Otokomizu | Review | Switch - TheFamicast.com: Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Friday, November 15, 2019

Otokomizu | Review | Switch

by Danny Bivens

Loin cloths are the safest fire fighting suits.
Fire fighters in Japan have it pretty tough. They have to go through rigorous training and schooling before they can even get a chance to put out fires and help people. One little known fact is that they actually go through a series of training akin to what you find in Otokomizu - using their hands and feet to propel themselves with water around towns, fighting ninjas and putting out fires. Once they compete this elaborate training, they are ready to face exploding houses and giant ninjas. Jokes aside, Otokomizu (“otoko” meaning man and “mizu” meaning water) is a third person action game on the Switch that harkens back to the odd Japanese titles of yesteryear. Despite the weird aesthetics and Edo period setting, there are quite a few problems to be found here.

Controls in Otokomizu take quite a while to get used to. You propel our scantily clad hero forward, onwards and upwards with the the shoulder buttons - each should button is mapped to individual arms and legs. Using the joystick to control trajectory, it’s up to you to fly him around various locations to put out fires and defeat ninjas. Even after playing the game for some time, I still find the controls here very fiddly. I can get our “water man” where he needs to go, but sometimes he would blast a lot further along than I liked. Controls make sense on paper, but are definitely harder to actually get good at performing due to the sometimes odd physics.
Otokomizu is a stage based game. That being said, as you enter each stage, you’re given an objective. Usually, the objective is to put out as many fires as you can in the time limit. If a house is on fire for too long, it will spread to other houses and eventually (literally) explode. As I mentioned above, there are enemies that appear from time to time in the levels. I found that typically you can just ignore them and focus on putting out the fires to be more efficient.

There was one stage that I had a lot of trouble with. There's a gigantic boss roaming around a small town that you are supposed to defeat but extinguishing weak points found on his hands and the top of his head. You have a pretty generous time limit to do this, however, you also have to worry about preventing a certain number of houses from exploding. This was extremely frustrating. It was really tough to even hit the weak points and even if you did, they would sometimes be lit up again. I would always have too many houses explode before I could even come close to taking that bastard down.
Camera systems in most modern games have a certain limit as to where you can go along the vertical axis. This makes it so that you can easily see where you are going or need to go. In Otokomizu, there are some real issues with this. A number of times, I found myself fighting with the camera going way too far below or above me. Combine this with controlling the character who is flying around while trying to look for some burning houses (while on a time limit), things can get frustrating really quickly.

Visually, Otokomizu is nothing to write home about. It’s a pretty static game, with low poly character models and minimal animation. By and large, the locations nail the Edo period aesthetic that they’re going for here, but given the small size of each area, there was probably more that could have been done visually. Everything looks like it’s a game that was ported over from the Playstation 2. On the plus side, the music isn’t bad and the game runs pretty smoothly for the most part.
Otokomizu is obviously a very weird game. I like that about it. What I don’t like are the fiddly controls, the sometimes wacky camera and dated visuals. The game can be enjoyable, but you’ll more than likely be finding yourself fighting the game mechanics more than having fun.

Final Score: 4.5

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