Wii Release ‘Okami’ is Like Playing Within a Masterpiece

Brent Wallace

Okami is a beautiful action game that was originally released on the Playstation 2 about two years ago. Now Okami has been planted on the Wii, courtesy of Ready At Dawn Studios (Well known for its two PSP titles, Daxter and God of War: Chains of Olympus). It is amazing how well the game has held up over time. Okami’s transfer onto the Wii isn’t without its stumbles, but if you missed out on the PS2 version of this game there is no need to worry, because you’ve been given another chance to check it out.

The main story of Okami is a basic good versus evil affair based on Japanese mythology. You play as the sun god Amaterasu who has returned to the world in the form of a white wolf which had helped to defeat evil 100 years earlier.

The story itself is enough to get the game rolling, but it is the world and its characters that will really draw you into the story. The world itself is gorgeous to look at while exploring. The characters all have their unique and funny personalities, from your pint-sized wise-cracking sidekick Issun, to the bumbling and cowardly warrior Susano.

The basic game play of Okami takes a lot of notes from other action-adventure games, most notably the Zelda series. You explore the vast landscape purifying the land of an evil curse by rejuvenating the land’s flora, feeding animals, helping the townsfolk, defeating bands of demons, and more.

The world of Okami is very large, but you’re a fleet-footed wolf here; so traversing the land quickly is not a problem at all. One of the great things about Okami is that unlike certain action-adventure games, you never feel like there’s a lack of things to do, even if you decide to veer off the main quest slightly.

It helps that Okami is a very long game, especially for an action-adventure game. Even if you just rush through the main storyline, the game will easily take you around 30 hours to complete. This amount is more than doubled if you try to find everything Okami has to offer.

One of Okami’s most satisfying gameplay elements is the celestial brush system, which essentially allows you to paint various ink patterns on the land to create miracles. For example, you can fill in the space between two broken halves of a bridge to rebuild it, or you can slice enemies clear in half with a simple straight line through them.

The Wii version of Okami makes the celestial brush system more interesting thanks to motion controls. The system as a whole feels more natural than it would with an analog stick. However, the celestial brush’s motion controls can be quite unwieldy for new players early on. This can make simple techniques, such as the power slash, more difficult to pull off than they should be.

This wouldn’t be that much of a problem if the game didn’t start throwing these tricky scripted sequences at you from early on in the game, which require you to do certain celestial brush techniques up to five times in quick succession. These sequences are pretty frustrating early on, but they become more enjoyable and easier along with the celestial brush system as a whole over time.
Motion controls are also used during combat.

Simple swings of the remote allow you to do basic attacks and combos with your equipped weaponry. You may have trouble with Okami’s combat if you are used to the mindless swinging that justified the combat from The
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Okami’s combat is much more precise and requires you to time your swings to be effective in combat.

Even though it is a precise system, the combat in Okami is quite easy. This is more due to the game’s enemy design however, and not because of anything like lackluster enemy Artificial Intelligence (AI). The enemy AI in Okami actually puts up an entertaining fight.

What would an action-adventure game like Okami be without some huge boss battles? Okami has many boss battles throughout its duration, though they also tend to be a bit easy to beat.

If there is a major problem with the motion controls in Okami, it is the controls for dodging. When you have learned the appropriate ability in the game, you can swing the nunchuck in any direction to dodge in that direction. At least, in theory.

The game is aptly responsive to the swings of the nunchuck, but 90 percent of the time the game has you dodge in a different direction than intended. Fortunately, dodging is not essential to winning the game. But there is still absolutely no excuse for Ready At Dawn to have sent the game out with something that needed as much work as the dodge mechanism.

Graphically, Okami is still a gorgeous game to look at. The whole game looks like a painting in motion. Even after two years, there are few games that can even come close to matching Okami in artistic prowess. Okami has also held up surprisingly well from a technical standpoint, as the particle effects, character models, animation, and textures all look great.

Okami fares well in the sound department as well. The music ranges from peaceful to ominous, and generally fits the theme of each area perfectly. The mumbling sounds made by the characters you chat with in the game are also entertaining. It goes to be noted that this mumbling is the only voice that the characters get in Okami; as there is absolutely no voice acting to be found in the game.

Ultimately, Okami’s transfer to the Wii is far from flawless. The motion controls are a bit unwieldy at first and the broken dodge move is inexcusable, but it all gets better with practice.

If you have the PS2 version of Okami, there is not much reason to recommend the Wii version, since it offers no new content other than a new control scheme. However, if you missed out on the PS2 version, own a Wii, and are looking for a high-quality action-adventure game, you’ll really appreciate the gorgeous masterpiece that is Okami.

Released: April 15
ESRB rating: T for teen: Blood and Gore, Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco.
Retail Price: $39.99
Availability: Retail stores and online vendors.

My Rating: 3 out of 4 stars