Okami review

Do disappointing controls mar the best game you've never played?

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The biggest draw to Okami is its Celestial Brush, used in everything from solving puzzles to tackling the enormous bosses that lurk inside various temples across the land. Sometimes you literally have to draw a new bridge or slash away a rock that’s blocking your path - you'll be able to control water, wind and fire too, as Amaterasu's godlike divinity is slowly restored.

Of course a virtual paint brush was destined for the Wii and Okami enables you to channel your inner Bob Ross. By holding the B button, the screen becomes faded parchment and you’re able to paint weak lines with the A button and thicker lines with Z, but the brush isn’t always precise. We were hung up on the simpler brush techniques like getting a tree to blossom or slashing through an enemy. Also, we never had to use the weaker lines on the PS2. So why is that option mapped so readily to the A button? Holding B on your right hand and Z with your left, while making deliberate, precise motions with the Wiimote feels slow and at times, unstable.

Not all fights can be solved with magic ink, though. The close combat weapons range from beads to oversized swords, but most fights were usually the button-mashing fare on PS2. This is not the case on Wii. Rather than simply assigning the attack button to A and calling it a day, each attack is registered by swiping the Wiimote. However, instead of repeatedly shaking the Wiimote for simple slashing combos like in Twilight Princess, control is on a 1:1 ratio now. This means that you’ll shake the Wiimote slowly once and then wait for your attack to register, and then shake the Wiimote again for your second attack in the combo. Combat now feels awkward and is not the fast-paced slashfest we were used to on the PS2.

Not that combat is the focus here, but after the first few hours or so, you'll start avoiding enemies just to keep running through the lush open fields. Boss battles, on the other hand, are long and involve all your Brush skills - too bad there are only a handful of these fights. And from time to time, it's not quite clear where you need to head next, leading to a lot of meandering around. Exploration is part of the genre, but a few more clues wouldn't hurt.

More info

DescriptionAn engrossing adventure every bit as good as the best Zelda games. Its visual style, gameplay and humor make it an absolute must-have.
US censor rating"Teen","Teen"
UK censor rating"Rating Pending","Rating Pending"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)