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Video Game / The Mysterious Murasame Castle

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One stormy night in Feudal Japan...

The Mysterious Murasame Castle is a medieval Japanese fantasy video game created by Nintendo and released in 1986 as the second original title for the Famicom Disk System, after The Legend of Zelda, to which it has some resemblance. The game has been occasionally re-released, eventually coming to Europe and America as well courtesy of the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console in 2014, then to Nintendo Switch Online in October 2023.

The game takes place during the Edo period, where Murasame and four neighboring castles have been possessed by a demonic force. It falls to a young samurai apprentice named Takamaru to defeat Murasame.

Despite having only one game in the series (and one that was not released outside of Japan for twenty-eight years), this game had had a rather interesting legacy. Fuji TV developed a live-action TV drama loosely based on the game with Sanae Jonouchi starring as Kayo and the Snow Princess and Masaki Kyomoto as Seikichi and the White Rabbit/Takamaru. Later, Takamaru was featured in the Wii version of Samurai Warriors III, which also included a full remake of his game. Takamaru also appeared in Captain Rainbow as one of the inhabitants of the island, and Nintendo Land has an attraction based off of The Mysterious Murasame Castle. Finally, Takamaru appeared in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as a Sticker, and he appeared in the fourth and fifth games as an Assist Trophy, and music from Nazo no Murasamejō featured in both games. There's also a Mii costume based on him.

This game provides examples of:

  • Action Bomb: Flashing ninjas explode when killed, requiring the player to kill them at a distance.
  • Alien Invasion: A mysterious alien entity arrives in Japan on a stormy night and begins spreading its influence by taking over the minds of the daimyos who rule the castles.
  • Anachronism Stew: While the game takes place during the time of Tokugawa shogunate under the leadership of Ietsuna Tokugawa, Ludwig van Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" from his Symphony No. 9 was written between 1822 and 1824, long after Ietsuna's death back in 1680.
  • Bullet Hell: With enemies everywhere throwing projectiles left, right, up, and down, the game will sure feel like one.
  • Chest Monster: Some princesses in the castles aren't actually princesses at all, but are resilient evil spirits that will slowly give chase until you defeat them.
  • Colourful Theme Naming: The first four castles — Aosame, Akasame, Ryokusame and Momosame — are named after Japanese colors and are appropriately Colour-Coded for Your Convenience (respectively blue, red, green, and pink).
  • Counter-Attack: You can deflect shuriken with you sword by attacking when said projectiles are within sword range. You can't deflect bombs, fireballs or gusts of wind, though.
  • Continuing is Painful: Most powerups are lost upon death.
  • Death or Glory Attack: You can fell most enemies faster with your sword than you can with just projectiles. Getting in range is another matter.
  • Flip-Screen Scrolling: Throughout the game.
  • Guide Dang It!: The locations of the Lightning, King, and Sandal powerups, which are all practically required to get past the castles. They are always invisible, so until you memorize exactly where to find them, you won't be getting very far.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: The most common enemy faced throughout the game.
  • Iaijutsu Practitioner: Takamaru uses his sword by unsheathing and re-sheathing it. His pose when not moving even shows him grasping his sword ready to strike.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Getting enough shuriken upgrades results in shuriken with explosive lightning.
  • Nintendo Hard: As with most games of the era.
  • One-Man Army: Takamaru fights hundreds of enemies throughout the game. It helps that enemies respawn endlessly.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: The boss of castle #2 is the best spot to grind for ammo, as he sends out groups of white ninjas with each attack, and each ninja always drops a scroll, worth 10 ammo each. Make sure to load up here until you've capped out your ammo (at 255), after which you should be good for the rest of the game.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The ending features a brief rendition of the "Ode to Joy" from Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.
  • Sir Cameos-a-Lot: As noted, Takamaru received several cameos in Nintendo products after the inclusion of his game as a collectible in Pikmin 2.
  • Smart Bomb: The Inazuma Lightning, which clears all enemies on the screen and even reveals hidden Tanuki.
  • Tanuki: They serve as suppliers of your armament.
  • Technicolor Ninja: Alongside the standard black, ninjas in this game come in white, red, blue, green, flashing… overlaps with Highly-Visible Ninja.
  • Tengu: Who will impede your progress with a combination of Teleport Spam and gusts of wind
  • Timed Mission: Every level has a time limit, although the timer resets every time Takamaru loses a life.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The titular Murasame Castle, where the floor is black and the walls are Nothing but Skulls.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: When you die, you lose your weapon and movement upgrades, meaning you'll almost certainly lose the rest of your lives shortly afterward. On the other hand, the game is generous enough to let you keep your ammo between lives, and you retain your Lightning too if you managed to get one.

Alternative Title(s): Nazo No Murasamejo