The standard combat controls take some time to get used to. Weapons like the life beads work remarkably well, doing plenty of damage with a forward flick of the Wii Remote. Standard reflectors, on the other hand, may cause you frustration at first, because you can't string attacks together simply by incessantly flinging your remote forward and back. Rather, you need to time subsequent attacks, or your thrusts won't respond as you'd expect. This is one area where the PlayStation 2 version has the upper hand. Certain weapons simply aren't suited to be your primary attack in the Wii version, since the timing of your slicing and dicing is tough to get a handle on. Another area that needs improvement is dodging. On the Wii, you yank the Nunchuk in the direction you want to tumble. The problem is that Ammy may or may not dodge in that direction. In Okami, this isn't a big problem; combat is easy, so you'll rarely need to dodge. In fact, you may even forget you have the option in the first place. Nevertheless, dodging is troublesome, and folks who want to use Infinity Judge or Tsumugari as their primary weapons will need to adjust to picky motion controls.
On the flipside, the Wii controls shine brightly in regards to the celestial brush. You can pull out the brush at any time and use it to slash through demons, create gusts of wind, draw bombs, create impromptu waterspouts, and perform all sorts of sundry tasks. This is Okami's main gameplay conceit, and it's woven impeccably throughout the game, where it's utilized in battles, puzzle sequences, and even some cute minigames. On the PS2, you used an analog stick to draw the necessary rune; on the Wii, of course, you use the remote. For the most part, this works wonderfully. Interacting with the celestial brush in this manner is incredibly pleasing, since you literally draw the motions onto the screen. It also improves the pace of the game, because you can scrawl at a faster rate. Using the remote in this manner has its foibles, particularly when you need to draw a straight line. However, ineffective scrawling can be easily corrected with a second try and a careful hand.
Ammy takes a moment to drink in the scenery.
All in all, the motion controls give the Wii version a slight advantage, by greatly enhancing the brush aspect of Okami while contributing to some minor flaws in basic combat. But you'll also be accomplishing a variety of other tasks on your travels, and these peripheral elements are arguably what make the game so exceptional. You'll need to earn praise if you wish to increase your total health or the amount of ink your brush will hold. To do so, you can bring a withered tree back to life, which always produces a lovely flourish of colors and sonic textures. Feeding various animals you encounter will also benefit you. Different fauna require different types of food, but assuming you have what your furry friends prefer, you'll be rewarded with your due praise and a gentle cutscene showing your follower enjoying his morsel.
These elements all coalesce into a completely engaging experience that's almost impossible to walk away from. You'll hurtle down a river at breakneck speed on a runaway log, and slow it by drawing makeshift vines with the celestial brush. You'll search for hidden treasure in a sunken ship, siphon flames from a fiery foe to defeat an icy one, and get an eight-headed monstrosity drunk with holy sake. None of these tasks are very challenging, but the variety of gameplay, and the stylishness with which it's presented, will push you forward--and just when you think you've reached the end, there's more to the saga. It will take most speedy players a minimum of 30 hours to gun through Okami, though you'll probably be inclined to savor the experience, digging up every hidden clover and finding all of the game's many secrets and treasures.
Age isn't kind to many games, but with the addition of motion controls for the celestial brush and support for widescreen and progressive scan displays, Okami has been updated enough to make it even more relevant today than it was in 2006. At a time when the majority of action games are more focused on destruction than renewal, this is an elegant and poignant reminder that some of the most meaningful experiences in games are the ones that enrich and rejuvenate us.