Tonight We Ride, For Edo!

Since 1988, I’ve been practicing various martial arts that I’ve learned over the years. In 1995 when I turned the age of 15, as I walked to my high school, I would always pass a martial arts supply store in my town. One day, I decided to walk inside and see what they had for sale. This was the first moment in my life when I seen a katana. It was absolutely breathtaking. The lacquered saya, the brightly gleaming hamon, the intricately wrapped handle, all of these striking features drew me in. Then reality hit me. I was only fifteen and I had to be eighteen years old to legally purchase a sword. However, the owner of the store introduced me to bokken, a wooden practice katana that had the weight and balance of a real katana. Bokken, however can be purchased by anyone regardless of age. So i picked up two bokken (1 Katana and 1 Wakizashi Bokken) and a copy of Dan Lowry’s Bokken: The Art of the Art of the Japanese Sword. After practicing with the wooden swords for about ten months and showing my family that I could responsibly handle a weapon, my family finally decided to get me a katana for Christmas. While being enrolled in a dojo at the time, I also picked up Darrel Craig’s Iai: The Art of Drawing the Sword and Charles Daniel’s Kenjutsu: The Art of Japanese Swordsmanship. During my time at the dojo, I went on to win a competition for weapons kata while performing forms from Iaido. From then on, I have been practicing Bokkenjutsu, Kenjutsu and Iaido. That was 17 years ago.

A little less than a year ago, I was hanging out in PlayStation Home of Japan. There at the Granzella Edo space, I was introduced to a mini game that let you practice sword fighting against a tamaigishiri, a bamboo mat that was rolled up, soaked in water for a day and used for test cutting with a katana. The first thing I noticed was the fact that the mini game let you change up your stances. Since I’m an Iaido practitioner, I was instantly able to distinguish the difference between Jodon no Kame, Waki no Kame, Hasso no Kame and Jedan no Kame. Although this was just a mini game, I was impressed by Granzella’s attention to detail. After I finished playing the game, I walked over to the edge of town and began to realize that the cut practicing was simply there to prepare us for the main game which is basically a single player or team based demon hunt. As I played the game, I was impressed with its Dynasty Warriors style of gameplay. However, I was having my butt handed to me because I didn’t own any special armor or weapons. Since I got to experience this in Japanese Home first, I prayed to the gaming gods that Granzella would bring this to the United States.

When I read the PlayStation Blog on Monday, I finally got my wish. Granzella Edo in US PlayStation Home has released its long awaited Operation: Defend Edo mini game. Out of the excitement for this launch, I immediately purchased some new armor and the new Personal Space known as Edo Row. With my Nameless Armor and Katana in hand, I set out to Dark Edo to destroy the demons. After not playing on the JP server for a little while, I was quite rusty. Then this game gave me a slap into reality. Turns out that even with armor and a real katana, this game is still quite challenging. Embracing this challenge, I added the mini game to my favorites list and played it again, and again, and… you get the picture.

Finally, after a few rounds, I was getting back into my groove. I was killing off demons, destroying those annoying lanterns and I killed my first cyclops. However, the job was not finished because the mission requires two cyclopes to be slain. After diverting the attention of the Red Ogre and killing off the last of the goblins, finally, I show downed with the one eyed beast. Little did I know that I was going to face a much greater, and quite annoying obstacle. As I was ready to land the final cut on this monstrosity, a network error kicked in. Immediately, I signed back in to Home only to realize that I have lost all of my Ryo and would have to start from the beginning. After dealing with my frustration, I sucked it up and went NES Old School style on this game. Then, when I got hit by a Cyclops, it launched me up onto the roof of a building with no way to get down. As a result, yet another annoying glitch has thwarted my plans to rid the world of this freak of nature. Once again, I fired up my PDA, exited the space, then went in for round three. I guess third time truly is a charm when hunting down Oni. Finally, I slain the beasts. But wait a minute? Now I had to run to the pillar of light or risk loosing everything I fought for. Blade in hand, I rushed though the evil spirits blocking my path. Victory was finally mine!

After the epic struggles that occurred, it was time to check out the spoils of war. And by spoils, I mean spoiled, rotten Japanese food. Apparently, these demons regurgitated the sacrificial offerings that the humans in Edo have given to them. After checking out my rewards and placing them in my Edo Row apartments, it was back to Edo to pay a visit to the old lady and spend some Ryo. Due to the glitchy nature of the game, I immediately used my Ryo to purchase as many of the cheapest items as I could. Later on, I got in some multi-player rounds with some friends of mine and earned enough Ryo to purchase The Sword Kusunagi, a perfect PS Home example of a Ken (the sword Japan originally used before the katana was created). Thinking back on the difficulty of this game, I was actually quite impressed. Pattern memorization is actually a very important part of this game and going in and just hacking and slashing will result in a nasty God-sized backhand to the side of your face. Surprisingly, I am still enticed to go back and play this game. The rewards are pretty cool and its nice having a Personal Space to store them in. However, the glitches can get quite annoying when they do happen and its something that absolutely must be fixed.

Edo Row is a Personal Space that is an exact replica of a portion of the Edo Public Space. Owners of this space will find a recovery circle in Dark Edo placed in one of the apartments when playing Operation: Defend Edo. Its a decently sized space that gives us a decent pallet for decorating. Although the rooms are small, I managed to build a seven cabinet arcade in the middle apartment and an armor and meditation room into the end apartment. Currently, I am working on the front apartment which houses my wooden refrigerator that I won through a Ryo purchase as well as all of the decrepit food I found in the treasure chests of the Operation: Defend Edo mini game. The row is a great place to hang out after a long day of Oni slaying. Also, you can sit up on the roof. Look at the next pic to check out the view :-).

I was really impressed with the armor and weapon upgrades. The Nameless Katana definitely is an improvement on damage over the Shinai. The armor provides enough just enough protection to keep you from getting swatted by umbrellas in two hits but its not so powerful to the point where it takes away from the challenge of the game. I also suggest that you pick up any powerups from the store in Edo to replenish your stamina, improve your damage ratio and build up your armor. Although the text for the items say “One time use only”, its not a one time use in the sense to Novus Prime Nebulon Boosters. It means that you get a one time use of the product every time you play Operation: Defend Edo. Purchasing these items will also give you more ornaments for Edo Row or any other Personal Space you want to use them in.

Overall, Granzella has produced a fun, yet challenging game with Operation: Defend Edo. The items, Personal Space and Edo Public Space all connect to each other and work well within the theme at hand. The glitches and disconnects can be frustrating and must be fixed. However, if you are willing to push forward and look beyond these flaws, you will find this game to ultimately be a rewarding experience for mastering the combos and learning the enemies patterns. In multiplayer, its a fun social experience that truly requires team work since the demons get more hitpoints for every player involved in the game. Happy Oni slaying everyone. Don’t forget to purchase your sword and armor.

(Side Note: Interested in playing Operation: Defend Edo? I am hosting an event in PlayStation Home called Ronins of Ako: The Demon Slayers of Granzella Edo on April 14th, 2012. You can read more details about the event by clciking this link here.)

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