I'm totally sold on Muramasa: The Demon Blade. There are simply not enough 2d side scroller style games these days. This game is pretty much eye-candy from start to finish, which shows how far we have come in 2d video games. Every time I reached a new area, I found myself looking around at the environments to enjoy the gorgeous artwork.
When you start the game, you have the choice of playing in Muso mode (easy) or Shura mode (advanced). Naturally, I decided to just go straight into Shura mode.
The difficulty in Shura mode was really good. It was challenging and occasionally frustrating, but I always felt like when I died, there was something I did wrong or that I could do better. I ended up playing through the whole Shura mode as Momohime in two long sessions.
After beating it in Shura mode as Momohime, the game informed me that I needed to beat the game as Kisuke to get a special blade (the demon blade?) and then if I beat the last boss with the special blade, I'd get a different ending. Additionally, it unlocked another difficulty mode called Shigurui mode, which is apparently equivalent to playing Muso mode but you only have 1 hp and that never changes. Basically, if anything hits you, you die.
At this point, I realized I was hooked. I want to beat the game as Kisuke to see his storyline and to get the different endings. But I also love the combat system, so I want to try to beat the game in Shigurui mode.
The combat system is really satisfying. It's super responsive and the moves are easy to execute. Your character is extremely maneuverable, which made me feel like if I got hit, it was my fault since I could have been somewhere else. You can even hit small projectiles back at enemies by just pressing attack right when they are about to hit you. You can string together ridiculous combos of your melee abilities, but the combos are not really strictly pre-defined. You can basically make up combos as you go and invent your own combat style.
I think this game was made specifically for people like me.
Here are a couple of videos of someone playing through Shigurui mode: