The recent issue of Official Playstation Magazine included with its usual demo disc, a demo of Square Enix's Musashi: Samurai Legend, sequel to the cult hit Brave Fencer Musashi, which was released for the original Playstation console back in the fall of 1998. Enter Musashi, samurai legend, summoned by the Princess Mycella to save the world from the Gandrake corporation, which is searching out mystics to create for themselves an unbridled source of energy.
Being able to control such energy would fuel Gandrake's ambitions of world domination. This is why Musashi was summoned to this world; to put a stop to the evil plans that have been set in motion and to save those who have had to suffer for the organization's greed. As Princess Mycella, a mystic, is summoning Musashi, Gandrake interrupts to kidnap her. This causes an abrupt end to the summoning, causing Musashi to be thrown off target. It's the player's job to take Musashi through a land foreign not only to them but the character himself, in search of the Princess, other mystics who have hidden themselves, and to save the world from being overtaken by evil.
"...the game is shaping up rather nicely."
The demo, which is available in the March 2005 issue of OPM, starts players in an area called Nebulium Tower. The player must take Musashi along a path littered with many robots called Voltrabots and clawed enemies called Ninjaroids which can be sliced and diced to get green orbs (healing), red orbs (special attacks), and coins (to buy items).
At the end of the path, set out before the player is Nebulium tower, where they must first dispose of a few Ninjaroids on the way to an elevator. This elevator takes the player to the top of the tower where they come face-to-face with a giant boss-type character named Vaporoid, who appears to run on steam, but more than likely running on nebulite, the fuel that runs Vespire. If the player takes their time to dispose of all the enemies along the path to this boss, however, the demo will end shortly after its arrival. If the player inversely chooses to run through the attacking enemies, the player will be low on energy upon reaching the boss, causing an early ending either way they play. This was the most disappointing part of this demo.
Musashi has quite a few different abilities and attacks at his disposal to help him along his journey. The square button unleashes katana attacks, the triangle button unleashes Musashi's great oar attacks, the circle button allows for a special attack which can be chosen in the menu, and the cross button allows Musashi to jump. The aforementioned menu can be reached by holding down the R2 button. By using the D-pad while holding down R2, players can choose which special attack the circle button will unleash. From magic attacks to sword skills, players can be sure that these skills will be well worth their use. Holding down the L1 button allows for Musashi to block attacks, even when he's holding someone (not available in the demo). Holding the R1 button when within a certain range of an enemy allows for Musashi to focus. When the focus bar is full, players can wait for an enemy to attack and right when they're prepared to make contact, can click the square button which starts copy mode. Copy mode allows players to help Musashi mirror enemies' moves and use them during future battles. The last button used is the right analog stick which controls the camera. Clicking in on L3 centers the camera behind Musashi's back.
Graphically, the game resembles other cel-shaded titles such as Level 5's Dragon Quest VIII (for Square Enix) and Dark Cloud 2 (for Sony), though it's presentation is unique as it has a manga-like style. This is most apparent in the fact that Square Enix actually calls their style manga shading, which uses thick sharp lines that outline characters. The characters appear to animate fluidly and attacks cause explosions, smoke, flying particles, and minced up enemies that all look rather realistic.
In the sound department, the game will use limited voiceovers during key events in the game. In the demo, Musashi says only one word and that's the extent of the voiceovers there. The music that plays during the demo has a techno feel to it, though the music works well with the gameplay. Slicing enemies into pieces to quick moving music just makes a person excited to be doing what it is they're there to do.
While the demo was rather short, I was able to get a good feel for the overall game from it. With only a month until the title's release, the game is shaping up rather nicely. Stay tuned for RPGamer's preview within the upcoming month.