Review: Muramasa belongs in the Louvre

Forget rain on your wedding day, free rides when you’d already paid and good advice you just didn’t take. The most beautiful video game I’ve played this generation runs on the archaic, underpowered Wii.

Sorry, Alanis, but that’s the definition of irony’don’t you think?

The games press is notorious for spreading hyperbole, an offense to which even I’d admit occasional guilt. But there’s nothing hyperbolic about it’Muramasa: The Demon Blade is an astonishingly gorgeous game, a stunning collection of moving artwork with more elegance, polish and sophisticated style than anything I’ve played in years.

Developed exclusively for Wii by Vanillaware, the Japanese studio best known for the stylish 2007 action-RPG Odin Sphere, Muramasa blends modern anime with classical Japanese art and mythology. For the duration of its 17-20 hours of gameplay, the world of Muramasa is comprised entirely of layers of scrolling two-dimensional artwork, harkening to a simpler era before polygons and bump mapping.

Though its technique may be simple, its style is breathtaking.

One of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played, Muramasa is only on Wii

Vibrant colors burst from every pixel of the screen as you traverse snowy mountaintops, amber wheat fields rippling in the wind, thick bamboo forests blanketed by fog and more. Progressing through the abundance of locations, Muramasa continuously presents unique new environments brought to life by fantastic animation and meticulous detail, and each seems more hypnotically beautiful than the last.

And it’s not just the backgrounds, either. Particularly for its massive bosses, Muramasa’s character design is some of the best I’ve seen.