|Release: October 30, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Suggestive Themes, Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Fantasy Violence, Crude Humor, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
There are two types of HD remakes in the world: games that sell themselves on content and games that sell themselves on graphics and nostalgia. Okami HD comes from the latter category. This re-release doesn’t give you much more than the original game and trophy support. To some, that’s all that really matters, and those people will be more than content with the game’s HD facelift. Others will be happy simply popping in their old PS2 copy to play one of their favorites.
Essentially, if you’ve played Okami before, all you’ll be getting with this remake is a visual update. But that’s enough. If you haven’t played Okami before, what the heck is wrong with you?
Okami tells the story of Amaterasu, a powerful Japanese goddess traversing the world in the form of a wolf. It’s up to her to face off against the powerful Orochi, the seven-headed snake, and save the world from destruction. However, this simple quest to save the world from a demon beast becomes even more complicated as Amaterasu finds herself dealing with supernatural forces far beyond the power of Orochi. It’s up to her to save the Japanese-inspired world of Nihon along with a few unlikely heroes and allies along the way.
The key game mechanics of Okami HD revolve around the celestial brush, which you use to draw on the game screen in order to produce several magical effects. Drawing a slash across an enemy will cut it in half, drawing a circle in the sky will make the sun come up, drawing lines down the screen like raindrops will cause it to rain, and so on. Most of these abilities are used to solve numerous puzzles throughout the game. In fact, the whole game progresses in a very Zelda-like style, cutting off your progress to the next area of the map until you gain some ability that lets you move forward. Only a few of these abilities are useful in routine combat, except for bosses and special enemies that require certain brush skills to be used in order to reveal their weakness. You even eventually encounter enemies who have their own celestial brush skills and will use them to disrupt yours.
The rest of the game is your standard action adventure faire. You wander the overworld, killing enemies and upgrading your abilities as you progress from one area of the world to another. Rinse and repeat until you finally manage to confront the final boss and save the world.
It’s Okami’s Japanese aesthetic that sets it apart from all the rest. Each of its characters is loosely based on some aspect of Japanese Mythology. Its soundtrack includes remixes of traditional Japanese style music right down to the shamisen strings and the pan flute melodies. It’s just bursting with Japanese charm, and if you are in to that sort of thing, you’ll love it.
Okami has been released three times now, and it seems as if the game gets slightly better each time. It was first re-released on the Wii, gaining access to the Wii’s motion controls for its drawing based gameplay sections. This alone was enough to make it fly off the shelves and into the hands of gamers who missed its original PS2 release.
Okami HD tries to replicate that magic by adding PS Move support, but unfortunately Ammy is barking up the wrong tree on this one. The Move is both more sensitive and less responsive than the Wiimote, making drawing a bit of a hassle. One of the simplest abilities you have is the Power Slash, which cuts enemies in two by drawing a line through them. However, it’s quite difficult to actually get a line to come out straight with the Move controls. Remember, the game was designed with the PS2 controller in mind, and to get a line to come out straight using that interface, all you really had to do was hold down a direction. Since the code of the game doesn’t seem to have changed all that much, Okami HD loves to be a stickler about the tiny bumps and jitters you get when dragging the Move wand from left to right with your actual hand. Admittedly, the pattern recognition isn’t nearly as strict about other shapes you need to draw, but it still gets annoying at times. It’s far better to play the game in the way it was meant to be played in the first place, with a DualShock controller.
Cel-shaded games seem to benefit the most from HD remakes and Okami HD is no exception. The transition into HD has benefited it far more than most other games that have received the HD treatment. The ink and paper graphics, which mimic the traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e style, are now more vivid and lively than ever. The deep black lines that outline the scenery and character models easily smooth over any rough or jagged edges that you’d normally notice in an HD remake. Background textures are smoothed into the sky in ways that make them look much more natural; natural for a painting, that is.
There were times in the original Okami where gameplay would slow down, but these have been essentially completely removed from Okami HD. In addition, there were points where the models of the original Okami would become noticeably jagged. This generally happened whenever a large and complicated map was shown, with multiple polygons overlapping each other. This too has been totally removed from Okami HD. The whole game runs in a phenomenally smooth 1080p.