We’ve been doing Reader Reviews for a while now on Kotaku, but this may be a unique entry. Alastair Christie, having mad Japanese reading skills, decided to import a Japanese copy of the upcoming Okamiden, sequel to cult classic Okami on PS2, and was kind enough to write up a reader review on it.
Okami was probably one of the last truly great games on the PS2, and one of the greatest Action RPGs ever made, so we’re pretty hyped about it. Thanks Alastair for this early look at the game.
While heavily Zelda inspired, Okami topped most Zelda titles by adding in Japanese art, music, monsters and mythology and the Celestial Brush, a device that allowed the world to be manipulated in a variety of ways. The sequel, Okamiden, is set several months later. The children (best to just go with it) of the original’s heroes, must finish the job of saving Nippon by restoring the cursed world one dungeon, happy point, brush technique, quest and town at a time.
Celestial Pen: Where brushwork was previously divisive, it is now accurate and immersive on the touch screen, aided by a redraw ability that perfectly compensates for the lack of a cursor. DS is in many ways the best released platform for Okamiden. A heavy use of sprites and a focus on gorgeous colour over high polygon counts yields the best console to DS graphics engine, mostly hiding the graphical weaknesses.
Partners: Chibi’s youth sees him partnered up with various children who add humour, act as spokesperson and stream different elements from their bodies. When required, the partner can be separately controlled for switch puzzles and crossing untraversable areas, freshening boss battles and dungeon crawling.
Kawaii: The greatest artistic achievement of Capcom is arguably making the partners charming and adorable, despite being mouthless, speaking gibberish and consisting of seemingly only a few small polygons surrounded by thick black lines.
Music: When my poor Japanese reading ability started to alienate me from the story, the music was essential in helping establish the emotional tone in the many cut scenes. Outside of cut scenes, the abundance of Japanese instruments once again perfectly fitted the Japanese aesthetic.
DS: DS was the perfect platform when Okami was first announced six years ago. Now, the ideal platform would be 3DS with its graphical boost and analog nub, especially when Okamiden’s western release will most likely be overshadowed by the 3DS launch.
It’s Okami, on DS: Capcom were restricted by using the same game world. Still, they could have set it another 100 years later when the world had changed. Or not load up the first five hours with similar objectives but different means of achievement. The remainder of the game mostly opened up with new areas, partners and brush techniques, but the similarities in the two titles, in what you did more than the setting and gameplay, reduces the wow factor.
The sequel to a beloved game set in the same game world made by a different studio was doomed to disappoint to a degree. Okamiden is easily one of the best DS action titles and one of the better overall, where my main gripes result from impossible expectations and too much familiarity over a meaty 25 hour quest.