GamePro's exclusive look at mermaids and demons
- October 15, 2010 09:00 AM PT
Four years ago, Okami splashed Japanese culture all over the PlayStation 2 and Wii. Let's see what Nintendo DS sequel Okamiden brings to the palette.
What we're talking about: Okamiden, an action/adventure game for the Nintendo DS that serves as sequel to 2006 PlayStation 2 (and later Wii) game, Okami. Players take the role of a mystical wolf pup named Chibiterasu with godlike powers to draw designs in the world using the Celestial Brush.
Where we saw it: At a private demo during Capcom's Tokyo Game Show 2010 press event.
What you need to know:
- There's a very good reason Okamiden is on the DS -- the stylus. Anyone who remembers Okami often lamented the lack of finesse in twisting analog sticks to simulate paintbrush strokes. The stylus on the Nintendo DS feels like a natural fit for the Celestial Brush tool, with far more possibilities for what players can draw. Example: In Okamiden, Chibiterasu and his human sidekick need to infiltrate the Demon Market by painting a monster mask for the human to wear. Because the stylus is so precise, and because the game incorporates whatever you draw into the next few cut-scenes, the Celestial Brush can make this level hilarious.
- Some puzzles are standard role-playing-game quests. The final barrier to the Demon Market involves finding an item to give to a guard. To find the item, the player interacts with every nonplayable character in that area until they find the one selling the item.
- Most puzzles are way more interesting. A segment of the game post-Demon Market has Chibiterasu escorting a mermaid through a partially submerged temple. The level alternates between 2D platformer sections and the 3D action/adventure perspective. In the 2D segments, the mermaid and Chibiterasu are usually separated with the mermaid in an underwater area and Chibiterasu in a dry area above or beside it. The player has to think first about how to navigate the mermaid through the underwater part with the Celestial Brush and then about how to steer Chibiterasu through the dry part to activate switches that help the mermaid pass obstacles. Puzzles like these are very engaging -- and unique.
- If you experience The Legend of Zelda flashbacks, that's normal. Producer Motohide Eshiro reminded us during the demo that he'd talked about Zelda as an inspiration to Okamiden many times prior to this demo. It took the mermaid's boss level, however, to really illustrate the homage. The fish boss is like a combination between the Water Temple creature from Ocarina of Time and the spider boss in the Great Deku Tree level of the same game.
Point in development cycle: Final. Though localization is still in swing, the game is finished. It arrived on shelves in Japan on September 30, and we can expect to see it in the U.S. in 2011.
My take: Okamiden is adorable, and action/adventure games are a natural fit for the DS even without the Celestial Brush tool eloping with the stylus. My one worry is the Nintendo 3DS's March 2011 launch. If Okamiden hits shelves too close to the 3DS's debut, the striking visuals of the new console's games might upstage the game -- even if the whole world doesn't immediately rush off to buy the 3DS. Here's hoping Okamiden isn't painted into a corner by bad timing.