Absolutely gorgeous played on the Dolphin emulator.

User Rating: 7 | Okami WII

For those that don't know: Dolphin is a PC emulator for Wii and Gamecube games. It is capable of beautifully upscaling graphics but it requires a pretty beefy computer to do so. The processor is particularly important. My Intel Core i5-3570K frequently struggled to keep frame rate steady at 30 while at stock 3.4 GHz. After I overclocked it to 4.2 GHz it was smooth sailing at max settings. Be careful with overclocking as it can damage your hardware. An effective cooling system is very important. I use an aftermarket Cooler Master CPU fan.

On to Okami. Not enough can be said about how well done the art style is. The black ink and brush stroke imitation may be the most noticeable aspect but that's definitely not all that makes this a visual masterpiece. The colors pop, the effects shine and swirl, and the general design of the world and its inhabitants all do their part to make you feel like you're playing a living painting from out of Japan's rich history.

Mystical themes applied heavily to the storyline help to compound the feeling that you're playing an ancient written legend. Without spoiling anything I will say that while events frequently follow well known mythological themes, the developers did enough to keep things from becoming too predictable. A wonderful soundtrack filled with traditional Japanese styling fits beautifully with the visuals and story.

An area of mixed success are the characters. There are some really cool ones but also some rather annoying ones. Unfortunately the one you hear from the most, Issun, is also my least favorite. His shtick of being a tiny person with a big mouth grows old fast. He does have a few enjoyable moments but they're vastly outnumbered by ones where he's throwing out juvenile insults, pining over women or being used as a convenient device to tell the player what to do next. The bumbling Susano took a little while to grow on me but had a fun payoff in the end. I also enjoyed the boss Ninetails and her disguise.

My biggest source of frustration in Okami is its controls. In theory using the Wiimote to draw on the screen sounds appealing. However, in execution it's just too unreliable. I played the first few hours of the game on the Wii itself before switching over to Dolphin and had the same issues on both. I was never confident that the game would properly recognize what I drew. That is a serious problem in a game. Countless circles were mistaken as windstorm loops and vice-versa. Perhaps the worst miscue I saw was when I drew the shape of a lightning bolt and it produced the effect that requires you to draw an infinity symbol (i.e., a sideways 8). On the positive side the movement, basic attack and interaction controls functioned as they should.

There is a lot of greatness in Okami. It's just too bad that almost the entire experience is tainted by shaky controls and a tiresome sidekick.