An Unbiased Review of Ōkami

okami-cover

Five things that sucked:

1. Load Times

Count up to 90.

But Baka-Raptor, that’s a horrible waste of time!

That’s how long it takes to turn on your PS2 and load up a saved game in Okami. One minute and 30 seconds of loading, credit screens, loading, selecting a save point, and more loading.

Load times are so bad there’s actually a load screen game to help ease the pain. The Wii version had to cut this miraculous innovation because the game loads too quickly.

Perhaps it’s fitting that my last Playstation game is the only one that frustrated me with its load times.

2. Camera Angles

Battles are much more fun when you don’t have to constantly spin some combination of the character and the camera around to try to find the enemies. To be fair, it doesn’t help that there’s a wild-goose chase at the beginning of each battle because the enemies don’t appear until about five seconds in. (Did I mention the load times sucked?)

Camera angles are a little less frustrating on the brush screen, where you’re allowed to shift the camera in addition to rotating it. It’s a shame that heavy camera manipulation feels incredibly cheap to an honorable warrior such as myself.

3. Easy Battles

I died only once in the entire game. If not for a stupid misunderstanding of the Vine technique, I wouldn’t have died at all. This has little to do with my masterful gamesmanship and much to do with game’s many layers of idiot-proofing.

Presumably so little kids could have fun running around as a moé wolf without getting clobbered, the game makes it easy to suck without dying. HP-restoring items are cheap, effective, and readily available. Should you run out of those, the Astral Pouch revives you with full HP. This can be upgraded to potentially four revivals in a single battle. As if that’s not generous enough, you can squeeze out even more revivals by using Golden Peaches mid-battle to refill your Astral Pouch.

Sure, you don’t have to use items. You don’t have to fill up your Astral Pouch. You don’t have to upgrade your stats. You don’t have to use the most powerful weapons at your disposal. You could theoretically self-impose all kinds of restrictions to make the game more difficult. But then what’s the point of having those features? Why earn money? Why search for items? Why acquire new weapons? Why do side quests? Plus, if your restrictions are out of balance, they could backfire and make the game even less enjoyable. This game is a perfect candidate for a hard mode. The game takes long enough to load; it couldn’t hurt to load up a few more variables and conditional branches to put a hard mode in place.

On the bright side, since you know you won’t die, you can get away with skipping save points. Less load time to deal with. (Did I mention the load times sucked?)

4. Stray Beads

Reminds me of those bullshit Gummi blocks from Kingdom Hearts. How about giving me a treasure I’m actually going to use?

straybeads

Stray Beads only pay off if you collect all 100. Good luck. I did a fair amount of exploration and side questing. I even got an S-rank for praise, yet I ended up collecting less than half of the stray beads.

The main benefit of collecting all 100 stray beads is invincibility. If you’re good enough to collect them all, chances are you couldn’t die if you tried, so what’s the point?

5. Endless Dialogue

I don’t remember text dialogue being this exhausting. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by vocal dialogue. Or maybe there really is something exhausting about several required conversations being so long that they break off midway, allowing you to take a breather or save or something, before you’re required to return to the same person and finish the conversation.

Five things that rocked:

1. Amaterasu’s Mannerisms

ammybrown

Since Ammy can’t communicate with humans directly, Ammy’s partner, Issun, does all the talking. Meanwhile, Ammy’s always getting distracted, spacing out, yawning, and falling sleep. Given the lengthy dialogue in the game, I can’t blame her.

Another cool thing about Ammy is that little was done to feminize her. No eyelashes, no glinty eyes, no excessive curves, no pink, no nothing. Her attributes and demeanor are all dog, no bitch.

2. Brush Techniques

Okami-brush

I don’t have a Wii or a DS, nor do I have a general awareness of the gaming industry, so I can’t make an objective claim that the brush techniques of Okami were a unique or novel form of gameplay. The best I can do is make the subjective claim that they kicked ass and were unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

3. The Ninetails and Shiranui battles

ninetails

Battles with characters having equal or opposite powers are expected to be awesome. What elevates these two battles as exceptionally badass is the invasion of your brush screen. Time is normally frozen when you’re using your brush screen. It’s a place of comfort and tranquility in the middle of a heated battle. When that peace is compromised, you get freaked out. It’s intense.

4. Art

okamiowls

Heavily stylized artistry usually makes me hate culture. Not this time.

5. This Cosplay

ammycosplay1

(Technically not part of the game)

Five things I was indifferent about:

1. Fanservice

I always cringe a bit when jiggle physics butt into otherwise family-friendly material. For ten years, I didn’t have my own room. For eight years after that, I had my own room but no lock. I was never dumb/horny enough to watch obviously risqué stuff when my parents were around. It’s the unexpected stuff that’d burn me.

raocomments

2. Mini-Games

digdigdigdig

I’m usually no fan of mini-games. It’s like ordering the chicken at a seafood restaurant. Who does that? You don’t go to a seafood restaurant to eat chicken, and you don’t play Okami to go fishing.

I’m giving the mini-games a neutral grade because I grew to like the digging game once the brush techniques got more involved. The brush techniques are the essence of Okami. This mini-game wisely took advantage of that.

The fishing game remained annoying, and don’t get me started on balls.

sleepybear

3. Hints

Part of this game’s idiot-proofing was to drop hints wherever possible. Your map got marked, you could visit the fortune teller, your menu screen listed all current quests, important dialogue was highlighted, and additional conversation was added if you screwed something up the first time. For the most part this was great. Most RPGs do a lousy job of guiding you through the game, thus forcing you to refer to a strategy guide in undeserved humiliation.

Why the indifferent grade then? The system backfired horribly at one point. Make that several points.

BlockDots

There’s a type of enemy whose weak points briefly appear on screen. You beat them by drawing dots where the weak points appeared. Simple enough? WRONG. What the game neglects to tell you is that you have to draw the points in the same order they appeared in. If you screw up, the game still doesn’t mention anything about the order; it just shoves the same useless admonitions in your face. After a while you begin to realize something’s wrong, but it’s Okami! How could you possibly need to run away to a strategy guide? So you keep fucking up until you coincidentally draw the dots in the right order.

4. Japanese Mythology

Naruto ruined it.

5. Sudden Drama

Random enemy dies. We’re supposed to be sad. I was not.

Final Grade: ++

Now that I’ve beaten Okami, it’s time to officially retire my 10-year-old PS2.

Final Grade: +++

I’ll be deciding between the PS3 and Xbox 360 soon enough, but first, there’s a game I’ve been meaning to cross off my to-play list for a long time.

zelda64

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34 stray beads weren't worth the effort to get

  1. Let’s see… music was neither in the Rocked, Sucked, or Indifferent category. I’d hope it’d be like, item #6 in the Rocked category!

  2. Digibro says:

    Oshit finally tackling Ocarina of Time. I should do it in parallel!

  3. SStefania says:

    Count me as one who played Okami for fishing. Like, I actually turned the game on a few times just to go chill with Benkei.
    Played the superior Wii version, so no obnoxious loadings and drawing with brush was actually challenging (using control sticks was extremely cheap when I tried PS2 version for a few minutes). But the camera was annoying as hell in this version, too.
    Never had any big contact with Naruto, so it couldn’t ruin anything for me, yay.

  4. Marow says:

    Ocarina of Time is fine, it’s a good game. Don’t expect the masterpiece people are talking about, though.

    And Okami is my love <3

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Does that make Okamiden your love child? (I now realize I skipped the guy with the Chibiterasu gravatar. Not sure who your cat/dog is. Just blew up the gravatars to makes sure this never happens again.)

      Just started Ocarina of Time. This scene might’ve been a masterpiece 15 years ago. Nowadays I had to shake my controller before realizing it wasn’t playable.

  5. glothelegend says:

    You’ve never played Ocarina of Time????????

    I used to make judgement about that game (it looks dumb it looks stupid what could possibly be so good about it?)

    It’s a top 5 game of all time. No question. I’ve played Zelda maybe about 17 times. I’ve beaten it on my computer on a keyboard (which was tougher do to the movements combined with aiming sensitivity.) Heck….I just played it last month.

    I’m going to play it again. (though currently I’m replaying Majora’s Mask).

  6. Ger says:

    PS3 is superior unless you want Gears or Halo and want to be ripped off by Live. Ocarina of Time is highly overrated but a pretty fun game.

  7. Reed says:

    OoT is overrated and has not aged well. Single-plus game.

    Get a 360 for XBLA. Ikaruga etc.

  8. Yumeka says:

    Glad to hear you liked Okami (for the most part :3)

    I’ve actually played through the game twice, and the second time a took on the task of collecting the 100 stray beads. I had major trouble getting a few of them, particularly having to fight 100 difficult enemies in a row and having to win an extremely difficult race in that snowy region (the latter of which made me want to throw my Wii remote out the window a dozen times). But I finally did it and then you get to play through the game again with all weapons, complete invincibility, and the ability to change Ammy’s appearance. Not that you need the invincibility like you said, but it’s fun =P

    I had that same trouble with not knowing that you had to get the dots in order. I think I did finally look at an online walkthrough at that point XP

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Here’s the video I remember watching during the research phase of this post. There are much faster videos out there, but the narrator’s constant whining in this one drives home the point of how rough it is. Under no circumstances would I put myself through this.

      Quoting a comment on another race video:

      Oh, man, thanks for this vid. The race against Kai is definitely the most unbalanced challenge in Okami along with Blockhead Grande. The only way you can beat her is through repeated trial by error, memorization, and way too many load screens in between. This saves so much trouble and cursing at the collision detection.

      This is the first I’ve heard about the 100 enemies thing. I found at least two of the underground spiders but never saw any gates appear. Would’ve been interesting to try those battles out.

      The walkthrough helped me in time for the Blockhead Grande. That one would’ve taken forever without knowing you have to put them in order. And I still needed help. My memory isn’t as good as I remember it being.

  9. The Yoshinator says:

    Okami was quite fun, although I got too bored near the end to finish. Just don’t prefer those type of games. And while I have played OoT, I’ve never finished. Again, too bored. I might pick it up again soon, because it is quite awesome.

  10. Shiro, Long Tail's says:

    I’m not ashamed to admit I lost to Waka the first time, and this was pretty early into the game. While the Wii version did away with agonizing loading screens the motions controls for brush strokes were not very receptive, which you would think the system was pretty much made for.

    I’d recommend getting a PS3 for its great number of exclusives. Also so you can play Cho Aniki

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Waka made me tap into my Astral Pouch. It’s a tough battle that early in the game, especially since it’s the first time you’re using a new weapon. The only other enemy that made me use the Astral Pouch was the Ninetails. Hard to escape all those little minions without taking a few hits. Yami beat me up a bit, but I had so many stored up bones that my health bar never completely dissipated.

      Cho Aniki looks gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

  11. Baka-Raptor says:

    For those of you recommending the PS3 or Xbox 360: any specific Hard Drive size, accessories, online memberships, etc. you’d recommend getting with it? Help me add up my total costs here.

  12. Nuu says:

    Okami…the game I just could not get into. Idk why Cruz it looked epic and I think RE4 & viewtiful joe 2 were done at the time so Capcom ACTUALLY didn’t suck complete balls and was quite good. I remember I got another game instead of okami….just can’t remember which one >_> well maybe I’ll play an HD version or something if it ends up on PC. Interesting class-A reviews as always Baka

  13. Nuu says:

    PS I HATE IPADS SPELLCHECK. Sorry it messed up my email. BOKU WA SPAM JA NAI!!!!! JA NAIIII!!!!!

    And oh, get a PS3. I sincerely think you’re a PS3 guy. Make sure you get Z.O.E. HD remake (zone of the enders) score one of the highest mecha games of all time that I ACTUALLY liked…and I LOATHE mecha. Hmm, let’s see. Bayonetta is so DAYAM fun. Blazblue (maybe for you..maybe not), and I’ll think of something else

  14. Eminent Rising says:

    Don’t get either console. PS4 is coming out this year and im sure Xbox720 will follow closely. If you haven’t gotten a PS3 or Xbox360 by now, you might as well not get them and just move on to the next gen.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      The problem is backwards compatibility, or the lack thereof. I skipped the PS straight to the PS2. Took down a few PS classics before getting PS2 games. Worked great. I’d do it with the PS4/Xbox720 if that were an option.

      If you’re saying I should skip Xbox 360 or PS3 games entirely, I’d probably be able to do it without regret if not for my strange, inexplicable obsession with Catherine.

  15. BrikHaus says:

    BrikHaus hates Okami, and earns the ire of fanboys everywhere: http://awesomelyshitty.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/okami-is-the-poor-mans-zelda/

    Baka-Raptor gives Okami a ++ score, and everyone calls him the greatest blogger of all time.

    At least the fanboys are consistent.

  16. […] is how thoroughly idiot-proofed this game is. Unlike the excessive, in-your-face idiot-proofing of Okami, the Uncharted games are idiot-proofed in more subtle ways that don’t demean the gamer, […]

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