Death Rattle Game:
Okami | 2006
Set in a water-colored era of wondrous Japanese mythology, players took control of an able white wolf embodied with the spirit of a goddess and a warrior. But more importantly, you fought enemies, solved elemental puzzles, and mended universal wrongs with the power of the Celestial Brush, a novel control scheme which involved aggressively painting strokes with the PS2's analog sticks.
Short story, shorter: Critics sang Okami's praises, we awarded it with the coveted "Too Beautiful to Live" award in 2007, you continued to ignore it, and The Gods of Mediocrity descended and took Clover Studios away from us.
An imaginatively independent developer that got better and better with each distinctive game, until it finally created what most consider a masterpiece in 2006? Of course they had to be stopped! With titles like Viewtiful Joe 2 and God Hand, Clover made games unlike any other, and it's a goddamned shame its crowning achievement had to go the Citizen Kane route and be completely unappreciated in its own time.
Due to lack of sales, Capcom Japan, opted to dissolve Clover rather then pour money into hyper-creative properties that sold like De Loreans powered on Coke II. Though, in a way Okami and Capcom didn’t kill Clover - you and your consumer indifference did. Jerk.
But… come April, you'll get a chance to redeem yourself by playing Okami on the system it was born to be played. The Celestial Brush has joined forces the Wii Remote. No stranger to handling the properties of others, Ready at Dawn (Daxter and God of War: Chains of Olympus developer) will bring an identical version of Clover's swan song to the extremely suitable Nintendo Wii.
Hope for Resurrection?
Not for "Clover Studios." But no sooner had it dissolved, than the founding members rose from the ashes to create SEEDS. Though titled less ambitiously, it’s safe to assume their commitment to originality will remain wonderfully in tact.