JOYSTICK: Despite quirks, Okamiden still entertainsPublished 6:30pm Saturday, March 19, 2011
In 2007, Capcom dazzled the gaming world with Okami, a Wii game steeped in Japanese Shinto lore where players controlled a goddess-turned-wolf to smite the darkness from Japan. The game was lauded for its control scheme, which used aspects of calligraphy and brush painting to make the wolf goddess perform certain actions. It was an incredible game.
Capcom followed that last week with Okamiden, a just-released Nintendo DS (most likely the last DS game before the 3DS) sequel which follows Chibiterasu, an adorable wolf puppy whose mother, Amaterasu, starred in the first game. Despite some odd quirks, Okamiden is a great game.
Chibiterasu must take up where its mother left off, fending off the darkness that’s spreading over the land and making people generally unhappy. The game’s translating team did a great job turning stock characters into funny, lively people you’ll actually want to talk to. The visual aesthetic of the game still looks great. Okamiden moves and breathes like a portrait, just like Okami did.
The gameplay mechanics work very similar to Okami, which is great news for gamers. Using the stylus, players can draw shapes, squiggles and other things to create effects ranging from making the sun shine to growing trees, unblocking paths and more. It’s fun to see elements of calligraphy in the game, as it adds an interactive piece to the visual aesthetic.
The downside is Okamiden kept the awful camera work that plagues so many good games. The camera is usually fixed at an odd angle, and more than once you’ll find yourself barreling towards the screen with no idea what’s ahead of you. While the game’s art is breathtaking, limiting the camera like this and taking away camera control from players is like forcing you to look at a small piece of a Picasso or Van Gogh, without a sense of what the big picture is. What’s worse is there are certain points on the map players can go to which take big, sweeping panoramic shots of the landscape. Players should have been able to make those shots whenever they wanted to.
While it doesn’t affect the overall game too much, the camera work is frustrating enough to take away your interest at times. It’s the same gameplay as Okami, but that still shouldn’t prevent people from buying this great handheld game.