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Rating: 4/5It's only problem is being compared to the first
This review is from: Okamiden Nintendo DS Game
Pros: The stylus interface is used with great ease, far easier than on the Wii or PS2. It doesn't quite simulate the elegant strokes of a calligraphy brush. However, when you get to a point where you can pull off the brush techniques with a certain flare, it makes the game far, far more enjoyable. Unlike the first game, which was on the console, you don't have the benefit of an analog stick. The problem of only having 8 directions to move is solved simply by having the camera move with you, thus making you "curve" even if you're running "straight". This has the added benefit of letting you admire the scenery. Speaking of scenery, while the DS has limited the aesthetic of the gorgeous art of the first game, that doesn't stop Okamiden from occasionally showing off some truly inspired visuals, especially when blooming the life trees. Blooming a life tree is like a guitar solo in the first game, and that thought is alive and well in the sequel. Oh, also, the combat is pretty good, too.
Cons: As I mentioned, the DS has put certain limitations on Okamiden. The land just doesn't feel as expansive as the first, something largely due to each region being broken up into separate areas, each requiring a short load. The dungeons have the same problem, and while they fit a fair amount of stuff on the DS screen for each room, most of the environments still have a sort of claustrophobic feel. Credit where it's due, the developers did their level best with the hardware, and the claustrophobia is only apparent if you've played the first game. The puzzles aren't anything special, mostly glorified item-fetching and using the brush skills to get you and your partner from one side of a room to the other. I wouldn't say they're boring, but they can get tedious after the third dungeon. Again, this goes back to the limitations of the hardware, since it takes big screens and big hardware to make big, impressive puzzles and obstacles.
Other Thoughts: The difficulty in combat and puzzle-solving is steady as you progress, though there seems to be a bit of a spike near the end, largely due to Chibiterasu's slightly limited mobility. Jumping or dodging away from attacks isn't always effective if combat becomes hectic. Finally, there's an issue of the content itself. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, there isn't nearly as much side-questing, collectibles, and new game+ material as the first game. On the other hand, it isn't too common for games to have new game+ modes and materials, so that Okamiden has this stuff at all is a plus.
I think the bottom line here is that Okamiden is a worthy successor to the somewhat hidden gem that is Okami. It's a smaller package, but it's presented very well so the story still feels expansive (when you don't decide to skip all the looooooong boring talky bits) and you get the all-important feeling and message that your actions are actively making the world a better place as you progress.
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