March 31, 2009

When Clover Studios first put out Okami for the PS2, many gamers believed that its “Celestial Brush” mechanic would make the game a perfect fit for Nintendo’s then-new motion-controlled Wii system. It may have taken two years, but Ready At Dawn finally gave it a shot; the results are a solid effort, although maybe not quite the perfect port many would have expected. 

Retelling the Japanese legend of the sun goddess Amaterasu, along with other stories from Japanese mythology, Okami puts you in control of Ammy in her white wolf form (“okami” can mean both “wolf” as well as something along the lines of “high god/spirit”). Essentially a Zelda-style adventure game, the game’s single most distinguishing gameplay feature is the “Celestial Brush” I mentioned a second ago. As you progress through the story, Ammy gains access to over a dozen brush techniques that can be used in various ways; pressing the B button pauses the game and lets you “draw” on the canvas of the game’s world. Slashes cut down obstacles (and enemies), spirals cause breezes (or gales!), and circles regenerate once-green plant life, among other effects. 

While the Celestial Brush does feel natural when using the Wii Remote’s pointer functionality, the reality is that the recognition of various strokes is inconsistent; straight lines are especially problematic, although holding down the Z button while you sketch will aid you greatly in that respect. This can be frustrating at first, but eventually you learn to overcome these issues and fling ink like the goddess you’re supposed to be. Another issue in the PS2-to-Wii translation is the use of gestures for combat maneuvers; the short version is that unless you are using the whip-style bead weapons (the first of which you don’t find until the second area of the game), it will be very awkward to execute combos and combat will be difficult. 

Fortunately, these are the only shortcomings with the Wii version of this otherwise-solid game. Everything else, from the “living painting” art style to the mythology-spanning narrative, is largely intact from the original edition. If you missed out on Okami the first time around and own a Wii, Okami bears a worthy comparison to The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. It’s not as fluid a port as it probably could have been, but ReadyAtDawn did what they could considering that they weren’t the original developers. I’m just thankful that I got to experience the game at all, and anyone else who skipped the PS2 version should be as well. It should be available at a bargain price by now, so pick it up if you haven’t already. 

ESRB Rating: T for Blood and Gore, Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes, and Use of Alcohol and Tobacco. When you think about it, Greek/Roman mythology is just as bad.

Plays like: most Zelda clones.

Pros: gorgeous visuals, unique concept

Cons: inconsistent motion controls



Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.