Square's betting that Brave Fencer Musashiden will be a hit, and if early indications are correct, this combination of action game and RPG will do the trick.
TOKYO - Brave Fencer Musashiden is one of the series of titles Square is currently hyping on Japanese TV. The main character is a boy named Musashi. He carries a sword in both hands and slashes enemies in a 3D world set in a fictional place, neither distinctly Japanese nor Western.
The game looks like a combination of Zelda and Mario 64. But the gameplay is much like that of Mario 64 or Crash Bandicoot. It contains lots of platformer elements. This is not a straight RPG.
Square allowed us to play only three select locations of the game. One of them is a scene from an earlier stage, probably the first one. First, you have to run away from the rolling giant stone head that comes after you from the top of a giant tower. To run away, you run down the side of the tower vertically in a really cool scene, then it reverts to a Crash Bandicoot-ish scene where you control Musashiden running towards the camera.
If you're lucky, then you face the boss. It's a four-legged giant robot with a large chained ball in its hand. After you slash a certain spot on the robot with your sword, you make the robot throw it the chained ball away. When you do these things several times, you will beat the boss.
As far as we could see, the levels are restricted in terms of "freeness" (after all, this is not a free-roaming game); it's much more like Crash Bandicoot than Mario 64.
The controls are really fine. Controlling Musashiden is as easy as simply picking up the controller.
The game is 70 percent complete right now. The complete game data is already on the demo's CD-ROM (somebody get a Game Shark on that demo, and open it up like RE2's demo!). But Square still needs to do a lot of tweaking, the most important part of the development.
Square's Brave Fencer Musashiden is planning to be released this summer.