Saturday, August 6, 2011

Okamiden, Day 19

The dog has got more fun out of Man than Man has got out of the dog, for the clearly demonstrable reason that Man is the more laughable of the two animals.
James Thurber 

The ending of Okamiden is all right; it's a bit of a let down after such an amazing game. I felt like it was trying too hard to set up Okami 3. Still, it's not too bad. 

Spoilers follow. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Okamiden Diary, Day 18

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting/ On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door
Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven

It took me a little longer to get to the boss fight with Akuro than I thought. First I had to rescue my colleagues, fight some lesser bosses and get some revelations. Now, I have to figure out how to defeat this guy. (I'm probably missing out on one of the ways to use the celestial brushes.)

I'll post my thoughts tomorrow.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Okamiden Diary Day 17

Little darling of mine, I can't for the life of me remember a sadder day
"Mother and Child Reunion," Paul Simon
I'm about 23 or 24 hours of play in, and I think I'm nearing the end, though I may be mistaken. (Also, I'm not really playing 80 or 90 minutes a day; I got large chunks in on the weekend, but smaller bits during the weekdays, and it averages out.)

A lot of really exciting stuff happened in today's play, but it was preceded by something less exciting but emotionally satisfying. I came into a room, and a demon sicced a  monster on me. It wasn't quite a boss battle, but it was tougher than most creatures. Anyway, once I finished, the demon thanked me, saying that the monster had been a pain in its side, and it was glad it was dead. That was a pleasant little twist. Yesterday, I said I didn't like boss battles for the sake of boss battles, but the demon's reaction turned a random fight into a memorable encounter.

Anyway, a ton of stuff happened afterward. Big stuff. Highly spoilery stuff. You've been warned.

The only real bad part of Okami was the beginning. Before you can begin playing, you need to sit through a 15 or 20 minute unskippable cut scene about events that happened 100 years before the game began; how everyone assumed that Shiranui, Chibiterasu's grand-sire, was evil until he sacrificed himself to save the hero Nagi from evil. Then they realized that he was actually an incarnation of Amaterasu. It's not a bad story, but it's never fun to do nothing whatsoever when playing a game.

Well, this part of the game takes place 100 years (and nine months) in the past, and we got to see this happen. Of course, Shiranui sacrificed himself trying to stop Akuro, this game's big bad, instead of Orochi, Okami's big bad. I'm not sure if this is because we've changed history, of the scrolls didn't quite have the full story. Either way, the wolf's sacrifice effective emotionally:

Poor Chibi. Sad little godling puppy.

Shiranui was unable to stop Akuro, but he was able to save his grandson and Nagi.

Then, soon afterward, we learn a nasty twist about who Akuro was. He's possessed Kuni, Chibi's first partner. (Or maybe created him as a vessel. I'm not totally clear.) And he explains how he's manipulated Chibi all along into killing the obstacles and acquiring the pieces he needs.

And then, Chibi summons help.
(Isshaku actually makes an appearance in Okami. He's that little blur in the bottom right of this picture.)

As I've said, it's tough to take good pictures of this game. I'll post a picture of Kagu which is, objectively crappy, but I like how the flash that unexpectedly went off makes it look like there's a spotlight behind her. It's appropriate for a child actress.

So this whole scene was effective. You have  pathos, betrayal, and the joy of seeing old friends. 

Tomorrow, I suspect, will be the final(?) showdown.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Okamiden Diary, Day 16

I know it is wet, and the sun is not sunny. But we can have lots of good fun that is funny.
Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

I once ordered a salad at a restaurant, and was given what looked like a plain plate of lettuce: no croutons, no fancy veggies, no creamy dressing. I was disappointed, and about to reach for some oil and vinegar, but  decided to taste it first.

Each leaf was perfectly dressed; they might have looked like they had nothing on it, but they had just enough extra virgin oil and vinegar to coat them, offsetting the slight bitterness of the greens with a rich and slightly tangy flavor.

I was unimpressed when I started this night's Okamiden. The first part had what felt like an arbitrary, meaningless boss battle, which should be a contradiction in terms. You put bosses in because it's a climactic part of the game play, not because it's been too long since the last battle. And compared to some of the previous bosses, this one was boring. It was a plain dragon; not even a complete one, you just had to battle the head since the rest was buried in a pile of ice.

Then things got interesting. We found something else in a block of ice. Something lupine.

No, it's not Chibi's mother; it's his grandfather. I'm sorry I didn't get any good shots of them together, but if there's anything cuter than a little wolf god, it's a full grown wolf god and little wolf god interacting. I loved how calm they were about it. "Oh, it's my grandson who's traveled through time. Well, guess I can curl up and take a nap," Shiranui seems to say. I don't know if dogs don't worry about paradoxes, gods don't worry about paradoxes, or it's a combination that keeps them so cool.

So Chibi and his companion head to the Moon Cave to rescue the companion's mother. I started this entry talking about food, and when Chibi and Manpuku fall through a trap door, they almost become the base for a soup, but Manpuku drinks it all instead. It's a great cartoony moment.

Tonight, I also learned the story of why Manpuku had to give up his dog, which would be tragic if it wasn't so silly; saw a demonic chef get jealous of another talented cook; and saw Chibi try to get the overweight Manpuku to move somewhere he didn't want to go. That was also an awesome animation as the puppy wound up walking in place trying to push the child.

So what started out as a ho-hum evening turned into an excellent night.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Okamiden Diary, Day 15

About forty years ago, I made a short visit to the curè at Bregnier, a man of immense stature and who had a fearful appetite.
Though it was scarcely noon I found him at the table. Soup and bouilli had been brought on, to these two indispensables had succeeded a leg of mutton a la Royale, a capon and a salad.

 Brillat Savarin

A short entry, even though this session was rather plot-rich.

Kurow got a message, and left in a hurry. He looked rather sad when leaving:

After a minor quest, Chibi found his new companion, who calls him Pork Chop. For no particular reason, he can shoot fire out of his hair and walk past spikes. (The mermaid could swim underwater and shoot water from her hair, but that made sense, because she was a mermaid. Kurow could float, but he was a moon person. And Kagu had magic powers, to explain what she could do. Maybe I'll learn about why my new friend can do these things soon.)

Manpuku is on a quest to rescue his mother, Charity, who has been kidnapped by demons because a) he had eaten everything in the house and she needed to go out and find him more to eat; and b) she's a good cook and may be the one to prepare Orochi's meal. But there's a demon chef, Umami, who is working to make an even better meal. Let's hear it for names which are horrible puns.

At one point, to propel them around a puzzle, Pork Chop and his companion jump into cannons. It doesn't photograph well, but a closeup of a dog's butt sticking out a cannon is a really silly sight.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Okamiden Diary, Day 14

I'm gonna make it to heaven/ Light up the sky like a flame/ I'm gonna live forever/ Baby, remember my name
Fame, Irene Cara
A lot happened in the last couple of hours of game play. But before I get into the plots, I want to mention two scenes that I really liked. (Obviously, spoilers follow. You don't get so far into a game without them.)
The first was when Nanami and Chibi were riding around a ship on a quest. The actual quest annoyed me; it felt largely like filler, and most of the monsters weren't powerful enough to be challenging, so there was a bit of boring grind. But there was one scene where Nanami came to a pet shark in the ship's aquarium. "If you have a chance to escape, go for it!" she told him. Mermaids don't believe in cages apparently, which actually fits well into the mythology.

The other moment I really loved was when Kurow rejoined Chibi, and took him flying. Look how uncomfortable the dog looks:
The game really packs a lot of personality into 256x192 pixels. That is not a happy wolf. I understand that dogs today don't like riding airplanes either.

Anyway, the story is, like the first one, doing some strange time travel things. I started this session nine months in the past, at the time Ammy is fighting Orochi with Susano's help. We run into Susano, but only see the other two from a distance.

As in the first game, and a few times in this one, we have needed clever disguises to get past demons. In this case, it's a piece of paper worn as a mask (you decorate the mask yourself. It's hard to see, but I gave Kurow a smiley face. Chibi's, which is not yet on him, says "Woof!" 
After tricking the demons, and seeing Ammy fight Orochi (I'm a little bummed Ammy and Chibi didn't meet, but there's still time), they meet Akuro, who I believe is the big bad. He needs to bathe in the blood of a freshly killed Orochi to gain the ultimate power, which is why he went back in time. When Chibi and Kurow stops him, he asks who they are, says he will remember their name, and creates another time portal, which he jumps through, followed by our heroes.

So now Chibi and Kurow are 100 years in the past. (Technically, 100 years and nine months. It's a good thing Kurow's from the moon, that makes it much less likely he'll kill his own grandmother accidentally.)

What indignities will Chibi have to endure to get from point A to B next time? Tune in and find out.