Release Date: 3/10/2011
Available Exclusively On
Pork Chop, Mutt, Pooch, Squiddy, Dude, Boy, and every other name but Chibiterasu does our poor little hero have to be called throughout his journey. You play as Amaterasu’s son in this true sequel to the hit classic Okami for PS2. There was a lot of speculation that the game would be dumbed down or just feature mini-games, but we get a full-fledged 20-hour adventure on par with the first game. You wander around the world of Nippon (Japan) trying to stop an evil spirit named Akuro from bringing the world into darkness. Along the way you meet 5 children that become your partners and help you learn new brush techniques.
The game feels like it suits the DS better than the PS2 thanks to the touchscreen. The game is also almost exactly like Okami in a way so we get a console experience on a handheld and that’s rare for the DS. This also becomes a major problem because it is too similar to Okami to become truly unique which is what prevents it from a higher score (or Editor’s Choice). The combat is similar to Okami in that you are trapped in a giant circle and you fight that way. Instead of adding new things to the combat or reinventing it, you fight just like Okami. Using your weapon and brush technique you whack away, but each enemy needs a strategy because they have elemental powers, or some are immune unless stunned. The enemies are unique, but the combat lacks any change and vets will feel the combat isn’t as fun the second time around and you will avoid it as much as possible. Boss fights are really epic and each uses the brush techniques in a unique way just like Okami did. These are some of the best parts of the game.
Puzzles were a big thing in Okami using the Celestial Brush, but this time around they feel easy and lack any real challenge. Guiding your partner across a gap to fetch something isn’t very hard. Even just using a brush technique to open a door or find a way out isn’t exactly challenging either, but they feel Zelda like so fans of that series will like this. Even though each dungeon offers new brush techniques and new elemental powers, they are used in the same mundane way throughout the whole game, but they are easy so you don’t have to expect frustration.
Outside of combat and solving puzzles the exploring of the world is a little mundane as well. Finding secrets was big in Okami, but it just feels tiresome here because there is no big payoff for finding all secrets or even finding any that are used like cash at shops or just items. I wanted to find a super-powerful weapon, maybe a hidden brush technique, but instead we just get normal stuff. I really wish there was more to the whole game than just finding your way to the next dungeon, but there are side quests for people who are into that. You don’t get anything but praise which levels you up which in turn gives you more life and ink pots. Everything that you did in Okami can give you praise here, but nothing new added yet again.
Besides this, the controls are tight with the shoulder buttons acting as the brush ability which brings a snapshot of the top screen to the bottom. Brushstrokes feel natural using the touch screen, but sometimes, if the camera is off the stroke, won’t register or will do a different one which left me frustrated a few times. Using the D-pad to control Chibi is a bit rough because it is so small (using the 3DS circle pad is a lifesaver), but overall the controls work well. I did find the map completely useless because it is either too big or too small and there’s no way to zoom around on it. I also found myself completely lost on where to go due to a lack of some sort of quest log or journal.
The best part about Okamiden is the unique art style that Okami brought to gamers, and despite the DS’s ancient hardware, it sucks every bit of power to pull this off. This results in some serious slowdown quite often, but the game looks great. My last complaint would be that the game is long-winded towards the end and isn’t suited for portable play. Save points are spread too far apart and it feels like a console game even on this. 20 hours is also a bit long for a handheld, but in turn, we get a wonderfully crafted story with a lot of detail and characters you really care for.
Okamiden does a lot right by bringing the unique experience of Okami to the DS with console-quality style, but in turn doesn’t do enough things that are new to make it as amazing, or as unique, as the original was. Everybody who owns a DS should play this game because it is one of the best on the little system. Even with ancient hardware, Okamiden shows us exactly what this system was built for.