Okami was originally released for the Playstation 2 two years ago and it has been recently released on the Nintendo Wii. The big question however, can Capcom make this port as enjoyable as the excellent original?
Interestingly Okami was destined for the Wii at the same time development occurred for the PS2, however this release is over a year late. Okami creator Clover Studios dissolved so it was up to Capcom to find a suitable replacement to handle the Wii version. Developer Ready At Dawn were drafted to handle the coding duties from remnants of half finished code.
Many of you will be by now already concerned with this mess behind the scenes, however you can rest assured that the Wii version is gobsmackingly brilliant. Granted there are some minor issues, however there are also some major improvements and if you are a fan of The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess then this is certain to appeal to you.
You take control of the sun goddess Amaterasu, a wolf awakened from a 100 year old slumber. Your mission is to the save Nippon (the world) from a menacing and formidable evil deity. The artistic vision is quite breathtaking as the story unfolds before you in Japanese style cinematic cut scene presentations. The Cel shaded approach compliments the appeal of these scenes and it just shows how effective the Wii can be in the right hands.
As Amaterasu embarks on the adventure, the first thing you will notice are the backdrops, they are beautifully portrayed and appear as if they are lifted right from a painting. It would be reasonable to say that the graphics are probably some of the best to yet grace the Wii and special credit has to be paid to the developer for taking the time to offer 480p and 16:9 widescreen modes. The game is not without its graphical faults however as Ready At Dawn have obviously ported the engine right across without any optimisations: the frame rate problems that were very apparent on the Playstation 2 version also rear their ugly head on the Wii port. As Nintendo’s hardware is significantly more powerful, this problem should really have been addressed in early development rather than carrying into the final build. These frame rate problems are particularly noticeable in wide expanses and they are enough to ruin the ultimate fluidity of the gaming experience.
On an audio level Okami excels, the soundtrack sets the mood for the whole game and is catchy enough to have you humming along when you least expect it. Thankfully the music is also perfectly suited to the environment and is recorded in Dolby Pro Logic II.
The similarities to Zelda has to be more than coincidence however as the epic quests and control method are almost a carbon copy. Let’s also not forget the fact that the main character is a wolf!
This leads me nicely into the characterisations, they are interesting and fully 3-dimensional and the storyline can also be quite unpredictable. You control Amaterasu with the nunchuk analog stick and the Wii remote being used for attacks and dives. I like this methodology, however I know quite a few people had an issue with the Zelda control system so this will probably be equally as frustrating. Especially the dodge option in combat, which seems to be randomly successful. That said, you can purchase a dodge move near the beginning of the game which somewhat resolves this annoying bug.
Amaterasu has a fascinating interaction mechanic with the environment, now controlled by the Wii’s remote IR based pointer. This is a vastly superior method when compared with the Playstation 2’s analog stick. You use the remote to illustrate – this in turn relates to special attacks and moves. Examples? well imagine if you needed to cut through trees, you simply draw a line through them quickly. Wind gusts, fire, water, all handled with the excellent remote. This is a selling point for me, having been a huge fan of the PS2 game, the analog stick was always slightly ponderous and tedious to manipulate. Now it almost becomes second nature and a joy to use.
This "brush" system is used throughout the game and is not only used to attack your foes, but to solve puzzles. These puzzles start off rather painless and logical to solve, however as the game progresses you will have a wide array of moves at your disposal and a lot of literal thinking will be required to progress. All in all though, most of these moves require a combination of a circle or a line.
The game world introduces a comprehensive and in depth character building option. You can also collect a wide array of power ups and items which offer temporary and permanent adjustments to your abilities.
Those of you who like large game worlds will certainly be at home with Okami, there are mountains, beaches, dungeons, caves and villages, all spanning as far as the eye can see in every direction. The dungeons become quite difficult later in the game, particularly some of the monstrous bosses, which are all fantastic.
If you are a fan of huge, sprawling epic adventure games, then Okami is one not to miss. The developers have pushed the boundaries with some of the most charming and inventive graphics ever to grace the Wii. Oh yeah and they are 480p and in full 16:9 widescreen, an aspect the Playstation 2 was incapable of delivering.
The Wii version also introduces the wonderful Wii remote which brings the game to new heights. Playing devils advocate however I need to address the fact that the Wii version has no new content or extras, something I feel should have been included, especially considering the delay of release between versions.
Should you buy it? Yes, definitely. However if you have played and beaten the Playstation 2 version this will be a question only you can answer.
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