RPG Review #59: Brave Fencer Musashi

NuMetalManiak Here I am with yet another RPG done in the grand scheme of TheTopTens descending into stat-padding and music wars. Some of you probably don't read these anyways, but those who do would probably find some interesting games to play. And one of them is this Squaresoft PSX action role-playing game known as Brave Fencer Musashi. I can't remember where I heard of this game, but I believe it was on a forum where a thread was "what's your favorite old-school game?" or something like that. Saw it was PSX and was an action RPG, and I was intrigued to play it. So here it is, the review for Brave Fencer Musashi.

Gameplay: I give you my solemn word this isn't a Zelda clone. Obviously not, there's leveling up, different methods of attack, and predictable boss fights along with other things. You control the tiny samurai Musashi in a not-so-samurai world, with different mannerisms at your disposal. X makes you jump, and double jumping is implemented into the game too. Square is for the Fusion sword, the shorter katana that deals low damage, while Triangle is for Lumina, a much larger but much stronger sword. Circle has a special function regarding assimilation of abilities. The main character does not gain levels himself, instead, his stats, as well as swords, do. Musashi gains more HP by finding Longevity berries (from hard-to-catch Minku, which are rabbits who only appear at night), and more BP for assimilated abilities after rescuing people. Plus enemies always leave powerups and money, you've probably seen aspect in a Zelda game. One thing I found funny in this game was the fact you can pick up and throw enemies when you are real close to them.

In this game, Fusion and Lumina can do certain techniques with certain combos, but they have two much more unique powers. I mentioned assimilation of abilities; it's sort of like a Kirby game really. Hold R1 to fill up the gauge, then hit Square to throw Fusion, and when it hits an enemy, mash Square to get a new ability to use Circle with. Some are necessary to complete some areas. Quite interesting in terms of what can be done. For Lumina, the plot of this game involves finding crests in the game, with the player using R1 to charge and then Triangle to use the new abilities where they choose. Lumina also gets a special mention as being pretty much the only thing that actually hurts bosses, which is quite important.

This game also features an interesting clock system that seems to date hours in the game in real time. Although those hours are about the length of minutes in-game. There is even days in a week implemented (why is Friday called Skyday?). And another mechanic was the fact that Musashi can get tired, which can be seen in the lower right corner as an icon resembling an eyelid getting sleepy. It's possible to sleep at the inn, Musashi's room, or even out on the field. Hours do get lost, but they don't mean as much. This game does factor in tiredness in some of Musashi's abilities, and jumping is a big one. Heck, it's actually a pain to jump in this game until you get the double jump ability, and then it ramps up. There are also pre-boss moments where screwing up is an instant game-over as well as a few areas where poison can be afflicted. It's quite difficult, frustrating at times with jumps too. At least you can figure out a pattern with the bosses in this game, and most combat can be avoided or done quickly. This game was quite fun when it was fun. Grade: B+

Characters: Musashi is the titular character, a really tiny samurai with quite a bratty attitude. But sadly, like any RPG protagonist, he's the only person who manages to get things done. The setting, a place known as Allucaneet and its neighboring village Grillin Village, have NPCs who either need rescuing from Bincho fields, or are general NPCs who are shopowners and other officials. Notably, this game is like Great Greed in its character naming, in that people are named after food! Actually, the villains in this game come from the Thristquencher Empire (always an empire, isn't it) and they are named after drinks! Foods vs drinks!? I don't have much else to say about these characters. There's a lot of silliness here. But then again, why is it that one guy is the only capable one to do things? Grade: B-

Plot: Thankfully, this plot is done in chapters, so it's easy to cover. As I said though, a lot of silliness and humor abound within the characters. I think the voice acting (yep, that's here too!) contributes to that!

Chapter 1: The Journey Begins: The start of this game has the game's resident princess, Fillet, and her subordinates send Musashi to their world, then Musashi journeys to find the sword Lumina. After an Indiana Jones-style escape, the princess, in a rather cliche display, gets kidnapped by buff guy Rootrick, and Musashi fights a large steam knight as this chapter's final boss.
Chapter 2: A New Journey: Now we get into the meat (no pun intended given the way people are named here) of the game. Musashi is tasked with recovering five elemental scrolls, as well as rescuing people from Bincho Fields. One of the first tasks is rescuing a dog, Leno, and getting the help of Jon, a supposed treasure hunter who continuously appears later on. Another is to fix the Steamwood Reactor in an annoying time mission. The real deal with this chapter involves getting the Earth Scroll and defeating the Crest Guardian, Skullpion.
Chapter 3: Mission Vambee: The village music has changed, and a zombie/vampire thing is ruining the village, even getting to a certain bratty kid known as Tim with a curse that turns him into what's called a vambee. Musashi and a few other (sadly incompetent) NPCs search for a clue to keeping him normal. Also, a greedy restaurant owner in search of treasure is a reason monsters have shown up. He's easily forgiven though. Musashi also helps out a church pastor, only to be trapped by vambee soldiers. Also the water crest is liberated, and the relic keeper is defeated at the end too.
Chapter 4: The Duel at Dragon Island: In captivity, Fillet tries summoning another hero, Kojiro, except that all he's concerned about is revenge, and that's all he wants. Against Musashi of course. Meanwhile, two thieves are discovered, both rather hilarious, but they end up setting the village on fire and Musashi has to put out flames. Musashi then goes to the Island of Dragons to find the next scroll, only to find Kojiro and having to duel him to get Princess Fillet back. The next crest guardian is a frost dragon which resides in a Frozen Palace hidden in a Lost Woods-style forest, it's pretty hard.
Chapter 5: The One that Nests Underground: Hey remember that Musashi rescued the Princess. Yeah, turns out its a cat girl impostor working with the empire. Also Steamwood is about to blow again, so Musashi has to fix that. Later on, the Wind scroll is achieved, and then giant ants attack the village. Musashi goes to the source and annihilates the Queen Ant.
Chapter 6: Sword of Luminescence: The final chapter. Musashi gets some help from Jon in finding the last scroll, the Sky Scroll. Afterwards, Col. Capriccola takes him into the Thirstquencher base, where Musashi fights off the thieves from before, then finds the real Princess Fillet being held by Fuhrer Flatski. Yes, that's right, Fuhrer. They just had to use that term. Also, turns out that Musashi did all the dirty work with scrolls so that the evil power inside of the sword Lumina would be revealed. While Col. Capriccola tries to stop him (turns out he's Jon!), both him and the Fuhrer are killed by the power of Dark Lumina, a powerful entity bent on destruction. Musashi runs off with the princess before realizing he has to stop it (also Kojiro tries to be a jerk again). The endgame shows that the king and queen of Allucaneet were on vacation the whole time. And Musashi takes his sword and puts it where it belongs.

I had quite a few laughs with this plot. It's totally not serious at all, even in its darkest moments. And for once, the voice acting didn't get on my nerves. Good job here. Grade: A

Music: Didn't pay much attention to this, but there wasn't anything that hurt my ears all that much. Most was mild, and I like the daytime village theme as well as the rather spooky woods theme. Not a whole lot to note, though nothing was bad either. Grade: B

Overall Grade: B+

It's got its fun moments in many places, with only a few frustrations to go around. Lots of gameplay mechanics to work with, and a humorous plot makes it worth it if you want a non-serious RPG. Characters are well-voiced, yet Musashi's a trademark hero despite a bad attitude. For an action RPG, there's not much else to say. Worthwhile. This game did have a sequel, but I actually don't know if I'll play it or not.