|features / game column||
content by: editor
This week, gods, calligraphy and Japanís weird canvas.Capcomís wolf-god-with-a-paintbrush game, Okami, is about to receive a UK release, over six months after it first appeared in Japan. Okami is a game that seems to confirm just how beautiful and accomplished Japanese games craft can be, with Capcom delivering yet another esoteric, compelling and approachable experience on the PS2.
The central motif of Okami is that of traditional Japanese painting. The visuals are cel-shaded and minimalist, so that every frame of the game appears to have been hand-drawn. The game even overlays a ďparchmentĒ filter onto the gameworld, making it appear that all the brightly coloured action is animated on living paper. This alone makes it worth playing.
Your character is also unusual: sheís a wolf thatís also a god. The powers of this creature have been dissipated and scattered, and collecting these divine aspects enables you to defeat the inevitable evil that permeates the land. All this sounds like standard fare for fantasy adventures, but itís the way in which itís implemented that is so surprising and delightful. Holding down a gamepad button freezes the world into a sepia parchment frame, onto which you can draw with a paintbrush. What is painted on the parchment can often be changed in the world. A bridge is restored, the sun painted back into the sky, a boulder cleaved in two, and so on. As the game progresses you learn evermore complex techniques for painting, and the effects are dreamlike.
Okamiís world is typical of Japanese gaming, with the weird, the cute, and some peculiar undertones. But itís also enthralling, like the very best of role-playing adventures. When so little gaming attempts to reinterpret anything, itís gratifying to play something that merges traditional folkloric Japan with the most modern of hi-tech experiences. If nothing else, this (and many more games besides) adds months to the lifespan of the ageing PS2. Such games also suggest that consoles only really ever get interesting toward the end of their commercial lives.
Some critics have grumbled about the amount of unskippable text that Okami presents you with, but Iím going to take that as a sign that thereís very little else to contest. This is a masterwork, and one of my favourite games of the decade.
Okami, out now on PS2.
Read members' comments related to this game.
comment by yanjoh Mar 9, 2007I have to agree, as far as I've played anyway, it's not the most challenging game I own, but it's great fun and very pretty, with a bit of innovation thrown in there too. And not without addictive moments; did anyone else get obsessed with trying to nick all 10 of the mad lady's turnips before she clobbers you ?? Aaaaah !
comment by S Haimes Mar 9, 2007I am a keen gamer and am quite happy having every console out there apart from the 360 and the PS3.I have each console because then I can choose a variety of games depending on my mood at the time. Having finished LOZTP on my Wii, I was wondering what next to play. Unlike many gamers I play to relax, nothing too tricky or I switch off.
I had read various previews of Okami, and thought it sounded really good. I was a bit concerned as to whether I would cope with the graphics, which are completely different to any I have seen before. I was also worried about the fact that my hands shake and I am no good at drawing.
But I needn't have worried. It is a truly beautiful game and a welcome change. Being an animal lover, I particularly enjoy feeding the animals and seeing their reaction. True, some of the narrative is annoying, but I am usually on MSN while playing, so I just press "x" while texting until they finish. The battling is not hard, and it is one of the most relaxing games I have played.
Unfortunately, the youngsters don't seem impressed. Normally when I have a new game there is a battle to see who gets to go on it, but not once have they asked to have a go. Very strange.
I would certainly recommend this game, and I suspect it will become one of the classics.
comment by upsetmonkey Feb 14, 2007The lesser spotted Good Playstation game. Found In bargin bins all over stores across the U.K.
Sadly there natural habitat is slowly being destroyed. making way for vast waves of Fifa Street and Need For Speed Games.
Generally not produced by Sony, These rare creatures of mainly Japanese origin are shunned in the U.K by the public at large. And have found new homes within the much loved breed of Nintendo Classics.
Much like the Humble Chameleon The Larger fatter and infinitely more simple Mainstream Sony Game is able to change form and manages to look like a good game to confuse the predatory human Games buyer. Good Examples of this copycat mentality come in the form of Spyro, Kilzone, Crash Bandicoot, Call of Duty
Fifa, Tekken, Need For Speed, etc etc (if we were to list all the rubbish games we would need a new website)
If you see one of the rare examples of quality gaming on PS2 please leave the door to your Nintendo Games Cupboard open so it can live out its last few years in peace alongside other similar titles.
comment by dj marco d Feb 14, 2007Shock horror, another innovative game not release by Nintendo. The Nintedoites would have you believe no such games existed ;)
comment by upsetmonkey Feb 13, 2007This looks like an amazing game! Lots of my friends talk about it having played it on import, I might have to purchase a PS2 again (second hand as im not funding Sony!)
While there was a time when i thought UK and US games were catching up with Japan. It seems that the gap is widening again as Japanese Developers develop longer into the lifespan of the console.
When Microsoft launched the 360 i think it was the wrong time as the original xbox had plenty of life in it. The PS2 is now finally reaching its golden age of classic games and it seems only Japanese developers are willing to continue to develop for it and not jump ship to the PS3, where undoubtably the first year will be hit and miss as people get used to the hardware.
Still in some respects i dont know why they are releasing it here. Its questionable that UK gamers who flocked to buy Need for Speed deserve to have the chance to play something as lovely and as well crafted as this appears to be.
I expect it will maybe sell around 15,000 copys. Most in the first week due to hardcore PS2 people that know there good games from bad, buying it.
Then it will vanish of the radar and only Games Journalists and the hardcore few will remember it.
Kinda sad really..........
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