These are trying times for Wii owners. That inevitable game drought that occurs in the transition before a new console is here, and Wii games are almost nonexistent. The last major Wii release that we’ve seen was Donkey Kong Country Returns and that was back in December. Here we are four months later, and there hasn’t been another major Wii release. Not even one. Nintendo says that this is because it is focusing so much attention on 3DS, but how many must-have games does that system have right now? None. It’s times like this that are perfect to play a bunch of games that you’ve missed out on, and I bet there are quite a few great Wii games out there that you could be playing during this disturbingly long Wii game drought. To go along with this week’s theme of arts and crafts, there is no better Wii game that you could be playing right now than Ōkami.
You may have heard me praising the game’s sequel, Ōkamiden, on every single podcast for the last month or so, and maybe you even read my review of the game, in which I gave it a perfect score. But this article is all about the original, and what a fantastic game it was. Ōkami is a game that you’ll get at least 70 hours out of, and you can probably get it for 30 dollars or less. Skyward Sword is probably the most anticipated remaining Wii game, but if you haven’t played Ōkami, you’re missing out on a more than capable substitute. Upon its release, many gamers were quick to draw connections to Zelda games, and many of them make a lot of sense. Instead of controlling a human, you control a wolf named Amaterasu, who is actually the sun god. In Ōkami, classic Nippon is being overrun by evil forces, and it is up to Amaterasu and her friends to save the day. You’ll roam an overworld that is very similar to that of Zelda, but probably much bigger, in a search for demons, items and new skills– all while defeating countless enemies and solving mind bending puzzles. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
What sets Ōkami apart from Zelda is its art. I’m not going to come out and say that Zelda’s art isn’t good, but it doesn’t come to life like Ōkami’s art does. In Capcom’s epic adventure, the very world itself appears to be moving and coming to life. You can see the wind fly across the sky with black loops of differing size, or watch as fire swirls and dances. Nothing is ever still in the world of Ōkami. Even as you control Amaterasu, and send her through the fields of classical Japan, blossoming flowers will be left in your wake. Perhaps the most awe-inspiring scenes in the entire game are the scenes that involve reviving Guardian Saplings. These are special trees that protect areas of Nippon from evil, so when they’re out of commission, the health of the land suffers and demons run rampant. However, when you use the bloom skill on a dead Guardian Sapling, its life will return, and flowers will bloom across the entire land, driving back the evil forces.
But this title is twice as artsy as any other. Why? Because not only is the game’s actual art second to none, but you are a part of making that art. As Amaterasu, you control what is called the Celestial Brush. This effectively allows you to freeze time and destroy enemies in battle, but that’s not all. All of the skills that you learn for your brush can also be used outside of battle. If you see a dead tree, it is up to you to make it blossom. Has part of a bridge or carving been destroyed? You can return it to its former glory. When you need to learn a new skill, the camera will shift to the stars, and you’ll have to connect the stars of a constellation to bring it to life. I know that sounds amazing, and trust me, it is. A celestial being will then emerge from the stars and you’ll be teleported to a celestial plane, where you’ll learn a new skill for your brush. On top of that, your partner Issun is a Celestial Envoy, whose job is to spread word about the Gods through art. Is that artsy enough for you?
So what I’m basically getting at is if your Wii is collecting dust, it doesn’t need to be. There are many, many people out there who haven’t played Ōkami yet should. It is one of those few titles whose quality matches that of Nintendo’s own games, and missing this masterpiece would be a mistake. For less than $30, you won’t find a better Wii game, and you may even like it more than Zelda. After you’re done with it, you can quickly move on to the sequel and continue the adventure. What are you waiting for?