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Published on June 18th, 2009 | by Cameron Woolsey

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E3 2009: Wii Are Impressed pt. 1

Welcome to our two-part feature on four of the most impressive Wii titles we played while at E3 2009. For those who need an excuse todust off their little white console, look no further! Starting June 23rd with the release of The Conduit, get prepared for some amazing games coming out for the Wii.

Let’s start with a game that is not on everyone’s radar–but probably should be: Muramasa: The Demon Blade by Vanillaware.

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Walking into the show for the first time I noticed a game playing on a screen near me. It was fast, colorful, and it looked pretty damn fun. I moved on, however, to try my hands on other titles that were first on my list. Perhaps this little game may come later. The next day I walked past the same screen and once again it held my attention. No, I told myself, I have a meeting with Bethesda, I’ll come back.

On the third and final day I went to the Nintendo booth and there it was again and ready for a player. It’s now or never, I told myself. So, finally, I walked up to the kiosk to try my hands on Muramasa: The Demon Blade on the Wii.

Muramasa is a fast-paced action RPG being developed by Vanillaware. That name will be familiar to some PS2 owners as they are the creators of Odin Sphere back in 2007. So enough back story, let’s get down to business.

I want to throw this out first: Muramasa is a BEAUTIFUL title! I simply love the hand-painted art design that permeates the game. Every area I fought through was a feast for the eyes. I ran through three or four forest areas and I never grew tired of the look of each section. Those who have nitpicked Wii’s graphics should find little complaint here.

Let’s get down to the dirty details. Fighting is done with the use of swords. In fact, according to the producer, the swords themselves play an integral part of Muramasa’s overall storyline, and there are 108 swords in all. Each area I entered I eventually came upon a fight sequence. Once my character stopped and a banner displayed across the screen announcing a fight, I knew some shit was going to go down. I was equipped with three swords at the time. Each one handled differently, the thin sword attacked swiftly, another thin sword—which was a dark crimson—attacked even faster. Last was a big sword which could have passed as a damn cudgel. It was big and hit like a truck. Sadly for it, I love to attack fast so I equipped my crimson sword often before charging into fights.

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Enemies in the game are standard Japanese fare. You have the ninjas mainly, and then you have the samurais which can take and deal more damage. Those were the only two classes I met during my time with the demo. The ninjas are the typical cannon fodder; there are hundreds of them and you just can’t get tired of watching dozens of bodies fly as you unleash your swords’ powers. When close to you, the ninjas will pull out their katanas and charge. When they are far away, they will throw ninja stars. You can swipe your sword at an incoming star in order to deflect it back at its thrower. Players who like to add some strategy in their fights will enjoy this ability. Coming in at only two or three at a time, the samurai were much tougher foes. Some enemies are strong and heavy defense, so that means their defenses need to go. After fighting a samurai enough, his sword breaks, leaving him defenseless to your attacks. The last enemy I fought—the final boss of the area—was some kind of giant blue potato man. I don’t really know what to say about him. He was blue and potato-y. Oh, and the jerk had about six life bars so it took me forever to beat him. I honestly thought I was fighting him wrong since every time I took his health bar down, it immediately recharged. Luckily, right as the onset of boredom was approaching, I finally took him down. Blue fries for everyone!

Each sword has a special attack that must be charged up before the player can use it. With the press of a button, one sword will allow you to attack all enemies on the screen. Another will shoot a pillar of crimson flame into the air. The big sword will fire a crescent-shaped projectile that..well..barely does any damage. So I didn’t even really like using the big sword unless my other two were broke. Oh, and on that subject, the swords will break when used too often. The only way to bring the swords back is to sheathe them away for a short time while they recharge. I actually like where Vanillaware went with this, it keeps the player from using only one weapon the entire time. Players will be able to try and experiment with every sword.

There are two characters in the game: one male and one female. Each character has a different set of weapons and fighting style. Each one also has their own story to go through and the story is around 9-10 hours long. Plus there are different weapons you can find in each playthrough so if a 20+ hour game isn’t enough for you, replay is definitely encouraged.

Embed codes are not working so until then, go here: Muramasa gameplay and interview.

Vanillaware will be shipping Muramasa: The Demon Blade on September 8th for the U.S. and spring 2010 for Europe.

Final Comments: Wow, was I pleasantly surprised by this one! I’m glad I took the time to try it out. This game went from me never hearing of it, to near the top of my must-have list. To me, a guy who plays a lot of 3D action games, this little 2D platformer felt very refreshing to me. I can’t wait to play it again when it comes out later this year.

Now let’s talk about a game that has many Wii owners excited: The Conduit by High Voltage and Sega.

conduit_title

When many people saw the Wii and how the Wiimote worked, quite a few surely thought, “This system will be great for shooter fans!” Well it hasn’t. Nearly every shooter game on the Wii has ended up trying and failing miserably, leaving the Wii without a game from a genre that it should be able to pull off quite well. Sega is hoping to change that trend with The Conduit.
I got the chance to check the game out early while at E3. Craig and I were given the walkthrough by the game’s associate producer, Joshua Morton. Craig was given the chance to play first while I filmed and spoke to Joshua about some of the details. You can check out our lengthy interview video below.

After Craig died for the umpteenth time in a row without succeeding in his daring attempt to leave the spawn point, I got my chance to escape the starting point of doom. Starting out, I was immediately aware of how sensitive the aiming was. Casually sweeping the area with the Wiimote caused my character to swing about madly in an attempt just to get my bearings. Luckily there weren’t any enemies around to chuckle at my standing seizure. But, it didn’t take long before I got swarmed. As I fired the gun at every space of background environment, I noticed there were different types of aliens coming at me. There was a larger alien holding some kind of rifle. They would weave around cover while firing, when I tried to hide to regain some health—which recharges when not being attacked—they would come around to try and flank me. Either by firing from a view point or by charging into my hiding spot and beat me down. Another type was of a smaller variety: fast, agile, and didn’t use weapons, preferring to use their claws to attack me instead. All the while there was another type sniping at me from a distant window. Well, it didn’t take long for me to hit the ground hard. In fact I think I last about 2 minutes. Damn this game is hard.

Joshua matter-of-factly informs us that we are actually playing a later chapter of the game, where enemies are plentiful and the difficulty is enhanced to suit the position in the story. Thanks, Josh.

The controls don’t take too long to learn. The left stick moves and moving the Wiimote aims while pressing B will fire the weapon in hand. You can swipe with a melee attack by shaking or jabbing with the Wiimote, and shaking the nunchuck throws grenades. However, the way you shake the nunchuck can change the behavior of a thrown grenade. You can throw further by giving the nunchuck a harder fling, plus you can also aim where the grenade lands in respect to where you’re point the nunchuck. So, using grenades is a game of skill. Practiced players will no doubt become grenade chucking masters as they make their way through the game. As you will see in the video, I never really got the hang of the grenade aiming. Most hits I made were on enemies right in front of me. I guess that still counts, right? Yes. It does.

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For those who won’t be able to grasp the aiming right away, there is the thankful addition of a lock-on by aiming at an enemy, and holding the Z button. This makes taking down your prey much easier then wildly firing in all directions hoping to still be alive when your clip runs dry. Unfortunately, I found that the lock-on to be a little shady at best. With the wild aiming, I would often lock on to the wrong alien. Sometimes I even locked on to a guy far in the distance behind debris while there was an alien charging right in front of me. Hopefully they tweak out this minor issue before we see the game hit shelves. Another thankful addition to the controls is the quick turn. By pressing up on the D-pad, you can make a quick 180 degree turn. This was especially helpful to me when I kept ending up looking behind myself during heavy fights.

The different weapons I was able to use include a standard issue assault rifle, the weapon I started out with, and later I was able to grab the alien’s rifle which could convert into a sniper rifle. This was helpful since I was getting really tired of the asshole in the window taking potshots at me while I was already low on health with aliens crawling all over me and I couldn’t stop firing in the wrong goddamn area! Wow, sorry about that. Maybe my reluctance to play the Wii over playing a real console is surely the real reason as to why I couldn’t make any progress with the demo. Yea, that must have been it.

All in all, The Conduit is not too bad of a game. I enjoyed my time with it and I even came back on the third day of the event to give it another go. I guess I wanted closure. Luckily, Joshua noticed our frustration and the frustration of others who came to play and turned down the difficulty. I was able to get passed the corner that evaded my progress, and even make my way to a mini-boss—a giant robot spider monster—and take it down with the help of my shotgun, easily my weapon of choice for this game. Just run up to a guy, hold Z to lock him in your sites, and BAM! Alien confetti. Now that is closure.

Embed isn’t working at the moment. Until then, here is the link: The Conduit Gameplay and Interview

Look for The Conduit to hit shelves June 23rd.

Closing Comments: There are quite a few Wii owners looking forward to this one. I suppose the big question is: Is it worth the purchase? Well, I didn’t really spend enough time playing to hand out that kind of judgment. From what I experienced I can say that this probably is not the game that will cause a person to want to go out and purchase a Wii. Sorry, but it is not the killer app that will change the minds of hardcore gamers. However, if you happen to own a Wii and are waiting patiently for a decent shooter to enjoy, then this should fit the bill. Will it pay its fair share or will it run out on its tab? That is something we will soon find out.

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About the Author

Video game journalist since 2006, and gaming since he was old enough to use an Atari joystick. Follow me: @Cam_is_16bit



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