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Muso Toro

Musou Tourou is a visual novel game developed by Nippon Ichi Software and Full On Games with musical production by Broccoli. It was released in Japan in 2009 for the PSP and was translated to English by Dream Lantern. I recently received this in the mail after purchasing on Amazon more than a month ago due to Covid-19 related mail delays.

The story is a mixture of gothic horror and mystery and it has a pretty strong atmosphere. It starts off in the modern era on June 15, 2006 and focuses on Sakaue Tamura and his family who are keepers of a special sword. Sakaue is currently training to become a swordsman for his village. He and his friends Shochi and Mai are part of the youth group in the village.

A string of brutal murders occur around the time people were preparing for a local cultural festival. Sakaue encounters one of the culprits, a demon and he uses the sword to defeats the monster. He sees a vision of his father fighting the same demons using a special technique "Ruri-Buri-Bururi Tenryu sword technique.” Sakaue learns the special sword skill and starts to hunt the demons. The demons return to attack Sakaue’s village and he successful defeats them. A more powerful demon then emerges and during the battle, Sakaue is magically transported away. He encounters a woman who goes by “Kagami” in the Lantern World and he learns more about the demons and an even bigger threat behind the recent demon attacks. The Lantern World is the state between life and death and it is similar to purgatory. Sakaue leaves the Lantern World and is found by his friends who were out looking for him. After recuperating, he renews his battle with the demons and later defeats the powerful demon that almost killed him.

Time travel is another element in the game and its used to change events of the past quite often as the game is both set in the Heian period in 780 ad and also the modern era. Elements of tragic romance is prevalent in the story.

One of the best aspects of the game is the high quality audio effects and its gothic musical score. In total there is 40 songs you could listen to anytime in the game. The gothic art style really lends itself well and the character designs by Inumi Toshina and the cover art is what attracted me to playing this game. However, the quality of the facial expressions varies from character to character, some look good while others look subpar at best. There are about 600 illustrations and with so many of them, hardly any were re-used which is quite the feat for a visual novel. The demon designs were very intimidating and almost like it was crossbred with dinosaurs. The CG effects at the time looks good.

There is also a card battle section where you can basically fight enemies with strong, weak and medium attacks based on the numbered cards you choose. It is not a bad addition and was easy to grasp but it felt tacked on. After a period of fighting, you could get a special card that delivers massive damage to the enemy and you could unlock special cards to get the advantage over enemies after defeating certain characters.

Besides dialogue choices that affect how the story unfolds, there are parts where you could train to improve your skills in combat and also see the day to day scenarios of the cast. The overall control system is pretty easy to learn and I encountered no technical issues during my playthrough. Loading times were pretty quick.

As in many visual novels you could look at the transcript to see what you have either missed and you could skip dialogue. The comedy and lighthearted scenes don’t fit really that well with the narrative. Kagami is the best character as she is calm and quiet girl that’s like a grim reaper in appearance. Her fragile appearance hides her determination to stop the demons and protect her loved ones.

The game is not very long and takes about a day or two to finish. There is some replay value as you could check out to see what other endings there are. Some scenes could drag on for quite a while and Kagami, despite being the cover character, takes a while to appear in the game.

I would say the worst aspect of the game is the decision making, as sometimes no matter what you do, it feels like it will end the same way. Another pet peeve is that the enemies are similar and it fighting gets repetitive. There is no voice acting and the dialogue is all text with background music. It is certainly one of the most interesting visual novels I've played in a while.

It gets 4 out of 5 stars.

There is a media mix with a manga version and also an audio cd and from what I understand,it also came with mail cards and a standalone tea cup. There are 3 types of versions for this game, all are the same story generally speaking. One is a limited edition with the stuff I mentioned earlier, one is the regular edition and the version I have is the clearance version.

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