Note: While a Japanese release, this game has little text and all text other than the title screen is in english
Nazo no Murasame Jō ("The Mysterious Murasame Castle") is a video game produced by Nintendo for the Family Computer Disk System on April 14, 1986. The game was one of the early games released for the FDS, and the second original title after The Legend of Zelda. The release was initially scheduled to coincide with the release of the FDS itself, but setbacks in development caused it to be released much later, contributing to its relative lack of popularity. Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Konami's Castlevania were also released for the FDS in the same year, but Nazo no Murasame-jō failed to achieve the same sort of commercial success. The game was never released outside Japan.
The game takes place in Edo period Japan ruled by the fourth shogun Tokugawa Ietsuna. Murasame Castle, located somewhere in Japan, houses a gigantic stone statue known as Murasame. The people lived peacefully until one stormy night, when a shining golden object fell onto the castle from the sky. Deafening shrieks arose from the castle, and the shining object is later revealed to be an alien creature who gives life to the stone statue Murasame and takes over the castle. The alien creature extends its power to four other neighboring castles, giving the daimyo lords each an evil sphere of power. The lords are taken over by the alien's evil power, and use the spheres to summon ninja armies and monsters to attack villagers. Hearing of these strange occurrences, the shogunate sends Takamaru, a samurai apprentice, on a secret mission to investigate the castle. As Takamaru, the player must infiltrate the four castles to defeat each castle lord, before going on to face the alien entity itself.
The game is played in top-down view with no scrolling; a setup similar to that of the first Legend of Zelda game. The gameplay itself differs from Zelda in that Nazo no Murasame-jō is a fast-paced linear action game with time limits. The game has only a limited number of power-ups, forcing players to rely on their own action skills more than anything else.
All of the game's levels take place in Murasame Castle and the four neighboring castles, and the appearance of enemy characters (including samurai, ninjas and hannya) borrows heavily from existing Japanese culture. Each level, divided into two parts: the path to the castle, and the castle itself, is of considerable size, and the player must defeat generic enemy characters to reach the innermost region of the castle where the castle-lord resides. The player is often attacked by multiple enemies attacking from all different directions, lending to the game's high difficulty. Though there is an ending demo prepared after the final boss, the game reboots by looping back to the beginning at the conclusion of the demo.
The player's only weapons are a katana and shurikens; upgrades to the shuriken can be obtained, but are lost whenever the player loses a life. The katana can only be used when Takamaru is close to an enemy or projectile (excluding fireballs), while the shurikens can only be used when he is farther away. The katana can also be used to deflect projectiles. Other items are fireballs, which are more powerful than the shurikens; a lightning-themed explosive, which gives heavy damage to every enemy on screen; and a cloak, which makes Takamaru invisible and invulnerable to enemies and objects for a short period of time. Extra lives can be obtained by rescuing damsels in distress, but they are sometimes disguised devils who stubbornly chase the player around the castle.
Source: Wikipedia, "Nazo no Murasame Jō", available under the CC-BY-SA License.