ROBERT I've never been the type to go googly: eyed at the sight of a pretty game, but I can't I talk about Okami without first giving a nod to its visionary art direction. Fuzzed out on faux paper, punctuated by thick black lines, and stained with a cornea-buzzing palette of bright i and muted colors, Okami is a painter's imagination come to life. It proves that intrepid game- -makers can blow your mind without the use of I bleeding-edge computer hardware, confirming -what I've long suspected: Great art is more important to the visual experience of a game than great technology. That painted-canvas look ties directly into Okami's hook. An adventure game very much in debt to the Zelda series, Okami replaces the usual inventory of puzzle-solving, path-unlocking gadgets with a paintbrush. As you traverse mythological Japan, killing monsters and solving puzzles, you can pause the game at any time an use the Celestial Brush to affect the onscreen faction. From drawing in a missing section of bridge to slicing an enemy in half with a single stroke, the brush plays into every aspect of the game. Okami throws new brush uses at you all the way up to the end, quite a feat considering its length of approximately 40 hours. Epic adventures are great and all, but Okami could have used tighter pacing. The first five hours of the game are a slow mix of long-windec character speech and basic training. In fact, the entire game is packed with reams of text. That's fine in principle, but you'll find yourself forced to read the same details over and over as helpful townspeople beat clues into your brain (while you wish for an adult text-speed option). But just when it seems that Amaterasu (the game's wolf-goddess protagonist) and Issun (he sprite sidekick) have settled into a rut, Okami iwows you with something new. a shrink-ray idunt into the garden to fight spiders and ride on the feet of passersby or a journey into the snow North. Okami developer Clover obviously put a lot of love into its creation and, as you travel the countryside, painting barren landscapes into bloom, that love radiates from the screen.
Next gen schmext schmen. Who needs expensive new hardware when Okami delivers graphics so rich, so vibrant, and so spectacular lhat you often cant help but pause just to admire them? Who needs extensive online options when you have a world full of great characters, sharp dialogue, and tons of secrets? Who needs fancy new controllers when Okamis brilliant brush system innovates, simplifies, and entertains all in one (ahem) stroke? As recent Castlevania games did with the Metroid formula, Okami takes a well-established game template (in this case the Zelda series) and reinvents it with a style all its own. The sleepy villages, sprawling valleys, and iclever dungeons of Okamis mythic Japan induce yhe same wide-eyed wonder and thrill of discovery you'd encounter in Link's finest adventures. Which is not to say it's the same old game with ; fresh coat of ink; the developers have seamlessl worked the unique brush mechanic into every aspect of Okami, especially its epic boss battles. I could've done with a bit more challenge in combat and fewer, less preachy story bits, but these complaints are so minor in the face of Okami's achievement that I almost feel silly even bringing them up. I'd be surprised if you find a better game on any system this fall.
As much as it owes to I the Zelda series, Okami is every bit as good: It has a charming, classic story; characters who 1 actually possess character: entertaining and I varied side quests; and a visual aesthetic that manages to make The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker look like a paint-by-numbers piece. But every time my mind crept toward This is a total I rip-off territory, Okami surprised me by doing something new. The Celestial Brush had much Jo do with this, as the other two guys have said, yvhat they didn't point out was this creative technique's misstep (cue evil eyes in Mark and Robert's direction): Whether it's due to finicky recognition or the DualShock 2's shoddy analog sticks (or perhaps even your own lack of artistic talent), sometimes your lines and curves won't translate into the actions you want. (I'd love to see what the developers could do if they ever bring the game to the DS or Wii.) But once you get the hang of it, you'll love it: Whether drawing bombs to open up new areas or bringing barren trees to bloom, you'll find that this game world truly does feel like a giant canvas that you're breathing life into. But Robert is absolutely right: If you're a developer thinking of pouring tons of money into graphical engines and CG cut-scenes, for the love of dog, stop and hire some brilliant artists. Okami proves that we'd all be better off for it.
This much-anticipated adventure game received huge critical acclaim in Japan, and its original art direction and innovative gameplay have the stateside audience understandably eager to try out the unique "celestial brush" control. You use a paintbrush to draw constellations and make other motions for combat and puzzle-solving. You don't need to be an A student in art class to make it work, either. In fact, this quick-draw mechanic makes the button-assigning item selection in the Zelda series almost seem unwieldy "The thing that I'm happiest with is watching users play with the brush," says Director Atsushi Inaba. "At first they don't necessarily get the brush, but they understand that it's kind of cool, and they keep trying, they keep playing, and they gradually begin to understand how to use the brush...I'm pleased with that." But even if this unusual painting mechanic works well, the game is still deeply Japanese, with a story based on myths that will be unfamiliar to American gamers. Is Inaba concerned his game may be too mysterious to have broad appeal in the U.S.? "I'm not really worried about [that]," he says. "It's so Japanese that many Japanese don't even understand some of the things, and they're still able to understand the ambience of -the game, play the game, and have a good time."
Just your usual adventure game--chatting with townspeople, battling enemies, and solving puzzles, all in your quest to vanquish evil and bring peace back to the land. But with its folklore-steeped story, unique art style, innovative combat system, and wolf-god hero Amaterasu, Okami is anything but typical.
Amazing. Okami's animated-ink look caught our eye when we first saw it a year ago, but what impressed us when we played it was how well the graphics blend into the gameplay. At any time, you can stop the game and bring up a giant calligraphy brush over the frozen screen; using the analog stick, you can then "paint" various simple shapes over the scene for different effects. Cut enemies in half (a straight stroke across them), blast a gust of wind (a loop-de-loop) to clear obstacles, or make a sun in the sky (a simple circle) to shed some light on your surroundings. The rest of the game was likewise awe-inspiring. As good as these screens look, in motion the graphics spring to life: breathtaking vistas; huge, terrifying boss monsters; even the insides of villagers' huts look amazing. It's no wonder Okami already has buzz as one of the last great PS2 games.
Okami is a unique and beautifully rendered adventure that puts you in the role of Amaterasu, the sun goddess of Japanese mythology. At its core Okami is a highly stylized action adventure set in Feudal Japan that is somewhat in the same vein as r. It would do neither game justice however to make anything more then a cursory comparison.
In Okami, Amaterasu has reincarnated as a white wolf 100 years after banishing away the eight headed beast known as the Orochi. In the intervening years, not only has Orochi slipped his bounds but humanity has also lost its faith in the gods. Amaterasu's struggle to restore life to the world and faith to humanity forms an epic tale that clocks in around 30 hours
While being a wolf grants our hero some unique advantages such as quick movement and the ability to dig, she doesn't control all that much different then her more traditional bipedal counterparts. You'll still rely on gameplay staples such as dashes, double jumps and canned combos to make your way through the world. What really sets our protagonist apart is her godhood, which is brilliant expressed in the form of the Divine Brush. Invoking the Divine Brush is simply a matter of hitting R1 which freezes the action and turns the screen into a piece of parchment. From there you can use a massive brush to literally draw miracles into existence through a series of brush techniques. These techniques can do anything from causing gusts of divine wind to summoning giant cherry bombs. It may seem like a bizarre concept but it's masterful executed and fits in very well with the themes of the game.
Okami is one of the finest visual experiences you're likely to see in the last days of the PS2. The hyper stylized art direction complements the mythical feel of the game, but it's the small touches such as the flowers that bloom in the wake of Amaterasu's footsteps that really enrich the experience. Okami's audio is similarly well presented and evokes the feelings of epic myth through the use of traditional Japanese instruments. It should be noted that Okami opts to use gibberish speech in place of actual speech, though this is only a mild complaint as it's well presented.
Okami achieves what so many games strive for but most fail to deliver upon by providing an experience that feels lovingly crafted in each of its elements without sacrificing length or originality. If Okami had arrived at the beginning of the PS2's lifespan it would have been a game worth purchasing the system to play, but at the end of its life, Okami serves as a fine send off.