PS Vita Review: Muramasa Rebirth

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Muramasa: Rebirth is a new game for the PS Vita that is a remake of a 2009 Wii game called Muramasa The Demon Blade.  The game is by Vanillaware games and is published by Aksys games in North America

Monohime, the possessed princess
Monohime, the possessed princess

The game follows two separate but connected storylines.  Set in a mystical version of Feudal Japan, you play as either Monohime, a Han princess possessed by the spirit of a brutal warrior named Jinkuro, or as Kisuke, a ninja with no memory of his past.  Both will have to face waves of enemies, from ninja and samurai to monsters and demons.

Kisuke battles giant bugs.  Note: Not historically accurate
Kisuke battles giant bugs. Note: Not historically accurate

While the two characters have different goals, Monohime forced to go to Kyo to find a way to transfer Junkuro to a more suitable body, Kisuke is trying to regain his memory, they have two things in common.  Both are guided by a Ktisune, a fox spirit and both seek out the swords of Muramasa Sengo,  a famous sword maker who can forge new weapons for the player.

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One of the fox-y spirits

The graphics are beautiful on the Vita.  The OLED screen really shows off the hand-drawn sprites and colourful backgrounds in the game.  The gameplay is smooth and clear and the game uses visual tricks like a fish-eye lens to great effectiveness.

The visuals are really quite stunning.
The visuals are really quite stunning.

The gameplay is simple, yet fun.  You have a basic attack button, a jump button, a special button and a button to change swords.  The swords, which you collect from defeated bosses or have forged by Murasama, each have their own special attack, which cost spirit energy.  If the sword runs out, either by using specials or blocking, the sword can break, forcing you to switch swords.  The weapon repairs automatically when not in use.

The blue bar underneath the weapon icon indicates the amount of power left.
The blue bar underneath the weapon icon indicates the amount of power left.

When you weapon icon is flashing you are able to do a draw attach.  When you switch weapons at this time, you will do an attack which hits every enemy onscreen.  The amount of damage varies with each swords.  Your character will also increase in level as you play, unlocking new areas and new swords to make.

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Monohime unleashes a devastating Draw Attack

The game is presented in Japanese with English subtitles.  The translation is well dome, with the character’s personalities matching the tone of the game.  Some of the lines in the game are definitely tongue-in-cheek, but is fits well in the game.

The mouth on that girl!
Monohime says, “Stop eye-humping me, you sleazy degenerate! You aren’t fit to mate with a radish, let alone a human being!”

All in all, this is another great addition to the PS Vita library.  The only negative point I can think of is that you back track a lot to get to the various objectives in the game  Sometimes the path to the next chapter is not clear and you find yourself seemingly bypassing the objective marker.  The game does not use any of the touch features on the Vita as well, which is not much of a problem, but it shows that the game was a port from another system.

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I would recommend this game to fans of action RPGs, hack and slash games and fans of Japanese art direction

4/5

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Review: Before Watchmen- Nite Owl/Dr. Manhattan

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DC Comics has released another collection of its Before Watchmen series entitled BEFORE WATCHMEN: Nite Owl/Dr Manhattan. Writer J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon Five, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man) wrote all of the stories in this collection, with art by the late Joe Kubert (Sgt Rock) and son Andy Kubert (Marvel’s 1602, DC’s Flashpoint) on the Nite Owl portion, and Adam Hughes (Superman/Gen13).

Nite Owl follows the adventures of Dan Dreiberg, the second Nite Owl. After teaming up with Rorschach after the initial meeting of the Crimebuster’s team, Nite Owl investigates a series of violent murders against woman, mostly hookers. Compelled to act due to witnessing his own mother being beat up by his father, he goes to the dark underside of New York, guided by a mysterious dominatrix know as the Twilight Lady.

Dr. Manhattan gets into the mind of the omnipotent hero. Able to see all of his life, both the past, present and future all at the same time, Dr. Manhattan knows the outcome of every decision and can avoid making the wrong one, But when he chooses to make a different decision in his past, he realizes he can see different timelines resulting from his choices. But with every possible timeline seemingly ending with the death of the world, Dr Manhattan has to choose which path to take to save all of humanity.

Like the other Before Watchmen books, the story is constricted by the event of the original Watchmen mini-series. J. Michael Straczynski’s writing is solid, but adds little to the characters.. In Nite Owl, the inclusion of Dan’s exposure to domestic violence as a child may have driven this story, but really has no bearing of the main series. Even the Twilight Lady was a reference to a panel in the Watchmen book. This series now gives that photo more context, but it is still inconsequential. Dr Manhattan was bit more interesting, as you got to see things from his perspective. The story gives you an idea of why Dr. Manhattan let thing happen the way they did in Watchmen. His main concern was the survival of the world and in the end, he got that. You even get a glimpse of what happened to him afterwards, as it is all happening to him all at once.

The art is well done. The Kubert’s art on Nite Owl is good and is well suited for the tome of the series. Adam Hughes’ art on Dr. Manhattan is also well done. While Mr. Hughes is most known for his pin-up like depictions of curvy super-heroines, his art captures the various timelines that Manhattan experiences well.

The book also includes the two-part Moloch series, depicting the life of one of the Minutemen’s old foes, his rise and fall and eventual employment by Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias. It is also written by Mr. Straczynski, with art by Eduardo Risso.

Like my last review, these are good stories that add to the backstories of the Watchmen characters. Fans of these characters may like this collection, as it pays tribute to the classic series.

The book retails for $29.00 US/ $35.00 CDN and IS SUGGESTED FOR MATURE READERS

Review: Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre HC

Note: This is a guest review I did for Geeky Girl Reviews. Why don’t you check it out at http://www.geekygirlreviewsblog.com/ ?

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When the Before Watchmen imprint was announced last year, the whole geek-o-sphere exploded. While some welcomed a chance to see some of today’s top talents in comics flesh out the history behind the ground-breaking mini-series, others were furious that DC Entertainment would try to cash in on the world that writer Alan Moore and artist Davie Gibbons made. While a case could be made for each side of the debate, the writers and artists of these series have added to the mythos. DC has released several hardcover collections of the various mini-series this month, one of them being Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre by Darwyn Cooke (CATWOMAN, RICHARD STARK’S PARKER: THE HUNTER) and Amanda Conner (POWER GIRL.)

The Minutemen story is told through the character of Hollis Mason, the original Nite-Owl, as he prepares to release a tell-all about his days as a crime fighter alongside a team of heroes, called the Minutemen. The story spans from 1939, when the golden age of mystery men started to 1962 where a middle aged Hollis is trying to get his memoir, “Under the Hood,” published. Through Hollis, we learn more about these other heroes. While characters like the Comedian and the original Silk Spectre had their back story touched on in the original mini-series, we learn more about the others; Hooded Justice, Mothman, Dollar Bill, Captain Metropolis and the Silhouette. The storyline follows the fate of these characters through Nite-Owl’s eyes, filling in the blanks in the original story but with some twists.. Darwyn Cooke both writes and des the art to this book, giving it a golden-age feel, mixed in with a modern comic sensibility.

The second collected story is Silk Spectre, written by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner, with art by Amanda Conner. The story, set in 1967, follows Laurie Jupiter, destined to be the second Silk Spectre. Seeking to be free of her mother and her plan to have her daughter follow in her footsteps as a crime fighter, Laurie runs off to San Franciso with a boy named Greg and moves in with a hippie couple. But being a costume hero is in her blood and she finds herself drawn into the life. She finds herself alone against a drug cartel using drugs and music to control. Amanda Conner’s art is well done, especially the psychedelic trip sequence in issue 2.

Overall, both stories are good, with Before Watchmen: Minutemen being the stronger of the two. With a larger time frame to tell the story and multiple characters to flesh out, it adds more to the characters it features. Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre, while good, does not really add much to the character of Laurie or her relationship with her mother. Any new characters introduced are just throwaways, especially the love interest, as Laurie’s career as the Silk Spectre is pretty much covered in the Watchmen series as is her relationships with Doctor Manhattan and Nite-Owl 2 later on.

I do recommend this collection to fan of both the original comic and/or the movie who would like to know more of the history of these characters and their world. Anyone who does not worship Alan Moore as a god can see that these stories do not diminish the original work, but serves to honour it

Before Watchmen: Minutemen/ Silk Spectre retails for $29.99 US ($35.00 CDN) and is available now at bookstore, comic book shops and online. THIS BOOK IS SUGGESTED FOR MATURE READERS

Review: Soul Sacrifce for PSVita

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Soul Sacrifice is a third person action RPG set in a dark medieval fantasy world. You start the game off as a prisoner of an evil wizard named Magusar, who plans to sacrifice you to gain more power. Your only hope for escape comes in the form of a talking demonic book, named Librom. Librom promises that the power to escape and defeat Magusar is within his pages, which contains the journal of a nameless wizard. You read the entries and relive the wizards life, changing the book with the choices you make and gaining mastery of dark magic.

Your Guide, and Necromonicon wannabe, Librom
Your Guide, and Necromonicon wannabe, Librom

The games quest are divided into the wizard’s journal entries. The main quest follows the wizard’s career and rise to power. You battle monsters with magic items called offerings and destroy them. Once defeated you have a choice to either Save or Sacrifice. Saving restores some of your health and restores the monster to their original animal or human form. Sacrificing kills them and restores power to your offerings. You can also sacrifice any companions you have that have fallen in the battle for more power, both offline and online.

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You can recruit characters that you encounter in side quests to help you. If they die, you can always sacrifice them!

You can also sacrifice parts of you body to unleash a powerful attack on your opponent at the cost to your stats. For example, sacrificing you skin unleashes a fire wall attack on surrounding enemies but permanently reduces you defense by half. Such sacrifices can be undone using Lacrima, which is gained by wiping “tears” from the large eye of Librom.

Side quests provide their own challenges
Side quests provide their own challenges

There are multiple side quests that open up as you complete the main quest. Side quest can unlock new abilities and new companions to help you on the main quest. They also help to flesh out the world of Soul Sacrifice

Soul Sacrifice is a brand new IP for the PS Vita, which the system needs more of. The game is challenging and will not be a easy one to beat. The repay value is high as you can customize your characters looks and abilities. It is not as unforgiving as Demon Souls, at least in the beginning, but if you want a challenge, it will not disappoint.

4/5