Ōkami: An Artistic Masterpiece

Is your Wii collecting dust? It needn’t be, especially if you’ve missed out on the artistic masterpiece that is Ōkami.

By James Stank. Posted 04/29/2011 14:00 3 Comments     ShareThis

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?

3 Responses to “Ōkami: An Artistic Masterpiece”

  • 1567 points
    penduin says...

    Okami, and now Okamiden, are two of my favorite games ever. I love the elements they borrow from Zelda, but I also love what they do differently. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that Okami will surprise you in ways Zelda doesn’t.

    James is right, hunt a copy down. You’ll wonder why you didn’t before.

  • 258 points
    Joshua A. Johnston says...

    I reviewed Okami for Wii back in the day for Nintendojo, and it was a good package: clever storytelling, aesthetic artwork, memorable soundtrack, cool moves. Clover was gone by that time, and Ready at Dawn did a good job porting it over from PS2.

    Reluctantly, though, I must admit that I had my qualms with the Wii controls. General combat was fine; it was the Celestial Brush I had trouble with. Now, Okamiden uses the DS touch screen, which is perfectly suited. The Wii remote for Okami sounded great in theory but in practice was harder to use, requiring a really steady hand, and that made it hard to sometimes pull off things like a clean slash. The controls worked, say, 80-90% of the time, but that remaining time was aggravating for me.

    In hindsight, the PS2 version might have been a slightly better option control-wise, but that’s my opinion and others may have had a different experience. Either way, I don’t disagree with you about Okami as a whole; it’s a marvelous game.

  • 201 points
    NintendoDad says...

    I loved Okami, preferring it even over Twilight Princess. I think I logged 70+ hours when I played it. As the above poster mentioned, the celestial brush can get annoying at times but the game is worth playing. I’m playing through Okamiden right now and it’s good too. I don’t think it’s as good as Okami, but I’m still enjoying it.

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