Pin It
Favorite

The Player 

by Marty Demarest & r & & r & Okami & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he PlayStation 2 is almost dead. A few weeks from now, an entirely new PlayStation will sweep through stores, leaving a line of new games in its wake. Among them will no doubt be the seeds of a new videogame generation's worth of clich & eacute;s. Meanwhile, the games that are coming in at the end of the PS2's lifespan are doing a comprehensive job of using every clich & eacute; from that system before they become obsolete.





Okami is drawn in the cel-shaded look that developed early on the PS2. Instead of the roundly shaded forms of traditional 3D animation, cel-shading flattens the shapes of characters and objects, keeping them 3D while making them look like moving cartoons. It's a striking effect, blunted only by its incessant overuse during the past five years.





Clover Studio, the game designers responsible for Okami, had already perfected cel-shading when they made the better-than-the-first sequel Viewtiful Joe 2 -- a cartoony martial arts action game. The 'toony look persists, but in Okami, Clover chose to use cel-shading to create the effect of a moving scroll painting.





The backgrounds have the drenched, dripping look of Japanese art, as though sumi-e and ukiyo-e were brought together digitally. The landscapes of a mythical medieval "Nippon" wander with the same expansive grace that I've explored in dozens of PS2 adventure games. But in Okami, the path is fringed with black brushstrokes. Dark whorls smear across the sky like drops of ink dissipating in water.





In this starkly striking paper-and-ink landscape, I am a god in the form of a dog. The landscape has been polluted, and it's my job (through combat and calligraphy) to save the environment. There is the usual run of physics-based puzzles (jump carefully across the tops of giant mushrooms, roll a ball down a hallway), but they are enhanced by a philosophical sort of conundrum.





"Someone is missing something that isn't there," Okami tells me. And so I learn to create things with my calligraphy brush. Like a god with his finger on a divine pause button, I can stop the action and transform the screen into a piece of paper, with my inked brush poised above the page. A line drawn through an enemy and they are cut in two. A circle in the sky and the sun appears. And a circle with a little fuse ... That's a trick I learned from the god of explosions.





THE GOOD: Okami learned its tricks from solid games such as Wind Waker and Kingdom Hearts. But instead of formulaic lockstep, Clover Studio animated Okami with a style inspired as much by Shinto mythology as it is by other videogames.





THE BAD: A game that flaunts visuals as much as Okami is bound to push the boundaries of the declining PlayStation 2. Graphical shudders occasionally mar the flow of the game's animation, particularly when a cherry tree is blossoming on a blank page. And the bane of many PS2 games -- being able to record my progress only in special locations scattered across the game's vast gameworld -- is in full, irritating force here.





THE BOTTOM LINE: One of the PlayStation 2's most stylish combat games, Okami draws -- perfectly -- on every PS2 clich & eacute; in order to save the world, again.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • OK, Hold Your Nose
  • OK, Hold Your Nose

    Everything you need to know before Election Day
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Base of Support
  • Base of Support

    Polling local leaders and opinion-makers about presidential politics
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • The Messenger
  • The Messenger

    Local leaders weigh in on how Donald Trump's campaign has impacted racism in America
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion

Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion @ Mobius Science Center

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Murrow's Nightmare

    Debate moderators need to be much more than an onstage prop to make our democracy work
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


trail mix


Briefs


green zone


marijuana


Readers also liked…

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation