Inu Yasha: The Secret of the Cursed Mask - Review  

Warning: Cursed Mask Not Included
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

15-25 hours


Rating definitions 

   After finding him/herself mysteriously transported to the past, the hero/heroine meets up with the cast of Inu Yasha in an attempt to save the past from demons and find a way back to the present day. Inu Yasha: The Secret of the Cursed Mask allows the player to select the gender of the main character who will fight alongside Inu Yasha. Despite its name, the game has almost nothing to do with masks. Most of the game involves meeting characters from the series and, thanks to a ridiculously high encounter rate, fighting a lot of demons.

   Fighting demons isn't easy for the main character at first, but luckily s/he has Inu Yasha to help. While it's common for certain characters to be stronger than others, Inu Yasha's power completely eclipses that of everyone else for most of the game. Luckily, each character receives several special abilities over the course of the game to help balance things out. These abilities are divided into three categories: techniques that don't cost energy, techniques that require energy, and cooperative techniques, with the techniques that don't require energy naturally being the weakest. Energy is regenerated as the character attacks and is attacked, but it's still important to conserve it whenever possible as these skills are the only thing that allows the other characters to come close to being as useful as Inu Yasha is. While this imbalance results in an interesting battle dynamic, the battle system is still relatively average.

Blades of blood Blades of blood

   Inu Yasha is an easy game. As the game progresses, more allies are gained, and the player will almost always greatly outnumber the enemy. Cooperative techniques allow characters to further gang up on bosses and dispatch most of them within only a few turns. While a few battles may pose a minor challenge, the game is still very easy overall.

   The worst part of the battle system is the severe lag. In fact, most of the game suffers from this problem as well. The way the interface is set up, virtually any action causes the game to stall for a moment. Even simply scrolling through the battle menu to use a technique can take five to ten seconds due to lag. Out of battle, lag between dialog boxes kills joke punchlines and makes shopping for and using healing items tedious. To make matters worse, this is accompanied by poor localization. For example, male characters are sometimes referred to as she.

   In addition to horrible interaction, Inu Yasha also suffers from a poor story. A majority of the game is spent moving from one cameo to another with only a weak central plot to hold it together. A large amount of time is spent summarizing events from the anime series as well. While the central plot isn't bad, and even picks up at times, it could have been much better had the game developed it instead of wasting so much time on cameos.

   While using cameos is both understandable and welcome, most of the scenes involving cameos completely lack originality. Rather than create interesting cameo scenes that further the plot, reveal something new about the character, or do something even vaguely original, they decided to take scenes almost completely verbatim from the anime series.

At least the artwork is quite good At least the artwork is quite good

   Like most anime-based games, Inu Yasha is rather short. It can be rather easily completed in a mere fifteen hours, but it has several possible sidequests as well. These bonus events can tack on a few more hours, but if the player completely explores all of the dungeons in addition to completing all of the sidequests it's more likely to take closer to twenty-five hours to complete.

   Probably the most impressive part of the game is the excellent artwork. Character artwork and anime clips are the highlight of the game. Even a number of towns and dungeons feature hand-drawn artwork instead of polygons. Character and enemy models, on the other hand, are less impressive. Characters are drawn in a super-deformed style that doesn't seem to fit in with anything else. Enemies are better, but most are recolored and reused several times throughout the game. Overall, visuals are still quite good though.

   While not as good as the visuals, the music isn't bad. It occasionally becomes repetitive, but it's still average overall. Sound effects, on the other hand, are considerably less impressive. Though the game features voice acting, the sound volume will often fall at times and become almost completely washed out by the background music. Additionally, battle sound effects lack variety. Players are forced to listen to the exact same thing every time they use a certain attack.

   Overall, Inu Yasha: The Secret of the Cursed Mask is a bad game that suffers from a poor story, a ridiculously high enemy encounter rate, a poor interface, bad localization, and unsatisfactory sound quality. This is the kind of game only the most faithful Inu Yasha fans are likely to enjoy at all. Since most of the scenes in the game come almost directly out of the anime series itself anyway, players are better off avoiding the game and simply watching the series.

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