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Henshin a go-go, Ammy!

Before I start, might as well post my equipment info since the others have: 27″ old school non-HD color television and a PS2 Slim (used to have a Fat, but sold it off once I started getting disk read errors. I know it’s fixable, but didn’t want the hassle). No fancy audio setup other than the internal stereo speakers, but I do have the PS2 attached to the TV by means of a component cable, so there you go.

Anyway, I got back to playing Okami today after having set it aside for about a week. I had gotten the fourth brush last time I played, and my session today was largely devoted to exploration, fighting monsters, winning praise, and other such idle activities.

I was originally intending to make this entry about the brushes, but now I think that I should save that for a future post, when I get more of them. However, I will note a couple things that were on my mind during today’s session:

• Praise points can be earned in the game by doing good deeds, restoring areas, and so forth. These points can then be used to boost Amaterasu’s stats. One of the many ways praise can be earned is by feeding animals, several types of which exist in the game’s fanciful Nippon. Every time Amaterasu feeds an animal, the game cuts away to a scene in which said animal is eating from what looks like a large dog dish. There are four types of feed, but all of them look the same in this cutscene, where everything seems to glow and soft, ethereal music plays while the camera slowly rotates around a quietly watching Amaterasu and the animal she’s feeding.

These scenes are skippable, but gameplay-wise, they’re easily the weirdest things I’ve come across so far.

• Had a flashback to a certain other Clover game today, and not just because of the cel shading. When Amaterasu runs out of ink, her reflector and orange markings disappear, and she becomes a regular old wolf for a brief amount of time. Although I’d seen this happen before in previous sessions, I only realized today that this mechanic was exactly like the VFX Gauge in Viewtiful Joe: when that runs out, Joe loses his superhero outfit and special powers until the gauge recharges itself.

With this in mind, I happened to see the hearts floating over the heads of some fed animals, and they reminded me of the ones in Viewtiful Joe’s life gauge; the shape is slightly different, as is the color, but they still have that bulbous, cartoony feel. It’s neat to see these little details from Viewtiful Joe carry over into Okami, even though the tone, pacing, and genre of the two games are very different.