How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?
Rather than rehash the story and all the details, I’ll point you at Sam Bishop’s original glowing review where he calls it one of the greatest games of all time. I played through the PS2 one way back when it came out and I came away with the same feeling. Okami combined solid tried-and-true gameplay (heavily based on the early 3D Zelda games) with an amazing watercolor-on-rice-paper art style that brought to life classic Japanese art. When I heard about the HD re-release (with Move controls!) I was excited and couldn’t wait to give it another go. So how did it hold up?
The interesting thing about Okami is that other than better widescreen support, there really isn’t a whole lot of difference in the look of the game from one generation to the next. Okami is a game intentionally painted with broad brush strokes and blocky textures. Therefore no special sharpness is gained by the transformation from SD to 720p, and in fact none is needed. The game was gorgeous then, and it looks just as good today. The colors way be a bit more vibrant, and I am sure there are some cleaner lines here and there, but these old eyes would be hard pressed to point to just where the differences lie. That’s absolutely fine, because the art direction means this is still one of the best looking games on any console.
When Okami was originally ported to the Wii it was considered the best version due to the ability to use the Wiimote for brush techniques in the game. It was a natural fit that felt good on the Wii. I expected the Move to be even better given the better resolution of the pointing controls so I was excited to play the game Move in hand. Unfortunately I ended up a little bit disappointed. I’m not entirely sure if the issue is with the setup in my house or the mapping of the controls, but it turned out to be harder to master most of the brush techniques with the wand than it was using the Dualshock. It was by no means unplayable, but when Mr. Orange required me to bloom a half dozen flowers on a tree in rapid succession I ended up failing half a dozen times or more before I drew circles fast enough and round enough to register with the game. Playing that same section with a standard controller and I whipped through it in a single try. Perhaps if you take the time to recalibrate constantly or ensure you stay in the same spot while playing it is less of an issue.
That niggle aside (and it really isn’t an issue since the Move is by no means a necessity to play the game) Okami is as great as I remembered. It is fair to say the two real criticisms leveled at it when it was originally released still hold true today though. The game is definitely not challenging and it is not at all unusual to make it through the entire game without dying. As the game progresses your health bar gets quite large, and godhood brings you back to life in the rare instance that some monster gets the better of you. The game is also LONG, especially by modern standards. You can easily put 40 hours into Okami without even poking into looking for all the collectibles and sidequests. In an age where most games can be completed in half that time Okami represents an enormous investment of your gaming time. Thankfully the game doesn’t drag and you’ll still find joy in blooming trees late in the game. Given its relatively low pricetag that makes this one of the best bargains out there.
If you never played Okami last generation and you like Zelda-type games that look and play as good as anything ever made you absolutely owe it to yourself to give the game a shot. If you HAVE played it, know that it still holds up and is definitely worth your time to go back to and take another run if you are burned out on shooters and fighters. Okami is a relaxing experience that soothes your inner wolf and is genuine fun for the whole family.