17th Oct2018

‘Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

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Originally released on the PS4 back in early 2016, Japanese hack ‘n’ slash title Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae makes it way to the Switch where it’s combination of simple graphics and button-bashing gameplay fits PERFECTLY on Nintendo’s pick-up-and-play handheld console.

Reminding me very much of the Onechanbara series of games (easily one of my favourite game franchises ever, alongside its “Simple Series” stable-mate Earth Defense Force), Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae is a hack ‘n’ slash arena fighter that sees you play as a proto-typical Japanese schoolgirl as she battles her way through wave after wave of enemies – each wave getting bigger and more difficult to beat (at least without resorting to upgrades and/or some nimble button-bashing). What this game doesn’t have is a story – which, in all honestly, didn’t bother me in the slightest. I know some sites have made a big deal about the lack of story or characterisation but as someone who skips through cut scenes in 99% of the games he plays, in order to get to the action faster, Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae was a breath of fresh air. Start the game and away you go. Fight after fight, combos racking up like crazy. I BLOODY LOVED IT!

You play the game as Misa, a school uniform wearing heroine who’s rather adept at swinging a sword and kicking arse. And there’s a LOT of arse-kicking to do! Now I said there’s not much story to Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae but there is actually a story – one that is sparse, yet enough to frame the action in some sort of context. Your task within the game is to track down Misa’s friend Suzuka, who is in possession of demonic sword that she used to slay her teacher! And how do you track Suzuka down? By fighting your way through various stages of frantic action… all set in a circular arena of which there is no escape, and no let up from wave after wave of suited villains, giant mecha, monsters and more.

Thankfully the aforementioned lack of story or characterisation within Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae, is more than made up for in the combat. Taking a leaf out of hack ‘n’ slash games of the past, this arena fighter has some of the easiest to pick-up combat of recent memory yet, thanks to the RPG-like ability to level-up your attack and defensive capabilities, its also some of the trickiest to master.

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You start the game with two forms of attack: one button does a punch/kick combo, the other lets you unleash your sword – a much more powerful weapon that does much more damage in a shorter amount of time AND it allows you to recover lost energy by stunning enemies. Once stunned you “clean” your sword (in much the same with as the aforementioned Onechanbara) and that action, if done at the right time will allow you to kill you enemies and take their energy for your own. See what I mean about easy to pick-up, yet trick to master? You could just plow through the game button-bashing as best as you can, using a combo of attack and defense moves but learn that little bit more and the game becomes easier…

Then there’s the upgrading options. By upgrading throughout the game you can string together even better, more impressive and more importantly, more powerful attacks. You can both upgrade existing moves and get new ones – essential if you are to keep fighting through Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae as the difficulty keeps ramping up the deeper you get into the levels; enemies get more powerful, put together their own combos against you, and even feel like they’re working together at times!

Reminiscent of games like Onechanbara, Devil May Cry and Deadly Strike, Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae is a hack ‘n’ slash fans wet dream. In other words, I loved it! The game is available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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