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November 8, 2005
Musashi: Samurai Legend - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
610KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneNo

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The art style is quite lovely.
Any new title from Japanese mega developers Square-Enix deserves a lot of attention, so it came as a surprise that we only heard about Musashi: Samurai Legend a few weeks prior to release. Normally that's a sign of a product rushed to market for a few quick sales, but we still had our hopes up. This action RPG was released in America in March this year, and Japan in July so our release was pretty close behind. This is an interesting game visually, no doubt about it, but does the gameplay gel together too? Read on...

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In battle...
In a distant world a man called Gandrake develops a device called the 'Nebulium engine' which is a perpetual machine powered by the mineral 'Nebulite'. This revolutionary invention brings about new advancements and changes to the lives of people everywhere, but progress comes at a heavy price for it is discovered that Nebulite can produce tremendous energy if magic is added during the extraction process. Seeking a steady source of magic, Gandrake and his militaristic corporation attack Antheum which is home of the mystics, a people gifted in the arts of magic. To save them from Gandrake's schemes, the Princess of the mystics invokes a legendary spell just as the enemy takes her captive and drives her subjects from their homes. Unbeknownst to her, the spell succeeds and summons a young samurai named Musashi.

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Time to sell some items.
So the storyline in Musashi: Samurai Legend is somewhat interesting but the gameplay is one which may leave gamers disappointed. Taking your typical action RPG your hero starts out with few powers but can Level up as he defeats more and more enemies. There's nothing overly different in terms of the leveling up in this game, seen them in one RPG, you've seen them here. There are some cool features. The ability to pick up objects and use them as weapons has been seen before, but at times you will have to pick up other characters and carry them to safety, putting them down occasionally to attack approaching enemies. Another cool feature is the way in which you can 'steal' any opponents attacking moves during the game. These can then be used by Musashi in his own attack patterns.

The boss encounters are fairly generic. Each has his own attack pattern which, when discovered, allows them to be easily defeated. The normal enemies are mere fodder for your blades, and while some can pose a challenge many will be defeated with too much ease. We must say we're not keen on enemies spawning out of the ground at any time, but what makes this game quite annoying is the way in which they will respawn in areas you've just cleared. Argh!

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Now that's a boss!
Ultimately though this is a title which suffers from several flaws. Primarily the hero, Musashi, moves around like a slug. He's so slow it brings the entire pace of the game down to a crawl. The cameras are also quite annoying. During the boss battles in particular you'll spend more time rotating the cameras then should be. When it's one-on-one the camera should be locked so you can see both combatants at the same time, this never happens and can only be described as sloppy programming on Square-Enix's part.

While the graphics won't win any awards the artistic style is one which is worth admiring. In essence it's cel shading however the game has bolder borders giving it more of a manga style. The characters are all wonderfully designed, although the enemies are all and many of the levels are equally impressive with some rather lush visuals in places. Unfortunately the game engine simply can't keep up with slowdown prominent in many locations. Even one of the very early motorbike sequences in the game, despite being in a tunnel with bland textures, as soon as a few different enemies attack the game seems to slow down. It doesn't just skip frames, but rather chugs to a grinding halt. It's a shame. Sadly there is also no support for 60Hz, Widescreen or Progressive modes.

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Do you like the art style?.
Audio in Musashi is also hit and miss. The music is generally appropriate to the game with some orchestral type sounds but unfortunately it's not the best quality we've ever heard. In fact compared to most Square-Enix titles it's quite a disappointment. Likewise the effects are solid but not great. Where this game seems to fall off the rails is the voice work. As with most RPG's some of the dialogue is downright corny, fair enough. What I can't get over is the random nature of which lines are voice and which are not. That's right... while you character may speak some lines of dialogue, others are only text on the screen. Can someone explain the reasoning behind this? It's almost like the developers only had a couple of days to record all the lines, but only got half of it done in time. All or nothing Square-Enix.

Coming from Square-Enix I was excited to be playing Musashi: Samurai Legend but was ultimately left with much disappointment. The slowdown with the graphics, repetitive nature of the gameplay and inconsistent audio make this a game for RPG purists only. There's much better available this late in a consoles life.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSPretty nice cel shaded visuals, but is often plagued with slowdown.
SOUNDAdequate effects and music, but the speech seems to be random!
GAMEPLAYUnfortunately while solid there is nothing overly special here.
VALUEAt $69.95 this is an average legth game, little replay value though.
OVERALLThe release of Musashi: Samurai Legend can only be described as a disappointment from Square-Enix. If you're desperate for something different, or and RPG styled action game then this may keep you entertained.

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