Dumbass Design: Okami’s Mini-Games

Greg wrote several days ago about Okami’s irritating gibberish, which nearly drove him insane. I’m happy to inform Greg that his misery is over. I didn’t finish Okami. One of its mini-games finished me.

None of Okami’s mini-games are particularly fun, from digging through a maze to head-butting a mole until he gives you a teacup. But the mini-game that finally prompted me to pull the plug was fishing.

First of all, it’s goddamn fishing. If I wanted to catch virtual fish, I would’ve bought Reel Fishing.

Second, the fishing mini-game gives the player only the vaguest illusion of control. The player controls a fisherman as a fish swims from one side of the screen to the other. Pull the left analog stick in the opposite direction that the fish is swimming–but not too hard, lest you tire out the fisherman.

Whenever the game decides that you’ve been at it long enough, the fish leaps from the water. This could take 30 seconds or five minutes; it’s impossible to gauge your progress. The player then kills the leaping fish by slashing it using the paintbrush feature.

If you don’t react quickly enough when the fish leaps, or if you slash the fish in a manner the game deems unacceptable, it’s back to pulling on the left analog stick for another few minutes, until the fish feels like jumping again.

I wish I could just skip the fishing bit, but I can’t. In order to progress in the game at the point where I am, I have to catch this fish, even though the significance of one fish in an epic struggle between good and evil seems marginal, at best. And devoting even ten more minutes of my life to this stupid mini-game is too much.

So there’s your lesson for today, future game designers. A player more than halfway through a game will still abandon the game before its conclusion, if sufficiently annoyed.

It’s a shame, really. I was having a lot of fun feeding the bunnies.