I don’t know if you got a chance to play this excellent game when it came out in 2009. I did, and I thoroughly enjoyed it; I would definitely recommend it if you like heart-pounding, 2-D action amidst beautiful environments. It’s just that good. Oh, and it’s only for Wii.
Yeah, I would put this game up there with the best looking of this generation, and you cannot pick it up if all you have access to is 360 or PS3. But that doesn’t mean that Sony and Microsoft fanboys didn’t froth at the mouth hoping that Vanillaware or Ignition Entertainment would announce a HD version for their (the fanboys’) “superior” consoles. I attended a number of live streams of the game before it was released in which staff of Ignition Entertainment would answer fan questions about the upcoming game, and not one live stream went by without someone broaching the question of whether we would see the game release outside of the Wii– you could almost read the sneer in their questions that such an underpowered system would be the showcase of such a beautiful game.
The answer was always the same. “We have no plans to bring this game to any other consoles.”
Honestly, it probably wouldn’t have been a million seller on any system. It would have cost a lot of development money to bring it to multiple consoles, and for a game that was a work of love, it made sense to bring it to the dominant system. It was also a nice bonus that the limitations of the system made for a much more focused art direction. While the ever-marching trail of Excellence in Graphics has not stopped increasing our expectations of what “beautiful game” means, it is foolishness to not appreciate that sometimes a lesser-powered system can still deliver an aesthetically pleasing game. Looking at Wii’s library alone we find that besides Muramasa there are impressive-looking games such as the Mario Galaxy games and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.
High Def graphics are a band-aid. I mean, it’s a cool band-aid with lots of neat effects and possibly superheroes or cartoon characters on it, but it can only help the art direction to do what it needs to: set the game apart. Sometimes it amazes me how much is lost by ignoring a good art direction just because the system can push more impressive lighting effects. I also don’t mean to diminish those games that do focus on art direction before pumping the polygons to the max. But, if Muramasa had been released on a high-def system, it wouldn’t be the power of the graphics that reviewers would praise, it would be the fantastic art direction, something that was able to be fully realized on Wii.
I guess that’s what it all comes down to. The game looks fantastic on Wii. I also think that the limitations inherent in the system made for a much more pleasing game when all is said and done. Vanillaware had to fight to achieve the graphical fidelity of the game that we received. They took up the fight and won it with scenes that positively shine and draw the player into the world so effectively. The game could have been good on any system, but only on Wii was it amazing.