Wolf Pups and Trotmobiles

I want to fully recommend OkamiDen to anyone who owns a DS, but I can’t.  Not because OkamiDen is not a great game, it is, but because it too similar to its prequel Okami.

The original Okami, whether on the Wii or PS2 version, is one of the best games of the last ten years.  It is one of the few games that not only uses the Zelda action/adventure formula, but also uses it as well as the Zelda games do.  Aside from playing perfectly, Okami also looked and sounded wonderful.  It looked like a Japanese watercolor painting come to life.  Okami was just a joy to play and even to watch.  Video game consumers upheld their reputation for ignoring wonderful things by ignoring Okami.  Twice.

OkamiDen, part sequel, part remake, part port, is just the same as its predecessor.  Capcom did a terrific job fitting the game on the DS.  But in the first 5 hours or so, I have seen nothing that was not present in the first game.  It is arguably the best Zelda-like game on the DS; the only actual complaint I have with the game is that the first few dungeons are a bit too simple.  However, if the original Okami is available you should play it instead.  But that little wolf pup (Chibiterasu, the main character) is just so damn cute.  I can’t help but love him.  Play OkamiDen.  Buy it right now and play it.  Just don’t expect the same mind blowing experience as the original Okami.

I also beat Steambot Chronicles this week.  I need to write a big long love letter to this game, but I can’t.  Not right now.  Maybe it’s the fact that I played most of the game more than 2 years ago and it’s a little fuzzy.  Or maybe that fuzziness comes from the fact that I just had my wisdom teeth removed and am currently taking Vicodin.  Either way, I don’t have it in me right now.  But Steambot Chronicles is a very good game. Made by Irem and published in America by Atlus, Steambot Chronicles is a somewhat clunky sandbox game (GTA) with a great hook:  you control a mech (called a Trotmobile in the game) through a Miyazaki-esque world.  About half of the game is played by piloting a mech.  The controls take a little getting used to; one control stick controls the left leg, the other the right, L1 and R1 attack with the left and right hand respectively.  But once you master them, stomping around in a giant mech is just delightful. Your mech originally called the Earl Grey II but you can change it to whatever you want, is highly customizable.  There are all kinds of weapons/arms, legs and bodies, as well as different headlights and roof attachments.  In it, you can do all sorts of things: fight in arenas, transport people and goods, go mining, etc.

There are plenty of things to do outside the mech.  You can choose the amnesiac main character‘s, named Vanilla Beans, dialogue.  You can play him as a cocky jerk, a shy hero or anything in between.  It can make each playthrough slightly different.  One of the first things the player does is join a band with the people who found him on the beach.  By playing a Guitar Hero-esque mini-game, you can play a dozen or so instruments.  The songs are cheesy, but they fit the general tone of the game. That tone is earnestness.  This is a very earnest game.  It is somewhat sloppy, somewhat unfocused, but very earnest.  It is not a game for everyone; someone could easily be put off by the somewhat clunky nature of everything in the game.   But the world and tone make it a game that is easy to love in spite of its flaws.

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