GeekFactor announces a new column about video games by Joseph Kollander. Check back for game and character discussions and more in-depth geekdom.
– a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.
– something done or presented in order to evoke feelings of nostalgia.
Back in 2006 Capcom published a beautiful game from the developers of the now defunct Clover Studios. That game was Okami.
Okami is a masterpiece of a game. Its distinct style draws from traditional Japanese art, religion, and legends, remaking them into a lovely tale of a wolf and her sprite. They journey through the land of Nippon, reinvigorating the many guardian trees, lifting curses and striking down evil wherever it dared to lay claim on the land.
From its ink wash (sumi-e) art style to its classical Japanese score to its lovable characters from Japanese legends, it’s truly something to behold. It makes me yearn for the wondrous days of the Playstation 2, where many AAA games had their own unique art style and didn’t rely on “realistic graphics” to help convey the visual aspects of the story. Okami SHOULD have been more than critically acclaimed—it should have become a phenomenon, rivaling Nintendo’s beloved Zelda and Mario series.
So why didn’t it?
Commercially, Okami suffered from poor marketing. What I’ve gleaned from those around me can be summarized as follows: “Okami wasn’t really in the public consciousness. I only heard about it through a friend who had only known about it from a friend…”
…Which is a downright shame. It has all the best traits of more popular games (like the exploration aspects found in Zelda or the silly character personalities found in a Banjo-Kazooie game) while at the same time adhering to its own style and original story. So many people would have loved it—if only they had known of its existence.
How do we get it into the public consciousness? How do we capitalize on the massive amounts of potential this franchise already has?
I think a proper reboot would be a great idea—one they could market like crazy. If not a reboot, then at least a sequel.
But you may ask, “What about Okamiden?”
Yes, Okamiden was released as a direct sequel to Okami. I have it sitting on my desk right now and I’ll be reevaluating my thoughts on it after I spend the next few days tearing through it.
But my initial impression is this: It’s not a proper sequel. It’s more like a teeny tiny addition to the original story.
While we are playing in the same setting as the first game, we aren’t journeying through it as Amaterasu and Issun; we’re playing as Chibiterasu (her son) and whichever partner Chibiterasu decides to cart around (basically cleaning house after Amaterasu did all the heavy lifting in the first game).
Okami was filled with tasks like exploring the world, earning praise from the residents of Nippon, and helping the landscape to bloom and recover. It’s massive in scale. In the original game, you play as a full-on Japanese deity—not the completely made-up child of said deity.
By comparison, Okamiden is… chibi. I’m chibi, you’re chibi, everything is chibi.
And when you transition from something so big and beautiful to a chibi version, you lose something.
So no, I don’t think Okamiden is a fitting sequel to such a beautiful game.
My first playthrough of Okami took nearly 40 hours to complete (40 well-spent hours of my life, I assure you), and that was with me just tearing through the main story line. I didn’t even stop to do the many side quests (rest assured that I plan to keep exploring. On my next playthrough, I’ll probably even use one of the nifty trinkets that let me play as a Shiba Inu instead of a wolf!).
Now tell me, have I piqued your interest? If so, I recommend going out and finding yourself a copy of Okami for the Wii (which can then be played on the Wii U) or picking up an HD copy on the Playstation Network for the PS3.
Already have it? Let me know what some of your favorite moments were down below!
Think it should remain in obscurity? (If so, I ask this next bit with the utmost sincerity:) Why?