Reeve, I had some of the same issues with the Vine brush technique. It’s not just your mentality – it really is a pain to connect the flowers to anything but Amaterasu.
I’ve put Okami on the backburner for awhile, obviously, but with the holiday season no longer stealing time (including work and holiday gaming) I can jump back in. But first, I should note the progress I made before putting Okami aside. There are some minor spoilers ahead, but I’ll keep quiet on story details. If we do this sort of thing again, we should make note that November-December is a very bad time for it! But I think that’s what you two told me in the first place…
There’s a wide gap between the first and second dungeons. After trashing Miss Spider Boss, I was moving through a new area – Taka Pass, I believe? – and ended up stuck for a good hour because I overlooked a path leading up towards a mountain town. It’s an interesting area, though – lots of flora to heal and fauna to feed. You can catch praise up the wazoo in this place, and I ultimately decided to start increasing my health bar after earning an unnecessary amount of ink bottles. There are some curious folks in the area, too – an old couple that seem to really like knives, a mole who complains about being lonely before having his posse challenge you to a game of whack-a-you-know-what, and a few owls who don’t realize that Ammy has trouble just trying to remember where her tail is. But when I say I was stuck for an hour, I’m not including the time spent exploring the area for the first time; I’m talking about all the time I spent combing the area and talking to people time and again during the day, then time and again at night, trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. It’s no fault of the game, no; the path is easily visible. It’s just one of those moments that makes you feel really, really dumb. I was stuck for a week during Dragon Warrior VII because I confused East and West. Such are not proud moments.
Upon reaching the town, I’m rewarded with a fetch quest! Isn’t that awesome. I have to track down five dogs hidden throughout the town. Okay, I can do that. Lots of adventure games these days force you to explore every nook and cranny of a new town, whether you like it or not. I happened to enjoy it. Problem is, each dog expects me to feed it. This is an issue, because I have exactly the food they want. They’re just not giving me the option to hand it over. Whelp, after spending another thirty minutes baffled by this crime against my free time, I realize you feed them just like any other animal in the game – go to your menu and select the appropriate food. Yeah, it makes sense, and serves as an example that I expect every game to follow the same rules. NPCs always greet you differently when you have what they want, right!? As a player, it would seem I am programmed.
Now, I get down to the last dog, and this guy wants to fight me. He’s a little more, uh, “lively”, than the others. You may recall I was breezing through every combat scenario up to now, yes? This hound beats the shit out of me. My guard was down, sure, but all the same I was very lucky to have a full astral pouch – it’d been a while since I last saved my game, so a death there would’ve set me back quite a bit. This dog was faster, hit harder, and had a more confusing attack pattern than any other enemy up to this point, including Miss Spider Boss. He can take a whalloping, too. I finally took him down after a few minutes, and I just have to wonder — where did this spike come from? Not that the dog doesn’t have story-relevant reasons for being powerful, but compared to the other stuff I’ve taken down as Ammy I have to wonder why he’s not doing the job for me. A few other dog bosses followed during another fetch quest that spanned all the lands I’ve covered so far. They were fairly similar, with each including a new special attack; the strangest of these has Amaterasu being half-buried and then peed on, reverting Ammy to her not-so-godlike wolf form.
Great Amaterasu, mother of all that is good, we introduce you to the concept of shame. Now you’re just like the rest of us! Actually, on that note, I finally understand the “Godhood” system. It’s kind of simple, but since enemies barely touched me during the first few hours of the game I never really had a chance to grasp it. From what I can tell, the more you beat up bad guys, the cooler-looking the Ammy emblem in the bottom-left of the screen gets (it also changes color, but I forget the particulars). If you’ve built up some Godhood, getting wonked by a foe won’t deplete your life energy. It’ll just take your Godhood down a level, until you hit rock bottom and have to feel pain like the rest of us!. Perhaps I’m the only one here who missed that completely, but the game neglects to offer an explanation voluntarily.
The dog-chasing bordered on monotonous, but ended just soon enough to stay above boredom. Plus, it leads directly to the second dungeon! Which is, in fact, thirty minutes long. But hey, that’s cool, because it’s pretty swank. I’ll take a cut in quantity for high quality. It’s certainly more of a sight than the initial Ruins dungeon, and we’re presented with a couple of nice puzzles that mix wits and timing. And surely the featured boss will make up for any instances of shortitude?
Maybe he does! This guy shits flames and eats Ammies for breakfast from the looks of it. And, much like the last boss, there’s a clever strategy to conquering him that has you utilizing your most recently-attained power. But there’s a problem: I figured out the strategy within the first ten seconds. The rest of the fight was an unholy stomping, leaving the boss no chance to retaliate. This is no hyperbole, guys: I beat this boss in two minutes, first try. That’s only 120 seconds before his ass was as toasty as the rest of him. More than a little disappointing, seeing as he really was a cool foe. I dunno, maybe this was some super fluke on my part; you guys should let me know how you fare against Boss No. 2.
That about covers my progress up to now. I have eleven of the fifteen total brush techniques, and I’m curious how they’ll pad this out to make it a forty-hour game like I’ve heard. I left off smack in the middle of the third dungeon, a rather nifty place. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I don’t want to go silent for such a cool part of the game, either. For now, I’ll leave it at this: