Look at the All-Time Top 20 Gaming lists and it soon becomes clear that the PlayStation 2 was home to true quality.
Companies pushed out their best work for the platform, Silent Hill 2 from Konami, Final Fantasy X and Kingdom Hearts from Square, Shadow of the Colossus, Jak & Daxter, and Capcom’s oft-forgotten masterpiece, Okami.
Twelve years on, Okami still has people singing the praises of the white wolf with magical painting powers, critics applauding its brave and unique approach, and fans appreciating its distinct artistic qualities. Playing the HD remaster on Nintendo Switch, it’s clear to see why.
Who are you calling Furball?
Despite originating on a Sony system over twelve years ago, it finally feels like Okami has found its true home on Nintendo Switch.
The game has never looked or played better. It’s fast, fluid, slick, and has held up incredibly well considering the remarkable evolutions in RPG and action adventure design over the past few generations.
Where Capcom have previously been criticized for their port work, nothing has been omitted from Okami HD on Switch. In fact, many things have been enhanced with the convenience of portability and the evolutions in gameplay we’ve seen in previous iterations, such as gyroscopic support and a touch-based interface.
You play as the God, Amaterasu, reincarnated as a white wolf who is also affectionately known as Ami. Or Furball.
Taken straight from Japanese mythology, Ami uses the power of ink and a celestial brush to draw a sun to bring light to a darkened world, use devastating swipe attacks to defeat enemies, drawing constellations in the stars, creating items out of thin air, and much more.
The Switch’s touchscreen works seamlessly for this and as you might expect is the most natural interface for these sorts of gestures, as opposed to a Move Controller or Wiimote. There’s no input lag or delay, it’s as if Okami was always meant to be played this way, and it’s very difficult to imagine playing it any differently from this point on.
With so many ports of the same game over the years, this is the same version users on Xbox One, PC, and PS4 received just a few months ago with the ability to skip through dialogue, as well as enhanced textures and performance. All with the added convenience Switch provides.
If there is one area of Okami that has not aged quite so well, it’s the narrative pacing. Modern storytelling makes better use of characters’ reactions, set-pieces, and environmental positioning. Instead Okami tells the player what’s happening with text box after text box rather than show them through actions on the screen.
There are also some camera issues which plagued the majority of PS2 era games, meaning it can be very stiff and stunted, less fluid. This can take some getting used to again if you’re deeply entrenched in new games or your experience of PS2 era games is a bit limited.
Grievances aside, this is the definitive edition of a classic. In many ways, Okami appears to be timeless in its aesthetical approach, both in the way it stirs emotion and crafts a beautiful, memorable world. Quite often, modern games are described as lifeless because of the amount of repetition a player goes through over the course of a game, but Okami manages to stay fresh and engaging throughout.
Whether you’re old friends with furball or falling for her charms for the very first time, Okami will still captivate you in ways many modern games fail to grasp. An absolute treasure which must be experienced.
+ Beautifully designed world
+ Touch-screen mechanics are a perfect fit on Switch
+ Epic adventure
+ Game is seemingly timelessly designed
– Slight camera frustrations
– Narrative pacing is padded at times
9 out of 10
Tested on Switch