The Good: Technically impressive; groundbreaking; strong identity
The Bad: Too simple
Being developed by Gunpei Yokoi--Game Boy's creator himself--Solar Striker is more a technical statement of how to make most of the handheld's hardware than anything else; and for that matter it certainly gets the job done.
Other contemporary (or even later) shooters fell for the same traps every other early Game Boy title did: being thoughtless console-ish. In practice that always meant from (at minimum) tiny sprites to (in worst cases) sluggish controls due to some bad system resources management; but Solar Striker manages to solve both problems showing up a slick gameplay and plain clean graphics that, despite being fairly simple, feel much more natural in the small screen.
The game itself doesn't quite stand out by its design merits, but it doesn't fall flat either: it's a vertical scrolling with a straight-forward single ship upgrade (wider/stronger shoot power) and big bosses at the end of each level that feels interestingly balanced by urging you to care for making extra lives through raising the score--a must for a no-continues/password/saves game. Such a subtle intricacy can easily be missed as a proper "feature" but alongside the other tech achievements it helps to lend the title a solid sense of personality by finding a middle ground of some sort between arcades and "home" game design.
Unfortunately Solar Striker was kinda overlooked by gamers and, more sadly, Yokoi's peers. As it is it remains a great document of Game Boy's hardware true potential--something that took more time than it should to eventually be realized.
The Good: Presentation is a technical achievement; cute, lovely characters
The Bad: Dragging; uneven difficulty; shallow
Built upon the lore of the cult Action-RPG Okami (PS2, Wii), Okamiden develops the original's story from the point it was left in the first title while trying to appeal to a broader audience by introducing Amaterasu's son--a cute puppy called Chibiterasu--in the leading role for this sequel.
From a technical standpoint--which seemed to be what worried Okami fans most in a portable cramming--there's nothing to yell at. Nippon still looks gorgeous and even the sometimes oversized pixels make it for a crisp, beautiful presentation. The same can be said about the expanded soundtrack, which sounds as epic as ever.
But unfortunately when it comes to content Okamiden fails to capture the grandeur of the original installment.
The game takes you by the hand in so many ways that' it's hard not to state it was dumbed down. Predictable puzzles, prayers evolving your powers automatically, the very combat... Even the poor (or lazy?) decision of making it controlled by the D-Pad (instead of a more intuitive touch-only scheme like in the DS Zeldas) produces another step down: the camera compelling you to where you should go next.
Chibi partnering a variety of companions throughout the adventure does help to freshen the experience and show the intended protagonist's fragility, but in the long run much of the plot and dialogue is plain dragging for the sake of it. What would be an otherwise charming cast of characters can grow annoying and tiring after some time.
That aforementioned overall mood/pace twist could have made it for a perfect kids-friendly first RPG... But the overly complex boss battles create difficulty spikes that can get in the way and turn beginners down.
Okamiden would fare better if it was conceived as a spin-off, or at least as a more compact title. As a main entry with the responsibility to carry the name on it just feels expendable.