Oprainfall Origins: Okami

Monday, November 12th, 2012

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The music from Okami was the first from a game that I considered truly beautiful. Since then, only two other games I’ve played have contained music able to affect me in such a powerful way; but even then, they still haven’t had quite the same effect that Okami’s music had. Handled by some of the composers responsible for the Bayonetta, Viewtiful Joe and Devil May Cry soundtracks, the tracks heard in this game are exquisite. It was only after playing Okami that I began to collect video game soundtracks.

Okami

The red brush belongs to the Demon Lord Ninetails. The black one is Amaterasu’s Celestial Brush.

The Wii’s motion controls made it ideal for the strokes of the Celestial Brush, and Clover Studio adapted the controls wonderfully for my playing pleasure. It made for some interesting boss fights; one notable duel was between Amaterasu and the fox-like creature, Ninetails. Using the Celestial Brush would, usually, momentarily pause gameplay as you drew a certain symbol to let loose a given attack. But not Ninetails! Each of her nine tails ended in the head of a brush, and she would actually start to draw a counter-attack when you tried to use yours. Imagine my surprise when, as I repositioned my camera, a red brush stroke appeared on my TV screen and bowled me over with a gust of wind!

Okami

Okami inspired the name at the bottom of my year 12 hoodie. I originally tried for “Drunk Dragon” but unfortunately the assistant principal wouldn’t let that happen.

Another great battle (and my favourite) was with the great eight-headed dragon Orochi. Just before the battle started, tons of sake (a Japanese alcoholic beverage) was spilled and pooled before each of Orochi’s heads. The key to the battle was to feed sake to each of the dragon’s heads until they passed out, and then jump on to his back and attack the bell sitting there. In essence, you freaking got a dragon so drunk he couldn’t function properly and then proceeded to belt him. I laughed all the way through the battle.

As mentioned before, Okami’s plot and characters were heavily influenced by Japanese mythology. As someone with a deep love for myths and legends, this was a highlight for me. Walking around Nippon, I realised, must have been just like walking around the world as the ancient Japanese imagined it. It also meant that with further research, I could expand my knowledge of the game’s characters even more and compare them to how they differed in the game.

One character in particular, Waka, stood out from amongst the rest. I’m pretty sure he was intended to be an irritating character; popping up every so often to tease Amaterasu and Issun and then leaving them with cryptic advice. But I fell in love with the poetic language of the smooth-tongued prophet and his inspirational quotes. Having once harboured a desire to learn the flute, I also loved the fact that Waka could play one for me.

Okami

The sound of his flute happens to be what plays whenever someone texts me.

Okami, in my eyes, is a compilation of classical Japanese myth, tweaked and bundled together to suit Clover Studio and to make a coherent storyline. It was my personal stepping stone to games and to Japanese culture in general. Served with a clever script and colourful cast, topped with ageless graphics and a sprinkling of genuine humour, Okami took me completely by surprise and left me in awe, in a way I never imagined was possible of a video game. It was something no other game had managed to do, and only one game since has managed to do.

Okami

 

Shinshu Field restoration video source

Final image source


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