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Brave Fencer Musashi
Review By: Joel Fajardo
Developer:   Square
Publisher:   Square EA
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Action/RPG
ESRB:   Teen

I always find it humorous when I read about future "Zelda-killer" games—games that will obliterate Zelda in every way. As everyone knows, there never has been a true Zelda-killer, and in reality, there probably never will be. So when Square announced Brave Fencer Musashi last year, and the Japanese press was calling it a Zelda-killer even before they had played it, I laughed; now I wish I hadn’t.

In no way does Brave Fencer come near the awesomeness of Zelda; nevertheless, it’s good. Rather, this game suffers from what I like to call " Magic-Knight-Rayearth Syndrome", or MKRS, for short. MKRS is a rare disfunction found in some action RPGs where the plot isn’t all that great, but the effects, action, and whatnots keep you into the game. Such is the case with Brave Fencer.

The game starts off with a kingdom. Two, actually. The Thirstquencer and Allucaneet Kingdoms. The later of the two kingdoms is being attacked by the former in order to gain power and control. In a desperate attempt to save her kingdom, Princess Fillet uses a summon spell handed down from generations upon generations that is to be used only in rare circumstances: Hero Summon. Upon casting the spell, she calls for Brave Fencer Musashi, and is rather disappointed when she sees how small and tiny he is. Giving him a sword, she informs him of what he must do to save the kingdom; he does so. He saves the kingdom, eventually the princess, and decides to stick around. That, everyone, is the beginning of the story and a summary of the plot. Quick, simple, and non-involving.

Honestly, I could have thought up a better beginning, and surely one that was more interesting; however, maybe it wasn’t Square’s intentions in spending a lot of time on one action RPG, when they have many games hat they are working on. Thus, I accepted it. I wasn’t disappointed, though, as I played on. Sure, the beginning was drab, somewhat dull, and okay, maybe a bit boring, but the more that I played Musashi, the more I liked it. BFM is a hard game to get into, but once you do get in to it, you’ll enjoy it—no, love it. The game is so involved in action, sword fighting, discovering new techniques and solving puzzles that a weak plot doesn’t affect the game too much, although a stronger one would have made it great.

Somewhat like other action RPGs, BFM can jump, run, attack, and use magic. What is different is the way that he uses and gains magic abilities. At first a bit confusing, the magic system, or should I say "assimilation system," is hard to get use to. For the most part, you don’t really "learn" magic. Instead, you use one of your two swords, Lumina, the Sword of Luminance, to absorb enemies’ abilities. Once you absorb their technique, you can use it until you absorb a different enemy’s technique, and all it costs is a few magic points. Knowing which powers to absorb becomes a vital key in the game. Some of them you need to survive, others you need in order to make your way across puzzles, while some of them are just plain fun to look at. Also, throughout your journey, you’ll be asked to save and find people who were once part of the Allucaneet Kingodm. They’re hidden throughout various lands, entrapped in crystals. Once you find them, you’re able to be taught new sword techniques or be given special items. It’s almost stressful when you can’t find one of them, because you know exactly how many there are.

Action and exploration is a main emphasis on the game. Although you’re limited to a relatively small area comapred to Alundra and Zelda, there’s a lot to discover. And every time that Musashi gets a new scroll, he can unlock even more of the world than perviously. The graphics make it nice to travel, looking at well-designed, almost beautiful scenarions, and the concept of "time" in the game makes it all the more important to visit different places at different times. When speaking of time, I mean, well… time. About every three minutes of real-gameplay accounts for 15-minutes in Musashi time, hence, in order to find certain enemies, items or events, you need to be at the right place, at either morning, noon, or night.

The sound, too, is really good, but nothing too special (like the graphics). Sounds are given accordingly to enemies and Musashi, while, voice-overs in the game make it nice, for during key events you hear the characters speak! The one downside of this is that Musashi has a really annoying voice, as do some of the other characters, so sometimes you really don’t want to hear them speak.

Musashi is a simple game, hence, it’s simple to talk about. It has a rather childish theme, but will provide many hours for hard-core gamers. There’s no intro, and no little extras, but tons of gameplay. Definitely not your Zelda-killer, Musashi is your "really-good-not-trying-to-attempt-but- is-given-the-reputation-as-a-Zelda-killer game."

Overall: 8.5
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