Preview: Musashi Samurai Legend (PS2)

Publisher: Square-Enix / Developer: Square-Enix / Genre: Action RPG / Release Date: 03-01-05

Brave Fencer Musashi impressed many when it came out back in the days of yonder (when Party Like Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s 1999 was still applicable). Given Squaresoftâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s previous foray into Action/RPGs was Parasite Eve, Brave Fencer Musashi was a fresh breath for people looking for a little more excitement than selecting direction from a menu. Brave Fencer Musashi was noted for a more cartoonish style of art and appealing to a greater variety of gamers (what do you mean your kid brother doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t like Final Fantasy Tactics?!) as well as its strong emphasis on the action half of Action/RPG.

While Musashi Samurai Legend pulls away from the story of the original, some of the main characterâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s traits (his name), the vibrant and widely appealing art, and the Action/RPG play remain. Even in the same genre, Musashi Samurai Legend will still prove itself beyond the original. The graphics are brighter and more impressive, new features include carrying, duplication, and slicing, experience growth is directed by the player, and several vehicles are available, from motorbike to hovercraft (didnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t see that one coming).

Carrying allows you to physically move the NPCs, enemies and allies alike. Musashi can move them out of the way, throw them in the air, use them as a battering ram et cetera. I myself am looking forward to the battering ram option. For enemies, you can throw them wherever you like, much less gently, or even at other enemies. Duplication is the blue magic of fighting, it allows Musashi to learn his enemies attacks. The real flair comes out with the slicing, where Musashi can hack his enemies up into a variety of meat sculptures. Over twenty slices will be available, from basic slashing to geometric shapes and patterns of holes. With each level gained the player can select which attribute gains, or even trade the points for money.

Throwing your enemies isn’t only fun… it’s a strategic part of your journey.

While the plot feels eerily familiar, it is quite a departure from the original Brave Fencer Musashi. The kingdoms of Allucaneet and Thirstquencher (anyone else feel like a Sprite?) are left behind for a new world and new adventure. The lead, Musashi, is summoned by a mystic princess to… well rescue her and save her land. Oh princesses, wonâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t you get off your collective asses one day and just do it yourselves? She should have taken a cue from the previous princess. So. Giant sword wielding hero, evil corporation with world changing technology that wants to take over the world… hey… havenâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t I heard this before, Square?? Anyway, Musashi, kicking some ass with two swords, comes to save the princess and â┚¬Å”manga shadingâ┚¬Â graphics and awesomeness ensue.

The same core creative team from Brave Fencer Musashi will be heading Musashi Samurai Legend. â┚¬Å”Manga shadingâ┚¬Â is the name they have dubbed the art in the game. Reminiscent of anime cel-shading, â┚¬Å”manga shadingâ┚¬Â combines cel and manga techniques allowing the artists to manually shade the characters. The previously mentioned graphics from Brave Fencer Musashi are given an overhaul and will certainly be a draw to aesthetically inclined gamers.

Also of interest to some, Tetsuya Nomura of Final Fantasy fame is in charge of Musashi Samurai Legendâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s character design. And by golly, if that didnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t get you, Gainax is doing an animation introduction for the game. *Drool* Due out early-mid 2005, Musashi Samurai Legend will definitely be something to anticipate. Keep it here at InsidePulse for the latest news.