I’m a risk taker when it comes to games. I love picking up a game with no hype or expectations behind it. I love that fresh, untainted feeling for a game. It’s hard to get that feeling with so many Blogs, Podcasts, Message Boards and Websites shoving any and all info down your throat. Sometimes, I’ll run into abominations like Unlimited Saga, but other times I’ll find a gem like Opoona.
I played Opoona last January on a whim. I didn’t know what to expect quite honestly. I was somewhat familiar with the battle system, and even that was off base. I was expecting something like Phantasy Star II or Vay but with weird motion controls. Nope. There is not a single thing that is Wii specific about Opoona. The whole battle system is used with the analog stick. You hold it back for power, and let go to unleash your Bon Bon attack.
The art style was another thing I was familar with. Opoona’s art direction seems very Dragon Quest 8 inspired. From the fields to the monsters and even the NPCs, this game tried it’s best to emulate Dragon Quest 8, but in a more futuristic setting.
When I bought Opoona, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it or not. It looked like a child friendly RPG on the outside. After playing the first few hours, I couldn’t picture a child understanding anything about it. Opoona is a very slow-paced RPG that give little hints on how to advance the story.
What Opoona thrives on is exploration, interaction, and sidequests. The towns in Opoona are massive in size and confusingly built. They’re almost comparable to a Zelda dungeon. This can throw people off, because the majority of your gameplay found in Opoona is not dungeon crawling or running across massive fields, but doing chores in the town.
That is what I loved the most about Opoona. It’s that sense of addiction that got me hooked on Animal Crossing so many years ago, but with more reward. The more people Opoona hooks up with, the more quests he can get. The more jobs Opoona learns, the more he can open up and do.
Another thing I unintentionally loved about Opoona was the poor translation. I’m not kidding, this is one of the worst translated games I’ve played. There are so many spelling errors, typing errors, and just poor word choices. Bad translation is something that would bug me, but in Opoona, it’s so bad, it’s almost charming.
I understand why journalists ignored Opoona during it’s release. The controls are clunky. The camera is just terrible. The graphics are dated. The story is ridiculous. The main character looks like Eric Cartman. The localization is a joke. It’s a Japanese RPG for the Wii (Three strike rule?). I could go on.
The press and Koei did a really poor job at informing the public about this game. I’m living proof of that. What little promotion the game was given, it was almost exclusively focused on the battle system. I loved the battle system, but it was hardly the main driving point of the game.
I’m not urging everyone to rush out and buy Opoona. I know it’s not for everyone, but it was right for me. I haven’t played a single game since Opoona that put such a giant smile on my face. That’s saying something.
Opoona just oozed charm and character. I was so addicted to the world that I spent nearly 50 hours on it and felt bummed that it was over. Even though it was the first game I played in 2009, it will probably be the game I’ll remember the most.