What is it I'm not getting?

#1 Posted by Little_Socrates (5834 posts) -

I've just finished playing the first 2 hours and 15 minutes of Okami (or, rather, watching the first 15 minutes and then playing the first 2 hours) and I don't understand this game's hype. I came in expecting...not even something revolutionary, but something I liked better than Twilight Princess, and I'm just not there. Granted, Twilight Princess pretty much had the worst first hour of a game I've played in a long time, but after you got into a dungeon it got significantly better. 
I've just finished Hana Valley (I kind of assume that was the first dungeon, considering I just basically unlocked this game's equivalent of Hyrule Field) and I still don't see what the hubbub is all about. The combat is mediocre to the point of frustration; I understand that Zelda games don't really offer much in the way of combat either, but the combination of faster battles in Zelda (rather than the OBNOXIOUS drum-wielding enemies in Okami who refuse to take damage even when they're combo-locked) and the ability to run away from battles in Zelda make it tolerable. In this, you're locked into a tiny-little arena, which isn't even fun where you WANT to fight all the enemies, like in God of War. 
The puzzle solving has been absurdly easy, albeit some of that may come from the ridiculous level of handholding Issun is providing for me. For example, the Sacred Cherry Tree Shrine (at the end of Hana Valley) literally prompted the picture of the sun, the crystal and the tree roughly four times, two of them almost directly after each other. I can't honestly say there's been another puzzle yet, and at this rate, I'm not sure I want there to be one. 
The characters, each and every one of them, are spiritless and generic. Sorry if I watch enough anime to have seen the Fake Ultimate Hero before, but Susano is just old to me by now. Same goes for poor Issun, a Jiminy Cricket with a Berserk Button ("I AM NOT A BUG") who also happens to be a hopeless lecher/dirty old man, depending on his age, who got old in the first hour of the game. Silent protagonist Ammy is actually MORE differentiated than any other character in that she's at least disinterested with long speeches and will take naps while hearing the world's about to explode, which leads to a couple of funny moments where exposition is interrupted with a disturbed ellipse. Unfortunately, these moments are probably the most enjoyable I had with the game, as the rest was directed in a tone somehow more childish than that of The Wind Waker, which had the charm to carry it through. However, neither the large breasts and peach-butt of Sakuya nor the random, unfunny comments by Issun were enough to keep me invested in the characters. As for the story, it's serviceable, but, obviously, it's been done. These themes are based on ancient Japanese myth, which means they've largely wormed their way into every Japanese story since then, especially in the genre of video games. 
Lastly, of course, is the drawing mechanic. I've heard people complain that the game required a lot more precision on the Wii than was considered "fun." I'm playing on the PS2 version, and with the level of precision the game currently requires, I can't imagine how precise you'd have to be on the Wii if people consider this already silly level of precision "fun." In order to beat those stupid trees that toss "bad" fruit at you in Hana Valley, I had to draw nine or ten times to get it to register; unfortunately, in a fashion similar to Ryan's quicklook of MotionSports last week, I honestly couldn't tell you what I did differently when it did work from when it didn't. However, unlike Ryan's quicklook of MotionSports (where he was standing too far forward and the Kinect had a harder time seeing his arms on his body type,) Okami does not use motion controls, and therefore I do not think this is attributable to controller error. Considering how "precise" one felt they had to be on the Wii, I get the feeling that the game is only harder on that system because your hand is shakier than a joystick; I would guess that the same precision is required on the PS2 version, but is more attainable. (Basically, I felt that the drawing mechanics required more precision than they probably intended.) 
And, worst of all, even in the drawing mechanic, I don't understand what about the drawing makes this game fun! Seriously, even IF the mechanic worked, when you draw anything other than a straight line, it allows for SO much error that it really doesn't feel like you're drawing what you'd intended. For example, the drying pole in Kamiki Village that I drew for the old lady only ended up working once I drew something like an "S" shape. Maybe it was the angle I was at, but a straight line just wasn't getting the job done. I took no pride in having successfully drawn the pole, as a result. The game does not require artistry, but at the same time has no tactile responsiveness in the drawing. I don't feel like I'm using a paintbrush; I doubt I would even if I was playing the Wii version. 
While the artistic design of the game is really good, and the graphics are still pretty solid considering the game's original release date, I don't understand why one would praise ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT THIS GAME. Also, feel free to put spoilers into this thread; in trying to understand the hype, I've learned about a quarter of the plot (non-sequential, mostly just the major plot events) and so continuing this game will not be for its surprises, but rather in trying to understand what this game really has to offer and why my friend, who lent me the title, insisted I play it so badly.

#2 Edited by DeepSpaceJesus (96 posts) -

I've just finished reading the first three paragraphs of your post and I just wanted to say that I thought the combat in Okami was great. Maybe you're just doing something wrong? It's been a long time since I've played, but I think I remember every enemy having a certain trick to them. Like with the drummer things, you could get behind them as they pop out of the ground, which turns them gray, allowing you to take out almost all of their health with a single power slash or something like that.
oh and if you think that TP is a better game than Okami then there's gotta be something wrong with you in the head sorry

#3 Posted by nintendoeats (6138 posts) -

There is a bit of a build to the game, I found that I didn't really start to feel it until more of the mechanics and characters were introduced. Give it till the 5 hour mark, if it still hasn't grabbed you than it was probably not meant to be.
PArt of the appeal is just exploring the world, and that visual style is a big part of it. seeing the crazy things that they come up with in the dungeons is really great, and the mechanics are always being applied in new and interesting ways. It gets more Zelda-y later on (again, get to the 5 hour) and that's when things start to really pick up.

#4 Posted by ApolloDynamo (47 posts) -

Actually you can run from battles. If you played for maybe 5 minutes longer, the game would explain how. You strike the glowing orb on the wall and jump through.  
I really hate reviews from people who don't even play halfway through the game. You can tell they really don't know what they're talking about.

#5 Posted by Zippedbinders (1082 posts) -

So, you're giving a review of your first 2 hours of a 30+ hour game? Right.

#6 Posted by Icemael (6795 posts) -

It's a slow burn. Stick with it for a while longer.

Don't expect Zelda-esque dungeons filled with puzzles, though. The game is mostly about exploration, and almost all the enjoyment comes from the aesthetics. Mechanically, the boss fights are probably the best parts of the game, and even those aren't especially complicated or challenging.

#7 Posted by toastybob (5 posts) -

The game gets better. In particular, combat begins to make more sense.

#8 Posted by Captainlunchbox (547 posts) -

I find that the combat gets better once you upgrade Ammy's repertoire and brush techniques. I know thi spost is old, but if you've given up on the game, I was hoping to maybe sway you back into it. I myself am playing it for a second time currently, as I never finished up the post-game. I hope that isn't a spoiler, but as you go through the story, you'll recall plot threads which never really quite tie up at the end. This leads to another adventure in and of itself.

As for the characters, there are a lot of anime tropes in there. It's kept light-hearted, but I found it to be less about the characters themselves and more about the relationships between them. Watching the way they all contribute to the story and the adventure is where a lot of the fun came from for me.

The puzzles do get harder. They also become immensely satisfying as well. When you acquire more brush techniques and have to use the in concert, the game really shines. And speaking of puzzles, much like in LoZ, that's what the boss battles essentially are.

If you give it another go, I'm sure you'll find it to be much more enjoyable. PM with any questions or comments. I'm interest to see what's become of your play through.

#9 Posted by IAmNotBatman (688 posts) -

I never heard of this game until I saw it at a game rental store, on a whim I picked it up and MAN did I enjoy that game alot. Difficult to relate for me 'cos my experience differs so very much from yours.

#10 Edited by TobbRobb (5032 posts) -

@Little_Socrates: I think you misunderstand the size of the game... That is not your hyrule field, it's actually a very small part of the overarching map. And if you don't like the early characters, trust me you will find some later, because there are many, many more to come.

In risk of spoiling part of the game.

Orochi is not the last boss, that is less than a third through the game with that entire arch.


@Captainlunchbox: Necromancer!

#11 Posted by Redhotchilimist (378 posts) -

The puzzles never get anywhere near Zelda levels, but the combat certainly surpasses it eventually. It's the sort of game where presentation plays a really large part in differentiating it from the stuff you'd compare it to, the music and the art style being more important to the experience than usual. You better believe you are going to care more about the characters by the time the game ends(I couldn't help fell tears at a sequence during the final boss battle in particular), but it won't ever reach Zelda in terms of dungeons(there are very few, and the ones that have a boss have about five enemies other than him total in the dungeon). I liked it a whole bunch, but it drags quite often, minibosses repeat shamelessly and there is so much more dialogue than there ever needs to be, so you ought to make the call of whether to continue yourself. Wait, this was a six months old post? I just wasted ten minutes.

#12 Posted by StarvingGamer (9013 posts) -

@Little_Socrates: Now that this thread has been necro'd, I'd be interested to hear if you stuck with the game and if so, whether or not your opinions changed.

#13 Posted by Little_Socrates (5834 posts) -

@TobbRobb: @StarvingGamer: I stuck through the game, yes, back in February. The friend I mentioned in the first post continued to lie to me, leading me carrot-on-a-stick through the post-Orochi section of the game. With its ending, I finally saw something kind valuable; the "you just gotta believe" section was actually pretty effectively done, and few games make use of their message quite as effectively. I think every game that HAD a message in 2007, 2008, and 2011 seemed to execute their storytelling more effectively, but it's not fair to be reductive like that.

That said, I never warmed up to the gameplay, the characters, or the world. As a game and a narrative, I think Ōkami is supremely boring, and is something I'd wish on no human being. I found no characters I eventually ended up liking, which was a HUGE disappointment. The saddest thing is that I spent the last semester learning Japanese tale fiction, and every time I recognized a tale from Ōkami, I preferred the original tale tenfold. The puzzles, thankfully, got more difficult, but they never really got fun like puzzles from Majora's Mask or Wind Waker. I simply ended up walking away from Ōkami disappointed in the title, though at least I could finally say I kind of liked its thematic statement.

#14 Posted by TobbRobb (5032 posts) -

@Little_Socrates: I agree with you on almost every point, (though I enjoyed the atmosphere quite a lot throughout the game). Combat was simple and boring, puzzles were basically solved for you, and the game moved way to slow, especially in exposition. I ended up liking the game a fair bit, but that wasn't my point.

My other post was only because I felt you had misunderstood something, I'm not here to say the game is better than it is.

#15 Posted by BoG (5388 posts) -

Don't feel bad. I wanted to enjoy Okami so badly, but did not. I disliked the combat, too. It was just... bad. I hated how the game took you to a separate arena for battles. It seemed to break up the gameplay. Of course, my biggest gripe was how easy the game is. The little cricket is so intrusive! Let me figure things out, don't always tell me the answers. I agree with you about characters, too. They seem so lifeless and shallow. Everything about the game, though beautiful, just felt shallow. It's such a shame.

I still want to go back and try to enjoy the game, because I love the visuals. Sadly, I just couldn't get into it the irst time around.

#16 Posted by BisonHero (8326 posts) -

@Little_Socrates: The "you just gotta believe" section WAS pretty good, but I still think the ending of that game is horrendously weak.

There's all this buildup to Yami, who was commanding/giving power to each of the earlier big bosses you fought. You finally get into the Ark of whatever, and Yami turns out to be the Inanimate Carbon Rod of final bosses. Maybe it's a reference to some Japanese concept of what the ultimate evil looks like, but I was severely disappointed that Yami was this silent orb that could reconfigure itself, but was otherwise not interesting in any way. What is this, an NES game? No mentions of its plan, motives, origin, purpose, anything, aside from "I guess it just wanted to commit general evil, we better vanquish it".

For me, it was an incredibly unsatisfying end to the game.

#17 Posted by Little_Socrates (5834 posts) -

@BisonHero: It is not a reference to the incarnation of ultimate evil as far as I can tell. I agree that the final boss was a huge bummer. XP

#18 Posted by Make_Me_Mad (3213 posts) -

@BisonHero: Yami is less of a boss and more of just a big source of evil. He isn't giving them power so much as they take power from it, what with it being the concept and source of darkness. The bestiary gives the reasoning for his appearance, stating that it's not the sort of entity to be depicted as organic, animal, human, or anything else natural. Also, it's supposed to resemble the moon somewhat, being Amaterasu's counterpart.

Personally, I loved Okami to death. My only problem with the game was that the ending dragged on a bit- the boss rush on the Ark felt mostly unnecessary, especially given just how recent the previous battle with Orochi was. Aside from that, I adored the art style and graphics, and found plenty of characters that I, if not got attached to, was at least happy to see around. Combat was never that frustrating, and the puzzles, while simple, were still effective at making you use your variety of powers in different ways. Also, having played on the Wii, I rarely ran into problems getting a symbol drawn and registered correctly.

It's a shame to hear that you didn't like it so much, but I still think it's a great game, and it was especially a breath of fresh air after Twilight Princess, which is probably my least favorite Zelda game of all time.

#19 Posted by JackSukeru (6082 posts) -

It's not a game I would ever want to replay, or play a sequel of, and I remember some extremely boring parts. But for such a long game (It took me around 60 hours) I can still remember fairly many separate parts that I thought were really cool. My favorite of these were the first and second boss, both came as a conclusion to the current arc and really felt like "Final Bosses" when you fought them, the owls kinda fumbled that streak tough.

I really liked the ending, just going off to fight the final boss without Issun there felt weird, but the fact that Paper Mario 2 basically did the same thing kinda irks me a little bit.

Then again that game was also pretty awesome.

#20 Posted by BisonHero (8326 posts) -

@Make_Me_Mad said:

Combat was never that frustrating, and the puzzles, while simple, were still effective at making you use your variety of powers in different ways. Also, having played on the Wii, I rarely ran into problems getting a symbol drawn and registered correctly.

It's a shame to hear that you didn't like it so much, but I still think it's a great game, and it was especially a breath of fresh air after Twilight Princess, which is probably my least favorite Zelda game of all time.

Long post incoming, as this is the first chance I've had to discuss this game with someone.

I found the combat a little frustrating. Oddly enough, I would've really liked Issun to be more like Navi, and tell you things about the enemy mid-combat. If I recall correctly, each enemy is weak to a specific power, and if you use that one at the right time, you get an insta-kill and a Demon Fang for your efforts, right? I wish the bestiary kept track of what those weaknesses were once you discovered them, because it felt like a lot to memorize, and I ended up forgetting/not discovering a lot of the weaknesses. Maybe that makes me an imbecile who brute forced his way through the game with no finesse, but I do recall still getting the pink cherry blossom rating after most of my fights. Also I peed on guys a lot.

Like you, I played Okami on the Wii. What weapon did you use? I found I could only use the shield effectively. For some reason, I couldn't reliably get the motion controls to work with the beads or sword. Maybe like 25% of the time, it would not do the thing I wanted it to and I would end up getting hit or losing a combo or whatever. I think I spent maybe 45 minutes to an hour each with the beads and later the sword, until giving up and deciding to just stick with the simpler timing of the shield. I don't know if I was doing something wrong or they just take more time to get used to, but I feel like I gave them a fair shake and they just weren't responding the way I needed them to.

That being said, I, too, think Okami's a pretty good game. And I also found Twilight Princess thoroughly disappointing. I really enjoyed the way that some of the dungeons in Okami had interesting plot stuff happen while you were doing them, with the highlight being the ice dungeon near the end with the cool-ass owls; comparatively, Zelda always tries very hard to remove story context or any kind of subplots from the insides of dungeons, with rare exceptions like Jabu-Jabu's Belly. I also really liked just how big and alive the world felt in Okami, which also has more of an impact when you see the cutscene of you removing the corruption from each area; despite numerous delays of Twilight Princess, its world still felt very empty and unremarkable by comparison, so I wonder what they polished during that extra time.

The one other flaw in Okami that bothered me was that they went the RPG route in terms of your inventory, in the sense that you can buy 99 of an item. Sure, you do need to save up money sometimes, but it's not that hard to buy a zillion healing items, and then never die the entire game, as long as you remember to pause and heal. The toughest demon gate where you fight multiple bosses was just a matter of patience, as even that series of enemies isn't enough to seriously diminish your hoard of healing items. It's also super hard to ever die in recent Zelda games, but at least the number of bottles you have is reasonably finite.

#21 Posted by BisonHero (8326 posts) -

@RockmanBionics said:

I really liked the ending, just going off to fight the final boss without Issun there felt weird, but the fact that Paper Mario 2 basically did the same thing kinda irks me a little bit.

Then again that game was also pretty awesome.

I dunno, I'm pretty sure dozens of Japanese games have done the Okami/Paper Mario 2 ending where having all of the citizens believe in the player character really hard suddenly gives them the strength to beat the final boss. There is definitely a Giant Bomb concept page or TVTropes page for it.

Depending on the game, it's a Combined Energy Attack and/or a Clap Your Hands If You Believe.

Also, yes, Paper Mario is a supremely great series, except for the part where Super Paper Mario was very boring to play. I have high hopes for the upcoming 3DS game.

#22 Posted by Make_Me_Mad (3213 posts) -

@BisonHero: I do remember some frustration attempting to figure out the specific weaknesses of a lot of the enemies, and the timing to use them at. I was disappointed at how many times the correct answer was just "Power-Slash that guy in half". It was doubly annoying due to how many Demon Fangs you ended up needing for some of the items- that golden ink container seems downright vital, especially for the (awesome) Ninetails battle. Personal high point of the game was that fight, by the way. I seem to remember the bestiary giving some vague hints, especially with those wheel shaped enemies. It is too bad they didn't just flat out state it once you'd gotten it right, however.

As for weapons, I ended up with a pretty constant combo of using the Shield in the sub slot and the Beads as my main. The sword just came in a little too late, and moved a little too slowly for me to really ever get used to it, especially with the insane damage the beads could rack up with a decent combo string. The Shield was honestly the weapon I had the hardest time using, as the timing managed to elude me for the first few hours of the game, leading me to believe at first that the combat really was just kind of busted. Last time I'll make that mistake, as once I practiced a bit more I found it to be pretty decent. Still never looked back after acquiring the beads, however.

I was also a big fan of the world, but my enjoyment was always centered a little more around some the characters you run into, and some of the weird, funny twists on old folklore. That bit with Kaguya having an actual Bamboo rocket to head back to the moon, for instance, and the weird space-suit and bubble helmet she ran around in. Had a pretty good time seeing that quest through, even if it did involve one of those blasted digging minigames. One thing that stuck out at me, as far as dungeons with a lot of plot significance go, was the raid on Oni Island, which really felt like it could have been a stopping point to the game. The leadup, even, with the Dragon and the entire reveal with Rao and Himiko, was a pretty great and compelling setup. By the time I got to that boss room, I was itching for that rematch with Ninetails.

You had enough cash left over to buy healing items?! There was so much gold dust, and so many weapon upgrades... I ended up spending an hour or so in the capital city fishing just to afford some of that stuff. I made do with the healing items I found scattered around, so I was never too reassured by a full inventory. Combine that with those shrines where you have to donate cash to improve your brush powers, and I was a rather poverty-stricken deity for most of my run through the game.

And yeah, it's nice to talk to someone about Okami- hard pressed to find anyone who's played it in my area.

#23 Posted by BisonHero (8326 posts) -

@Make_Me_Mad said:

You had enough cash left over to buy healing items?! There was so much gold dust, and so many weapon upgrades... I ended up spending an hour or so in the capital city fishing just to afford some of that stuff. I made do with the healing items I found scattered around, so I was never too reassured by a full inventory. Combine that with those shrines where you have to donate cash to improve your brush powers, and I was a rather poverty-stricken deity for most of my run through the game.

I do remember being constantly tight on cash, and I think I also just made due with the healing items you find scattered in the world. By which I mean, I basically never even touched them except for that one really hard demon gate, wherein I used all of them. But I think afterwards, when I went "Hey, now I don't have a single healing item, I should go buy some", I went to the shop and realized it doesn't even cost that much money to buy 99 of the small healing item. I can't remember if I did or not, but it's possible. I'm wary of any game where you can just go buy 99 of a healing item, as it usually breaks the game unless the way in which you can use items is controlled very carefully.

You just reminded me that I didn't find either of the donation shrine-fountain-things until very late in the game, at which point I went "Ahhh, that's why there have been all these things that I couldn't cut/bomb for the entire damn game. That would also explain why I'm not completely broke." I figured there were upgrades for those powers, but assumed it would be a mandatory upgrade in a dungeon at some point. I did some exploring, but somehow never found either until doing a pre-final-boss sweep of the whole game, I think.

Also, the dodge move where you shake the nunchuk seemed almost useless, since the nunchuk didn't seem to be able to tell which way I was moving it, so Ammy seemed to dodge in a random direction each time. Things like that make me really wish they had mapped different things to the motion controls, or provided alternate control schemes.. As crazy as it sounds, I might've actually preferred it if "waggle Wii remote" made you jump, since then they could assign "attack" to the A button, and I would feel way more confident about properly timing combos in battle.

#24 Posted by Make_Me_Mad (3213 posts) -

@BisonHero: It's telling that I didn't even remember the dodge move until you mentioned it. I believe the unreliability of that move had a lot to do with my decision to use a shield in the sub weapon slot, because the guard was far more useful, and the counterattack turned quite a few enemy encounters from threatening to simple. And I agree on the healing item point- I just never thought to buy them, due mostly to all of the other things I had to spend my money on. Unless I sat around and ground cash for even longer, I just had to be conservative about the items I had on hand. It is a shame that so many powers were out of the way, however- the three attacks that allowed you to create elemental attacks from nothing should have been mandatory, I think, as they made the combat quite a bit more entertaining. That Thunderbolt hit like a truck, and the Inferno made getting demon fangs quite a bit easier.

#25 Edited by JackSukeru (6082 posts) -

@BisonHero: I haven't played the original but I loved The Thousand Year Door to death and Super Paper Mario was such a disappointment comparatively, like how all the new characters were just a bunch of shapes thrown together.

I also look forward to Paper Mario on the 3DS but I am a little worried I will have somehow grown out of whatever kind of story it will try to tell. I want to say that Paper Mario 2 was really well written, even better than all the other Mario RPG's, but it was so long ago that I played it that I'm really not sure if I could tell one way or the other.

Edit: Also, damn you for linking me to TV tropes! I have things I have to do y'know!

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