Think of the word “Anime” and if the first words that came to your head were “swords” and “pantyshots,” then Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae might be right up your alley. The developers at Zenith Blue know just how to pander to a specific audience, and this title delivers where it needs to with flashy and furious action and pretty schoolgirls with swords. However, it’s not enough to gather the apparently tried-and-true ingredients that are, by now, dull clichés in the world of anime and manga, and, as a result, Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae fails to break the generic mold. In contrast, its gameplay is pretty enjoyable, despite being hardly groundbreaking and plagued with a number of issues.
Right off the bat, it’s more than evident that Mitsurugi is lovingly taking a page from Platinum Games hits Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. The beat-em-up style translates very well into this title, even if it all takes place in a small arena, providing merely a fraction of the experience you get from playing the aforementioned titles. In fact, as you upgrade the player character Misa and unlock a few more moves for her repertoire, a few seem ripped straight from a Platinum Games title. Fortunately, Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae boasts its own interesting combat techniques to set it apart from even the best of the beat-em-ups.
The name of the game then becomes to pummel and slash at the enemies into submission until they begin to “bleed,” when you can finally unleash a little move that damages every enemy on the map, so long as they’re bleeding. This move gives a bit more direction in the chaos of battle, as the game encourages you to seek out an enemy that hasn’t been wounded to unleash the fury on, and dispatch every enemy all at once with one stylish move. It’s satisfying and badass.
Unfortunately, variety is practically non-existent in this game. From the level design to the enemies, it’s all very basic, and the game plays it very safe. There are probably some four differently designed enemies with the rest simply being recolors to denote they’re stronger than the others.
Then aside from the campaign, which can be knocked out in one hour, there’s nothing else to do. Any replayability may arise from trying to beat the game on a harder difficulty once you’ve beaten it, which would help you get the most out of the game anyway to unlock every upgrade, achievement, and costume. I probably wouldn’t though, personally. I initially began my first playthrough on Normal, thinking my experience with Platinum titles would come in handy, but this game is brutal. On top of that, the camera is horrendous, which makes anything above Easy a chore. Plus, harder difficulties mean enemies take longer to defeat, and the waves of enemy clones will only bore you to death by the time you reach the level’s boss.
Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae‘s soundtrack is pretty light and nothing special whatsoever, especially as it’s drowned out by the sounds of battle. Similarly, the visual design is probably nothing you haven’t seen before, although the depth of field effects add a nice little touch to the anime-style visuals.
Nothing about Mitsurugi‘s presentation will be what brings you back to the game though. Its strengths lay in the deep combat system, that works especially well in one-on-one battles with bosses. It’s too bad it comes across as a bit more of a mess when you face a group of enemies, mostly due to a poor camera. Nevertheless, it was evident that a lot of effort went into making a solid action game, but then little effort went into the rest of the game.
At a base price of $10 on Steam, Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae might be worth a purchase for the very diehard fans of Japanese beat-em-up who will spend hours perfecting their combos and defeating every stage on the highest difficulties. Anyone looking for a good plot, presentation, or overall adventure will likely be disappointed that they spent ten bucks on an extended battle training mode. But, hey, at least there are pantyshots, right?
[+Excellent and deep combat system] [+Some pretty visuals] [-Very repetitive] [-Lack of enemy variety] [-Lack of modes or level variety] [-1 hour long campaign] [-Generic and clichéd plot] [-Terrible camera]