Genre: Role Playing Developer: Publisher: Classification: PG Release Date: 17th Mar 2011 Platforms:
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Okamiden is the sequel to the critically acclaimed, publicly ignored Okami, which hit the PS2 in 2007 and the Wii in 2008. Built for the Nintendo DS, Okamiden puts you in control of Chibiterasu - a white wolf pup and the son of the Japanese Sun Goddess Amaterasu - and sends you about Japan, defeating demons, helping people and making friends - similar to Okami, but with a few significant differences.
If you didn't played Okami on the PS2 or the Wii, you are missing out. As Amaterasu in the form of a white wolf, you travelled about a mythical version of Japan in an attempt to defeat Orochi - a powerful demon.
Okami drew inspiration from Zelda titles with its action-rpg gameplay mechanics, but added in the Celestial Brush - which gave Amaterasu powerful paint based abilities. Using the Celestial Brush you could paint a slash across an enemy to cut them in half, or paint back in the broken pieces of a villagerís equipment to fix it for them. Using paint fit wonderfully with the aesthetics of the game, with everything designed to look like a part of a traditional Japanese Sumi-e painting. It was an outstanding game - and unfairly ignored by most.
Like its predecessor, Okamiden bears similarities to the Zelda series - particularly the most recent variations on the DS. Both have a more lighthearted and childlike approach to the universe than their predecessors and both make good use of the touchscreen. Fortunately however, while Nintendoís Zelda titles used the touchscreen to control almost everything in the game, Okamiden assigns most of the basic movement and attack functions to the control pad, leaving the touchscreen for use of the Celestial Brush.
Yes like his mum, Chibiterasu can use the Celestial Brush - and it works even better on the DS than it did on the Wii - and much better than using the analogue stick on the PS2. At any point during the game, Chibiterasu can pull down a canvas detailing what is currently on screen - pausing the game - and use the touch screen to influence the environment.
The tactile feedback of the touchscreen gives your brush strokes a feeling of legitimacy which was much less apparent on the Wii and while the size of the DS might make it seem like things will get too busy, the minimalism of the Sumi-e style keeps the action clean even when things get a little hectic.
Chibiterasu doesnít have all of Amaterasuís abilities however - he is just a baby after all. While he can mend bridges and equipment and slash enemies, he doesnít have access to any of her more powerful attacks. Instead, he is assisted by the various friends he makes along the way.
Like Chibiterasu - who looks more like a white Shiba Inu puppy than a wolf puppy - almost everyone who helps him throughout his adventure is cute and young. Your first companion - Kuni - is the son of Susano from the first game and is a good fighter like his dad, although he lacks the booze inspired courage of Susano. Itís difficult not to smile as he flips between being scared and wanting to be brave to impress a little girl - until Chibiterasu yaps at him to get a move on.
Luckily, one of the earliest abilities you gain inspires courage in your companion and itís this technique which truly sets Okamiden apart from its predecessor. Bringing up the canvas, you can tap on your companion and draw a path for them to follow. Through this you gain access to areas you couldnít previously, because Chibiterasu lacks the abilities his companion has, or vice versa. It works very well and while other DS titles Iíve played with a similar control mechanic have pathing issues, I never had any issues with my companions getting stuck or bugging out in Okamiden.
Okamidenís only real fault is its difficulty - or more to the point, its lack of difficulty. Even on Old Hand - the harder of the two available difficulties - Okamiden lacks any real challenge once you have the basics down. While it seems likely Okamiden was built more for kids than an adult male such as myself, Capcom surely must have known fans of the original title would want to pick it up and a third, more intense difficulty would have been nice.
Still, while Okamiden might not provide a significant challenge, itís still a fantastic game, with an outstanding atmosphere. The combination of the touchscreen controls, clean and inspired art direction and cute characters makes it an excellent addition to any DS library.