The blunted blade

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Sep 242009

Japan’s greatest swordsmiths, Masamune and Muramasa, were not contemporaries, but there are several legends involving both of them. One tells of a competition in which each one forged a sword and lowered the blade into a river. Masamune’s sword seemed to be inert: fish swam up to it, the flowers floating in the river brushed by without harm. Muramasa’s blade, in contrast, cut everything it touched. The fish were split in two, the flowers sliced to ribbons, and the very air hissed in pain as the weapon cleaved it. A passing monk saw the display and chided Muramasa, pointing out [Read more…]

Sep 222009

Most of Muramasa: The Demon Blade is set in Japan, laid out on a map based on the provinces of its feudal period. In one act, however, the possessed princess Momohime jumps down a well in Kyoto (Yamashiro) and finds herself in a fiery underworld populated by demons. Although the game is suffused with elements from Japanese myth and folklore, this drop into a completely fantastic area represents a substantial break from the rest of the game’s semi-historical motif. It represents a break in other ways as well, few of them good. Muramasa‘s episode in hell creates player frustration in [Read more…]