It’s kinda crazy to think that Okami is a game that’s over ten years old. That’s because it could release as a new title in today’s market and still find the same level of appreciation as it did back then. Part of that is due to the wondrous art style that Clover Studio put together for it, as it literally looks like a painting brought to life with extraordinary brush-strokes.
We reflected as such with our review of Okami HD last year, with the author noting that it “never gets boring. From the artistic adventures, the compelling story, and the littered twists and turns throughout the narrative - the world that Capcom has offered is one that has a lot more than meets the eye. From majestic underwater kingdoms, to rolling landscapes and quelling ponds - everything about Okami HD is satisfying, fulfilling, and will leave you thinking "What's next?" This pure-form nod to traditional Japanese culture is one that every gamer needs to experience at least once - and going back to it each time through the years has a distinct feeling of 'coming home'.”
And we’re happy to report that the Nintendo Switch version of the game, available now, still follows that same suit. While the game offers very little new from previous renditions, it perfectly recaptures the spirit of what made Okami so damn fun in the first place. And, yes, the Celestial Brush takes on a whole new meaning of life, due to the sheer precision of actually being able to draw with it instead of awkwardly handling it with an analog stick. In fact, that may be the big feature that fans appreciate the most.
The game puts you in control of the white wolf Amaterasu, on a mission to stop the dangerous Orochi from spreading darkness into the tranquil Japanese world where the game is set. Of course, how it’s done is anything but typical, as this creature casts a wondrous spell during each encounter they take part in.
What makes Okami HD stand out after all these years is its art style. And whether you play on the go or through your television, the Switch version holds up quite well here. While not as loaded in splendor as, say, the Xbox One or PS4 versions, there’s still something quite magical here. The game’s frame rate is smooth and it doesn’t lose any bit of its color or shadowing. And, let’s be fair, taking it on the go with you is one hell of a bonus, as you can enjoy it in the car and not lose an ounce of what made it so special.
What’s more, the gameplay has that level of balance you just don’t see that often anymore. Sure, there are puzzles to solve, which is where that Celestial Brush comes in (more on that in a second); but there’s also satisfying combat. Granted, you don’t bloody up your opponents until they’re no more; instead, it’s all about finishing them off and making the world more surprisingly beautiful as a result. It’s like good blossoming out from evil, and it’s a remarkable thing.
Now, let’s talk about those Brush sequences. At first, you may have to get used to the idea of drawing your finger on the screen to connect points, thus creating things that can be truly helpful over the course of your journey. But after a few seconds, you’ll wonder how the game managed to work so well without it. You can summon all sorts of cool abilities with this, even over the general course of your adventure, and it almost becomes second nature after just a few hours in. It’s nice to see that Capcom granted this wish for Nintendo Switch owners, even though it didn’t necessarily have to.
For those that prefer it, there’s also motion control support, similar in some ways to the Wii port of Okami that came out a while back. Although I prefer the traditional control setup of a Pro Controller (save for those sweet touch-screen moments), there’s something cool here for those that want to give it a go. To some, it may be more involving, but it’s nice to have it just be optional instead of a requirement.
While Okami HD for Nintendo Switch doesn’t offer any kind of bonuses outside of these new features, that’s fine by me. The core experience that Clover originally presented is completely intact; and the fact that Capcom could find any new bell and whistles at all that work so fundamentally well with the game is an added bonus. I’m just happy that yet another new audience can discover what the game is about, even if the download is a bit on the beefy side at around 9GB-plus. Hey, it’s worth it, especially when you discover (or, depending on your previous play-time with the game, re-discover) what kind of magic this game possesses. You shouldn’t let it pass you by.
With that, I can’t help but wonder what other classic Capcom could consider for the Switch. I’m still holding out hope that a Maximo compilation or Onimusha trilogy is being considered. Hey, we got Okami, so we know there’s a chance dreams can come true.
(Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.)