Product Type: Capcom Wii games
Newest Review: ... on a big adventure. You play a wolf Okami who has special use of a celestial brush, with which you can interact with the game and make ... more
Move Over Zelda
Member Name: shroud
Date: 15/04/12, updated on 16/04/12 (68 review reads)
Advantages: Gorgeous visuals, complex storyline, excellent use of game controller
Disadvantages: not for young children, can be difficult to find a copy unless you buy online
The sun god(ddess actually, the English translation messed that up, but never mind) Ameratsu has returned to samurai era Japan (called by its native name of Nippon here) in the form of a white wolf. Her purpose is to defeat evil demons and bring light back to an area ravaged by darkness, and to allow the trees and flowers to bloom again. The people believe her to to be an ordinary white wolf, albeit curiously friendly, gradually realising there is something very special indeed as she gains strength, power, and new skills while their village and temples in the area are freed. Ameratsu meets and is aided in her quest by villagers, gods, and even a flea, though sometimes they also have a mini quest they request aid for and for which she is well rewarded.
The name Okami is a pun; literally it can mean god or goddess- kami being the word and o being an honourfic placed before it to show an even higher exaltation, and as it is written here in the title with a long o (also sometimes romanised as ookami instead), it can also mean wolf. This is because Ameratsu is THE sun goddess who, according to actual Japanese mythos, came to what is now Japan and married and had children, and whose part human grandson supposedly became the very first emperor of Japan. It is her lineage that is the reason for the rising sun on Japan's flag and from whom all of Japan's emperors trace their lineage. So the title refers to the wolf while slyly tipping us off as to who it really is.
As Ameratsu is the goddess of the sun, the wolf carries a small spinning avatar of the sun over her back, and wields a celestial brush. Using the wiimote, the player flicks their wrist about as if wielding a paintbrush in order to draw simple symbols upon the screen. Each symbol is learned along the way, with things such as a slashing motion acting as an attack and a drawn sun making the actual sun appear in the sky, and so on. The game really makes the most of the Wiimote's possibilities and the physical interaction really draws one deeper into the game.
The cast of characters are varied and the places we visit varied, with everything from hidden cave grottos, medieval Japanese villages, and gated temples to a haunted shipwreck. The characters are what one would expect from a Japanese folk tale, with everyone from a bratty kid and his dog, a sake maker, a fisherman, and even a samurai making an appearance, but what makes this even more special is the naturally introduced elements of humour. They range from subtle touches such as a funny name to occasional situation comedy. Of course the cast features demons that must be defeated and these are straight from folklore as well and as we go along, we find out what they are and put their names down in a book.
The quest format is one that will be familiar to fans of games such as Zelda, but what really blew me away even more than the game premise, the unfolding epic story line or the style of play itself was the chosen style of graphics. Quite simply, this is one of the most beautiful works of art I've ever seen in a game. Japanese woodcuts and water colours create the living landscape. Watching daybreak over mountains and shimmering over water, the sheer lushness of foilage and the way the night sky cloaks the world in darkness is truly a wondrous sight to behold. It not only catches the eye, but the spirit, invoking a very visceral cultural experience that is at once familiar as it is foreign. It helps capture the imagination , and it is this that keeps me returning to the game again, and again.
It's recommended for players over the age of 12 due to fantasy violence, occasional slightly rude humour (nothing worse than a movie rating of 12 would allow), and the complexity of its unfolding plotline. My almost 9 and 10 year old enjoy having a go on it, and gotten quite far, and the lack of blood and guts makes the fantasy violence really nothing worse than say, Sailor Moon, so I've had no personal objections to their playing it. It is a single player game, but more than one player can have a game profile, so it is possible for the entire family to enjoy without messing up each other's saved games. If you are looking for an RPG that fires the imagination, features an actual storyline, and goes beyond pressing a couple of buttons, you could do a lot worse than this. This is truly a classic in the making.
Summary: One of the very best adventure RPGs I've ever played, and perfect on the Wii.
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