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Editor’s Note: This article contains SPOILERS pertaining to Okami’s bosses and plot. Read with that in mind.
If I was the same gamer I was five years ago, I wouldn’t be here at Oprainfall, much less writing this article.
Back then, I would have been playing through my copy of Pokémon Diamond (of which I logged over 500 hours), cursing at my broken Melee disc and possibly replaying Twilight Princess. None of these are bad games – but they, as well as Mario Kart and Mario Party, comprised my entire gaming experience.
Around four years ago I was visiting my best friend when she showed me this awesome new Wii game she had picked up at her local EB Games. She knew I loved wolves, and that I loved the outdoors, nature and being with animals, so she thought it would be my kind of game.
She was right.
Watching this splendid white wolf race around Shinshu Field with flowers trailing behind her, leaping off walls and music playing unlike any I had heard before… It was simply magical. Why was this happening? What was with the brush, which fitted so well with the Wii’s motion controls? And what the hell was up with that enchanting music?
A few months later she was with me at my local shopping centre. We walked into JB Hi-Fi and I couldn’t resist; I asked after Okami. The clerk informed me that there was a copy at another store across the city, so he ordered it in for me. By the end of the week, I was putting my very own disc into my Wii and eagerly booting up the game.
Everything about it just blew me away. Okami had you assume control of the sun goddess Amaterasu as she and her little friend, Issun, strived to restore the broken land of Nippon to its former glory. The Celestial Brush was her main weapon; drawing certain symbols in the air or on certain objects would yield powerful results. In order to defeat the dreaded eight-headed dragon Orochi and the evil demons plaguing the land, she was advised to seek out the twelve remaining brush gods and learn their techniques from them.
Okami had this showdown with Orochi building up to make it seem like the game’s final boss. Then you would beat him, and you would realise… it wasn’t. In reality, you had only just started. This proceeded to happen twice more, until finally you would find the heart of Nippon’s strife and defeat the monster at its source.
Running around Shinshu Field for the first time, having just witnessed its restoration and listening to the lovely composition (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=wif3MEdRaPA) in the background was the moment in which I realised I had something special on my hands. The first thing I noticed was the graphics, which were based on a form of Asian ink wash brush painting. They gave the game a unique look and really made it stand out for me. Seeing as Amaterasu’s weapon of choice was the Celestial Brush, it made it well-suited to the context of the game.
The finer details of the game were a large part of what made it enjoyable. Each character, even the minor ones, had their own personality and flair. Two characters that I remember vividly didn’t even have names. They were a mother-daughter pair of NPCs that dished out challenges to Amaterasu in order to prove that she was indeed the Goddess of the Sun. I don’t know why I remember them so clearly, but it probably has something to do with the feeling of satisfaction I enjoyed after the mother finally conceded that Amaterasu was indeed who she claimed to be.
Then there was the fact that Amaterasu would frequently take a snooze in the middle of important events, forcing Issun to wake her up. Additionally, you could make her bark at the press of a button and she really did sound just like a real dog; I would amuse myself by making her bark when my dog was in the room and then watching her stare at the TV screen and cock her head.
|Watch the first minute or so to see the Divine Intervention for Shinshu Field, as Amaterasu banishes the darkness from the area.|
Page 2 contains more thoughts on this wonderful game.
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