The Joy of Painting

Apologies to any Bob Ross fans who stumble across this accidentally, there was simply no other appropriate title.

I finished Okami last night.  Since I recieved it for Christmas 2006, that means that I had put off playing it for just about two years.  That might not be an altogether bad thing, because I don’t know if I would have been able to play through it two years ago.  While the fights were never terribly difficult, some of the platforming required towards the end was… well, I wound up falling down bottomless pits a lot, and even though the game was always rather nice about putting me back on the last ledge I’d fallen off of, it took a lot of tries to make it through some areas.

Looking back at reviews from the time of its release, Okami got billed as the PS2’s “Last Big Game!”, which is rather ironic considering how well the system has held on in the intervening two years.  I think Persona 4 is the PS2’s CURRENT “Last Big Game!” and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a few more “Last Big Game!” releases before the system finally does shuffle off into obscurity.

Anyway, back to the game.

I was worried about two things when I started Okami – first, that it was reputedly a tremendously long game, and second that I wouldn’t be able to pull off the whole painting-mechanic gameplay.

It didn’t turn out to be as long as I’d heard.  Admittedly, I skipped a bunch of side quests, but it took a little less than 44 hours to complete.  That’s still a pretty epic game, by my standards, and I have confidence that if I’d really gotten into the collecting-and-completing aspect of the game I could have easily spent 80 hours at it.

The painting turned out to be a little tricky, more so as the game progressed and I got access to more brush strokes, but it never really justified my initial apprehension.

There were a lot of occasions where I wanted to do a brush technique involving drawing a circle, and the game thought I wanted a loop-the-loop instead, which resulted in triggering a completely different power, but – in its defense – I never found a single situation where accidental misuse of an ability resulted in anything negative happening.  If I drew the wrong stroke, I just didn’t get the intended effect.  This is a neat trick; it means that the player CAN fail at something, but it means that failure just means “try again”.

Okami ended well.  The last few Big Fights were of suitably impressive scale and nastiness, without ever being too overwhelming, the story threw a couple of unexpected – but entirely logical – twists at me before wrapping up, and while actually coming to an end, it left a little room for a sequel.  Of course, Clover is dead and we’ll never see a sequel, so it’s a good thing that they only left a little room for a sequel and didn’t dwell on it all that much.

This was the last of the Games-Are-Art-Really titles I had to play, so I have no clue how I’m going to follow it up.  I’ll think of something. 🙂

Oh, and Merry Christmas, by the way.

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