Check this baby out. Got it in the post this morning from YesAsia. Thankfully I didn’t order from Lik-Sang…
I haven’t had a chance to listen to most of it since it’s five discs, 218 tracks, and over five and a half hours long. I think that I actually have albums that are quicker to listen to straight through than it’s been to import this thing into iTunes.
The music while playing the game has been very good, obviously with strong traditional Japanese influences and more modern elements for good measure. If you like that kind of music I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. In any case how can you say no when it’s this purdy? Anything less wouldn’t do the beauty of the game justice, I suppose.
Now that I’ve finished MGS3 (reviewed here), finally managing to enjoy it, I’ve switched focus to Okami. As I’m sure you’re aware by now it’s to be one of the last titles to emerge from the brilliant-but-moribund Clover Studio, but, sad as it is, that’s not what I want to talk about.
Okami lets you play as a wolf. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess lets you play in the form of a wolf. Coincidence? More than likely, but I’m really noticing the similarities between this game and Zelda. I expected something more like a straight-up action game and, I suppose, if you’re going to make more of an open-ended adventure like Clover has, Zelda is the obvious template to borrow from. What has surprised me is how I’m finding myself enjoying it more than any recent Zelda.
Maybe it’s just the tremendous amount of personality that the stunning visuals give it, or maybe that in eight years Zelda arguably hasn’t matched the sheer quality of its first 3D outing. It might even be that the trend of giving Link a magical instrument with which to manipulate the world (ocarina, masks, rod, baton, talking hat, etc) is echoed and superseded in Amaterasu’s infinitely more versatile paintbrush. Whatever it is, Ammy is certainly an able rival to Link. And she, too, has an annoying sprite for a sidekick.
Whether it actually manages to top Zelda at its own game or not, Okami deserves your money. Sales haven’t met expectations, so make it a big seller and show Capcom the error of its ways. RIP Clover.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve actually got my copy of Okami here. The last time I saw this game in anything more than video form was back at TGS 2005 and I’ve been enchanted by it since then, counting down the days until an English-language version. No thanks to SCEE and their February 2007 shite. Imports FTW.
I think most people would by lying if they said that it was anything other than the truly spectacular art in this game that attracted them to it, because it really is beautiful. Like Shadow of the Colossus it maybe pushes the PS2 a bit too far: whizzy particle effects, flying cherry blossoms, and animated cel-shading are all well and good but for all its beauty, it can chug sometimes. Did I mention that the art style looks great, though? It really negates any technical issues for me.
Of course gameplay is more important than graphics and all that guff, so how does Okami play? Pretty well, actually. Probably not as suitably godly as the visuals (more like slightly saintly – say that ten times fast) but it does some unique stuff and complements the handpainted visuals with paint-based gameplay. Enemies are finished off by painting a slash through them, raging rivers are bridged by painting a bridge between the banks, night is turned to day by painting a sun in the sky, etc. Fits the whole art motif perfectly. Did I mention it looks reeeally nice?
This is definitely one of those games that always seems to come along in the last days of a console and becomes one of the defining titles. It’ll be interested to see how well the somewhat rudimentary combat holds up throughout the apparent 30-hour length, but regardless this is one game where I actually think that it’s worth buying for the graphics alone. I feel dirty for saying that but it’s true.
Who can say no to some classic Street Fighter? The number of people lathered into a murderous frenzy waiting for Street Fighter II on the Xbox Live Arcade suggests that the answer is “not many”, so logically nobody could resist this – not one, not two, but five classic Street Fighters all for £20. I love this compilation.
It’s not perfect – there’s no moves list in either the game itself or the manual (rumours abound that it’s a cynical ploy to sell more guides, but all it’ll do is increase traffic to GameFAQs) which makes mastering five whole fighting games incredibly difficult, and unless you have another means of control the PS2 D-pad will cause blisters. Seriously, less than an hour with that controller had me going and buying a Hori stick to alleviate the pain I was in. Quarter-circles on a D-pad can be nasty as it is, but when said D-pad is essentially four separate buttons with a gap to bridge between them it goes up there with the iron maiden.
Despite these annoying features, not that a crap controller is Capcom’s fault, they redeem themselves by not only giving the PAL version a 60Hz option (take that, SNK!) but also throwing in 480p. Very nice to have for a game this fast, coupled with an optional anti-aliasing filter to get them looking as good as possible on shiny new displays. There are also tons of secrets, ranging from pretty much every revision of the games through a dipswitch editor and new fighting styles (“-isms”, although disappointingly still no “j-ism”) for SFA3, even as far as a version of SFA3 Upper, the recent PSP port. The conversions seem great, as well.
Some of the games are stronger than others – SFA2 Gold and SFA3 are two of the best fighting games ever made, SFA2 is superb, SFA is great but dated, and I didn’t think much of Pocket Fighter which was nothing but an obstacle to getting all the unlockables. Still, this is the first time since Mario All-Stars that I’ve been moved to buy a retro compilation and it really is outstanding value. I heartily recommend it.
Speaking of sequels that don’t play it safe, here’s another one, although the Resident Evil name on the box obviously helps one to achieve financial success. Even so, the risk with making such big changes to such an established formula can’t be overestimated.
As revolutionary as Resident Evil was, the gameplay has dated fast in this world where action shooters and 3D environments rule. Some fundamental changes later – the new perspective, the death (again) of the trademark zombies, a whole new threat that isn’t Umbrella – and they have this, the latest RE game that makes a huge deviation from the established formula whilst still leaving some of the hallmarks that make this unmistakably Resident Evil and the best GameCube game in a long time.
The precision gunplay, creepy atmosphere (helped by some of the most impressive visuals of this generation), and excellent pacing make this an all-time classic and a clear choice for one of the best of the year. It was tough to relegate to second, believe me.