Platform: Nintendo Wii, PS2 (Reviewed on Wii)
I ignored Okami when it was released, and I couldn’t tell you for the life of me why I did. All of the buzz for the title was positive, and the game remained on my wall of shame with other supposedly fantastic titles that I had never played through. When Capcom announced that the game would be getting ported to the Wii I was ecstatic, and waited patiently for the game that slipped through the cracks, while having no idea what to expect.
The opening cinematic explains the game’s backstory, of how the wolf Shiranui and a warrior named Nagi sealed away the demon Orichi. One hundred years later, a man mistakenly sets Orichi free and the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu Okami, is called to life in the form of Shiranui to battle back the beast. Okami’s story is fun and interesting, and gamers who enjoy plot heavy titles will definitely find enjoyment in the game’s many cut scenes and dialogue heavy interactions.
Okami is one of the only titles that gamers were begging for a Wii port for (as opposed to Resident Evil 4 which was shoveled over for no comprehensible reason) because of the game’s paintbrush. Throughout the game, Amaterasu gains abilities that allow her to use the celestial paintbrush to manipulate the world. Abilities such as creating wind gusts, slashing as if with a sword, and rejuvinating life are just a few of the thirteen abilities mastered throughout the game. While they are arguably easier to do with a joystick due to its precision, using the Wii Remote adds a whimiscal value to the brush strokes that make them feel much more fun. Slashing enemies with a line, bringing life with a circle, or creating a bomb by drawing one is a rewarding experience that sets the brush of Okami as an example of excellence with the Wii’s hardware – especially suprising that its roots were in the PlayStation 2. Several sections may become frustrating if the correct brush patterns cannot be performed in time, but the brush controls are generally so good the problems are easilly forgotten.
The brush strokes are not the only Wii functions added to the title, combat is also performed with swings of the remote. While not preformed by swinging the remote wildly, combat involves swinging the controller to preform combos that become continually longer and require suprisigly precise timing. Even far into the title you may find yourself scrwing up an attack by mistakenly swinging a second earlier then you were supposed to. Puzzles are also motion sensitive, but usually require the Celestial Paintbrush to complete.
Artistically, Okami is stunning, with beautiful colors and very nice effects throughout the game. Several awe-inspiring sequences that show a dark, desolate world being restored with foliage and wildlife, give a duality to completing quests. Not only do you get to move on in the story, but the cut scene makes it that much more rewarding. While some of the graphical elements from the PlayStation 2 version were left out of the Wii port, such as a ricepaper filter making the title look illustrated, the game still looks fantastic and much more vibrant and clean then the original. It is also available in widescreen, giving at least some incentive for people to rebuy the title.
The best summation of Okami is to say it is like a Zelda game, but that is being entirely unfair. Okami is like a Zelda game in the same way that the doublemint twin on the left is like the doublemint twin on the right. Both games’ stories, characters, combat, puzzles, and action, are nearly identical. Amaterasu even has her own Navi named Issun, who jumps up and down while explaining plot points and suggesting directions of travel. It doesn’t feel like a rip-off by any means, but the gameplay is too similar to ignore, and I can’t shake the feeling that if the opening cinematic showed Gannondorf growing seven more heads and Link being turned into a wolf with a paintbrush the game could have been effectively marketed as The Legend of Zelda: the Celestial Brush without any questions.
I don’t think the game is worth picking up for people who have already purchased it for the PlayStation 2 when it was originally released a few years ago, but the game is a definite purchase for any Wii owners. At a length of around 30 hours the game has more punch then the average adventure game of its kind, and while it feels a little long and can be frustrating at parts, I definitely place Okami near the top of the Wii releases, and possibly on the top of all adventure releases.