7 November 2012

Taste #2 – Okage: Shadow King (PS2)

Okage: Shadow King

Developer: Zener Works
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Inc
Released: October 2001
Time played: 2 hours

Excerpt: Chapter 1- Boy Meets King

"I am a super mom
I am a super wife
A stupendous chef
A doting mother"

[voice over - which sounds an awful lot like James Spader]

This story starts with an ordinary conversation by an ordinary family...

We need bread...

(brief observation here - there is a loaf of bread rendered on the table next to her)


  • Turn based combat with a small party.

  • End game objective: wipe out 7 rival evil kings.

  • Within minutes the game shows some character through a strong sense of humour. The dialogue is comical and very self aware. The evil lord is called "Stanley Hihat Trinidad XIV". A shop in the first town is called "Other One" in the town

  • The game uses a close level of zoom with characters appearing large on screen. The models look polygonal by todays standards but were undoubtedly advanced for the time period. I suspect the zoom level was chosen to emphasis this - not afraid of polygons - proud of how many!

  • The game engine is capable of showing huge outdoor areas but (as is typical with this era) can only display single rooms indoors and requires a short load from disc when walking between them.

  • The game seems to actively make fun of the fact that it presents you with choices that are meaningless and have no impact. In response to a question by a the father character I answered "no I won't" and he responded "aw, thanks son" as though I'd agreed. (this may have been a mismatch in the scripting but I doubt it)

  • Early in the game there was an opportunity to buy some ground beef. This is at a point before there is any context for food or the value of money and so no context had been established for making sense of the decision. I went ahead and as expected it paid off and was recognised by the game with offer to buy the ground beef back from me. I'm not sure how I feel about this sort of interaction as it is entirely out of context with the game world and character motivations. The effect of this design choice is to reward players who are willing to test every interaction and explore every room regardless of the appropriateness within the context of the game. This may appeal to younger players (and probably appealed to me in the past) but it represents pointless busy work that takes the player out of the experience. It could be argued that these issues don't matter in a comical game of this style but even then I'd argue that the game is simply wasting players' time.


  • Unusual.

  • Worth a chew.

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