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One concept made all the difference
Have you ever found it annoying when you're playing a Zelda game and you frequently have to go to the menu to switch items? If not, that's likely because they were going out of their way to avoid this issue. If so, they failed to avoid it. Even when I'm playing a Mega Man game I tend to stick with the weapon I'm using even when it's not optimal for the situation because I find it slightly bothersome to switch. Okami's Celestial Brush mechanic, wherein you hold a button, draw a symbol on the screen, then release it to create effects depending on the symbol you drew, seems to be made specifically to avoid this issue, which in turn allowed the designers to go crazy with the enemies and obstacles, which resulted in an excellent gameplay experience. Every single one of your techniques is available at the push of a button. All 13+ of them. The enemies provide you with good reason to use many of your techniques, as they are rarely vulnerable normally. This game is not a mashfest.

It's an original concept that doesn't rely on mere originality to provide great gameplay. It's the very definition of "innovative". It can be unresponsive at times, but this was fixed in Okamiden. Protip: On the Wii version, use the Z button to draw straight lines.

Even aesthetic things are absolutely sublime. The visuals are outdated, yet far more beautiful than any game I can think of today. Even acts as simple as moving creates a beautiful stream of flowers trailing behind the player character. The story and sub-plots can make you feel every emotion you can think of at least once throughout the game. The soundtrack always fits the moment brilliantly and the songs themselves are awesome.

It is however not without its flaws. It has some annoying and difficult minigames that you must beat to proceed, the animation for when characters are talking can be a source of Narm, 20%+ of your gameplay will be spent watching cutscenes, and there is almost no challenge whatsoever (outside minigames) unless you aim for One Hundred Percent Completion, among a few others. However, even as someone who appreciates action and difficulty I would recommend this game to anyone.
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