Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: Nintendo DS
There is a special place in the gaming world for every franchise, some of which many wish there were more games for. For me, and a good friend of mine, Okami is one of those franchises. Okami released on the PS2, was ported to the Nintendo Wii, and then remastered for the PlayStation 3. The game was such a unique and heart-warming adventure, we all wished they had made another game in the series.
Unknown to me until I was randomly browsing Amazon a few weeks back, they did make another game in the series. Apart from ports and remasters of the original PS2 game, the developer being the Wii port made a sequel to Okami, and that’s what we are going to discuss today.
Here is a retro review for Nintendo DS title, Okamiden!
Okamiden takes place some 9 months after the end of the original game, with Amaterasu having left Nippon. Despite the final boss from the previous game being defeated, demons mysteriously return to the land, spreading chaos and cursing all of nature around it. In an attempt to re-summon Amaterasu, the Wood Spirit Sakuya manages to summon a small white wolf in the Sun Goddess’s place. The young wolf, known as Chibiterasu, takes the artifact and celestial brush once used by his mother and sets out to rid Nippon of demons once and for all.
The story of Okamiden is, like Okami, very emotional and touching. There is a large theme of preserving and reviving the beauty of nature, but there is also a very deep connection involved, showing Chibi’s growing relationships with characters from the previous games, new characters, and the many partners that you collect throughout the journey.
Like Okami, this is a 3D action-adventure game. Throughout the game, you will be exploring environments as well as solving puzzles with the celestial brush and fighting through enemies and bosses when the need arises. If you’re familiar with how the original game played, then you know what I’m getting at.
A lot of the gameplay elements resemble that of the original game. However, the biggest new addition to the gameplay is the use of partner characters. You will have sections of only controlling Chibi, but have many where you have partners with you, riding on your back and assisting you in puzzles and combat. Each partner has unique abilities, like Kuni’s slashing to get rid of boulders or Nanami’s ability to fill spike pits with water.
Exploring the world is simply done by freely roaming around it. You will have objectives to go to, but you can also freely roam around to look for items both for the main quest and for various side-quests that open up. This is a 3D adventure game, so there’s a lot to run around to and explore.
The two main things, though, are puzzle-solving and combat. Puzzles are often solved using the Celestial Brush. Like in Okami, you can use the Celestial Brush to paint on the screen (using the Nintendo DS touch screen and the stylus pen) and perform magic. Many of the spells from the original game are here, like reviving nature and slashing enemies. As you progress through the game, you’ll learn new techniques that will be used not only for boss fights but also for finding hidden treasure and reaching hidden areas.
The most unique and newest brush technique is the Guide technique. When you get to a section that Chibi cannot traverse, you must hit X to dismount your partner. You then use the brush to lead them to where they need to go and back. This is used for near-crumbled tunnels, water-filled areas, and more. It is also used in many boss fights.
Combat is done in its own little arena, much like battles take place in different arenas in console RPGs. In here, you can use various weapons you can find and equip to combat enemies. However, the Celestial Brush is also used here pretty heavily. The first couple enemy types can be hacked away at to be defeated easily. Most others have a certain gimmick that makes them hard to reach and damage. You can use specific brush techniques to damage and stun them, making them vulnerable to damage.
The same is done for bosses, though bosses cannot be attacked normally at all. The first few bosses of the game are almost invincible until you use a brush technique at the right time to stun them and lower their defenses. This makes the bosses more strategic, but also a lot more fun.
How much you can use the brush, however, is limited. You have Ink Pots you can collect to use for the brush and when you run out of ink, you can’t use it anymore. On top of that is a time limitation. Each time you use the brush, be it to fight enemies or solve puzzles, you have only about 30 seconds to draw what needs to be drawn or you have to start over. It isn’t easy to run out of time, but you have to be quick with that stylus sometimes to get it just right. Not every sequence is just drawing a circle.
As far as length is concerned, you’re looking at a 20-25 hour journey. For an action-adventure game, that’s quite the trek. It’s not as long as the original game, but it has a lot of length to it.
Controlling the game is pretty simple. But one thing to note is that all of your work with the celestial brush is done with the touch screen. Every time you paint, you have to whip out that stylus pen and go at it. If you’re not used to using the stylus, this game will teach you to, as it is used heavily.
Moving around is done with the D-Pad/Circle Pad and the L and R triggers are used to freeze time to open a sequence to use the celestial brush. The A button is used for dodging and B is used for jumping. Y is used for physical attacks, and X is used for moving your partner on or off of you.
I don’t really have any issues with the controls. Sometimes the camera seems finicky because it moves on its own, but it normally stays behind you and does that fairly well.
Visually, there’s praise to be done but criticism to be made. Okamiden successfully recreates the Japanese style of Okami on the Nintendo DS. There is also a lot of cel-shading around the characters to further enhance and make the models look nice, despite the lack of 3D power of the Nintendo DS. However, despite this, a lot of the environments look very rough and almost like a PS One game. It doesn’t look bad for a 3D NDS game, but it doesn’t look great in general.
As far as performance goes, the load times are nice and the frame-rate is nice, most of the time. However, I found that in the sequences where you use Nanami as your partner, the frames chug and struggle quite a bit. This happened in a few other places, but was most noticeable when you had Nanami as your partner. It wasn’t to the point of the frame-rate messing you up, but it was a slow chug compared to the rest of the game.
Okamiden captures the magic and charm that its predecessor first laid out. It may not look as pretty or run as smooth, but it’s a fun adventure game that any fan of this type of art style or of Okami should definitely look into and play.