Okami

 

Welcome to PS2 Review Week! Each day of this week I’ll be reviewing an old PS2 game I love and still play, focusing on the slightly lesser known or lesser played games and franchises (so no, even though I loved Final Fantasy, you won’t find reviews of it here).

Last and not least, for day 7, and the final day, I bring you Okami. If you haven’t yet played this one, boy are you missing out!

“Developed by the amazing Clover Studio and based on Japanese myths and folklore, you take on the role of a wolf, but not any old one! You take on the role of Amaterasu, a Shinto goddess of the sun, who must save the land from darkness”

One of the most distinctive things about Okami straight away (besides you being a wolf, that is), is the art style used throughout it. Even when it maintains 3D elements, the cel-shaded, cartoony like style is heavily reminiscent of the art style known as sumi-e, done with soft brushes and inks. Colorful and interesting, the visual style of Okami is what first draws you to it. The story, gameplay, and music is what makes you stay.

“Set in an old, feudal-ish style of Japan, Okami tells the story of how Amaterasu is called forth by a spirit protecting a village in order to help save it, after a warrior unseals (and fails to defeat again) a great evil”

The more you progress on the story goal, the more you will be able to explore of the world and, along the way Amaterasu will gain the help of a (rather annoying but thankfully easily ignored) companion, as well as meet other characters that will either help or hinder her along the way.

The game is RPG-styled; besides the main storyline quests you have side quests, mini-games, and some extra fun activities, such as feeding some wild animals or making trees bloom once again, slowly restoring the land to its former beauty. Each of these actions reward you with points later used to help raise stats, such as your health.

“The variety of attacks range from simple barks to making complex patterns on the screen”

Besides the basic attacks, Okami has a couple fun ones too: like peeing on an enemy or barking at them to attract or annoy them… but her main forte is her weapon, the Celestial Brush, through which, by drawing a certain symbol, you call forth certain powers: such as making trees bloom, attacking enemies with powerful attacks, etc. Of course, using this uses up ink, which requires you to keep a stock of this handy.

“Battle isn’t free-range; when you approach an enemy you’re encased in a small area within which to fight them. Certain enemies are weak to certain attacks. The rest of it is pretty common to other games”

Not everyone on the land know that this lovely little wolf is actually Amaterasu, and thus I found it a little weird that most villagers would randomly decide to put quests on what’s basically a dog… but I suppose that can be forgiven, as some of the quests are quite funny and interesting, as are the character’s reactions to the wolf’s actions.

Matching the feudal Japan style, the music used throughout the game, sometimes upbeat, sometimes not, is a perfect companion to the game. It’s so good in fact, I’ve even found myself wanting to get the sountrack for it.

“Even if you aren’t a big fan of RPGs, Okami is definitely a must-try game for its quirkiness, story and looks alone!”

And with Okami we finish up the week! Of course, I’ve left plenty of my favorite games out: Persona, .Hack, Final Fantasy, etc… if you’re interested in reading more PS2 reviews, then leave a comment below~

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my other reviews for the PS2 Review Week series! Read you next time!

 

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ICO

Welcome to PS2 Review Week! Each day of this week I’ll be reviewing an old PS2 game I love and still play, focusing on the slightly lesser known or lesser played games and franchises (so no, even though I loved Final Fantasy, you won’t find reviews of it here).

For day 6 I bring you along ICO. You’ll aww, and you’ll cry.

“Developed by Team Ico, makers of Shadows of the Colossus and The Last Guardian (both also Amazing games!), Ico follows the story of, well, Ico. He’s a young boy from a village that had the misfortune of being born with horns”

The village has a whole story about the horned children being a bad omen, so whenever one is born, they take them and lock them away in an apparently abandoned fortress. In this fortress Ico finds Yorda, an apparently mute girl whom he’ll become fast friends with, and find as well many a lurking danger…

“I won’t tell you more about the story, as I don’t want to spoil it and truly, the story is everything in this game, even when everything else also makes it a wonderful play through”

Ico is a puzzle/platformer game, and as such, you will be scratching your head several times trying to figure out the puzzles, some of which will require Yorda to help you – and Ico to help her in turn, with the final goal of escaping the fortress.

“The controls are simple, helping you feel more immersed in the game by not constantly having game elements in your face”

The graphics and the general artistic air of it all is simply beautiful, breath taking even, the details on the fortress and on the characters bringing them easily to life, along with their very distinct personalities helping plenty to do this as well. The soft music and sounds seem perfect to the game as well.

“The puzzles are intuitive but still challenging, and by making you require the use of both characters to get through, they make you grow even more attached to them… not that you need more help”

The game is most immersive and the uniqueness of Ico and Yorda, as well as their growing friendship (have I mentioned they hold hands? They are both super adorable!), totally pulls at all your heart strings over and over again.

Honestly, there is nothing to hate at all on this game. It’s beautiful, it’s artistic, it has a great story, and great gameplay. It’s definitely a must play, and, once you’re done, I definitely recommend you go and read the book it was based on, as well.

Definitely worth your time, 10 stars out of 5. (What do you mean that’s not a proper rating?)

Fairy Fencer F

This review was originally written for WalaWala Games.
A free copy of the game has been provided in exchange for an honest review.

 

Data
Break Up
Game: Fairy Fencer F
Genre: RPG, Turn-based
Developer: Idea Factory , Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Release Date: Aug 4, 2015
Platform: PC / Windows 7
Overall rating:  8/10
Graphics: 10/10
Controls: 8/10
Level/Puzzle Design: 7/10
Sound: 9/10
Story: 8/10
Replay Value: 7/10
Community: N/A

 

Review

Step in the shoes of Fang, a lazy young man who, through the miracle workings of destiny, becomes a fencer, charged with gathering furies and removing the seals of the Goddess, who has been at war with the Vile God for centuries, both of which are now sealed away in another world.

Fairy Fencer F is a typical JRPG, that means there’s quite a bit of talk, and a bit of grind. It’s also a console port, and as such, it has some peculiarities.
My first time opening the game I got an error that said:

"videocard.cpp (279) : DXFAIL : E_FAIL"

Searching the forums for a solution provided no help, but a quick google search turned up the answer. All I had to do was  “兼容模式,兼容模式是XP SP3,现在已经运行了五个小时左右完全没问题。”
Oh, did I forget to say the answer was  on a Chinese site? I meant, “Compatibility mode, compatibility mode is XP SP3, now running about five hours no problem.” Or so google translate said. As it turned out, aside from activating compatibility mode, I also had to execute the file as admin. After that, it was a pretty smooth ride!

Fairy Fencer F is basically a turn-based RPG with beautiful anime-styled art. When you’re not dungeon-crawling, you have a view of static maps and Visual Novel styled conversations with other characters. When you are dungeon crawling you get those same anime characters in 3D view. You only see the party leader until you enter a battle, and you can only choose so many of your friends to battle with you.
Battles are turn based, but not static. You can move freely around a predesigned circular area of reach (and sometimes enemies will be outside this area), which gives you a sense of freedom despite the limitation, something move-by-places or only-x-steps type of turn based games don’t give you.

The sound and voices are very nice and very fitting to the whole anime/fantasy theme, and I’m particularly fond of the song used when you use “fairize”; it reminds me lots of the songs in Persona 3 and 4. By the way, did I mention you can choose between English and Japanese voices? Because you totally can. It had my heart right then and there.


Goddess revival

Now, I’ll try to explain this as best I can. Basically you play as Fang, a Fencer, that is: a person who can wield Furies, which are weapons that contain fairies that add powers to the weapon/wielder. Your job is to go out and search for more furies – each one you get will grant you a new fairy. You can add these to your own weapon as “resonance” to make it stronger and give you some extra stats. The fairies you’re currently using gain experience along with you and level up. Fairies are also ranked – the rank is used to remove the seals (swords) on the Goddess/God. While the story tells you to remove the Goddesses’ seals, after the tutorial you can choose to remove the Vile God’s seals as well, which is a neat touch! Each seal removed successfully adds different boosts/stats to the fairy used to remove it, which in turn adds it to you if it’s the one you’re using as resonance. Fairies that aren’t currently being used in your weapons can be stabbed as their fury forms on the world map in order to provide various boosts, buffs and debuffs in the nearby dungeons (for instance, earn more exp, or gold, or drop rate… ). Since you can stab more than one fury into the ground, you can get quite a few boosts while on a single dungeon.

You have combos for physical attacks which you can customize, and you can at a fly switch between three different ones while attacking by simply pressing one key instead of another, all comfortably close by. Because you have so many ways to affect stats and boosts, the system ends up being quite flexible and enjoyable to play with.
It’s a very interesting concept and I feel like I don’t do it justice explaining it thus briefly.

Saving is done through specific spots while inside a dungeon, or at any time within the world/city maps. While in the city you get to speak with a lot of characters and take up quests that can give you some prizes and can also be repeated (indefinitely, as it seems). The quests are fairly typical, but quick to get done, and go along with what rank you are. You can also craft some items to help on your journey. There is some romance in this game.

Because this was a console port, the controls at first can be a bit awkward (for instance, you can’t use esc to exit menus, you must use backspace; you can use the mouse too, but it’s really more of a hassle than using only the keyboard); however, once I grew used to them they were actually very sensibly placed and quite comfortable to use. I ended up using just the keyboard all the time.

I do wish the game was free-roaming rather than turn based, and the fights do get a tad repetitive after a while, making the fighting aspect of the game feel a tad like a grind (the unskippable power cutscenes and “fairize” cutscenes can get a bit annoying after the first few fights). However, the story is nice and full of funny moments and the characters are cute and extremely likeable, all of them with their own personalities, doubts and insecurities.

The game really makes you want to collect all the fairies and remove the seals to see what will happen, keeping you hooked with the story. It also offers a New Game Plus + mode upon completion, which I always love but haven’t yet reached. Fairy Fencer F is a delightfully long game (with 30+ hours if you’re playing through just the main story line, and over a 100 if you’re going for completion), but from what I’ve seen so far I’m confident in recommending this game to everyone who is into JRPGs.

 

TL;DR

Definitely recommended for JRPG (and anime) fans: great music, great art, complex yet flexible stats system, some romance, some ecchi, some grinding, and 30+ hours of fun.