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Okage: Shadow King (PlayStation 2)

70
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.6
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Alaka (30475)
Written on  :  May 18, 2008
Rating  :  2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars

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Summary

Shadow madness

The Good

Okage: Shadow King deals with a teenager named Ari who lives with his extended family outside the small village of Tenel. One night his sister gets cursed by a ghost and Ari's father suggest calling forth a genie from an magic vase he bought. The genie is actually the evil demon king "Stanley High-hat Trinidad the 14th and he agrees to cure Ari's sister of her "Pig Latin curse" in exchange for Stan to inhabit Ari's shadow and to make Ari his slave. Now hopefully, that last sentence exemplifies that this game does not take itself too seriously. Yes, Okage's lightheartedness is a nice change of pace from the usual RPG melodramatics. The main plot deals with Stan trying to regain his power from so called evil fake kings which have all of sudden popped up throughout the world. Definitely not your usual RPG storyline. Also, another cool thing is that Stan follows you around and will sometimes pop out when Ari talks to villagers and says some pretty funny things. I mean in how many RPG's do you get a character who actually wants to terrorize villagers.

The Bad

The main character Ari is supposed to be a nobody who everybody ignores. The main problem with this premise the game really doesn't reinforce this idea that well. Ari seems to have a family that cares about his welfare (ok to a point, I mean they did send their kid out in the world with an evil demon king) and most of his hometown villagers seem to take a shine to him especially after he solves their water crisis .Ari eventually gets companions to join him in his adventure but for the most part they are not interesting and are just their to help you battle your enemies. Speaking of which, the battle system lets 3 of your party(Ari + 2 others) to jump into the fray. The battles are turned based and you are allowed to attack when a time based meter is filled. One of the problems with how this is done in this game is that you can be attacked by an enemy and before your damage is calculated it will be your turn, so you know you were hit but for how much is anyone's guess, so you don't know how powerful of a restorative you need to use, if you even need to use a restorative, or if it's game over. Yes, that's right if the main character Ari gets knocked unconscious in battle the game ends. The other two members in your party can be restored to life but Ari cannot. Which leads me to remember that before certain fights Stan will pop up and give you a multiple choice quiz. Now most of the questions he asks will have an answer that has no rhyme or reason for its solution. Now if you get it right he will do one special preemptive attack but if you get it wrong he wishes your doom. Which to me makes no sense because as I have previously wrote before if Ari dies then Stan dies and its game over. I've read people praise the game for its lack of random battles. This is true to a point. Yes, you can see the enemy ghosts and run away from them but for only so long. They will eventually pop up right in front of you or track you down and you will be forced to fight, Which lets me bring up this point, the loading times. When you enter or exit a house in a village the screen will zoom in and then out and it will take around 15 seconds for this process to finish. Sure that doesn't seem like a long time but after entering 10 different houses it starts to add up and that black screen will become more apparent and annoying. Also the camera clings to Ari to tight while traveling around so it is hard to get a good look around your surroundings, which is very important in this game because most of the time you have know idea where you have to go next to progress the story. One last thing which I thought was ridiculous was the side quest for the tiny gears. The tiny gears are invisible, yes INVISIBLE, gears that you stumble upon on the world map. Who the hell green lighted that idea. I will give it that it was an optional side quest but still.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, Okage is a mixed bag. I thought the story was passable for a lighthearted romp which only lasts around 25 hours, This being a short game (for RPG standards) actually works to its benefit. I heard this game sometimes gets compared to Earthbound but besides the lighthearted humor and simple battle systems of both games, Earthbound is miles ahead of this flawed game. Hopefully the character Stan will get his own side story in a better game. Okage might have the title of shadow king but really deserves the title of court jester.