Brave Fencer Musashi Review

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Brave Fencer Musashi is a unique RPG game and was created by Squaresoft in 1998. It is a very challenging but rewarding game to play, with its innovative gameplay and collectibles. It has great bosses and a fun story line. This game is targeted to younger audiences but is really meant for adults due to its rigorous difficulty.

The game starts off somewhat easy with some puzzles and enemies to fight, but even I had some very hard times getting past certain spots and defeating certain bosses. I absolutely recommend this game to any gamer wanting an amazing RPG experience, but I also highly recommend buying a strategy guide or finding an online walkthrough. This game was one of the the hardest games I have ever beaten. Boss fights, cryptic puzzles, and missions will drive you to insanity.

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 The Story:

The story of Musashi is based on an ancient scripture of the named warrior conquering the evil wizard and sealing him inside his sword called Lumina. In present time, Princess Fillet of the Allucaneet kingdom is being attacked by the ruthless and evil corporation called Thirstquencher.

Princess Fillet has a special ability to summons heroes from different dimensions, so she opens the door way, and out pops the reincarnation of Musashi, a short, tempered, purple haired, and willing hero. He does not want to be involved in this story, but Fillet convinces him by allowing him access back home if he can save the kingdom and fulfill his destiny as a hero. This is the opening cut-scene and is the starting point for the epic journey full of victory, defeat, and many one-liners.

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 Gameplay:

Some gameplay elements from Musashi are the only real bit I have to complain about. This game was released in 1998, well after the trial pioneer days of 3D visual style games, like those on Atari Jaguar and earlier PS1 titles. This is not to say that the 3D visuals were anywhere near perfect at the time, but if you have ever played this game, or a game like it, you will share with me in the frustration that these camera angles can bring (See Spyro the Dragon series).

I did like the fact that you had control of the camera, but this was before they could program it (as far as I am aware) to be controlled with the right thumb stick as most gamers are used to with the last-gen consoles. The amount of times that I am trying to make a jump in this game only to be screwed over by hitting the wrong button to turn the camera on accident, making me compensate and move in the other direction to fall into lava, water or the bottomless pits.

Jumping is another thing that gets to me after a while. This is one of those platform games where you can jump on a rotating platform, land on it, and then fall right through due to pixilation issues and glitches. This is also the type of game that when you press jump, it jumps 95% of the time, when it should be 100%, this can be so frustrating in the harder parts of the game and you need to reserve precious health for bosses and such. When you land a jump, the character will occasionally slide when he lands, this can cause you to fall right off the platform.

Musashi has an uninterrupted day/night cycle and weekly calendar days to create and solve puzzles and for accessing shops, as some are closed at night and certain days (See Grillin’ Village). The music changes from day to night and in some cases, new enemies appear as well as helpful health upgrades in the form cute little Minkus.

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The day/night cycle adds one more element to the table by have a sleep meter you must pay attention too, if you do not, Musashi will get overly tired and start slowing down in the battlefield and even fall asleep in the middle of fighting! This also happens when you get poisoned, and can be the difference between life and death. You can always get rest at the castle or the motel.

The save feature in Musashi is a joke. In order to save your game, you must go to the village motel and select save in the menu, which is great, until you realize there are no checkpoints (except for interactive cut-scenes like the raft ride and mine cart ride). For checkpoints they have hidden treasure chests called memory boxes, these treasure chests look identical to the ones you receive items from and can be confusing to determine which is which, but you can get used to it.

When you use a memory box, it saves all progress to this spot for your continued gameplay until the console shuts off, and can be used by taking away 50% off your money in return every time you use it. Memory boxes can seriously screw you over, mainly due to the factor of in-game glitches.

Imagine having a four hour game session, and you forget to go to the motel to save, because you are going to do it when you are done playing. You use the memory boxes to save your progress, you kill the crest guardian and continue to the next chapter, as you are moving along and watch a cut-scene, you notice once the scene is over, the screen will stay black and not go back to the game. The game just glitched, and you can’t go back, you just lost four hours of very hard work. The amount of frustration this caused me as a kid was insane.

There are standard RPG elements throughout the game, and it still manages to keep it unique with its non-turn-based action. You can upgrade your swords by using them in combat, and gain body and mind points by finding shortcuts and lifting enemies. You can also find health upgrades and hidden characters to unlock more BP used for attacking. You must also find legendary armor throughout the game (most is included in the story line). These give you upgrades like being able to double jump, walk normal on ice, allow you to appraise items, and even sleep comfortably away from a bed.

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Collectibles:

There are a lot of collectables you can find in this game. There are castle employees trapped in Biocho fields, Minkus to catch for health upgrades, toys to be bought in the store, legendary armor to find, scrolls to activate and items that can be appraised by the pawn shop and sold. Some of the toys require multiple game completions, and add to replay value.

One cool thing you can do is purchase a bunch of toys, then go to your room in the castle and look at them. You can choose to keep them in the box or open them and play with them. All the toys are characters in the game and are a really fun feature in the game that I have never seen before.

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Lumina and Fusion:

Lumina and Fusion are the names of the swords Musashi uses in his adventure. Fusion is the one he starts out with, and he has the ability to assimilate abilities from any enemy in the game to be used as a weapon, or to solve a puzzle, my favorite being the pogo jumping on his sword. Please bear in mind, not every enemy can help you, some can actually hurt you, like the poisonous mushroom type creature that can make you poisoned if you assimilate it.

Lumina is the ancient sword, wielding untold power for its owner, in this case it’s the reincarnated Musashi. Lumina needs to absorb the power of the Five Scrolls to be at its full potential, and this sword is a huge part of the game’s plot, it means everything. As far as combat goes, Fusion is the fast and short range attack to deal many hits with small amounts of damage, and a little after halfway through the game, can be upgraded to deal massive damage. Lumina is the slow, strong, and longer range attack. It holds the Five Scrolls powers (elemental) and can be activated for use in the game once you free the scroll.

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Five Elemental Scrolls:

As mentioned before, there are five scrolls you must activate to unlock Lumina’s true abilities. These are based on elements and include Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Air. Earth allows you to perform an earthquake to stun enemies and drop boulders. Water allows you to walk on water (Jesus?) and shoot bubbles to put out flames.

Fire engulfs you in flames and allows you to shoot a stream of fire at enemies and light torches. Wind allows you to blow away poisonous gas and push through fast traveling wind (easily the worst to use on enemies). Air is the final scroll and allows you to temporarily hover a few feet off the ground, this is mainly made for solving puzzles.

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Enemies and Bosses:

The bosses in this game are really a contributing factor to its greatness. Every boss is different and some are very intense. Most bosses require you to use the Scroll you unlocked in that chapter to cause enough damage to have them display the blue core they have, and to swipe it with Lumina, all while dodging projectiles and timed jumps. This is almost every boss battle in the game, with the exception of a few that require just a certain amount of hits, or the dreaded dance boss battle.

Then there are the final bosses, and they deserve that title. They are relentless, and you must face two of them with no checkpoint and no health refills or pickups. If you did not save all your health drinks and food, you will have to do this whole thing in one perfect/flawless run. I think I died 45 times over the course of two hours trying to beat this, but when you do, you feel like a king and suffering from sensory deprivation. Some bosses include a rock scorpion, an ancient fire stone, an ice dragon, a queen ant and a tower of death.

The enemies in this game range from minor push-overs, to full-blown jerks. You can choose to assimilate abilities from them, or fight them with your sword. There is a huge variety of ways you can take out enemies with swords and elemental powers, plus they all drop loot like money, BP and health. There are some enemies that can literally kill you in one go if they grab you, and this is a pain because it is not an instant death, but a slow and drawn out sequence of attacks that you cannot escape to my knowledge.

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Graphics:

Musashi has some impressive content to display for its audience, I cannot say that about its graphics though and it really is not too much of a bad thing for the time. The structure of levels are very unique and it has so much to offer as far as sceneries go, but the textures are very block-like and stiff, especially when NPC’s look like they are head-banging while they are talking to you. By 1998, there were some impressive games, even made by Squaresoft that looked better than this.

There is a few enemy sprites that just look so bad, like the magician in particular, it looks like a little kid drew it. One negative aspect about the graphics which deals a lot in correlation with its gameplay value, is the slowdown of the frame-rate when the game has too much going on, on-screen. You can run through an area, and if it has some very big enemies or a lot of enemy movement, Musashi and the environment (including enemies) will slow down, causing major lag in gameplay.

This normally is not a huge issue to me, until I got to the last parts of the game and was platform jumping up a tower and it kept slowing me down and throwing off my timing, killing me constantly in the process. Beyond these flaws, the bosses look pretty awesome and the color shading is awesome. You can always tell when an aerial attack will happen thanks to responsive shadow shading.

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Soundtrack:

Brave Fencer Musashi has one of the most amazing soundtracks that I have had a pleasure listening too. The music can be a huge indicator as to what is going on in the game. Every separate map has its own catchy tune, and the stores do as well. I would have to say the third chapter has the best songs out of all the others. The songs are all orchestrated and some include vocal chants and even techno remixes that build the intensity of the moment, especially when you get a scroll, which is a visual and audio masterpiece all in itself.

As far as sound in-game goes, you have your damage grunts, hopping grunts, special attack grunts and a great sounding cast to provide voice work for the extensive library of characters (not all characters talk though, some just use text). From the eerie vocals of Steamwood forest to the upbeat flute solos in the town’s stores, this game provides an amazing auditory experience. Although, I have heard some complaints about Musashi’s voice (I can understand why), but I feel that his voice fits the character very well, and is really quite cool.

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Grillin’ Village:

Grillin’ Village is the main home spot for Musashi to acquire quests and talk to characters. There is a mayor, farmers, a windmill, a steam-powered plant, a church, a hotel, a bakery, a grocery store, a pawn shop, a toy store and a restaurant. This village is the main access point to all other points in the game, so you will spend a lot of time here.

The town goes through a lot of chaos when Musashi arrives, including giant fire ants, a vampire epidemic, two steam leaks at the power plant, and conspiracies. Certain stores are open and closed on certain days and because of the clock on the HUD, they are open at different times which requires some strategy to play through.

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The Verdict:

This game is so much fun. It can be very frustrating at times and can drive you to insanity. I love the characters and the story. I love the epic battles and fun cut-scenes to go along with an amazing soundtrack. I would put this down as one of the hardest, if not the hardest game I have ever played. I highly recommend the strategy guide for it, and although rare to find, well worth the $40 price tag if you find it.

Pros:

  • Immersive Story
  • Great innocent humor (and some questionable items, like Scribe Shanky)
  • Great combat and upgrades
  • Pretty easy to get into and addicted too
  • A very fun game all around

Cons:

  • Slippery jump control for a platforming game
  • Over the top hard puzzles, almost impossible to figure out some parts
  • Horrible save feature
  • Environment can be your worst enemy (especially with 3D perspective)
  • Somewhat unstable with glitches, not too often, but often enough to cause you to lose hours of progress at least once or twice a playthrough

Rating: 9/10

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Justin Cox

Video Game Critic at Gaming Grunts
He has been a gamer since he was three years old, with his first video game system being a Sega Genesis. He is an avid PC gamer but owns most home consoles. He is working on a retro video game collection, beginning with an Atari Jaguar, Odyssey 2, 3DO, and NES.

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  • Twotoes

    Are they remaking this? I still have the strategy guide for this game.