|Release: March 15, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
by Lindsey Weedston
The Wii's Okami was often compared to the Legend of Zelda games, and the comparison was apt. Okami was like if Twilight Princess has been Japan-ified to the fullest extent—complete with Japanese lore, a bizarre sense of humor, and a very small character who is obsessed with certain parts of a woman. You played the game as a white wolf named Amaterasu who must save the world from an evil force using the power of calligraphy. Your paint brush was the Wiimote, and you can imagine the frustrations that resulted from that mechanic. Despite difficulties with accuracy and sensor bars, the game was nearly as fun as any Zelda game and was considered by many to be one of the best games of 2006.
The protagonist of Okamiden is the son of the white wolf from Okami—a little white pup called Chibiterasu (also known as "Chibi"). Instead of traveling with the tiny Celestial Envoy Issun, Chibi carries a number of different characters on his back—including the son of the hapless hero Susano from Okami. Chibi learns his brush techniques from the children of the Celestial Brush Gods that appeared in the original game.
All in all, Okamiden is to Okami as Chibiterasu is to Amaterasu—smaller and cuter, but essentially exactly the same. In a way, this is a good thing. Okamiden is a very good game with good writing and excellent gameplay. It's one of those games that is very hard to put down, because it's fun just to run around and accomplish nothing. However, the fact is that Okamiden is almost the exact same game with a different story. You go to the same areas, solve many similar problems, learn the same brush techniques, and fight the same baddies. Some of these things are slightly altered, like the designs of the baddies, but some of the recycling is shameless. Remember the old lady who lost her laundry pole in Okami? She lost it again. How do you lose a laundry pole twice in nine months?
The fact is that Okamiden is still a very good game, but recycling bothers me. It sends the message that the developers are more interested in money than being creative, and if gamers don't call them on it, then we can expect a lot more of the same. Give us some credit. No one wants to buy the same game twice.
On the bright side, at least Capcom recycled the game's quality as well. It's easily one of my favorite DS games of all time, right up there with Phantom Hourglass. Okamiden has the same smooth movement and satisfying combat found in Okami. The only thing that's considerably different is using the Celestial Brush, since the Wiimote has been replaced by the stylus. While using the stylus is a lot more accurate than the slightly schizophrenic Wiimote, it's also a lot less fun. As frustrating as the brush techniques could be in Okami, it was still fun to actually slash at enemies with the Wiimote rather than just drawing on them. Plus, having to grab the stylus every time you wanted to draw didn't exactly contribute to the game's flow. It also added to another one of Okami's flaws: the difficulty level. Okami was already too easy. I only died once while playing Okamiden, and that was due to extreme negligence on my part.
Another aspect of the game that's different is the dungeons, which is one of the most important parts of a Zelda-like action-adventure game. Though many of the puzzles are similar to those found in Okami, a lot of them revolve around the one new brush technique found in Okamiden. Since Chibi has partners that are big enough to be of some use, he is given the ability to guide them—that is, draw paths that his partners follow. You can guide them onto switches or to treasure chests that are unreachable by Chibi. Though this technique is technically new (at least to this franchise), it's not all that creative or entertaining, and none of the puzzles involved are at all difficult. The only challenge came from the random hazards, like floating scissors that would fly around and smack my partners every few seconds, which apparently made them forget what they were doing so that I had to redraw the path ten times before they finally made it. More irritating than fun, the game doesn't get extra points for that one.