After having read all the reviews, when I finally purchased okamiden I expected a mere shrunken version of Okami. I was proven wrong. 24 hours into the game and I'm blown away.
While it's very linear and, as far as gameplay, somewhat easy and "repetitive" there is so much going on, the story is FANTASTIC, the dialogue and especially the vignettes are quite funny and the characters all " memorable over time".
Most importantly, this is the first time that I play a sequel where you actually explore the same exact overworld; and let me tell you: it's a very very satisfying experience. That is because when I started the game I immediately EXPECTED to see and looked for the characters from the previous game almost like I was returning to afar away country I visited when I was younger and where I expected to see old friends - I wanted to find out what's new, who's with who, who moved where and, most importantly, how all the doggies are doing (I know, this sounds crazy).
Going back to the concept of gameplay being "repetitive"... Well, this one is complicated. There are many things you can do and the interesting aspect of some "chores" is that they are all "optional" yet you feel immediately compelled to complete them. I'm sure I could fly through the game skipping cutscenes yet the people and the incentive to explore the beautiful landscape make the fetch quest(s), the helping people move, the upgrading, and especially watching the cutscenes very much worth it - I'm telling you: sometimes you'd think the game is over and something completely absurd happens and you find yourself in all these crazy places which don't feel like/appear as a recycling of the original game as much as a tribute. And even IF they are recycled ideas it's all the new characters and silly cutscenes that make the experience worth it and extremely gratifying.
A little spoiler here: When I say that the characters are "memorable over time" that's because funny "things" happen when new or even non primary characters say something in the vein of "oh! how have you been" but nothing else happens and you're left there hanging for HOURS of gameplay... Later to find out that you actually travel back in time and meet them and the story goes on. Time travel here is used so well and succeeds in further developing characters of depth.
Allow me to be even more subjective but if I would love for Pixar to actually produce an okamiden animation feature. Of all games (maybe right next to BG&E and Chrono Trigger) okamiden would be THE perfect candidate for a feature treatment (maybe even live action - that is IF an Italian director does it (Benigni?) and maintains that "young" feel to it (think Italian Neorealism).
But let's talk a little about Technicality: in regards to controls... It's like Zelda DS done right! I still can't believe that after Phantom Hourglass nintendo didn't hear people's feedback and allow for players to chose between touch screen only or d dpad controls for Link. In mere words, Capcom nailed the handheld controls. On a different note, this might be a little OT but I don't understand the placement of the 3DS controls: Personally, I would have switched the dpad and analogue sliding pad placements because i think that we are all used to freely move the camera with a soft analogue stick on the bottom of the controller and I would expect that in games like Okamiden 3D as well as monster hunter 3DS. But going back to Okamiden DS, while I didn't like the touchscreen based camera controls, the game kind of plays like Super Mario Galaxy 2 - it has very smart camera and you barely ever need to change the pov to begin with (besides a few occasional battles). Kudos to the cinematography department.
Furthermore, besides Chibiterasu being absolutely adorable (I just adore the rainy cloud expression when a primary characters finds horrid nicknames for him and he gets upset), this game has a very very significant socio cultural impact and importance at this very moment - now that Japan is going through so much struggle, literally needs "rejuvenation", needs help for it's dogs left behind, placement of people in new towns etc. All these very contemporary topics are dealt with within the game. I spoke very intensively about how the original Okami was a piece of art and, believe it or not, Okamiden surpasses Okami and is absolutely to be considered art not only by myself but also according to the philosophy of many scholars and professionals - something can be considered art when it's an allegory or a mirror of our society and it reflects current trends, historical events, it illustrates social criticism and future happenings or possibilities as well as a cry for change (I'm thinking Orwell or Asimov's work as I type this) . Okamiden is both a portrayal of our troubled times as well as a social plea for solidarity, a demand for an environmental friendly lifestyle and, of course, a cry for humane animal treatment.
Overall Okamiden is a must buy for any DS owners who are looking for a meaningful experience that is funny yet full of subtext and hope and maintains a very young spirit without becoming didactic or immature/a "casual" centered game. As I said before, it is the swan song of such a successful system. I deeply hope that people will buy this or that Capcom will release the same game on 3DS as hinted and make a profit as sequels are clearly hinted within the game.
Interesting comments about the cultural landscape of Japan and rejuvenation.
I need to play this game! Sure I'm caught up in 3DS hype at the moment, but once my launch game energy wears off I'll have a bit of a wait until other games I want. Need to get back to DS and play some of these recent games (Okamiden, Ghost Trick, Radiant Historia) that I never got a chance to play!
i can't answer that question 100%. Okami was SPECTACULAR (music was way superior, more intense moments)... Okamiden is more lighthearted yet seems more focues... i need to play Okami once I'm done with Okamiden to have a concrete anwer
I can't get too excited about Okamiden until I beat the rest of the games I own, but your review is making me look forward to it even more when I do decide to check it out. That philosophical paragraph was a great addition to your write up too.
Anyhow, Okami is incredible, so it's good to hear that the follow up is a solid effort.
Just managed to read the review, good job. It really is a shame that this came out as the 3DS hype train was hitting full speed. I am sure I will get to it one day though, maybe once I have finally played through the original.