By: Johnny Marcondes
Okami is getting a HD re-release for modern systems bringing one of the most beloved series from the early 2000’s back nearly eleven years after it’s initial release. Okami HD is slated for a December 12th release later this year and will support 4K resolution on the Playstation Pro, Xbox X and PC. As many fans will remember a few years ago Okami had released an HD port for the PS3 that implemented some of Sony’s motion controls for the games brush strokes, as of yet there haven’t been any mention of motion controls either through Microsofts Kinnect or Sony’s VR. One thing that has been made clear is that this HD re-release will see both a digital and physical release meaning we could see a potential collectors version of the physical copy of the game as time draws closer to the release. While nothing is set in stone, seeing a collectors edition won’t be out of the ordinary as Okami is a massive fan favorite title and honestly who wouldn’t want say a Amaterasu plushi or bust?
Seeing a high definition re-release of this game is something that every fan has been longing for since there hasn’t been much progress in a new title. However the one thing that strikes me as as odd is the fact that Nintendo is seemingly getting left out of the release. Even though the game is being promoted as being able to support 4k resolution that doesn’t necessarily mean the game will be 4k. Unless you’re playing Okami HD on a PS4 Pro, Xbone X or 4k ready PC the game won’t be able to really reach that resolution which means that graphically it could find itself playable and supported on the Nintendo Switch.
It’s pretty odd to think that Okami won’t be coming on the Switch when the original game did extremely well on the Wii. Since the game used motion controls for brush strokes and various other tasks the Wii version always felt complete and the color nature of the game felt at home on Nintendo. Looking at the Switch and how far Nintendo has come it’s a little bizarre to see that Okami slipped through the cracks of titles they’d have under their belt. The Switch has some of the most responsive motion controls on a home console to date and Nintendo has been trying harder than ever to form a relationship with third party devs to open them up to releasing their games on the Switch. When you really look at Okami as a whole there’s so much Nintendo like inspirations and quality in it that you’d be hard pressed to believe it weren’t a Nintendo title.
Aesthetically speaking Okami always had this Legend of Zelda like feel to it that made the game so welcoming. From the battle mechanics to the pacing in the narrative to even the graphically enticing nature of the game everything had this familiarity in that felt very much like a Nintendo game. In fact, when I first played this game and talked about it in school I would describe it as the best non Nintendo, Nintendo game. Don’t believe me? Here’s a quick reminder of the games story and character. Okami follows the character of Amaterasu, a sun goddess that takes the shape of a wolf like deity who wields a celestial brush as she sets out to restore the earths beauty and life from the evil that decimated it. The entire plot sounds very much like a Nintendo game mixed with elements of traditional RPG plot points.
Looking at the HD screen shots of the game it’s so refreshing to see Okami on modern systems again. When Okami was first released it was something so new and instantly stood out, there weren’t any other games quite like it both mechanically and aesthetically and there still are’t. Okami’s use of traditional Japanese folklore with sumi-e ink painting (Ink wash paiting) really helped the game stand out. The puzzle solving, battling and just overall visuals felt unique and really helped the game stand out and honestly it’s going to be a real shame if Nintendo can’t get in on the action.
Given how vocal Nintendo has been about bringing in third party games this is really a massive hit to Nintendo, for a title like this to not be under their belt is a pretty big loss. Okami is such a genuinely beautiful game that fits everything Nintendo is currently trying to do with their new console, it’s a title that speaks both to core gamers and is accessible to new comers, it’s complex yet simplistic approach to narrative and gameplay mechanics make it enjoyable by anyone of any age or gender. Not to mention being able to take Okami on the road through the portable aspect of the Switch is something a lot of people would have loved to do.
Since the game can be upgraded to 4K and will undoubtedly look amazing when played, it isn’t the default option meaning there’s no real reason why Okami can’t be ported over to the Switch. Nintendo’s latest console may not be as powerful as the PS4 Pro or Xbone X but it’s nothing to roll your eyes at. With the console being able to reach 1080p on the docked setting and 720p on portable mode there’s no reason why Okami can’t be handled on the Switch and still look amazing. Personally speaking, it kind of feels like a low blow to Nintendo from my perspective as a gamer. The Wii version of Okami really helped the game take off and reach a far broader demographic and audience that not seeing a re-release appear on the Switch feels kind of wrong.