So liek I finally started gaming again. Well, "finally" is a bit misleading as I have been gaming quite a bit, but playing Okami doesn't really give one much in the way of interesting blog subjects. In case you care, I take great joy in running about as a cute wuff, and I was all WEEP when Shiranui came to help Amaterasu via time travel, and whatnot transpired. Currently about to take that big rainbow in the sky to the Ark, which I hear is the final area of the game, but first I'm trying to get everything in the game. I'm maxed on stats (with like 1000 praise left over... wtf am I supposed to use this for?) and have enough money that I've learned all the skills, even the one that involves pooping. This is basically a waste of money, the main purpose of which is to show you were rich enough to buy it, since it's a huge pain to use and the move where you pee on the enemy is so much easier and more effective (for those who haven't played this game, no, I'm not joking). I'm currently trying to get the last Stray Bead, but this involves an irritating racing minigame, which are one of my most hated types of minigames, so I decided to take a break and start another game. >_> (jokersama is all grumpy re: Okami and demands that I just finish it without the bead, which is of course crazy talk, but I'll try the racing again tonight I guess.)
The game I picked to take a break with is Okage: Shadow King. I picked it because 1) I've owned it at least 5 years, and 2) it's short. I want to play P3:FES and all the other megaten games I've been missing (plus some other stuff) but they are all very long, so I figured I should get a short game out of the way first. Puu and Yosi go against the rest of the internet and assert that the game has merit and doesn't suck, so I am giving it a shot. Below is my summation of the main plot and the first several hours of gameplay, plus my impressions of characters etc. IOW it's really, really long. Just warning you.
Okage features the adventures of a passive-agressive bobbleheaded boy named Ari. Ari's family includes: his mom, who is apparently some hot stuff, used to be a sword-swinging adventurer, and currently is a happy housewife; his dad, who presumably was some sort of adventurer and currently is assistant manager of the city office; and his little sister Annie, who is only, like, 12 or something but still well on her way to becoming the next town skank (Mom has helpfully loaned her a book entitled "How to Control Men" which I have to say I would like to read also). Ari lives in a large house, in which most of the furniture is covered in white sheets, giving the impression that either his mom is a neat freak or that they are squatting in someone's summer home. It also has its own mini-cemetery (yay?). Actually the whole design of the characters and architecture and so on is reminiscent of Tim Burton's style.
Later that evening, tragedy strikes! Annie is struck down outside town (where she was presumably trysting with some lucky young man) by an evil ghost of some sort, because apparently evil ghosts are infesting the neighborhood lately. When Ari gets home, he finds that the situation is critical for Annie.The doctor states there is nothing which can be done; Annie is under a terrible curse, which may last the rest of her life.
"Onay!" she cries. Being under the curse of Pig Latin will ruin her social life, which would be, you know, really tragic. Ari's parents are filled with woe. What to do?? Ari's dad recalls a strange bottle he picked up whilst strolling in the countryside -- the bottle obviously contains some kind of demon or magical being, and if summoned, perhaps it can remove the curse! Of course it will probably want something in return -- Ari, you're willing to sacrifice your life for your sister, right????? I guess. >_>
So we all troop downstairs to the basement, where Dad does a silly dance to summon the being in the bottle. The being prefers to stay in for the moment and sends out his "Evil Butler" James instead. I want an evil butler. T_T James proceeds to tell us that his master, the EVIL KING STAN, has been weakened by his time in the bottle and while he can remove the paltry ghost curse, he needs a host -- specifically, he needs to live within someone's shadow (literally). And apparently, only a certain body type is good enough for him -- no saggy butts allowed?? And guess whose body is the only one perfect enough for Stan. That's right, it's Ari.
Ari resigns himself to being possessed by an evil spirit and Annie's curse is lifted -- at the cost of her own shadow turning hot pink. Noooo! Oh, the humanity. Anyhow, Stan's goal? Why, it's the same thing we do every night, Ari! TRY TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD.
Stan decides to start small, with the village. His goal is to instill fear and respect in the villagers, casting a shadow of despair over their pathetic lives, mwahaha etc. He's not sure how to go about this exactly, since he's limited in his evil powers and Ari is more or less just a normal kid. We go to the village to scope out the situation, and Stan decides that clearly the path of evil lies in defeating the uppity ghost which is possessing the town's church. After doing this, Stan is shocked, SHOCKED that the townspeople are happy and not cowering in terror re: his majestic power. WTF indeed!!
Stan sulks until we run into a guy who gives us a "Map o' Evil Kings." Apparently Stan has Evil King competition. Stan is enraged. Clearly while he was bottled up, these fakers stole his power! No wonder he's so weak! We've gotta go take them down!! At this point we run into Julia, who is the current teenaged town skank. She tells Ari she's not into him anymore because he's started getting a personality and no longer seems like he'd just let her walk all over him and spend his money and order him around and stuff. Ari didn't know she liked him anyhow and is not visibly crushed. We also run into Annie, who is now okay with her hot pink shadow because everyone thinks it's cute. Well that's a relief.
Before leaving we find out some kind of weird things: apparently, this church is the only one anywhere. And nobody knows exactly who or what the church might represent, although people go there anyway to pray and such. Also, strangely, there is a "list" that comes from the royal palace each year which puts all the people in any given town into a category of some kind. Even more strangely, Ari is not on this year's list.
We leave and head for the first place on the "Map o' Evil Kings," which is a neighboring town with a gear & machinery theme. The people there are being menaced by the "Sewer Evil King." Alrighty then. On the way there, Ari is attacked by ghosts; it seems he's done for when a hot older lady drops by, flings a sword at him, and runs off. We run into her again at the "Heroes Club" in the town, where heroes from all over are gathered to try to raise their "hero ranking" by doing battle with the Evil King. The girl's name is Rosalyn and she carries a parasol everywhere she goes, even inside; turns out this is because she is wandering the land searching for the evil spirit which she found in a bottle a few years ago. At that time, the spirit insulted her by telling her that her butt was saggy and she was otherwise imperfect. After punting the bottle down a mountain, she discovered that her shadow had turned hot pink, thus shaming her and making her a laughingstock of the hero community; she carries the parasol so that its shadow will hide hers.
She's a bit pissy when she figures out that Stan is the one who cursed her; he explains that the flamboyant pink shadow is the mark of his power touching her, but that his powers are too weak to remove it right now. Whatever. She decides to join my party in order to follow Stan around and get her revenge. Plus she seems to like Ari, or at least I am guessing that based on her kissing his cheek in the darkness (where Stan ironically can't come, since there are no shadows without light). Maybe it's because of his Stan-approved perfect body??
We defeated the Sewer Evil King (unsurprisingly: a giant rat), so now we're headed for the next stop on the "Map o' Evil Kings," which is some kind of water-themed town apparently; Rosalyn also believes we can meet the Princess there, and that she might have powers which can do something about Stan. On the way out of town, a crazy scientist guy randomly joined my party because he believes Rosalyn has bad luck that attracts ghosts and monsters and such, which he wants to study. Also he thinks she's hot (wtf). Rosalyn probably finds him creepy (I certainly do) but agrees that he can join us since it will piss off Stan. Ari apparently doesn't care; he seems to be a very apathetic "whatever" type of guy. I can get behind that.
How am I liking Okage so far? Well, the story is kind of interesting and fun, the world is your standard RPG world, and the characters... I like Ari and Rosalyn, love Stan, and everyone else is basically either amusingly sucky or just, you know, sucky. The game's greatest strength is by far the dialogue; it just tends to be kind of silly and fun to read, and the choices you get to make as to what Ari says are amusing. I also like the vast number of sidequests and such; there's a group called the "World Cypher Society" or something like that and basically you get these little logic/word puzzles to get clues to the next cypher. There are also like 500 fetch quests; half the crap you have in your inventory is "special" items which you're supposed to give to people to get other items or money or whatever. As far as I can tell none of this is required. Since I enjoy puzzles and fetch quests and sekrit items and such, I like this aspect of the game.
The biggest bar to fun is definitely the battle system; I can understand the near-universal bad opinion people hold of the game. Battle is clunky and takes too long; every time someone's active meter comes up, the whole battle freezes (with enemies/allies frozen in midair leaping towards the person they're going to attack) and you have to put in a command to make things start again (and there are more steps to even simple commands like "fight" than usual). This might not sound so bad, but it srsly makes battle take way longer, and it's even more annoying when the person whose attack will end battle gets frozen while you put in some useless command for the next person. It's like a crappy version of Square's ATB system. >_>
And that is just the tip of the sucky battle iceberg. Magic and special stuff is done either by using LP (basically similar to SP in Skies of Arcadia, a shared pool of points based on... uh... something in the character stats I guess) or the character's own HP. This isn't so bad except that skills taking from HP seem really common. This is irritating. A FAQ I read basically said "you need to guess if you'll lose more HP from using the move or just taking more enemy attacks by not using it." Oh. Well. Yay for that. Ari doesn't need his HP. OH WAIT HE DOES. Because the #1 most annoying thing about the game is that if Ari dies in battle the game is instantly over. No revive items or chance to do anything. Argh. I hate games with that aspect, especially when you can revive everyone else when they die, get knocked out, whatever. So hypocritical. This might not be SO bad if you could save more often but no, you have to fight your way to a town or save point. At least you can 100% run away.
Okay that is enough about Okage for now. Moar latar when I've progessed significantly.
Stay tuned for next time, when I review the new Indiana Jones movie! EXCITING
Later. "They say a man is born to go alone, and a woman is born to weep and fret..."