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HYBRID MONTH: Brave Fencer Musashi Review

Quick! Raise your hand if you’re a samurai!….No, weeaboos…put your damn hands down. You’re not a samurai just because you’ve seen a lot of Bleach and Ruroni Kenshin, so fucking stop. Now with that said…anybody who has taken Japanese History will tell you of the story of Miyamoto Musashi, one of the greatest swordsmen of Japan. He became renowned through stories of his excellent swordsmanship in numerous duels, even from an incredibly young age. He was the founder of the Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū or Niten-ryū style of swordsmanship and the author of The Book of Five Rings, which contained tactics and philosophies that is still in use to this day, and was given the title of Kensei. So, it comes as no surprise that Square-Enix would make a game based off of him, though things were altered…heavily…but not in a bad way. This is Brave Fencer Musashi!

B.F.M. was released in North America on October 31st, 1998 in an effort to counteract Nintendo’s release of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time the following month. Though the latter was the more popular of the two, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the game was amazing and a different change of pace from Square-Enix’s usual forte of turn-based RPGs. The story of BFM is actually very deep, and quite entertaining. A kid known as Musashi, reincarnated from the legendary Brave Fencer Musashi who saved the Allucaneet Kingdom from a monster called the Wizard of Darkness 150 years before, is summoned to the Allucaneet by its Princess — named Fillet — to save it from the invading Thirstquencher Empire. One of the first things you’ll notice is that this game is somewhat food-themed. I mean…Allucannet Kingdom…a knock on the phrase “All You Can Eat”, is a prime example of the constant running theme. The characters themselves are unique, and make up a lot of the game’s storyline. They are:

Musashi – Our hero. Musashi was summoned in an effort to save the Allucaneet Kingdom. Despite possessing a very cocky and slightly arrogant attitude, Musashi will go out of his way to help people in need. He carries two swords on him, Fusion and Lumina, and knows how to use them incredibly well. Despite his short stature, this kid is incredibly strong and fast.

Princess Fillet – Princess of Alucaneet Kingdom. Incredibly spoiled and talks with a “Valley Girl” accent who gets kidnapped by the Thirstquencher Empire. Good, because she really is fucking annoying. Only thing she is useful for is performing the Hero Summoning, which is what brought Musashi to Alucaneet Kingdom in the first place. But who cares? Moving on…

Kojirō – Musashi’s rival. Modeled after Miyamoto Musashi’s more famous dueling opponent, Sasaki Kojirō. Kojirō was summoned the second time Filet performed the Hero Summoning. Not really caring about her plight, Kojirō was only interested in settling a score with Musashi from an incident that left a very noticeable scar on his forehead. Incredibly serious, Kojirō proves quite the challenge when you fight him.

Flatski – Leader of the Thirstquencher Empire. Flatski usurped power from the previous rulers of the Thirstquencher Kingdom and transformed it into an empire. He wishes to collect Lumina and the Five Scrolls so he can revive the Dark Wizard, whom he wishes to use to take over the world. He speaks with a German accent for some bizarre reason, but so did Dexter from Dexter’s Lab and we liked him. Right? No? Okay, he’s an ass then.

Rootrick – Hailing from the Thirstquencher Empire, weighing in at 400lbs…ROOTRICK! This ridiculous hayseed speaks with a thick Southern accent that embarrasses the shit out of me. Rootrick was tasked with kidnapping Fillet, which he did with very minimal effort. Being that he is brick stupid, Rootrick is pretty much chalked up to being a typical musclebound idiot and a general menace.

1st Lieutenant Bubbles & Captain Gingerelle – These candidates for the Rule 34 Awards are sisters within the Thirstquencher Empire that serve as assassins, mercenaries, and spies for Flatski. They are extremely competitive in everything, both vying for the top spot under Flatski. Honestly, Flatski should have just made them the Empire Concubines and been done with it. But it’s whatevs. While you technically don’t fight them, you DO have to deal with their “Vambees”…they are vampires…crossed with zombies. I’m not making this shit up, so good luck with that.

Ben, Topo and Ed – These three individuals make up the Thirstquencher Empire’s special team called “Leader’s Force”. What makes this troupe interesting is that they all think they are the leader of the group, which isn’t true. Ben is a tall moron who has a never-ending supply of weapons. Ed possesses magical abilities that rival characters from Dragonball Z and Topo longs to be a pop star with her karaoke/dancing skills. All are equally annoying to fight and you should destroy them promptly.

I know I left a lot of characters out, but I guess you’ll just have to play the game to find out. Speaking of playing the game, let’s talk about the gameplay.

The player controls Musashi(Obviously)as he traverses multiple areas and fights vast amounts of different enemies all the while searching out the Five Scrolls in an effort to save the kingdom. The game features several interesting features, including a day/night system that effects various things in the game, such as shops and creatures. Shops in this game are a blessing, as they sell a variety of healing and restorative items, as well as action figures….yes, action figures…which are awesome. Of course, there are loads of mini-games, puzzles and a few side-quests that advance the plot, so talking with the villagers are a must.

Combat in the game is very akin to most Action/Adventure RPGs. Killing enemies and bosses reward Musashi with experience points and gold…so, pretty standard stuff. For combat, Musashi has two weapons at his disposal: Fusion, which represents more of the katana aspect to his character and Lumina, which looks like something Chuck Norris would pick his teeth with. Both weapons serve a unique and separate purpose within the game. Fusion grants Musashi the ability to absorb or “assimilate” the ability of damn-near all the enemies in the game by charging and throwing the sword out. If it sticks, you mash a button and BAM!, ability to use. Some abilities are used to advance in an area, but it’s not free. You have a Bincho energy(Kind of like MP, I suppose.)that drops every time you use an ability. Of course, consumption of BP depends on the ability used as they all have a set amount of required BP needed to perform said ability. Lumina has several uses. It allows you to free captive villagers from Bincho Crystals and can be used in combos. But Lumina’s real ass-kickery lies in its ability to utilize the Scrolls to perform elemental attacks that with rock your sack. Oh, and rescuing villagers from Bincho Crystals are incredibly beneficial as some of them will teach you sick techniques that you use both swords for(Rumparoni-SP FTW!!). Of course as you progress into the game, you come across pieces of the Legendary Armor which grants you additional abilities, such as being able to double-jump. So, it pays to explore EVERYWHERE!

Overall, this game is amazing. It’s has a great balance of action, challenge and entertainment while the characters themselves are incredibly memorable and the voice acting is excellent. I’m giving this game a 10 out of 10 for its ingenuity, replay value and just general awesomeness. As it stands, there hasn’t been any indication that the North American and European PlayStation Networks will be getting it, but Japan has it. However just because they haven’t said anything doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t happen. If it does, we’ll be sure to let everyone know!

Until next episode…

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