have to move onto something else after two or three stages. Thankfully, it looks to me as though I'm getting close to the home stretch."

YOU DON'T LIKE BEATEM UPS. The oddest part is you finished madworld - a game with remarkably shallow combat - but can't finish muramasa?

Ok, so maybe you did better with No More Heroes. Again a very well received beat 'em up that is often ranked in the top tier of wii games. Suda's best selling game ever and the only one to earn a sequel. Let's hear it:

"Making this bitter pill even harder to swallow is the fact that the energies behind the ideas completely outshine their lackluster tactile embodiment; No More Heroes's cumbersome controls, crude visuals, toothless level design and repetitive, shallow combat convey a sense of shoestring budgets and lack of technical skill more than defiance of conventions and intentional artistic choices..."

This is Suda's top rated game.

These are just wii games though. Let's see a game like Batman: Arkham Asylum.

"I was fairly stoked to give it a whirl, but I have to be honest and say that the demo left me wanting… I can't exactly put my finger on it, but it just felt off. Although the playable section is fairly brief, it seems as though there's potential to have the combat become repetitive."

YOU HATE BEAT'EM UPS. You have now trashed 3 of the top rated (if not THE three top rated) wii beat em up games, all of which were critical or commercial successes. And the same for Batman: Arkham Asylum.

They shouldn't have amazing plots. They shouldn't be fallout. They shouldn't be sandbox. They should have a combat system with subtle depth. And you somehow finished madworld - which had one of the most shallow combat systems I've ever played - but can't stand Muramasa?

In Muramasa if you don't air juggle or dash through tengu or to dodge attack or use down slashes to break samuari swords you die. The combat is extremely intricate and there are videos on youtube of the one hit death mode that can show you exactly how much you missed.

You are entirely missing the depth of this game and the combat system if you think it's pointless slashing, which all beat em ups are necessarily to some extent. These are some of the best of our generation. And I wouldn't even mind a poor review if you gave an honest attempt and impression at understanding the subtle combat in these games.

You seem to think video games should approach art. And you fail to realize that because of technical limitations they fail. You have choices forced on you by developers...options limited by interactable objects and the creativity of others. Fallout 3 ends with a discussion of destiny - there is no human element of choice or freedom in the game, just illusion! No character is independent or autonomous as we required in books or film! Only Fallout 2 and Chrono Trigger have approached the goal of your actions affecting the world and both did so in a limited manner!

This is what you missed with No More Heroes. The point of the game is you play without a story to kill the final boss. It revealed how developers force your choices in limited ways. The fact you play No More Heroes with no reason to fight the final boss shows most people's actual intentions are to play the game, not hear a story (I hope you finished that game and realized the point upon reaching the last assassin and the secret end boss). It revealed to the play the extent of his choices and motivations in playing the game. It is the act of playing itself, not a story justifying it! When Travis says (A) in the bubble he is SPEAKING TO THE PLAYER. No More Heroes is a dialogue between game and play that reveals the illusory choices and freedom we have while emphasizing why we play video games!

Of course you missed - you classified it as shallow. And you fail to see why people play these games for the same reason. There is a subtle depth of rhythm, reflex, and timing involved in beatemups. Most are discovered as the game progresses. You have misunderstood every title mentioned because you didn't look for it and instead demanded a cinematic story to justify the action. In this assumption you missed the entire point of No More Heroes, which is that people play games for fun.

Muramasa is incredibly fun. It is well received commercially (per expectations) and critically. You have a habit of poorly reviewing games most people love in this genre with the same criticisms in each and total dismissal of what's presented, causing you to miss the point of No More Heroes entirely - possibly the most profound experience I've ever had with a video game.

The guying

Thanks for that long response... Not quite sure how to respond except to say that you've got several issues and tangents there, and to be frank, i don't have a lot of time (or interest in) continuing to defend my review of Muramasa.

What i will say is that it's obvious the game has fans, as i stated before. i knew that there was going to be a certain subset of gamers who were going to see red at this review, and i wasn't wrong. take any game (good OR bad) and you can find people who swear by it, and will attempt to defend it to the death. that's just how gamers work.

i'm not here to convince those people. there's no convincing them.

what i am here to do is give my take on the game. if you read the site and are familiar with my work, then you will have a good context in which to take the review. if you don't... then you don't. that's pretty much all i can say. don't like the review? there are a dozen on the 'net giving it 9's and 10's. go check those out. it's obvious you love the game. more power to you. i'm not going to dispute your claim that muramasa is possibly one of the most profound experiences you've had with a game... but i will say that i'd never make such a statement about it myself.

BTW, just for the record, i didn't review Batman or Madworld, you took those quotes off of my blog.

"what i am here to do is

"what i am here to do is give my take on the game. if you read the site and are familiar with my work, then you will have a good context in which to take the review. if you don't... then you don't. that's pretty much all i can say. don't like the review? there are a dozen on the 'net giving it 9's and 10's. go check those out."

It's more the fact you made several factual mistakes about the length and gameplay having only played the game 3 hours. You didn't even try. Give it a 1 - but at least play the game for the entire afternoon.

You think it doesn't matter? Bold the 3 hour play time at the top of the review in the same size font as the article. Obviously you hesitate.

"it's obvious you love the game. more power to you. i'm not going to dispute your claim that muramasa is possibly one of the most profound experiences you've had with a game..."

My entire point was that games are supposed to be fun, not profound and that Murmaasa is fun. No More Heroes was the closest I've found to a deep game and that was still lacking in terms of art.

It's not me being a gamer. It's me being a programming and feeling for the people you completely shortchanged with a review that will affect their sales and (as stated above) bonuses via inclusion in metacritic. Give a one if you want but make sure you can defend it.

Instead you've made frequent factual mistakes you've made about the length and content of a game you played for three hours.

Does those impressions of Madworld or NMH being blog posts change the fact you don't like beat em ups? Though I'm sorry I misspoke the problem is incidental.

The tangents get to your low rating. All style, no substance...you missed the substance in combat in three different games and complained about plot in a medium where the stories are typically confined to justifying mass slaughter.

I don't care if you defend it. The point is spend more than three hours officially reviewing a game. I can post comments rushed and tangential here because I'm not paid for it. You are and the readers expect more.

>>It's more the fact you

>>It's more the fact you made several factual mistakes about the length and gameplay having only played the game 3 hours. You didn't even try. Give it a 1 - but at least play the game for the entire afternoon.

What factual errors? you said yourself the game can be completed (granted, with much less than 100%) in the same time frame i mentioned. There were no factual mistakes, it's just varying levels of appreciation. you appreciate it. i don't. no error there on either side.

>>You think it doesn't matter? Bold the 3 hour play time at the top of the review in the same size font as the article. Obviously you hesitate.

Oh please. the number of websites that actually admit how many hours they put into a game and whether they finished it or not can be counted on one hand. AFAIC, we're putting everything on the table, out in the open.

>>My entire point was that games are supposed to be fun, not profound and that Murmaasa is fun.

I hear you. my response? Muramasa is NOT fun. you like the game, great. i don't. period. nothing more to tell. i was painfully bored for four hours and saw NO reason to continue. if you loved it, that's great. different strokes.

BTW, this quote from boardmember JackSlack summarizes perfectly my feeling on this whole Muramasa debate:

{{Amazon.com syndrome! Fans like to have their fandoms appreciated and told they're awesome for liking the things they're fans of. As such, they negatively rate or comment on reviews that give bad reviews, while praising those that praise their fandom object.}}

i'd have to agree.

I said you can complete the

I said you can complete the game in 6-8 hours with ONE of TWO characters. The entire game minimally completed with both characters (no alternate endings or challenge lairs) takes DOUBLE that, which I stated above. I didn't agree at all and you're just skimming what I read.

Beyond an egregous underestimate of the play time you talk about tedious walking and don't mention the warp mechanic. You actually didn't get to any area where it takes more than a couple minutes to walk from in the amount of time you played the game and the warp mechanic would have let you skip half of that.

You're the only site that puts the number of hours played up so that justifies spending half an afternoon on the game disclaimed at the end of the review? You just explained why I read amazon feedback and ignore most professional reviewers.

You really think that everyone who disagrees wants to be seen as cool for their video games? Hey, I like Bikini Zombie Slayers. I doubt anyone will think of me as awesome for it - in fact it probably hurts me in their eyes. I own a Jaguar I bought last month for God's sake and Troy Aikman football, complete with flickering players and framebuffer issues that I think are hilarious. But here we have an author justifying disparate treatment for book reviews compared to video games to a programmer who actually played the title (and has an author for a father).

This title tooks months of coding and art work. You dismissed it in three hours. You would never accept the same done to your writing.

To the person who compared

To the person who compared Tarkovsky to video games...wow. Tarkovsky made films from a "high art" standpoint, meaning that everything in the film was serving his artistic vision rather than trying to entertain anyone. His films weren't blockbusters or anything. Murasama is still a commercial game on a major platform, even if it is a niche title. Very few games are deliberately made to be boring for artistic reasons (Yume Nikki is a counter-example). As video games are still expected to be more entertaining as a medium, few people would even bother playing through a tedious game to experience an artistic vision. There's nothing convincing me that Murasama was making some "point" through its gameplay. Most games repeat a formula throughout, while slowly adding new elements and greater challenge. And so, there's a certain degree of consistency to most games which can be grasped after a few hours of play.

There are a few cases where people would argue, "the game only gets good until 50 hours in," which applies to MMORPGs or games with insanely high learning curves like Dwarf Fortress or Nethack. These games are unusual and have to be reviewed differently. Not so for the vast majority of titles out there.

If I were in Brad's place, I probably would have played the game for at least 5 hours. But I have a feeling he knows what he's talking about; if he was that bored after 3.5 hours of play, that's still pretty damning.

fixed final sentence

Besides its honesty, this review doesn't have a leg to stand on.

Did the author honestly think that honesty trumps hard work?

I'm glad you're honest, but if you haven't completed the game, this is hardly a "re"-view. I myself am not particularly fond of games that do things in this way, but I don't review them until they're over.

People who reviewed Mario Galaxy after getting 60 stars and called the game "easy" and "short" are not really worth their salt as review authors, so don't go doing the same thing, and end up as despised as the God Hand guy on IGN.

Though I will admit that the low score was what attracted me to your article, three and a half hours is too little time to spend on a boring, good looking game.
I played over 50 hours hours of Okami, and it kept being dreadful, but damn was it soothing to the ears and eyes compared to most of the stuff out there.

Why sites like GameRankings will accept this review in counting towards an average score is frankly a mystery to me, but you just might have ensured that -I- don't buy this and become disappointed.

game misunderstanding

I'm sorry but I have to say this review completely missed the target.

Muramasa is not a platform game, it's a japanese style RPG with random encounters, and devil-may-cry-inspired real time combat. The focus of the game is not in enjoying level design, but in meeting characters, acquire equipment and new abilities.
Most screens you will come across have the only purpose of giving you the chance of meeting foes to level up and test your skills with. Bashing the game because the levels are empty (which is obviously true, and the game does not pretend to be what it's not) is like saying Final Fantasy VII is terrible because the dungeons lack the jumps and complexity of a Mario 64 stage.

This game belongs to a precise genre; while it's your right to find this gaming approach boring, giving it a bad valutation (and to the extent of a 3 out of 10) on the basis of this shows you have completely misunderstood the focus and mechanics of the game; a fact that, given your experience as a gamer, if you had given Muramasa the minimum of time and attention it recquired to be reviewed, wouldn't have happened.

Condre - I appreciate your

Condre - I appreciate your civility in bringing up your points. Certainly, it's MUCH appreciated. Thank you for that.

However, i didn't say it was a platformer, i said it was a 2D side-scrolling hack-'n'-slash, which is basically what it is. Despite several people's attempts to tell me that i misunderstand or 'didn't get' what the game was, i simply disagree. frankly, there's not enough here to misunderstand.

bottom line: it's an extremely simplistic and shallow game that held little appeal for me.

if you or others like it, that's no skin off my nose... i have no problem with that. however, my opinion's my opinion, and no amount of discussion will change the fact that it was a painfully boring experience for me. the game and i just don't mesh.

Thanks for being polite. = )

I really wish I would have

I really wish I would have read your review before I bought this thing. I suppose I could do some skeet shooting this weekend.

Questionable review

Sometimes I wonder with these "professional review sites" why do they have 1 person just reviewing a game? and their opinion counts to aggreate sites such as game rankings and metacritics, truly its a site to behold.

Wouldn't mind this site if it had like 3 ppl reviewing one game and taking a shot taking an average review score, o/w it shouldn't qualify as a professional review.

Take for example Mass Effect 2 I could give it a 1 just to piss everyone off or I just didn't enjoy it and have everyone blast me for it but would be negated if I had like 2 other ppl who either agree or disagree.

That's how come I tend to view this with hypocrispy u like a repetitive fighting game and a repetitive roleplaying game (FFX)
but don't like this very questionable.

Anonymous wrote: Wouldn't

Anonymous wrote:

Wouldn't mind this site if it had like 3 ppl reviewing one game and taking a shot taking an average review score, o/w it shouldn't qualify as a professional review.

I don't know of many publications or sites that do this. The old EGM (gone, resurrected as something else), Diehard Gamefan (gone, resurrected as something else), and Famitsu.

But I do know that GameCritics posts second reviews and second opinions. Just as good.

Anonymous wrote: Sometimes

Anonymous wrote:

Sometimes I wonder with these "professional review sites" why do they have 1 person just reviewing a game?

pcgames (germany) does have a main tester and on the "bigger" games a second or third opinion that may or may not deviate from this "pcgames-opinion".
PCPowerplay (germany, gone) did add to their magazines a table where the staff published thoughts on the tested games of the current issue. Though each game only got one official score.
Gamestar (germany) does record score meetings on their DVD where they discuss all together the score the magazine gives, though it is mainly tested only by one person and i think only few games are discussed. (i read it not often so i dont' know it exactly at the moment)

Anonymous wrote: Sometimes

Anonymous wrote:

Sometimes I wonder with these "professional review sites" why do they have 1 person just reviewing a game? and their opinion counts to aggreate sites such as game rankings and metacritics, truly its a site to behold.

The aggregate sites are already averaging out many review ratings, to produce what some people would consider an "accurate" or "scientific" scale. Why do we need an average of the average?

I have the game but I'm not

I have the game but I'm not going to pretend its a piece of genius and should be rated 9 and 10 out of 10 I feel things like ocarina of time hold that rating. But to be fair this game is a hack and slash its not in depth like the kind of game your looking for. Your reviewing a game that simply isn't your taste which is evident in the fact you played so little of it.

I despise football games and most racing games but I wouldn't review them simply because I wouldn't play them (wouldn't I mean couldn't)

This game for me is perfect for what it is a hack and slash not supposed to be dramatic and in depth like a final fantasy title its supposed to be a classic kill loads of people go through provinces face bosses, nothing more really. For me it did that darn well.

I'd give this game at the very least a 6/10 I don't even like games that much anymore I've grown pretty bored of them so for me to like it allot its done something right.

I'm not asking you to change your opinion so don't treat it as such I'm simply expressing my honest opinion on the review and the game nothing more.

Uhm...

I don't know what you mean by "empty" because I've already logged 34+ hours in the game over a 4 day period. It is now 100% complete. I don't think this game is for everyone. I think you might have to be a hardcore RPG fan to get the most out of this game. Not everyone can pick up this game and play it for long as I have but don't say its a bad game.

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