Monday, May 12th 2008

Capcom’s Guide to Pissing On A Franchise
posted @ 3:33 am in [ Games ]

I just put a game away in disgust, and I wasn’t expecting to do that with this game.

We had Okami for the Wii sent to us from Gamefly, and my busy schedule has been keeping my hot little hands from playing it for the past couple of weeks. Little did I know I’d give up on it before the tutorial section was finished.

As with the first Okami, the graphics are splendid, and the story is a charming blend of Japanese legend and mysticism. You play Amaterasu, wolf god, master of the brush. The idea is you paint on the screen to mend, break, etc. I thought the Wii’s game controls would make this much easier than with the PS2.

I am sad and disappointed. I was wrong.

Unfortunately the game designers thought that because of the Wii’s game controls, they would be able to add an element of precision – or, more to the point, demand precision from the player. I had an inkling I was in trouble when at one point in the tutorial, Amaterasu fell asleep as I tried to draw a perfectly straight horizontal line through a gate that had locked me in a room.

The final stopping point came at a point in the game when Amaterasu needs to “help” a “mighty” warrior train by slashing lines through two training dummies and a boulder. And by “mighty” warrior I mean “needs a sun god to fetch a crock of sake so he can get wasted enough to finish menial tasks.” This sounds easy until you realize that each of these items that need slashing is kind of a realtime event, and if you don’t hit the brush button fast enough, you won’t catch the outline of where you need to stroke. If you do not brush over the stroke perfectly, and I do mean with absolute precision, you are sent back to the beginning of the meaningless exercise whereupon you are treated to the same three lines of non-skippable dialog and take forever to complete because they are tediously spelled out in Okami fashion.

By the tenth time around I decided it was better to shelve the game for later (read: when Sam is awake and I can exclaim “can you believe this shit?”)

I’m not exactly sure where in Capcom’s game testing they decided that demanding precision out of this was a good idea. Drawing a straight line with a pencil on a piece of paper is already difficult, but when you switch that dynamic to where you’re waving around a stick in the air, it becomes impossible. Having to try the same tedious motion over and over again sucked the fun out of what was a very nice game.

I can’t quite express how horribly disappointed I am. I was very much looking forward to playing this game, and to see something so elegant and different botched up so badly leaves me quite speechless.

I can only hope that this is Capcom’s first try with porting Okami to the Wii, and that they sometime in the future release another version that isn’t quite as trying on my nerves.

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