Random Thoughts / On the wonders of the Okami art book

Okami has to be at least my fourth favorite game in my as yet un-compiled list of favorite games of all time. Though I have yet to finish it – stray bead collecting FTW – I have been absolutely enamored by the title ever since I picked it up for Wii earlier this year. It’s a sprawling, beautiful wonder of a game and every minor creative and artistic touch has had me in near geekgasms.

As should be fairly obvious, one of the main draws of the game is its art style. Crafted after Japanese watercolor paintings, the game is certainly as much fun to watch as it is to play, so much so that it inspired the creation of an entire book dedicated to its artistic works. Capcom has done this before, licensing the creation of art books for Street Fighter and Mega Man Zero, among others. But the Okami art book is the first of these that was an absolute must-buy for me.

Okami: Official Complete Works is a hefty 288-page tome stuffed full of character profiles, concept art, and countless other tidbits. Being privy to production notes that, say, confirm the suspicion that Susano’s arms were modeled after Popeye the Sailor’s, or viewing the scrapped plans for an eventually-nude Princess Sakoya add volumes to my appreciation for the game. In particular, I was very enthused to see a special Okami manga that character designer Takeyasu Sawaki drew for fellow Okami staff members. Less significantly, it was nice to see that some from the development staff had as much of a hard time as I did with Blockhead Grande.

Even the minor touches are significant. Udon, the publisher, refrained from flipping the book from the traditional Japanese right-to-left publishing style. I can only applaud a publisher for translating and adapting a book while still allowing it to retain as much of its origin as possible.

I was a bit apprehensive about cracking the book open before actually finishing the game, but, realizing how much of the game I’ve already gotten through, I was forced to be a bit strategic in my page-skipping.

Okami: Official Complete Works has to be one of the best game-related purchases I have ever made, and at a measly twenty-six bucks on Amazon, did not even set me back all that much. I only wish that other developers published books like this. It would be interesting to see what kinds of thoughts went into developing games in the Zelda and Mario series, for instance. In any case, the book is an absolute joy and I’d recommend any fan of Okami pick it up.