When it comes to Japanese mythology, the land of Nippon just can't catch a break. By the end of Okami, Clover Studios' gorgeous 2006 action-adventure, Amaterasu (a sun goddess taking a physical form as a white wolf) had successfully defeated the demon lord and banished evil from the land. Set a mere nine months after the events of the original, Okamiden sees darkness once more descend, despite all of Amaterasu's best efforts.

Okamiden takes the expansive world of Okami and shrinks it down to fit onto the Nintendo DS, so it makes sense that our hero this time around has also been miniaturized. Enter Chibiterasu, a cute little wolf pup and the son of Amaterasu.

"Chibi," like his mother before him, is armed with a divine instrument he can use to thwack enemies. More weapons can be gained later in the adventure and each is upgradable with demon parts earned in battle. Also making a return—and well-suited to the DS touch screen—are the gameplay-defining Celestial Brush powers.

As Chibi travels the lands, he encounters brush gods who give him many of the powers his mother wielded. While most of the action takes place on the top screen, activation of the brush moves the view to the lower screen, allowing the player to draw symbols which have a wide variety of effects. In combat, much as in the original, a straight line results in a cutting slice, while a curly-cue causes the wind to blow out the flames of a fire demon. Outside of battle the brush is often used to solve puzzles and perform "miracles," like filling in the missing pieces of broken objects or restoring life to a barren tree.

For Okami veterans, this will all feel very familiar. But the newest element that Okamiden brings to the table is a partner system. Chibi is, after all, just a pup. His powers as a god are not as potent as his mother's and he needs a little help saving the lands of Nippon. Throughout his travels, Chibi encounters adventurous children willing to (and sometimes demanding to) join him on his journey. Once a partner is teamed up with, he or she will ride on the wolf's back and add his or her own attacks to Chibi's in a fight. These partners can also be commanded to dismount, and, through use of the stylus, guided along a drawn path to reach areas Chibi can't go. Many of the puzzle portions of the game make use of this dual-character aspect.

The original Okami was very much comparable to titles in the Legend of Zelda series, both in the scope of the adventure and the specifics of the item- and ability-based progression. Okamiden offers a similar experience, while running a bit lighter in challenge to Zelda. Combat is often straightforward, with one button being used to attack and another to dodge. Aside from boss encounters, most battles can be avoided. The game's puzzles are also relatively simple affairs of lighting torches, stepping on switches, or using the brush. It is during the boss fights that the game is at its most difficult, requiring the player to discover what approach will win the day, be it the unique talents of a partner or a certain combination of brush skills. This occasional lack of challenge doesn't mean that Okamiden lacks fun, though, as it offers a robust and varied adventure with much to see, do, discover, and collect.

Villages, fields, forests, and mysterious ruins are only a few of the locales Chibi visits on his adventure. The numerous areas are impressive both in expanse and detail for a DS game, sometimes pushing the handheld past its limits as evidenced by occasional drops in frame rate. All the same, the fact that Okamiden carries over so much of the lovely ink and watercolor visual style of Okami is a pleasure for series fans and anyone who enjoys a game with a unique graphical approach. Like many other uniquely-styled games, it's best seen in motion.

Graphics aside, Okamiden is no slouch in the story department. The plot of Okamiden sees Chibi following in the footsteps of his mother, visiting many of the same locations she did as he purifies the land of evil. Along the way he becomes involved in the affairs of the people he meets, and it is around this personal level of interaction that most of the story revolves. This story structure also makes the interactions between Chibi and his partners work on a deeper relationship level. Rather than consisting of a team of interchangeable characters, Chibi meets his friends one at a time and helps them with their troubles as they help him with his quest. None of the characters are particularly complex, but they do grow to be endearing, adding an engaging emotional element to the plot.

Those of you who prefer a minimal story should be pleased to know cut scenes can be skipped, but in-game conversations can occasionally be pretty chatty. Much like the original, the plot itself can be deceptive in the sense that just when it seems the end is near, something else happens. Okami was infamous for having a story that kept going and going (I liked it but I understand it could be fatiguing). Okamiden isn't nearly as rambling, but all the same, the plot has an unexpected point of no return that could annoy side-quest completionists.

Okamiden graces the DS during the handheld's twilight hours, sending the system off in grand style. While many people are flocking to the latest Pokemon or mooning over the brand new 3DS, action-adventure gamers and fans of the Zelda series should sit up and take notice. Okamiden is one of the best looking and enjoyable portable games in the genre, and it's just as compelling to watch the battle between good and evil unfold the second time around.