Looking back at previous generations of consoles, usually the highlights of each system’s life span appear in the second wave of AAA titles. The PS2 however was the system that kept on giving, with its last two years hosting a wide array of now classic games such as God Of War II, Shadow of the Colossus and Okami. The last of these games, developed by Clover studios, was especially notable for having some of the best art the console world had ever seen.
Now, following a well received Wii port in 2008, a sequel has appeared on the Nintendo DS, surely the perfect system for a game that relies on painting the world.
In terms of this feature, the celestial brush makes a return and the improvements are numerous. Instead of trying to use the analog stick to direct brush strokes, performing them with the stylus here feels natural. The celestial brush is once again used throughout the game, in both combat and adventure sections. In order to bring back the colour and life to the suddenly depressing world, you must paint a sun for example, or add a fuse to said circle and create a bomb to defeat enemies.
In this way, Okamiden feels as much of a remake as the Wii version of Okami did. This style of improving familiar elements lends itself well to the adventure genre, as shown by the game Okami heavily borrows inspiration from: Legend of Zelda. You encounter the same kind of beasts, unlock new brush abilities in a similar order to last time, and revisit areas that are once again host to darkness. To some this may seem like an issue, but as Nintendo’s long running series has shown, fixing a system that isn’t broken can do more harm than good. For those who enjoyed the original game, this won’t feel like a retread, the subtle adjustments needed to bring the game to handheld give Okamiden a new flavour.
The most notable of these changes is the presentation of the game. Obviously the DS can’t handle artistic graphics of the same level as the PS2 or Wii, so here the developers have gone in the other direction; major cuteness. To this effect, the sun goddess Amaterasu’s son Chibiterasu is a smaller and ultimately cuter version of the last game’s hero. This size reduction compensates for the smaller screen, and allows for much more detailed environments and characters than I would have expected on the platform. The colours add vibrancy to the proceedings, while every character has their own cutesy charm. The biggest praise I can give to Okamiden in this department is that you never wish you were playing on a console, the graphics being some of the best on the system.
This feeling extends across the whole game; Okamiden is everything you could wish for from a handheld ‘sequel’ to Okami. Though the game rarely does anything more than this, I am personally fine with that. In the same way that playing a new Zelda gives you familiar memories, Okamiden proves just how good the original game was, and in many ways improves the experience through the use of the stylus. An essential purchase for DS owners.
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