Back in 2008, a two year old PS2 ‘game of the year’ was ported to the Wii amid much critical acclaim. Okami, an epic adventure boasting a glorious art style, was perfectly suited to the Wii’s capabilities, and Capcom has once again embraced a Nintendo console for a follow-up adventure on the DS. With such lofty precedent, it is a major challenge for Okamiden to meet expectations and match the Okami experience. Does this daring title demonstrate godly prowess, or fail to inspire faith?
The storyline in Okamiden is set nine months after the events of Okami. Amaterasu, the hero of the first game, is now residing in the Celestial Plains after banishing evil from the lands of Nippon. Unfortunately, demons do not sleep, and Nippon is once again engulfed with a mysterious evil. The burden of banishing this evil falls to Chibiterasu, the son of Amaterasu. As a young celestial pup he sets off on his journey, initially assisted by some old friends from Okami, to rid the world of demons, gain praise and develop his powers.
It has to be said: Chibiterasu is exceptionally cute. It is important to observe this cuteness, as the appearance and behaviour of this pup is a perfect analogy for the design approach of this title. It is immediately clear that this adventure has a different vibe and focus from its predecessor, and the artistic design of the hero has a major impact on the experience. You'll likely be enchanted by Chibiterasu, and as the tale progresses this fondness grows. In addition, throughout the adventure you have the assistance of different partners, all children, who ride along on your back and use their unique skills to assist you. Each partner brings a different dynamic to the relationship, as well as their own nicknames for Chibiterasu, and this can lead to some of the wittiest moments in the game.
The overall theme of ridding evil from the world is carried over from Okami, but this does not detract from the enjoyment of the storyline. The writing, cut-scenes and many interactions with other characters are brilliantly executed. At times the story is beautifully moving, which is an achievement of note for the writers.
The gameplay of this title has a few varying styles that utilise the DS in different ways. The majority of the game is played in a 3D over-world, produced with impressive scale. The biggest issue is the use of the d-pad for moving in a fully 3D world. It can be awkward on occasions but the movements of Chibiterasu, as well as some invisible walls built into the environment, have been designed in order for it to be workable. There is no denying, however, that an analogue input would be preferable.
The next style of gameplay is for set-piece battles, either with small groups of demons or one of the game’s epic boss battles. Movement is the same as in the wider world, but you are restricted within a small battle area. Standard attacks are executed with a simple tap of the Y button, while you jump with B and dodge with A. These controls are simple to pick up. Another variation in gameplay is found in temple areas where the camera will move to an elevated position. It is at this stage that you utilise your partners and their unique abilities to activate switches, collect treasures and so on. You direct them with the stylus and it works very well, in much the same way as the Link/Zelda teamwork in The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks .
A key component of the gameplay, and one that distinguishes this franchise from others, is the use of the ‘celestial brush’. This godly power can bring out the sun, reinvigorate the bloom of a cherry blossom or slash items and enemies, and has a number of other functions vital to progress in the game. You simply tap a shoulder button and the scene fades to parchment and transfers to the touch screen. It is as simple as drawing the correct shape to employ all sorts of godly magic, an intuitive feature and a wonderfully tactile experience. On rare occasions the game will be overly picky — for example if you’ve failed to close a circle fully — but these occurrences are few and far between.
One issue that does affect the controls is the camera. The game offers a limited amount of control with arrows on the touch screen that allow you to move the camera. It can be awkward, particularly in a battle, to try and move the camera by tapping an arrow while trying to avoid attacks. In addition, these arrows are not always available, in which case you have to accept the view that the game is giving you. This is probably a reflection of the challenges of bringing a full 3D adventure to the humble DS hardware, but all the same the camera will cause players some trouble. It is reasonably competent for most of the game, and while we did take some unnecessary hits due to unfortunate camera angles, we never experienced a game over screen due to this issue.
As hinted at by the camera control, there is the sense that Okamiden was really pushing the limitations of the DS hardware. These limitations, however, accentuate the exceptional achievement of the visuals; they are truly some of the best to be found on the handheld. Although the world of Nippon is split up into smaller areas, there is still a sense of a genuine world to explore. It is beautifully rendered and designed to look like a painting in motion. Unlike Okami, the visuals in this title look like a watercolour as painted by a young artist, perfectly matching the theme of youthful adventure. The Japanese mythology shines through in the impressive visuals, and the screen-filling boss battles are a particular highlight. This grand scale does lead to some drops in frame rate, but these generally occur at non-crucial moments when you’re exploring temples or large areas. The gameplay still holds up, and important sequences such as boss fights run smoothly.
The sound design maintains the standard of the visuals. The music is well crafted, varied, and best enjoyed with headphones. Dialogue is limited to reading text, with some general non-specific noises from characters in place of voice acting, just like the game's home console big brother.
Okamiden is an epic adventure in every sense: well written storyline, a huge over-world and gorgeous visuals and sound. It is an experience that, even if rushed through, will take more than 15 hours to complete. If you take your time and explore, which we recommend, you can add many more hours to that play time. That’s not to say that moving this franchise to the DS is without problems: there are occasional frame rate drops, some awkward D-Pad controls and a camera that doesn’t always cooperate. However, this is an exceptional achievement and, potentially, a fitting swan-song for the DS. It will enchant both adults and children alike with its cute hero and heart-warming story, and deserves a chance to be enjoyed. If you liked Okami, or are a fan of Zelda-style adventure games, you owe it to yourself to experience Okamiden.
I know i'm loving how faithful this game has been to the original. I played the hell out of Okami, and (so far) i know exactly where everything is in this game because of that. Also, the sounds are the same — i'm kinda amazed they were able to pack everything into one little DS cart, and the story is pretty interesting so far.
that said, i'm not terribly happy with the camera, it's given me fits on more than one occasion, lol. i miss the freedom of Okami, haha. and also, be aware that there are locations in this game you won't be able to get back to sometimes, so explore the hell out of every dungeon to make sure you get everything. i don't like missing items, but i guess that's what the next playthrough will be for :3
Man, that art style is awesome!
wtf, dragon stole my first post
Awesome. The graphics look beautiful. I'm hoping to play the first soon and if I like it this'll be next.
I've sadly only had an hour or so to play this, but what I was able to play was extremely cool. Can't wait to get some free time and tackle this one.
I would assume that using the 3DS's circle pad would make this game at least a little more comfortable.
Not much to tackle bud if it's as easy as the first.
Should of been a 3ds game to help sales and make it less likely to flop.
@irks: undoubtedly so — i know i'd love to try this game out on a 3DS and see how it handles with a circle pad. :3
I was actually gonna ask if anyone tried it on 3DS yet given that you guys provided a photo of the 3DS running Okamiden with the 3DS preview article... odd.
Loving this game (as one might expect given my avatar), perfect swan song.
Shame Nintendo never made Chibiterasu an unlockable character in Nintendogs + Cats
Very good review, I enjoyed reading it. This game really seems to have nailed my expectations. I really can't wait to try it out myself.
^ ^ But the circle pad will still only provide digital movement so I can't see how it would be any different..
Anyhow I would have snapped this up had it been a 3DS launch title.Its just the sort of game I wanted for 3DS .
Seems a strange decision to me as the first game hardly set the sales chart alight and I think this one will suffer the same fate. As a 3DS launch game with ,lets face it , pretty poor competition I think it would have sold a lot more. Ah well I probably pick it up down the line as it looks great.Nice review
We're aware that the digital pad will only provide digital movement, but that's not the problem with the controls: the problem is getting the diagonal presses on the d-pad right, which is too hard. Much like with Mario 64DS and GTA CW.
But yeah, best launch title on the 3DS easily, get this people!
Ahh I see what you mean, is the problem with the game then? As I never have trouble with diagonals in other games.
@Luigi78: the game is very responsive to the D-pad, the only problem is that the D-pad can only really input 8 directions. the way Chibiterasu jerks around sometimes when you're trying to maneuver in small places or around obstacles, it really makes you feel as if only there were a way to input analog movements, he would follow your every twitch.
Yeah, the game's diagonal directions definitely seem a bit unresponsive compared to the other 3D titles I mentioned. I'm not 100% confident it'll play better on circle pad, but I would certainly think so.
Nontheless, this game is amazing, deserves that 9... and I just can't wait to see the (probably) continuing streak of this franchise not getting the sales it deserves 3DS sequel anyway please.
I'm loving this game, it stands up surprisingly well to the PS2 Okami (which was one of my favorite PS2 games) and using the celestial brush with the touch screen is much easier. Never had any problems with the dpad either.
Well-written review. I hope to be able to get the chance to play this game before a 3DS iteration is released.
Bah, first I tried GAME and they said they only stocked it online, then I went to HMV and apparently they sold out on launch day so it's turning into a bit of a hunt. (The internet has been ruled out for various reasons)
Anyhoo, I'm pleased this got a really, really good score rather than just a really good score...
I missed out on the original Okami. Should I pick that up for Wii or go with this?
@18 Get both.
I love this game.
If only I had the time.
Great review Thomas!
@isitorange: In all fairness Okami Wii is ridiculously-$15-budget-cheap now, and you can easily invest 60 hours in it (I'd say with the sidequests included, it's a longer game than Twilight Princess), so that's some serious bang for your buck. It's also one of the most beautiful games and has way more freedom than this. On the other hand, if you buy this, we're more likely to get a sequel and the brush controls work better here. So really, depends on whether you prefer gaming on your Wii or (3)DS.
Overall though, the original Okami is easily the better game. And everyone who likes Zelda, Japanese folklore, adventure or beautiful games even the tiniest bits needs to experience it.
@isitorange: by all means, go for the original Okami first. as tealovertoma said, you can easily put in 60+ hours if you do every sidequest, and it's really a lot of fun. It's also chock-full of Japanese folklore if you're into that kind of thing (which i know i am, and i wound up looking up quite a few different folktales thanks to that game). the artwork is amazing (i love the demons' official artwork, so awesome~), the game works quite well with the wiimote/nunchuk combo, and it's honestly just fun to run around and explore everything.
another thing to consider is that if you play Okami first, you'll be able to go into Okamiden eventually with all that rich, wonderful backstory to build off of (as opposed to going in completely blind). :3
Actually I got 60 hours while skipping most sidequests, but maybe I'm just slow. I do love taking my time exploring. Twilight Princess also took me 60 hours.
Best revw I've read of this game. Thanks. Pretty much all the reliable reviewers are rating this around the 9/10 mark. Can't wait to get this in my April games purchase set
Thanks for all of the kind words about the review.
I agree with theblackdragon, if you have the time and money it's worthwhile playing through both, with Okami on the Wii first. Okami has a huge amount of mythology worked into the story that sets things up really well for Okamiden. In terms of which experience is best between the two, I'd call it a dead heat! Okami is bigger and visually amazing, and yet playing Okamiden on the DS is also pretty special; something about playing an Okami title on a handheld was glorious. Both games are absolutely worth the time and effort.
WOW, 9 stars!!
That's incredible......and I bought my copy today. I'm really happy. x)
Rad review Thomas! After I was first introduced to Okami on the Wii (my PS2 disc-errored before it came out) I've been waiting for another adventure ever since. Good to hear about the lengthy quest--I could have sworn Okami ended three times before I was actually finished!
I wish this wasn't launched right before the 3DS... So i could have money to buy it. Maybe later though.
@22 & @23 Thanks much for the advice!
Too bad all my cash is going to the 3DS. I might get this after I get atleast one 3Ds game.
I played the demo and hated it.
Footage is on my youtube channel Sirmel11.
Finished it in two days~!!!
This game is really,really good:)
I felt the original Okami was a bit lacking in the gameplay department, but everything else about it was delightful. I'll probably pick this up when my backlog shrinks.
Only bad thing about this: the DS games are looking better (well not graphics better...you know what I mean) right now than the 3DS launch games.
Have both this game and a 3DS on order, so both will probably arrive at the same time. Can't wait to try this game out.
I can't play this even though I have a copy because i am yet to finish Okami on the Wii & holy hell is Okami AN AMAZING GAAAAAAAAAAME! It seriously is one of the greatest games of all time, easily blows Twilight Princess out of the water & its small sales do it no justice, though it must have sold enough for a sequal which I simply cannot wait to start - awesome review
I wanna pick this up AND Monster Tale. Between those and Pokemon Black/White, this has been a FANTASTIC month for the DS. Screw the new kid on the block (3DS). When you get games of this quality, THEN we'll talk. In the meantime, you can keep nintendogs+cats to yourself; I'll be sticking to Okamiden and Monster Tale on my DSLite, thank you very much!
Okamiden~!! Got Monster Tales on Wednesday. Its very addicting. lol. T_T I'm still waiting on 7th Dragon and Nino Kuni!!!! (To import Nino Kuni will cost me an arm and leg due to the weight.) Please let the English one come out!!!! Been dying to play since that small article in Nintendo Power from last year.
WTH Monster Tale is out? Why didn't anyone tell me? Well I guess it doesn't have a EU releasedate but still. Thanks for the heads up.
I definetely think that it is better to play Okami first, as the story in Okamiden kind of just jumps right in with characters from the first game and doesn't give too much in the way of introductions.
The D-pad does make movement more awkward and it feels like your almost on rails when choosing a pathway; but overall Okamiden is a great game and it maintains the spirit of its predecessor.
One of the main reasons I'm getting a 3DS is because of this game. You need to use the shoulder buttons to use the Celestial Brush, and those don't work on my DSi. As for games... Meh, I'll either pick up nintendogs or finally get around to getting Radiant Historia
I'll probably get this on 3DS, I love the art style and the gameplay definitely reminds me of the Zelda DS games.
It's ages since I last visited NLife. Glad to see the reviews are still quality!
I love the game so far, just one thing is pretty strange:
The game slows down when landing after a jump (right when the grass is growing around you) and when you are standing still in certain areas (like the village shortly after the beginning).
Everything is fine when I keep moving though, using a DSi (even though I can't imagine that it could be related to that).
Did anyone else notice this? Is this normal?
@1080ike: There's loads of solutions for broken shoulder buttons on the web because it's such a common problem, just give it a google.
@TParis: There's some slowdown and framerate issues in the game as a result of the artstyle, nothing that should spoil the experience though. I don't remember particular slowdowns when landing. Are you playing legal copy? I heard pirated ones sometimes have extra slowdowns.
Been playing this on my DS, and the review is spot on. I pretty much agree with every word of it. Great job, ThomasBW84!
@tealovertoma: I bought my copy here in Germany. The slowdowns when landing also seem to happen in certain areas only... well it's not a big issue anyway.
Thank you for the great review! I cannot wait to get my hands on this, because Okami really is one of my favourite games ever. Good to hear that this hasn't been a disappointment.
Great game, I actually bought a 3DS because of this game, having not owned a handheld since the GB. There is so much subtle humor in this game. Things like the imps masks actually being Hana-Fuda cards, which gave me a good chuckle when I noticed it. I hope this Okamiden sells well, it deserves to be a huge success.
I loved Okami when I had it on PS2.
I started playing Okamiden the other day and I LOVE it so far.
dosint make sence =(
I have played Okami all the way through a few times on the Wii. It NEVER gets old.
I need to get my hands on this.
I really wish this was for the 3DS, could you imagine how awesome this would look in 3D?
Good to see this game gives the original Okami justice.
That being said, I would buy this game even if it didn't, that's just how awesome Okami was.
I was a bit hesitant to purchase this game, but it turns out it's very well-made. Well worth the money.
AAAHHH! Love this game! Totally want to get it
I played this game as a demo from the DS Download Service from Nintendo Channel. It is neat. It uses excellent stylus control for drawing and good puzzles. Though my only complaint is the fact of combat being a little slow.
Way too linear...
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