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Jeremy Jastrzab
01 Jul, 2010

E3 2010 Feature: Okamiden Hands-On

DS Feature | Cracking out the cute.
Okami was something of an odd case. Released towards the end of the last generation, all the experience with the PS2 hardware yielded a unique woodcut, watercolour aesthetic quality that has yet to be matched. However, interest was already starting to head towards the HD and motion control generation, and the separation from the mainstream seemed to leave Okami a lukewarm commercial success. Given the Celestial Brush mechanic, it was common sense that the game would also be ported to the Wii, if only to get it to a wider audience.

While numerous fans were a little miffed with the decision to make a sequel, given how well the original finished, Okamiden is due soon for the DS. However, it’s not a typical sequel. Having gone from the consoles to the handhelds, Okami has been metaphorically downsized. Well, not in terms of the actually gameplay that will be on offer, but in terms of the characters, story and setting.

We got to check out Okamiden at E3 2010, and it’s set nine months after the conclusion of the original game. And essentially, you’ll be playing the story of the children from Okami. So rather than playing as the regal Amaterasu, you’ll be playing as a smaller, similar version of her, Chibiterasu. It’s still unknown whether Chibiterasu is the child of Amaterasu, though the connection is set to be revealed in the game. Also, the younger version isn’t as powerful as the original, which will be reflected through out the game.

  
You've got a buddy to work with now.

You've got a buddy to work with now.
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Okami was at times a rather serious and bleak title, what with demons taking over the whole of Ancient Nippon and the God of the Sun required to come and save everyone. Okamiden is targeted as a more light-hearted adventure. This is evident as you’re powers are bestowed upon you by cute little animal representations of the spirits. Furthermore, you’re partnered by Nushi, the son of Susano and Kushi from the original. Through out the demo we played, he’d ride on our back and would eventually help us out with the environmental puzzles.

Most of the time, you’re playing from an isometric perspective, which is probably best for the DS. The section that we played through was essentially a training level but it gave us a good idea of what to expect from the final game. It starts simple enough, with a couple of switch location puzzles needed to open up paths. As Nushi ‘learns’ to get off your back, he can be guided with the stylus, like the armoured Zelda in Spirit Tracks, and will become an integral part to advancing and solving puzzles.

  
Daww...

Daww...
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Moving Nushi was known as the power of ‘Guidance’ and there were three other powers that will be used through out the game on show. These all involved the revival of the Celestial Brush, which works pretty well on the DS touch screen. In an example straight out of Okami, we’d walk up to a boulder that is blocking our path. Using the touch screen, we could ‘slash’ the screen to split the boulder and clear the path. This could also be used in battles, which were randomly generated and play similarly to the original.

We also used the ‘bloom’ ability to flip certain clam-like enemies in battles as well. Finally, Chibiterasu retains the power to rejuvenate the environment, by drawing a circle over the area that we wanted to revive. Of course, you can’t do these willy-nilly, as you have a limited supply of ink pots that power your brush powers. Overall, we got to see a nice mix of puzzles and action that reminded us a lot of the console title. Switching between using the face buttons and the stylus seems like it could become cumbersome, but this is the case with a lot of DS titles, so most players are probably used to this by now.

  
Touch screen brush action.

Touch screen brush action.
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Visually, the developers of Okamiden have done a superb job of recreating the unique visuals on the DS. The style has not suffered in the slightest, and with the introduction of all the ‘chibi’ elements, it has even been given its own flavour. The ‘Simlish’ voices of the original have been incorporated into the game as well, but because of the noise on the E3 show floor, we didn’t get to hear any of the in-game music.

With the announcement of the 3DS, it seems that the original DS has its days numbered. Incidentally, it seems that Okamiden will be one of the games taking it out, just as Okami took the PS2 out in 2006/2007. While it has managed to incorporate a lot of the elements of the original and suit it to the DS quite well, the best part about Okamiden is that is seems like it’s creating its own sense of character and being. Definitely one to look out for as the DS releases start slowing down.

Related Okamiden Content

Okamiden Review
25 Mar, 2011 More than just cute and cuddly.
Okamiden launch trailer
15 Mar, 2011 Cuteness arrives on Thursday.
Okamiden trailer from Japan
20 Jul, 2010 How do you say 'squee' in Japanese?
2 Comments
3 years ago
I'm still disappointed that Okami's sequel is being made on the DS. It could have been an absolute stunner on the HD consoles.
3 years ago
Looking forward to this as Okami was a wonderful game and putting it on the DS makes perfect sense due to the stylus.
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