For those reading one of my DS review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:
The DS is one of the greatest consoles ever, and it had a massive games library. Despite playing a lot of DS games a huge number of great under appreciated games flew under the radar. This series attempts to review those game and see if they should have had more time in the spotlight.
Without further ado, here is:
Genre: Action Adventure.
Developer: Mobile & Game Studio Inc.
First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.
When Okami was first released at the end of the PS2's life cycle, many were blindsided by such a late masterpiece. Maybe that is why it financially disappointed though. As a result, we were not sure a sequel would even be made.
As a result, it was surprising to hear Capcom were going to make Okamiden, more surprising was the decision to make it on the DS as well.
The result is simply another Okami, with all the heart of the original but at a smaller scale.
"I mean, is 9 months all it takes for humans to forget"
The story is set 9 months after the demon Orochi was defeated by the goddess Amaterasu (Ammie). In that time, the people of Nippon forgot the darkness and evil spread by that vile serpent, and as such, started forgetting the blessing of Amaterasu. This allowed evil another opportunity to thrive, and this is where you come in.
As the cute and adorable Chibiterasu (the son of Ammie), you are going to travel through some familiar places with his partners, looking for that opportunistic evil force in order to vanquish it.
If you noticed anything from that brief introduction, it should have been the words "travel" and "partners".
Like in Okami, there is actually a lot of smaller quests, all leading to a bigger quest, with a lot of long dialogue in between. A common complaint of these segment is to call them "fetch quests". However, that is a greatly misleading label.
Taking the major quest of Okamiden, it is simply a god figure defeating a great evil. There is nothing interesting or unique about that. However, it is more interesting dealing with the smaller stories of your partner characters, as well as the world being affected by this evil.
No, noth this evil, this was in the first game
In this game, we thankfully are rid of the annoying Issun. Instead, Chibi is accompanied by different partners, each with their own personality and stories. These characters are what give the game most of its heart. The relationship they build with Chibi are both endearing, and realistically enduring. Since Chibi is a pup, and all of these partners are kids, we realistically see an innocent relationship develop.
Supporting those heartfelt connections is the weird humor that characterized the first Okami game. While not as pronounced or original as the first game, the writing is still funny, and the physical humor still managed to make me smile.
Great Characters: +4
A Lot of Heart and Humor: +4
Interesting Setting: +2
"He who troubles young maidens... will taste my blade"
As I mentioned above, the majority of the game involves going from place to place, fixing some problems to get the story going. With the power to use the Celestial Brush, the first Okami game linked fixing problems with the ability to manipulate nature, at least early on.
In Okamiden, all major problems are solved in one way: go into a dungeon and defeat a boss. The Celestial Brush techniques are not linked to actual game in any way other than special abilities, and that's somewhat a shame.
Yet, the main cycle of going into dungeons to defeat bosses cannot be particularly faulted, especially since its effective and on point. Also, there are in-between diversions between dungeons that it never becomes a routine formula.
For instance, one of the best segments in the game is when Chibi and one of his partners infiltrate a Demon's Market Place. That is then followed by the Pagoda dungeon, an excellent dungeon that uses a lot of Chibi's abilities to solve puzzles and advance forward.
Meet Kuni, the driving force for most of the story
In general, the game's dungeon's are well-built, and the story advances in ways that the basic formula is rarely apparent.
Since the game is on the DS, using the touchscreen becomes a natural way to use the Celestial Brush abilities, and it works exceptionally well.
Other than traveling Nippon in the main story line, there is an optional Village Building mini-quest. This quest really only involve talking to people and invite them into Yakushi village, but you see it thrive in front of your eyes.
Good Dungeons: +3
Yakushi Village: +2
"Forget about it. It is a swordsman's duty to help people"
Among things simplified from the original, the combat is surely the most affected. While the first game had a deeper combo system, as well as a greater incentive to use Celestial Brush techniques mid-combat, its much simpler here.
To account for both the simplified combat, and the camera limitations, enemies are now significantly easier. In many ways, they rarely attack, and when defeated, they will replenish most of your health at the spot. The best thing is the light puzzle elements in knowing which Celestial Brush technique opens up an enemy for attack, but that slowly becomes routine.
Sure, it can be fun bashing random imps into oblivion, but the lack of challenge or complexity means that combat is, in essence, simple busy work. In order for that busy work not to be too grating, your weapons must be upgraded. Which you can do by collecting lucky coins (found in treasure chests and through quests) and demon parts (which you harvest by killing enemies in certain ways). This means that there probably is a minimum number encounters you need to fight to at least upgrade your primary weapon.
Most combat happens in arena's like this one
One big disadvantage apparent in both exploration and combat is due to the DS hardware. Moving into 3D space with the D-Pad is not ideal, and it quite simply, sucks. Which is why I would strongly suggest using the 3DS if you can when playing this game.
Note though, that while regular battles are boring, boss battles are actually quite good. Since they are actually more puzzle fights (a la zelda) than actual button mashing combat, they are approached differently and are both fun and memorable.
Boring Combat: -3
Poor Movement Controls (DS only): -3
Good Boss Battles: +2
"Welcome demons, ogres, and imps to the 29th annual Big Evil Power championship"
Like many DS, and even 3DS games, looking at screenshots of the game doesn't do the game justice. At higher resolutions, the graphical limitations show more than when playing the actual system.
Just like Okami, the game's graphical style is heavily influenced with Japanese art, using cell-shaded graphics to recreate a style similiar to ukiyo-e drawings, but also very different. From its theme of ink drawings, the world physically moves with visible ink strokes, and you see the hard ink lines in the edge of mountains.
Showcasing that unique art style is also a unique character design and animation. Chibi is a cute and adorable wolf pup, but it is how he moves and reacts that make him stand out. Similarly, all other partner characters and NPC have a memorable design to them, something similar to the way Zelda games design their characters.
Shame the Kawaii factor did not translate to game sales
However, it is apparent that the scope of the game may be too much on the DS's hardware, as the game's colors are less apparent. Sometimes, it feels like the game's graphics simply mesh together into a single unattractive image, and that the game's art would pop more if it was made on the 3DS for instance.
Musically, the game uses the same Japanese-inspired style of the original. It works really well with the art style of the game, as well as with its general tone. It can be comic when it needs to, exciting when the scene calls for it, and emotional when the story starts getting serious.
Usually, for great soundtracks, I like to mention a couple of tracks which were especially noteworthy. However, in Okamiden's case, the collective power of the soundtrack is its greatest strength, and there isn't any stand out songs.
Great Graphical Style and Design: +5
Washed Out Graphics: -3
Great Music: +4
Simply put, Okamiden is the same as Okami, with a strong heart, but at a smaller scale.
Would making Okamiden on the PS3 have worked? I don't think so, because if so, it could have lost the heart of Okami in trying to be a bigger game.
However, it could have been delayed and made for the 3DS, which would have ensured we have a portable masterpiece, just as the first game was a console masterpiece.
Still, Okamiden cannot be faulted for what it could have been. As it is, it is a very good game with a lot of heart, a unique style, and a very cute and adorable main pup for a main character.
Final: 42/50 (45 using a 3DS)
The PS3 Remaster is the closest to the game actually looking like the artwork
Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:
Of course, a review of Okamiden cannot ignore the excellence of Okaim, as apparent in Jonathan Holmes's review where he give the game an 8, summing it up: "It's a shame that Okamiden didn't come first. If not for the fact that it's standing in the shadows of one of the best games ever made, Okamiden would look a lot more brilliant. As it stands, this half-port, half-sequel does an admirable job of making the best of the DS's hardware, but doesn't quite have the originality or the technical polish to live up to its godly lineage."
Since this is one old review where the comment's section was not nuked, let us look at the community reception at the time:
Shinta is happy he can follow Holmes's recommendation and play through this game first:
"Since I never played through the original all the way, this should be perfect for me to play through first."
While most comments were positive, there were some who thought they wouldn't like the game, and then there were some, like firenze who were just plain assholes:
"Ugh. They didn't fix Okami's major flaw then. I'll pass, and I hope this is the last we see of this series.
The excessive fetch quests and filler from the original made me dislike that game. Second rate Zelda-clone with too much emphasis on all of the worst aspects of Zelda (annoying sidekicks, fetch quests, poor pacing)."
In the end, the fairest reception to this game ocmes from Redreap3r:
"I still love playing the original okami and will be picking this up just to show that I want more of the series to be made. I guessed that it would heavy on the charm (its about a puppy for godsakes) and that it would not best its predecessor. Still I want to play this for all it is."
How dare you, Firenze
I am generally not interested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the success of games I like. However, sales data is interesting in studying market trends, people's general interest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).
According to Capcom's standards, Okamiden, just like Okami, failed commercially. By selling only 430K Units, Okaimden sold less copies than the original Okami, which sold 630K Units. Usually, I criticize game companies for their unrealistic sales targets, or their own marketing efforts.
However, I am with Capcom on this one. Taking all of the series, with its Wii Port and the HD Remaster, it probably sold less than 2 Million Units. Thay's from a possible Install base of 480 Million consoles. IT'S A FUCKING CRIME how little this series sold. For such an original, unique, and simply excellent series to sell so low is a fucking shame.
No wonder Capcom killed Mega Man Legends. Vocal consumers that translate to shit sales.
1- Some items in dungeons are miss-able, so make sure to search thoroughly before you finish a dungeon.
2- To get demon parts, you must use specific brush skills on enemies after you kill them, or to kill them.
3- Collect praise by doing side quests, as well as fixing nature, in order to level up.
4- Boss battles are more puzzles than brawls, if you don't figure them out, they will take a long time.
I really like Okamiden, and it made me want to go back and play the HD remaster of the original game. Both are really good games, and I hope Capcom does something with the series.
Next game is the last Rockstar game to be released on a Nintendo console (I could be wrong here). Grand Theft Auto: China Town Wars, is a return of the top down style of the original GTA games (which I greatly prefer). I think its going to be fun.
For Previous DS game Reviews:
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