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Why Okami outdoes Zelda: Twilight Princess

Article: PSM3 magazine testifies the controversial

We can already sense your eyes rolling skyward. And - yes - PSM3 is a Sony-only magazine. But the truth is exactly the opposite.

From its 8-bit beginnings through to modern-day masterpieces such as Majora's Mask, we reckon we've stuck around for every last 'der-der-der-daaah' the Zelda series has had to offer. And so we feel authorised to tell you the words few dare to utter - Okami beats Twilight Princess hands down.

That already seems like an impossible position, but let's up the ante even more. Design-wise, Twilight Princess is by far the better game. It's clear that Okami is a 'tribute' to Zelda, and like all cover versions it doesn't quite pull it off.

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Its dungeons never hit the heights of, say, the Temple of Time, where the entire level is so fantastically turned on its head at the halfway point. No, a dog and its flea could never compete with that. But regardless, Okami wins out.

Art attack
It's as artist Marcel Dechamp once said: "It's not what you see that is art - art is the gaps." There's considerable debate as to whether Zelda and Okami are RPGs or not. Whichever side of this particularly tedious fence you fall, there's one thing that Zelda definitely has in common with the most beardy of genres; you spend inordinate amounts of time doing precisely bugger all.

And that's where Okami outshines its bigger brother. See, TP might have the odd piece of puzzling brilliance, and it might be able to throw up cut-scenes powerful enough to make Mike Tyson weep. But to say that those moments alone make TP better is like putting forward that Starship Troopers is a better movie than Star Wars because of that bit where the dragonfly-thing decapitates a soldier.

The simple fact of the matter is that neither of these games is to be played if you've got an imminent bus to catch, and you'll spend 90% of your time just pottering around.

And exploration is infinitely more enjoyable in Okami - due in part to its art direction. While TP's designers clearly whittled down their brown and green crayolas into stubs, Clover's palette contains hues you didn't know existed.

Shallow? Perhaps - but the fact remains that each section of Okami's world is different from the last to, firstly, implore you to explore it, and secondly, to give it some context within the rest of the world. Conversely, we can confidently predict that if you were to dump a player into a random Twilight Princess field, they'd have no idea where they were.

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Life in colour
And not only is Nippon a brighter world than Hyrule, it's also busier. There seems to be no end to the interactivity of Okami's waterpaint world: with a flick of your brush, you can drench, blind or frazzle passers-by, and a circular stroke prompts dank, dark deadwood to explode into a torrent of technicolour.

Some minor RPG leanings aside, there's little point doing this other than that it's fun; exploring old lands with new skills has the joyous feel of a less dogmatic Castlevania.

Each new skill genuinely feels like a new toy to play with - as typified by the many amusing effects your strokes have on Nippon's denizens. By contrast, in Twilight Princess it just feels like you're carting around a bunch of junk, a malaise not helped by the by the messy controls that pale when compared with the immediacy of Okami's brushstrokes.

It's important to remember that Twilight Princess is still a 90% game - but it suffers from sticking so rigidly to its own aging recipe. The Zelda series, no doubt, will continue long after Amaterasu's name has been wiped from the gaming canvas - but in this particular battle between the Sun Goddess and the Twilight Princess, there's only one winner. Why, it's as clear as day and night.

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