I’ve made it no secret that I’m a big fan of all things Hideki Kamiya whether it was his days at Capcom, then Clover, now Platinum. He just seems to get it when it comes to video games, or maybe it’s just that my taste is similar to his. Whatever the reason may be I was pleased as punch when it was announced that those scumbags at Capcom were going to give an HD update to the magnificent Zelda-inspired adventure Okami so they could drain another 10 dollars from the ignorant masses including myself. I tried to play Okami at each of its releases on PS2 and Wii but either got distracted in the PS2’s case or despised the motion controls in the Wii’s. The HD release seemed right up my alley as I am so lazy that I’d rather spend 10 dollars on my ass than dust off the old PS2 and hook it up, plus the HD graphics look absolutely gorgeous and really bring out what was already a beautiful game. I wanted to do this review sooner but wee doggie is this game long, especially if you want to get everything. Not quite Final Fantasy/JRPG length which easily exceeds 100 hours, but well over 30 hours, minimum.
When this game came out it wasn’t the only wolf adventure game to be released. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess came out shortly after Okami did and there were jokes and similarities aplenty. What seemed odd was that Okami practically out-Zelda-ed Twilight Princess. Okami broke away from the Zelda formula of 8 or so dungeons with some filler by dialing all the expected content up to 11 and dolloping out steaming heaps of fluff which sometimes feels welcome for adding so much to the experience, other times a bit annoying and excessive. Case in point: Kamiya wholeheartedly seems to believe in the use of the Boss Rush at the end of games, and to be honest by the third time you fight the longest boss in the game it starts to feel a bit lame. However the overall experience doesn’t suffer too much for it and the game still hits all the notes Zelda does at its best and often times exceeds them.
The combat system is more dynamic and deeper than Zeldas, drawing clear inspiration from other Kamiya games like Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe even down to the point of adding humorous attacks that you need to use to farm one of the games special currencies. Never before, nor ever again most likely, will a game feature a protagonist who uses their own pee and poop as special attacks, granted that works well when considering the protagonist here is a dog. The game does well in mixing the normal attacks and combos in with the games star feature of drawing attacks with the paintbrush. Drawing things was sometimes a bit touchy outside of combat but in combat it usually wasn’t a problem, at least not for me. They kept most of the things to draw simple enough and my biggest problem was when I had to wait more than a week to play the game again and I forgot about some of the powers. Not many though as the game fortunately does a good job of making you use them enough to remember them. This was one of the fields that Okami succeed over Twilight Princess. Some of you may remember that Twilight Princess had some items that weren’t utilized as much as they could have been, such as the Spinner or the Dominion Rod.
Story-wise the game is much more word heavy than the Zelda games. Amaterasu the player character is still a dog, albeit a goddess dog, and therefore doesn’t talk so much as she reacts in a comical dog manner to the bizarre people she encounters. Most of your dialogue comes at the mouth of Issun, this games extent of Links guide companion system ever since Ocarina of Time. So prepare to be a wee bit annoyed occationally at Issuns love of babbling excessively and his boorish manners and lecherous advances towards any young female who possesses prominently displayed jiggly tits, of which there are many. Overall though the game keeps a lighter more whimsical tone but does have its moments of seriousness and dire quests. I suppose I should actually explain the story for the people who don’t know about it. The game takes place in a feudal mystical Japan referred to as “Nippon.” There has been an 8 headed dragon named Orochi demanding booze and human sacrifice in the form of a young maiden once a year until he was eventually defeated by the combined efforts of a great swordsman and a mysterious wolf. Nearly 100 years passed since Orochi was defeated and the sword of the swordsman was placed in a shrine sealing Orochi away, while a statue of the wolf was in a separate shrine thanking her for her help. The Sword is pulled out by a mystery man and Orochi is again released. Fortunately at the same time a new white wolf appears at the wolf’s shrine in the form of Amaterasu. Significantly depowered after 100 years people see you as just a normal wolf, but strangely seem to have no problem talking to you and often times welcome your presence. You gain power through faith so as you help people out their faith in you increases and you grow stronger. Additionally you are given magic in the form of an ink brush that you use to paint spells over the frozen screen. Originality oozes from this game making it so much more than just a Zelda clone.
That’s about all you need to know. So if that setting combined with Zelda game play intrigues you then I highly recommend this game. And really, 10 bucks for well over 30 hours of game play from such a game with such high critical praise that appears on nearly every “100 best games of all time” lists. If you haven’t already gotten it scoop it up if you’ve got a PS3, or even if you’ve got a Wii/WiiU or PS2. Play this game!
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Kimo is a contemptuous old coot. With experience in video games dating back to 1988 and a schizophrenic range of games he boasts an impressive range of knowledge of gamings best, and worst. Dwelling in the desolate wastes of the American Midwest he brings to Z1Gaming a perspective that looks for positive qualities in even the worst games.