There's a lot of games around right now - I think that goes without saying. And there's one thing they all have in common... dimensions. Nine times out of ten, a game you buy will be in three dimensions - either in game style (a world you can explore in multiple directions) or in a purely graphical sense (where the plain remains flat, but the renderings are three dimensional). Muramasa is a rare exception. And DAMN is it pretty.
The game's strongest feature, without a doubt, are its graphics. It's done in a fantastic style; a mixture of Japanese anime, feudal Japanese art, and a classic ink-and-paper comic book, be it from the West or the East. This is a perfect way to avert the graphical limitations of the Wii. This game simply could not look better - because it's flat as a pancake.
I mean, seriously - this game is BEAUTIFUL. And that's a good thing, because you'll be back-tracking a LOT. Much like Metroid Prime, however, going back and forth through locations you've already seen isn't a chore. In fact, it's an experience. You see the gentle breeze through a field of wheat, watch the light filter gently through a bamboo forest, or track your way through the cold snowy mountain peaks. It's a joy, really.
Of course, you didn't spend your cold hard cash just to LOOK at it. Which is good, because the gameplay is solid beat-'em-up, with crazy combos and a nice simple RPG system. You can boost your strength and vitality, level up, and forge new, stronger swords, each with added abilities and attack (some deal Poison damage, others allow a windmill strike, and so on and so forth). There are two modes, an "easy" and "hard" mode. Easy is simple, no doubt - you simply need to spam your attack button to win. On the other hand, the hard mode can be a real challenge; conserving items and attacking with strategy is vital to success, against bosses in particular. The plot isn't particularly long - a few hours at best - but there are two stories, and each will last you a short while. I'd say it's worth the price, no doubt.
The plot is a bit hard to follow, for both the Momohime and Kisuke segments - motivations are vague and characters are rather flat. However, it FEELS epic; you traverse Japan slaying ninja and samurai, climb peaks and visit the underworld. But on the other hand, you can enjoy the simple pleasures - stop by a restaurant, buy a plate of sushi, and watch the little chunks of food disappear one by one while your character praises their meal. Cooking is similar - fill a pot with water, cook some cabbage, and eat up to heal. It's not something that seems fun... but somehow, it is.
Between the atmospheric music and amazing graphics, along with the undubbed Japanese voice track, gives it a very authentic Japanese feel. The enemies add to the feel - the aforementioned ninja and samurai, with goblins and kappa and so on and so forth. The variety of enemies isn't astounding - you'll fight the same squad of monks at least two dozen times - but the battles are quick enough to make this negligable.
All in all, Muramasa is a fantastic buy. It's not a terribly long game, and there's no multiplayer, but the storyline is enough to last you and the graphics will keep you coming back. I'd give it a.