Okami dazzled the gaming world when it made its debut in 2006 for the PlayStation 2. The stunning sumi art style gave a traditional twist to the game’s rich setting. Quirky characters and snappy dialogue made for a clever cast pulled right out of Japanese myths. And with the innovation of using a paintbrush to perform special techniques, the gameplay was refreshingly new and entertaining. Those who played it, loved it. And everyone agreed that this game had the potential make the most of the Wii’s technology. Capcom listened, and then it delivered: Okami was released for the Wii in April 2008. Loving the original game and owning a Wii, I had to check it out for myself.
Three days after I bought the game, I traded it in for Mario Kart. I was appalled at how badly the game had been abused when it was transferred to the Wii. I was equally angered by how a game with so much Wii-potential could turn off new players as well as people who loved the original game. Where did Ready At Dawn go wrong?
Whether it was an executive decision or a technical glitch, the graphics have been tweaked. The crisp, delicate coloring that made the PS2 game so lovely was saturated and smudged on the Wii. In addition to its art being fouled up, the game also takes longer to load, and the running Ammy sprite’s movements were stilted. Ready At Dawn also did away with the load screen that allowed button-mashing gamers to earn extra items.
All of this could be forgiven, however, because the great storyline and colorful cast of characters make up for it. It was the absolutely horrendous way in which Ready At Dawn dealt with the fighting system that made me throw in the towel. I’d heard that the Wiimote needed precise and specific movements in order to register as a painting technique. What I didn’t expect was that it wouldn’t pick up any of the movements I made. Ammy would attack only once every 20 seconds or so, despite my rigorous shaking of the Wiimote and effusive cursing at the television. If Ready At Dawn’s goal was to make the rather easy fighting of the PS2 game a bit more challenging, I’d say they went above and beyond gamers’ expectations. By making it impossible to register attack movements and unlikely that any of your hasty drawings would actually register as recognizable techniques, they made the innovative gameplay infuriatingly inaccurate. In short, they turned an amazing masterpiece into a god-forsaken disaster.
Still, if you’ve only got a Wii and you’re willing to overlook the flaws Ready At Dawn introduced, Okami itself is a great game. If an Okami 2 comes out as a Wii exclusive, I will grit my teeth, buy it, and slash my way through the sequel. But if you have a PS2, do yourself a favor and buy it used for its original platform. While I appreciate Ready At Dawn’s efforts to introduce the game to a new audience and to try something new, they should leave playing god to crazy scientists and other gaming companies.