Ōkami means both "wolf" and "great god" in Japanese, making the title a double entendre. In the game you play as the newly re-awakened god Amaterasu, who's been in a deep 100-year slumber and is summoned to once again save the great nation of Nippon from the evil powers that are consuming and destroying the life and plants of the land.
Ōkami was released for the PlayStation 2 on April 20, 2006 in Japan, on September 19, 2006 in North America, and on February 14, 2007 in Europe and Australia. The game was developed by Clover Studio, and the port for the Wii was developed by Ready at Dawn Studios which was released in North America on April 15, 2008, and released in Europe on June 13, 2008, respectively. A high definition remaster, developed by Hexa Drive, was released through the PlayStation Network on PlayStation 3 on October 30, 2012, and features PlayStation Move support.
Ōkami is often praised for its distinct art style. The game uses cel-shaded graphics to emulate the look of traditional Japanese sumi-e brush art. (Sumi-e involves painting with brushes on traditional washi-paper, which is commonly used for calligraphy and making Japanese paper cranes.)
Clover Studio initially intended to employ a more realistic aesthetic in Ōkami, but the Playstation 2 was deemed too weak to render their original vision. The Celestial Brush mechanic used to draw in the game also influenced the decision to use cel-shading.
In Ōkami, the player controls the sun goddess Amaterasu, who takes the form of a wolf. The gameplay consists of action, adventure, and puzzle elements. Ōkami is somewhat reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda games; Ōkami director Hideki Kamiya has stated that Zelda had a huge influence on himself and the game.
The player starts the game in the northern parts of Hokkaido, Japan, and travels through the game world in linear fashion, saving each area from evil by rejuvenating Guardian Saplings. Ammy (the nickname given to Amaterasu by Issun) does this primarily with the Celestial Brush, a paintbrush with powers awarded by the 13 brush gods that she meets over the course of the game.
The battle system is rather unique, in that it combines elements of role-playing and action-adventure games. Groups of enemies in the overworld are depicted as scrolls surrounded by plumes of colored fire. When Amaterasu comes in contact with one, a barrier entraps her in a sort of arena. In this arena, the player must fight foes using one of three weapon types: glaives (sword-like, attacks offensively), reflectors (shield-like, acts defensively as a sub-weapon), and rosaries (bead-like weapons for ranged combat). Each can be equipped either as a primary or secondary weapon, allowing one to find a personal combat style. Players receive yen and, on rare occasions, demon fangs, for successfully defeating a group of enemies. Both can be used to buy various consumables, buffs, and upgrades for Amaterasu.
The Celestial Brush
The brush mechanic in Ōkami is one of the game's most unique aspects. By pressing and holding down R1 (on the PS2 version) or B (on the Wii version), time freezes and the screen seemingly turns into a canvas, although you can still move the camera freely. Using Ammy's tail like a paintbrush, you can paint various symbols over the screen -- which, once the button is released, result in different effects.
Over the course of the game, you collect 16 brush techniques, granted to you by Ammy's peers and fellow gods. Most serve multiple functions, as not only do they help Ammy explore the world and get past obstacles, but they can also be used in battle:
- Sunrise: Amaterasu's innate ability, this technique allows her to summon the sun, turning night back to day. Triggered by painting a circle in the sky.
- Rejuvenation: Granted by Yomigami, this technique allows Ammy to restore broken objects to their original form, such as repairing broken bridges. Triggered by completely painting over the broken area.
- Power Slash: Granted by Tachigami, this technique lets Ammy slash through objects and enemies alike. Triggered by painting a straight, horizontal line over the desired target.
- Cherry Bomb: Granted by Bakugami, this technique lets Ammy create a bomb that can be used to open new passages and damage enemies in battle. Triggered by drawing a circle with a line going through one of the edges.
- Greensprout: Bloom: Granted by Sakigami -- one of the triumvirate Hanagami flora gods -- this technique causes flowers to bloom and rejuvenates withered trees. Triggered by painting a circle over the flower or tree.
- Greensprout: Water Lily: Granted by Hasugami -- another one of the Hanagami flora gods -- this technique allows Ammy to create a path of lily pads on water so that she can cross large bodies of water. Triggered by painting a circle on the water.
- Greensprout: Vine: Granted by Tsutagami -- the last of the Hanagami flora gods -- this technique allows Ammy create a vine that spawns out of Konohana blossom and can be attached to certain objects, or Ammy to reach otherwise inaccessible places. Triggered by painting a line from a Konohana blossom to Amaterasu.
- Watersprout: Granted by Nuregami, this technique can be used to move water to different places, and activate Power Springs that can be used to ascend to higher ground. Triggered by either drawing a line from the water to a desired target, or drawing a line straight up from a power spring.
- Crescent: Granted by Yumigami, this technique allows Ammy to turn day to night by bringing out the moon. Triggered by drawing a crescent shape in the sky, with the edges pointing left.
- Galestorm: Granted by Kazegami, this technique allows Ammy to create gusts of wind. Triggered by drawing a line with a loop in the middle in whichever direction the player want the wind to travel, or a spiral shape to make it go forward.
- Inferno: Granted by Moegami, this technique lets Ammy move fire to different places, which can be used to melt ice or damage enemies. Triggered by drawing a line from the source of fire to the desired target.
- Veil of Mist: Granted by Kasugami, this technique allows Ammy to temporarily slow down time. Triggered by drawing two horizontal lines parallel to each other.
- Catwalk: Granted by Kabegami, this technique lets Ammy stick to walls that have cat prints on them. Triggered by drawing a line straight up from a cat statue.
- Thunderstorm: Granted by Gekigami, this technique lets Ammy shock enemies or objects with bolts of lightning. Triggered by drawing a line from the source of lightning to the desired target.
- Blizzard: Granted by Itegami, this technique lets Ammy freeze things or create bridges of ice. Triggered by drawing a line connecting the source of ice to the desired target.
There are also extra techniques and upgraded versions of existing strokes that can be found by completing side quests and exploring the world. These are:
- Fireburst: An upgraded version of Inferno, Fireburst allows Ammy to call upon the power of Fire whenever she wants by drawing an infinity symbol (a horizontal 8), and roasts all enemies on screen to a crisp when used in battle.
- Whirlwind: An upgraded version of Galestorm, Whirlwind, when activated, calls upon a tornado that continuously damages for the duration it is active. It is activated by drawing three horizontal lines parallel to each other.
- Mist Warp: This ability grants Amaterasu the ability to teleport across Nippon via objects known as "Ultimate Origin Mirrors" (otherwise known as save points), by drawing an X upon the mirror's surface.
- Fountain: Fountain is similar to Mist Warp in that it allows Amaterasu to quickly teleport across Nippon, but instead of using mirrors to do so, Fountain utilizes Mermaid Springs -- small, glowing sections of water spread throughout Nippon. To use this, Ammy must simply draw a spiral on the spring's surface and subsequently jump in.
- Deluge: This technique calls upon a torrent of rain that can be used to damage foes in battle. It is activated by drawing two vertical lines.
- Thunderbolt: This ability allows Ammy to summon a large lighting bolt to attack enemies with the power of lighting. It is activated by drawing a lighting bolt.
- Icestorm: This one causes icicles to rain down upon enemies. It's activated by drawing an X with a line struck through vertically.
There are also upgrades available for both the Power Slash and Cherry Bomb techniques; the former increasing its proficiency and the latter increasing the number of bombs that can be spawned. Both can be obtained by donating Yen to offertory springs hidden throughout Nippon.
- Amaterasu: The Goddess of the sun who has taken the form of a wolf, and the game's protagonist.
- Issun: Amaterasu's trusty sidekick who isn't much taller than an inch. He does all the talking for you through out the game and fancies himself to be a great artist.
- Waka: A mysterious flute player who appears from time to time to test Amaterasu's strength and give prophecies.
- Susano: A warrior descended from Nagi. Usually sleeps throughout the day when he's supposed to be honing his swordsmanship. He has feelings for Kushi.
- Kushi: A sake brewer and beautiful maiden who resides in Kamiki Village.
- Orochi: This evil, eight-headed demon is a major villain in the game. He was defeated 100 years ago, but has returned to bring darkness back to the land of Nippon after the seal imprisoning him was removed.
- Sakuya: A wood sprite that inhabits the sacred Konohana tree in Kamiki Village. She was able to protect the village from the disaster that had befallen the rest of the land and revive Amaterasu at the beginning of the game.
In the Wii release, the staff credits were removed from the game. The director of Ōkami, Hideki Kamiya, stated his thoughts about their removal on a officially translated blog entry, stating, "It was a special staff roll for a special moment. And now it is gone. All of it. ...It’s incredibly disappointing and sad."
Capcom U.S. had this to say in response: "The credits were removed because they were a pre-rendered movie that contained the Clover logo. We have no legal right to use the Clover logo in a game they were not involved with directly. We also didn't have the source to the credit movie itself, so we couldn't just use it and remove the Clover logo." The credits were added for the Japanese release of the game, however, which was more than a year after the game's release in English speaking territories.
The Wii version is infamous for having a not-so-subtly hidden IGN watermark on its cover that caused Capcom to offer some new cover art for a short while after the discovery was made.
Wii port differences
- Motion controls added for celestial brush and combat
- Paper filter effect removed from the screen
An HD port of Ōkami, developed by Hexa Drive, was released on the PlayStation Network on October 30th, 2012 for $20. It features a 1080p HD native resolution, PlayStation Move support, and trophies. Just like the Wii version, it does not have the rice paper filter found in the original PS2 release. Though there is an option to increase the filter to make it look like the original PS2 release. This means the HD version is most likely an up-res of the Wii version with the Wii remote controls being mimicked with the PlayStation Move. The developer has even stated that they used Ready At Dawn's work on the widescreenification of the Wii port to keep the game in 16:9. They have also stated that many effects and graphical blemishes have been removed or outright changed to help with the HD look and strongly imply that it is not just a simple port/up-resing.
There are 51 trophies: 42 bronze, 5 silver, 3 gold, and 1 platinum.
- According to Guinness Book of World Records 2010: Gamers Edition, Ōkami is the least commercially successful Game of the Year winner, selling under 600,000 copies by March 2009.
- Amaterasu is the name of a Japanese Godess.