Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Okami for the Wii





Japan has a very unique take on mythology. The demons and heroes are fun and interesting to read about. One of my favorite stories is the one where Susano the Samurai saved 7 princesses from an eight-headed dragon named Orochi. Nowadays, God of War is pretty much using the whole mythology thing to give the game an interesting story. Still, it’s a cool idea to use mythology to make enemies and a good story. So, what do you get when you combine Legend of Zelda, Japanese mythology, and a clever Japanese ink art style? You get one of the best-looking games ever made called Okami.

Before I start talking about the story, I just want to say this game was released for the Playstation 2 in 2006 and then ported to the Wii two years later. I will be talking about the Wii version since I own it. The story starts off in Japan of all places, in Kamiki Village, where an eight-headed dragon named Orochi has conquered the land and has placed fear amongst the village’s people. One day however, a white wolf called Shiranui becomes the guardian of the village. He joins up with the village’s strongest swordsman Nagi and defeats the demonic Dragon. Sadly, after the fight, the white wolf died, and was then commemorated with a statue for its bravery and pure heart of protecting the village. Fast-forward 100 years. Orochi has been sealed away for 100 years, and someone by accident, releases his evil force once again over the land. The goddess of the cherry blossom tree of Kamiki, Sakuya awakes and realizes the help the land needs. She then turns towards the statue of the white wolf and calls upon Amateratsu, the goddess of the sun, to come back in the form of the white wolf. It is up to Amateratsu, along with the wandering artist Issun to save the land, to return the darkness from which it came.

The game play is in the form of an action adventure game much like Shadow of the Colossus and Legend of Zelda. You travel across the vast land and take down demons and evil creatures that have brought fear across the land. Your basic form of attacks are mixed between three weapons. The first weapon is a disc-like weapon that you can toss at the enemy as the main weapon, and it also can be used as a shield as a secondary weapon. The next weapon is in the form of beads that hover around your neck and can be used as a rapid combo weapon like a whip, and its secondary form is a sword, which is for strong but slow attacks. The main game mechanic though is in the form of the celestial brush, which can do many things when you pick up different brush gods. Some of the stuff you can do is repair damaged bridges, bring out the sun, and control the wind. So basically, you are Rygar (disc), Simon Belmont (beads), or Nightmare (sword) in the form of a wolf with a magical paintbrush. The enemies and bosses are all unique and all require new strategies to beat them.
The graphics in the game are just beautiful. The art style is very clever and the character designs are really well done and use the art style very well. They did show a comparison picture of the current art style with a more realism look and I would have liked either, which is shown in this picture below.



The ink art style has a charm to it, which makes it different from duller colored games like Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess and Ico. The music is also very pleasing and I have always loved the Japanese music style of flutes and mandolins. Every character and area has a unique charm to it, and it is just fun to play through all the levels and see all the characters. You really can’t complain when Clover Studios, which made the Viewtiful Joe series, and God Hand made the whole game.


It is time now to pick up your paintbrush and paint the bad parts of the game. The most parts I see which could have used improvement are in using the celestial brush. Sometimes, it has trouble depicting which brush mark you are making and does a different brush stroke. Some of the side quests are rather annoying. For example, the side quest where you need to find specific enemies to kill and check off the list can be tedious. You need to be specific when you’re checking their name off the list or else it won’t accept it and you can’t skip that part either. This means to get out of it, you have to either shut down your console and have hopefully saved not far from when the side quest began, or you have to get the checking or crossing correct. I find it annoying that Amateratsu can’t swim well. I find it tedious in some areas when I don’t have enough ink magic to perform celestial brush strokes, and have to swim or else I drown in the water. It was find of funny back in the 80’s, but it isn’t that funny now.


All and all, this is an all-star game, which I think, ranks up with the Legend of Zelda series. I would highly recommend either the PS2 or the Wii version, though you have to be dedicated to play this game if you want to finish it. So, go pick your favorite console and get the version for that console. It’s a fun and magically charming game that will make you come back for more from time to time. Let’s hope they make a sequel for it. I would get it.

This game gets an 8 out of 10.

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