They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
Wait! Come back! I’m not just saying that because I’m a nostalgic old man! We are going to be looking at Brave Fencer Musashi because it is a shining example of videogame excess in the 1990s. As we play through Brave Fencer Musashi, we will explore one item a week that “you just don’t see anymore” (and, when we get to the game’s poor sequel, we’ll examine what happened next..). This week, our topic du jour is Musashi’s copy ability.
The humble copy ability is one that shows up in a lot of videogames. Aside from easy examples where it might be a “cool move” for a Castlevania protagonist to start chucking bones or to have a “mirror finale” where your hero copies the super move of a boss, there are characters that are 100% known for their copying skills. Mega Man has been stealing robot master abilities from the start, and Kirby picked up the copy power from Kirby’s Adventure on to the point that “Kirby just acquired a sword power” is more iconic than his spit ‘n swallow attacks. Stealing a bad guy’s skill is always fun, because who doesn’t want to turn the tables on their rivals?
Right from the start, Musashi has the ability to copy enemy skills. It starts simple: soldiers have guns, Musashi copies their ability to shoot projectiles. But it quickly escalates to hitherto unknown corners, as Musashi gains the ability to pogo over vines, generate an “aromatic barrier”, or toss infinity grenades. Some enemy skills are simple solutions to nearby puzzles (like copying the ability to generate a light source in a dark room) and some skills allow Musashi to use abilities that would otherwise fall into the “et cetera” category, like “summon map” or “heal poison”. While a few enemy powers are detrimental (copy a poisonous mushroom if you want to have a bad time), even these “booby trapped” creatures serve to prove one thing: every man, monster, and sentient plant in Musashi’s world has an ability to be copied.
And, man, they just don’t do that anymore.
If the Super Smash Bros series was created today, Kirby’s iconic ability would be left on the cutting room floor. There are nearly 90 fighters in that game now, and Kirby having to balance a different skill and hairstyle for every last combatant is not only annoying for every designer involved, but also vaguely forgettable. Kirby is one (cute, little) guy! When Sephiroth, Sora, or Pyra get announced in the latest fighter pass, nobody is excited that “oh boy, Kirby gonna get a new power!”. It’s just an obligation that must be fulfilled for the sake of the pink puff. And that’s how modern game design seems to work with “copy abilities”: it encourages less enemy variety, because every new creature means another meeting where they have to figure out if this new “stomp” ability is going to work across all aspect of the game.
Blue mages only get a few spells, Shujinko is never coming back, and the Pokémon Company will regret for the rest of their lives that they ever invented Ditto and Smeargle.
And it’s all proof that they don’t make ‘em like Brave Fencer Musashi anymore.
Even Worse Streams presents Brave Fencer Musashi
Original Stream Night: August 9, 2022
Random Stream Notes
- Welcome to the first part of our complete playthrough of Brave Fencer Musashi! Jeanie, BEAT, fanboymaster, and Caliscrub are all ready to go. We all begin by recounting separately how this is absolutely the game that came with the Final Fantasy 8 demo.
- “Bitch no energy. You all heard that. That’s what he said.”
- 10 minutes in, and we talk about the sequel. Guess what will eventually happen!
- An extremely tense escape from a rolling head ensues. It is tense because I am not good at this game.
- Ample Vigour joins after the defeat of the first boss. He also identifies the Final Fantasy 8 connection, because that is all anyone ever remembers.
- Let’s talk about the absolute horror of the atom bomb!
- Ajvark arrives as I try desperately to not kill a dog.
- Shiren the Wanderer + Zelda = Musashi. Do you have the right kind of brain poisoning for that to make sense?
- As I desperately try to acquire a pogo ability, we talk about words we mispronounce.
- “I want Brave Fencer Voldo.”
- And then there is a mad quest to find the most popular Italians in videogames.
- I never want to hear the phrase “Anime Chumlee” (of Pawn Stars) ever again.
- Hear the Steve Blum of the situation. Now it is time for rafting!
- … I suck at rafting. “This area should take you 90 seconds,” my ass.
- Deptford was on the stream with Chrono Cross back in the day. I think he is one of our most popular Even Worse guests. Also: one of our only guests.
- And we’ve got an L-Glove! And Spoiled Milk! Let’s take a nap for a week.
Next time on Brave Fencer Musashi: Steam sale.