Okami (Wii) Review

By Shane Jury 13.03.2011

Review for Okami on Wii

Okami was born from the brilliant creative minds of Clover Studios, once part of Japanese powerhouse developer Capcom, now unfortunately defunct. First shown in playable form at E3 2005, bringing with it a watercolour-like cel-shaded style in complete contrast to the photo-realistic version originally teased, the game garnered much interest despite its PlayStation 2 exclusivity at a time when new consoles were being brought to market. It was released to retail a year later, gathering a strong following, though sadly not the sales many thought it deserved. Ever since then, and until the middle of 2007, it was strongly rumoured that the game would be getting a second chance at sales through a Wii port, as the visual style, and the main gameplay mechanic of an on-screen brush, seemed tailor-made for the machine. With Clover newly dissolved, Ready At Dawn, a developer more well-known with PlayStation titles, were chosen to handle the porting process, and the game saw a second shot at retail success in 2008. Against the expectations of nearly all fans, Okami will see a pint-sized sequel released for March 2011 on Nintendo DS, but for those considering Okamiden, how does the original hold up on Wii?

The most striking thing about Okami is evident as soon as the game starts up; the beautiful visual style. Owing to the slight differences in hardware architecture, this Wii edition possesses a slightly reduced paper parchment filter to the original PlayStation 2 build, which if anything gives the game more vibrant colour, though makes it look less of a painting; this effect is something you have to compare and contrast to really notice though, and the game’s stunning watercolour look still shines in spite of it.

Okami begins with a lengthy cinematic detailing the history of Nippon, the game’s hub world. 100 years previous to the starting point in the game, there ruled an evil eight headed demon named Orochi who once a year demanded a female sacrifice from the nearby Kamiki Village, in agreement that the village’s other inhabitants would not be slaughtered. That year it was the love of Nagi, the strongest swordsman in the village, that was chosen, and he vowed to take down Orochi in order to save her. His efforts were admirable, but ultimately doomed to failure - until Shiranui, the wolf incarnation of a goddess, arrived to aid him. The battle was close, with Orochi being sealed away for a hundred years, while Shiranui passed away from mortal wounds. However, when Orochi is accidentally released, Sakura, a wood spite and guardian of the village, resurrects Shiranui, now reborn as Amaterasu, from a statue built in the village as a mark of respect. Sakura commissions Issun, an inch-high artist, to accompany Amaterasu in her quest to restore Nippon’s now-cursed lands, and defeat Orochi once more.

Screenshot for Okami on Wii

Whilst following the simple premises of restoring the lands and beating the bad guy to begin with, Okami’s storyline is far from linear, and becomes considerably lengthy, but never dull; Clover made effective use of the myths and legends of classical Japanese history to create a world full of wonder and mystery. Aside from Okami’s original producer admitting his game’s main inspiration, it soon becomes readily apparent how much influence Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda had over Amaterasu’s adventure. Other than both Okami and Twilight Princess sharing the idea of a silent wolf protagonist, the dungeon exploration, puzzle-solving, and fighting all highlight prominent similarities between the series, though more than enough is done to separate the two without hindering the quality of the experience.

Screenshot for Okami on Wii

There is one main thing that sets the game apart from Nintendo’s series most of all though, the Celestial Brush, and it’s the biggest reason for Nippon’s existence on Wii. At any interactive point in the game, holding the B trigger on the underside of the Wii Remote freezes the screen into an interactive canvas, on which you can doodle a shape. To begin with, you can sketch basic shapes in order to cut things, change night into day, or grab onto vines and flowers, but throughout the course of the game, you’ll meet other Celestial Gods, who will bestow upon you more powers usable by drawing different patterns. The shape recognition is fairly effective, as nine times out of ten the game will understand what power you’re trying to activate; made even easier with the Pointer’s use of the paintbrush, and the two buttons on the controller that help with straight and curved lines. As the original game made use of an analogue stick for drawing, the resulting conversion makes the cursor for the brush here somewhat floaty and loose; something that can easily be addressed with patience and practice, and effective use of the two extra buttons, to result in a control mechanic that eclipses the original. The rest of the mapped control scheme is also functional but with a similar snag. Instead of a button, motion is used for Amaterasu’s attack swipes, and without a decent rhythm going, can easily desend into the dreaded ‘waggle to win’ pitfall that so many Wii games stumble into; again, not an issue with practice, but a glaring one to begin with.

Okami’s music takes inspiration from classical Japanese works, and fits the game like a glove, so much so that the score even received a BAFTA award and two album releases in Japan - a testament to its quality. Whilst there is no full English speech in the game, there is sort of a gabble language spoken by the characters with their lines. In actual fact, this gibberish was created by scrambling samples of voice actors' speech, with more emotional lines being created from voice work given in the same way, so whilst it isn’t legible, this random arrangement still helps the scenes and characters develop. If anything though, there is a bit too much text speech and cutscene time in the game. Thankfully all of it can be skipped, or sped up at least.

Screenshot for Okami on Wii

Raising a comparison to any of the games in the Zelda series would no doubt bring expectations of a lengthy product, and Okami certainly does not disappoint. There is a good 40 hours of game to beat, and the number of dungeons, sidequests, and unlockables at the very end offer plenty to come back to. The size of the game, in relation to overworlds, places to see, and areas to pass through, is immense, and each new area you encounter will drive your eagerness to see the next. Okami is strictly a single-player affair, but one that will ensure you enjoy every paw-step of the journey.

Okami does feel padded out at times, with an issue that also annoyed gamers with another Clover title, Viewtiful Joe, with repetition of boss battles and certain puzzles, though these are few and far between. Issun as a helper rivals Navi in irritation at times, though he does develop as a character, and comes into his own later on. The omission of the end credits sequence for this version is a sad loss, but in no way a deterrent for gamers to experience and enjoy one of the finest gaming adventures on Wii.

Screenshot for Okami on Wii

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Reborn for a second chance at critical acclaim on Wii, Okami makes effective use of the machine’s strengths, yet still carries a few flaws from its original incarnation, and creates a couple new ones initially. Regardless of these, Amaterasu’s adventure is still an epic endeavour, and a must play for all Wii owners.

Developer

Clover

Publisher

Capcom

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (6 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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