The Japanese Katana is a design that is almost ubiquitous in gaming, appearing in many genres, from first-person shooters, role-playing games, action games, and more. There’s just something about the design that is evocative – the single edge blade, the slight curve of the sword, and the handguard separating the hilt and the blade make for a striking profile.
There’s also a bit of mythologizing around the weapon, inevitable since it’s an ancient design that has survived into the modern-day. It has captured the imagination of creatives throughout the years, so it also makes sense then that the design would also make it into video games. Here are some of the best examples.
10 Raizan — Onimusha: Warlords
An awesome weapon from an underrated series, the Raizan is an awesome demonic lightning katana and marks a turning point in the first game, Onimusha: Warlords. This weapon is the first magical weapon that protagonist Samonosuke acquires and before then, you have to contend with powerful demons using a normal katana.
Your starting loadout is sufficient, but your enemies are tough to kill and hit you for a lot of damage. Upon acquiring this weapon, the playing field is evened and transitions from survival horror to action horror since now you have a magic katana with a seven-hit combo that summons lightning.
9 Homuranagi — Siren: Blood Curse
Siren: Blood Curse, like most survival horror games, is an experience defined by your helplessness as a player. Throughout most of the game, you are stuck using improvised or outdated weapons against unstoppable monsters. If you manage to defeat them, they just get back up, meaning all you’ve done is buy yourself time.
Except, for the very end, when you get a katana from the best character in the game and combine it with an ancient and alien artifact to make the Homuranagi, a blade engulfed in blue flame, capable of firing off waves of holy energy. Your time with it is tragically short, as it’s only used to off the final boss. While you get a cathartic scene at the end where the protagonist lays waste to a bunch of previously-immortal Shibito, it would have been nice to unlock this weapon for New Game Plus.
8 Killing Edge — Fire Emblem Series
A recurring weapon in the Fire Emblem series, characterized by a high critical chance, allowing characters to deal massive damage and likely triggering a sweet critical hit animation. Though it can turn the most mediocre fighters into heavy hitters, Swordmasters and Assassins become walking Vitamix blenders when equipped with one of these.
Unfortunately, the Killing Edge is also well-known for having poor durability, meaning you wanna save them for the tougher fights. Also, though this weapon appears as a katana in most Fire Emblem games, this isn’t always the case.
7 H.F. Blade — Metal Gear Rising
A staple of Cyborg Ninja in the Metal Gear games, the High-frequency blade is a powerful weapon in skilled hands and is shown regularly to be able to deflect bullets with ease. As its name implies, this blade vibrates at a frequency high enough to weaken molecular bonds, making it wicked sharp and able to cut through most objects, including steel beams and building-sized Metal Gears.
Perhaps the most distinct example is the H.F. Murasama blade wielded by Jetstream Sam in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, its blood-red blade stands out in a game full of H.F. Blades and is actually a tricked out ancient katana.
6 Shuraba — Bayonetta Series
This weapon is a living, bloodthirsty katana said to contain the heart of Ashura, the demonic god of war. It is also one of the most accessible weapons in Bayonetta’s arsenal, having reach, speed, and damage that make it good in most fights, allowing newer players to get a feel for the game while still feeling capable.
As a katana, the Shuraba has all the requisite anime moves, from sweet long-range thrusts that send Bayonetta flying across the room to her foes to super-power Iaijutsu blade-draws that decimate enemies.
5 Rivers of Blood — Elden Ring
Elden Ring players may balk at choosing Rivers of Blood over Moonveil and though the latter is quite good in its own right, this weapon is a monster, especially in PvP, and is far more interesting aesthetically.
This blood-edged blade comes with the ability Corpse Piler, a series of deceptively long-ranged slashes that stack bleed on hit, upon which acquiring enough stacks will stun and cause a lot of damage. As a bonus, the animation for stacking enough bleed calls to mind samurai films in which someone is slashed and after a beat, explodes into arterial spray.
4 Yamato — Devil May Cry Series
This is the signature weapon of badass, cool-as-a-cucumber half-demon Vergil from the Devil May Cry series — although it has also ended up in the hands of Dante and Nero on occasion.
In Vergil’s hands, Yamato is capable of some lethal moves, including slashing faster than the eye can see and throwing out damaging voids to deal damage at a distance. The sword also has more esoteric uses, like cutting open holes in reality to be used as portals or separating less tangible things like different worlds or parts of the self.
3 Tsubaki Mk-III — No More Heroes
The Tsubaki Mk-III is basically two great tastes that taste great together, namely katana and lightsaber. This unique weapon is wielded by the protagonist Travis Touchdown of No More Heroes and its sequels.
Fast and deadly, this weapon is surprisingly understated in its aesthetic for such an otherwise bombastic game. Though all of Travis’ swords are called ‘beam katana’, this is the only one that matches the curved blade design of an actual katana. Also, unlike his other weapons, this one doesn’t ever need to be recharged.
2 Masamune — Final Fantasy 7
One of the most iconic weapons in the Final Fantasy series, remarkable since it only appears in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. This absurdly long sword is longer than Sephiroth is tall, and in his hands, cuts and stabs through everything with ease, including beloved characters.
In Crisis Core, Sephiroth is shown to be able to cut the Sister Ray – a cannon requiring several buildings to store and power into rings in a simulation. In Final Fantasy VII, when he is a guest party member, Sephiroth deals max damage to your enemies when he attacks. Also in that section, the Masamune has six slots for Materia, separated into pairs whereas even Cloud’s Ultima Weapon only has four.
1 Sweet Katana — South Park: The Stick of Truth
The name says it all. This is the most powerful weapon in the game, hitting for almost 2,000 damage three times. Plus, if you nail the quick-time event on attack, you also shred 200 of your opponent’s armor in the process for even more pain. Sweet Katana indeed.
The power of this weapon likely stems from the fact that in what is essentially a town-wide LARP that got out of hand, it is one of the few real weapons in the game, with most other characters wielding props or improvised weaponry.
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