By Video_Game_King 11 Comments
Okami( Seriously, Capcom?) Seriously? Between this, the crap Dead Rising port, and Resident Evil 4's GameCube controls, I'm starting to think you guys hate the Wii and are trying to add fuel to fanboy fires. I really don't want to hear the tired "GameCube with a motion sensor" crap I've heard (and seen proven wrong before my own eyes) again and again; I want to see you guys make something original, exciting, something that only the Wii c.....wait, I forgot where I was going with this. I remember it somehow leading into a review of Okami, but I can't remember how. Oh, screw it, let's just review the damn thing.
Okami, as a lot of you know, is a Zelda-esque action adventure "based" on Japanese mythology. I put "based" in quotations because what major reviewers haven't told you is that it's more like a sequel to the original legend; the game begins with a brief on the legend of Orochi, then spends the rest of the time telling its own tale. I've no idea why reviewers left this out, since I find it to be a good idea. Why can't other cultures do this? Where's the sequel to Faust? Where's my Knights of the Round Table RPG? Why haven't game companies made a game based on Billy the Kid....or more games about cowboys, for that matter? Hell, making a sequel to any of these would mean you could do whatever you want with the original story, just like Okami did. For example, in the original legend, the hero-guy gets the Orochi piss-drunk before slashing his heads off. That part's in Okami, but what Capcom added was a part where you have to put the hero in a dress for some reason. I would assume it's to make him look pretty, but unfortunately (or perhaps, very fortunately) there's no mini-game where you shave off Nagi's beard and chest hair so that he actually looks like a girl.
Another example: there's this character Issun who, in Japanese folklore, was a small samurai kid who eventually married a princess; in Okami, he's still a samurai, but he has also become an artist obsessed with titties. He's so obsessed with titties, it seems to have rubbed off onto the female wolf you control. Oh, Issun, you won't shut up about those titties. Imagine Navi from Ocarina of Time, only instead of yelling, "Hey, wissen" a lot, he yells (aside from what's obvious at the time), "Hey, look at the hot rack on that priestess!" OK, I promise that this is the end of the titty jokes, mainly because I can now effortlessly transition into the Zelda aspect of the game, another thing every reviewer on Earth has prattled on about in their reviews of this game. (I guess I'm the first on the Moon to mention it.) Yes, Okami is very similar to Zelda in many ways, but it's a bit unfair to label it "Zelda with a paint brush", because Okami distinguishes itself from Zelda in various ways, one of them being stat progression.
In addition to upgrading your health with "sun fragments," you also upgrade your various stats with experience you collect on your journeys. How do you gain this praise? Not by slaying the dreaded Orochi (keep in mind that this is a land where their little girls scare deathbots), but by reviving plants and feeding bears. This would be a decent way of showing how Amaterasu brings prosperity to the land if Capcom just went with it, but they never unleashed the true potential of it. All you do is circle plants and feed animals, only getting into battles at the demon houses scattered throughout the land. The only time you actually feel like you're reviving Nippon is when you revive Guardian Saplings, watch the flowers spread across the land in jubilee, and then see everything inexplicably freeze up. If you'll allow me to go off on a tangent, I just want to say that the graphics are fantastic. It looks/feels like a Japanese epic told through woodcuts, and the cel-shaded graphics effectively highlight both the death brought about by Orochi and the life you restore to the moribund land. OK, back to the gameplay:
It's sort of a shame that Okami doesn't give you incentive to go into combat, because it's kinda decent. There are a variety of enemies to kill, each with their own unique strategies on how to kill them. You also have a plethora of weapons you can use in different ways (except the swords, which you'll never use because they're absolute crap), and a variety of brush techniques you can use against your enemies. That is, if you can get the damn things to work. And we come to the crippling flaw of Okami: the painting, or, more specifically, the motion controls. Every motion you do is so specific, that sometimes the game is confused as to what the hell you're doing. You'll try to make a tree bloom, only for winds to blow away any botanical dreams you've ever had; try drawing a lily pad on water, and you'll just get a circle of water because you didn't close your circle all the way; attempt to summon a burst of wind in the Dig-Dug-esque mini-games, and your partner will run right into a spikey block of time consumption. It doesn't help that the motion controls are extra finicky; for the most part, they're OK, but there are those times when the pointer sticks in place and you flail the controller about, destroying whatever masterpiece you were drawing at the time. Along with your television.
So with a control scheme that has the same level of precision as a drunk Bushwald shooting the face off a Fallout 3 mutant from a mile away, you'd think Capcom would make less scenarios that require precision or quickness, right? Well, not only are you wrong, but everything you think is wrong, everything you know is wrong, and everything you do is wrong. Stop tainting the world with your glaring incorrectness. The sad reality is that this game requires both through Quick Time Events. Every now and then, the local swordsman will try to kill things he has no business killing. Not wanting to make him look stupid, you must use your painting finesse to kill the beasts for him. You can see where this is going. You're rarely going to complete a QTE on your first try, and even if you do, there's about 4 more following the one you just completed. Oh, you failed one? Go back to the first one! Nya-ha-ha! Oh, and speaking of multiple attempts, the game has this weird way of forcing you into cutscenes: you watch a cutscene of you talking to somebody, go back to gameplay, and are then forced to talk to that person again to initiate another, very similar cutscene. You can try to leave the area, but either the other character or Issun will bitch at you about how you should listen to things they should have included in their previous speech.
This "cutscene, break, cutscene" trend only seems to happen in the second half of the game, the half where the story goes downhill. After you defeat Orochi the first time (you fight him twice later), the cast of regular characters shrinks down to about four, and of those four, weird things start happening to them. Why, Issun? Why, after being introduced as a wandering artist who wants to learn magic brush techniques, are you now bitching about how you never wanted to be an artist? Why is Waka a good guy now? Why did the woman I just meet get killed by a demon? It all climaxes with an ending that, without spoiling the experience, features a UFO. Keep in mind that Okami is set in feudal Japan circa 700 AD. Now you can see why I personally went to the Capcom headquarters and told everybody there to read their own damn mythology. Unfortunately, what they heard were vitriolic death threats, which explains why I'm typing this from within the walls of my local federal prison. While I'm in here, I've had time to contemplate on the true quality of Okami. Sure, the painting controls are a pile of crap and it can't decide on whether or not it actually wants combat, but hey, at least the story is epic and the graphics are superb. That's something, isn't it?
Plus there's the personal attachments I have to this game. First off, it took me a very long time to beat this game. I got it for Christmas of 08, and it seems that other games and appointments interfered with my Okami time. I'd give it the Longest Game I've Played Award, but I remember games like Seiken Densetus 3 and Fire Emblem 3 taking at least a year for me to beat, even if both of those were out of pure laziness. I'd give it the Longest Game I've Reviewed Here Award, but I have something else planned. No, instead, I'll give it the Susano Award for Severing Ties. You see, this is actually the last game listed back on my old GameSpot account's Now Playing list. I beat the other games long ago, but this one took the most time. And with it, I break my bonds...*slash!*.....Why isn't it severed? Damn it, Issun! I told you, PS2 CONTROLS!!!
- The story feels a lot like a lost piece of Japanese mythology....until the second half, where French birdmen fly UFOs into the heavens.
- The combat is decent, but Okami can't decide if it wants to slash demons or have tea parties with tigers.
- Ugh....who thought it'd be a good idea to add motion controls to the painting system?
As long we're on the subject of Japanese video games, I'm sure this video sums up many a person's experiences with JRPGs.
NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits ( Oh my, isn't this interesting?) This blog features two Wii games featuring female goddess protagonists from interesting ancient cultures. What an amazing coincidence *completely non-convincing wink*. Anyway, I downloaded this title mainly because it looked interesting, my Wii was advertising it upon turning it on, and I had a 1000 Wii points lying around after Mega Man 9. Oh, and this is a very recent game that has received very little coverage (from what I could glean), giving me a perfect opportunity to stretch my reviewer muscles.
However, rather than do that, I decided from the start that I'd begin this review by making the obvious comparison to Kid Icarus. Yes, it's like a modern iteration of Icarus, only minus the annoying boss labyrinths. You fly around in ancient Greece, shooting up baddies on your quest to save Icarus? Huh? Yes, instead of actually playing as Icarus, you play as Nyx, the night goddess and great contrast to the other game's protagonist up there. At some point before the start of the game, she decided Icarus was hot, even though he smells like dead bird and hasn't had a proper job in 18 years. The relationship is going swimmingly until Helios catches wind. He can't have Nyx dating a mortal human, oh no! It's against the rules. So, in an attempt to impress Nyx, he sets all of Greece on fire.
Unfortunately, it seems this somehow launched Icarus onto the sun. Now Nyx must travel through a battered Greece to find her beloved Icarus. At least the game says it's battered; the levels look less like a city that just got destroyed, and more like deliberately designed levels apparently set in the middle of the Gobi Desert. Unfortunately, this is where things started to fall apart for me: the graphics. Like Okami, a lot of the story is told through pictures that look like they actually came from that era, but unlike Okami, the lush, roaming fields have been replaced with bland ruins that are probably nowhere near anything Greek. Where are the dark ocean cliff sides, the vibrant void above the clouds, and all the other things that never appeared in Kid Icarus?
In all honesty, I should probably stop comparing NyxQuest to Kid Icarus; it does its own things to set it apart from the game Nintendo fanboys have a boner for, even if it doesn't fully utilize those things. By things, I mean "the power of the gods", which is weird, since you're playing as a god, made extra weird by the lack of her powers being used anywhere in the game at all. However, you do gain the powers of several other gods, like redirecting wind, shooting your enemies with bolts of lightning, and dragging blocks across deadly sand. Especially dragging blocks. Apparently, the people at Over the Top Games really loved the idea of sand surfing, since a large portion of the game seems to consist of many variations of it. Either that, or they couldn't come up with anything else with the tools at hand.
That's something I find weird about this game, as there's so much potential for creative level design that it never uses. I could imagine things like dragging a fireball as your light through the caves to Hades, summoning thunder on a nearby tree you could surf to a temple, and redirecting the winds to blow down a rock that could open a new path, but apparently, I was the only one who could imagine such scenarios. What NyxQuest does is pedestrian: block surfing, lowering platforms by shooting blocks from underneath them, transporting a fire to a torch, etc. I was very disappointed, as this game felt like it would be full of original ideas, but all my hopes were for naught. Hell, you can't even crush pots with stone blocks! Seriously? You couldn't think of that, obscure German game developers? That's the first thing everybody wants to do when they see fragile objects and things with which to destroy them!
Yet oddly enough, you can crush yourself with these huge blocks. Don't worry, though, because while this does kill you (only without crushing your guts), you get infinite lives. The only thing keeping you from breezing through the game on a stone surfboard is that you go back to a checkpoint when you die, but even that doesn't matter, because everything you collected/did before dying remains unchanged. So rather than forcing you to redo those trials from before, you can now glide through the room on the wings she never had to begin with. (Go check the Wiki page which I'm not linking, just to be safe.) It feels kinda cheap, mainly because the game is so short, and there isn't much to it. I finished NyxQuest in a day, and when I did finish the game, I found out there was only one boss battle the entire time. And it wasn't the final boss, because there is none. Again, what the hell, four people who made this game? You have an entire mythology of interesting creatures with boss fight potential, and all I get is a crappy Hydra? And after the initial boss fight, he becomes a regular enemy that reacts to lightning the same way any scenario wherein that one game will inevitably be mentioned? What is wrong with you, four German dudes!?
Seriously, you had what could have been a great game that nobody could replicate, but instead, you gave us a generic, 2 hour platformer with several grammar errors. Yea, this was your first game, but the least you could have done was spent a bit more time on it. You know, don't hire a dev team small enough to fit in a Sedan, put more objects into the levels, compose more than 20 minutes of music. These are all basic things you could have done to make the game better. However, I feel that I must give this game the Spent Condom Award for Wasted Potential and end this review...well, on that award, like I should have.
- So many godly powers and abilities with varied use...
- ...put to banal use, again and again and again.
- Oh, and the levels are desolate and orange, neither in a good way.