Review in Progress #4 : Okamiden (DS)

Current Status : 7 hours in, 3 major bosses defeated

It’s so awkward whenever Chibiterasu moves into a new screen, jumps into the portal and the camera zooms into his butthole…

Okami was quite possibly my favorite mid-life PS2 game. Ar Tonelico 2 was good, Persona 3 was fun (I was going through a big RPG phase at the time), but Okami is the game that I always swear to my friends blows even the Zelda games that came out around its time : Wind Waker and Twilight Princess out of the water… and more memorable than AT2/P3 for that matter.

It had everything I wanted : a nice variety of weapons (always was fond of the beads myself), one hell of a soundtrack/atmosphere, a beautiful art-style, a memorable cast and most of all, it had a lot of meat to it – plenty of dungeons and huge areas to explore and purify… and explore again. There were secrets all over the place and unique abilities to use on the canvas were abundant. Viewtiful Joe might be the series most people remember Clover for, but I was not a huge fan. Instead I’ll always remember them for one of the best adventure games I’ve played.

The second game, development switching to Capcom this time around had me skeptical for the longest. Intentionally I had not looked at any news or details until my copy came in. Chibiterasu is cool and all, but the way the first game ended, it looked like Amaterasu was going to move on to bigger things, different places. At first I was thinking that Chibiterasu would explore brand new regions in his stead, but I spoiled myself when I bumped into a track listing for the soundtrack… it was the same places you go through as Ammy!

 

Not sure what they're jumping at, but the boxart seems to give off the impression of great battles to come.

My first few hours can be paraphrased thus : “What is this shit?”. The game starts you off with a gigantic arrow showing where you’re supposed to be going, and no longer can you jump into the water or chasms (it turns out you can fall into the abyss when a floor breaks though). The fixed camera was nothing too painful, but looking at how each area in the game (towns included) are broken up into segments, it was admittedly tough giving it a chance.

The first hour in particular set an ugly impression for me. Thankfully that asshole-arrow disappears eventually, but the game seems to put an unnatural emphasis on using brush techniques to repair things (done by outlining most objects) to the point where it felt more like running errands than going on an adventure. The gods who give your abilities are also for some reason chibified, and the little animations they get hardly got a laugh out of me this time around. Also, the dialogue gets a little on the boring side, I have walked away, put on a youtube video or been otherwise distracted while the text would automatically scroll a number of occasions.

The cuteness seems too forced while original ideas seem to be lacking – abilities are more or less the same from the first game. One dungeon even takes the same gimmick from the first game where you’re masquerading in a place festering with demons who think you’re one of them because you managed to draw on a piece of paper and stick it on the character’s faces. The only difference this time is that I got to draw two penises for masks instead of one. Sadly, that is the number one funniest thing that happened in the game so far for me, and I hardly find drawing a penis funny anymore.

If you happen to have broken L/R triggers like a number of people I know, don’t bother; it’s the only way to access the brush menu, which also has a very unnatural transition, looking like the game’s glitching out while the top screen slides to the bottom so you can draw on the surroundings. To further nitpick, the giant auto-map that is normally on the bottom screen kinda kills my incentive to explore, a complaint I had with the DS version of Ys 1 and 2. I for one like getting lost.

My opinion has been gradually though slowly improving, however. Despite what feels like an overuse of the brush screen, it admittedly feels like you’re really using a brush this time around. Fan favorites like the classic bomb ability and the vine make a return. It doesn’t seem like day and night have much of an impact on the game outside of plot points, but you can still draw the sun for what it’s worth. The dungeons are entirely new, and make use of the new platform in a similar way that the Zelda transition to the DS went (even though I fucking hate Phantom Hourglass). You can guide your partner by drawing a line now, and some abilities are enhanced, like with the vine ability you can grapple them and pull yourself to where they’re at. They seem to overuse the partner control at some points (making them cross to grab a chest here and there that you can’t access yourself for instance), but when it comes to the actual puzzles, they are pretty well done.

 

Thanks to these guys who originally took the picture, I can also point out the timer on the brush menu... such a hassle with all the shapes you have to outline.

The dungeons themselves are a little inconsistent. You have your two or three room masquerade dungeon, hardly enough time to enjoy my immaturity, then you have your giant 5 floor half sunken pagoda which wouldn’t be so bad if controlling your partner weren’t so tedious here and they were nice enough to not keep a save point until the very end. My DSi has been turning off randomly on occasion and blowing into my L and R triggers sometimes turn the game off as well (which I need to do because Nintendo has been making half-assed triggers since the Lite models). I would have gone insane if my game turned off at the end of that place.

Fighting is alright although the weapon system seems watered down. The bosses are actually decent and are a good change of pace from spamming the Y button. Just don’t expect the most difficult game in the world. Also, you can upgrade weapons if you kill enemies in certain ways to get various parts used to power them up. It’s a pain in the ass cycling through every brush technique to figure out what does the trick, so I haven’t bothered. I haven’t had much trouble surviving with the default level weapons anyway (and the fact that there isn’t much else to buy, so I just stock up on healing items).  Oh, and there’s enemies you can fight on the field without triggering the traditional battle arena, usually small things that go down in one or two hits, but it’s a cool addition.

Still, I’m probably only like halfway through the game if even at that point. Hopefully it gets better, because the cute factor can only take the game so far. I’m here for a good adventure after all.

Next Update : Game Cleared

4 thoughts on “Review in Progress #4 : Okamiden (DS)

  1. Pingback: Sequels of March (DS Edition) : Okamiden vs Pokemon White/Black | The Wired Fish

  2. Pingback: Review in Progress #5 : Pokemon Black/White (White played, DS) | The Wired Fish

  3. Pingback: The Breakdown – Okamiden | The Wired Fish

  4. Pingback: Review in Progress Top Ten : Episode 1 (Reviews 1 – 10) | The Wired Fish

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