Okamiden Preview

Okamiden Preview
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The Okami Franchise Continues - Okamiden Preview

Back when Okami was released in 2006 for the PlayStation 2, gamers got a chance to play a fantasy action-adventure game that featured tons of exploration across ancient Japan; a beautiful soundtrack which consisted of themes using authentic Japanese instrumentation; and one of the most aesthetically pleasing visual designs in recent memory. Sadly, the title didn’t fare too well commercially. Still, there were those who enjoyed Okami’s excellent gameplay, and this pushed the title into cult status.

The game was remade in 2008 for the Nintendo Wii, and it allowed more gamers to experience this wonderful gem. Here we are years later, and Capcom refuses to let the beautiful and underrated franchise die. Enter: Okamiden on the Nintendo DS. Set for release in North America in 2011, Okamiden is a spiritual sequel to Okami and will recreate the world of the original and stay true to the gameplay style of that title while still having its own appeal and exclusive features.

The Story Goes On

Okamiden follows the exploits of Chibiterasu, the pup of the first game’s protagonist, Amaterasu. Dark forces have invaded ancient Japan not too long after Amaterasu rid the land of evil in the original Okami, and it is up to Chibiterasu to save everyone and everything from impending doom.

The Celestial Brush and Chibiterasu’s Partners

The Celestial Brush can be used to solve puzzles, restore the ravaged land, and gain access to hard-to-reach areas.

Like the original Okami, this spiritual successor focuses heavily on exploration. Because Chibiterasu meets many new faces along the way, character interaction is a part of both main objectives and sidequests, which Capcom has stated there will be plenty of. Sometimes you can perform extra missions to earn special collectible items; other times you are required to collect specific key items to progress through areas or gain access to caves and dungeons.

A new feature introduced in this installment is the addition of partners for Chibiterasu. Kuni, the son of the Susano, is the first confirmed partner for Chibiterasu, and a playable demo of the game at this year’s E3 showcased the cooperation between the two. You solve puzzles by using both characters’ strengths and making them work as a team. It’s an interesting addition to the series, and one that felt natural in the demo.

The Celestial Brush returns in Okamiden, and it works just as it did in the previous game. You connect stars to create constellations and earn new brush techniques; you use Chibiterasu’s powers of rejuvenation to bring trees and fields back to life; you spawn bombs to blow up cracked walls; you can even draw masks to put on your characters in order to hide their identities. These are just a few of the functions of the Celestial Brush, and there are likely to be many new techniques for Chibiterasu to learn.

The Look and Sound of Okamiden

Despite the DS’s technical limitations, Okamiden retains much of the visual beauty from the first game.

On the PlayStation 2 and Wii, Okami looked like a true work of art. The game felt like an interactive Japanese watercolor painting, and even today it’s hard to find a more artistically stunning game. Though the Nintendo DS is no graphical powerhouse, Capcom has used the handheld’s full potential to give Okamiden as much artful charm as humanly possible. Overall, the game’s art design is really solid, and it exudes a great deal of aesthetic brilliance.

In terms of sound, Okamiden uses ancient Japanese music just like its predecessor. The scope of themes within the game is still unknown at this point, but trailers and gameplay videos have all showcased enjoyable in-game music. While Okamiden may not feature as much music as Okami did, if the design of the songs stays similar to that of the original, we’re bound to get a real treat for the ears.

Okamiden Preview - Chibiterasu Rises to the Occasion

North American DS owners will be able to revisit ancient Japan in March 2011.

The wait for Okamiden has certainly seemed like a long one, but if the game manages to deliver like its predecessor did, then Nintendo DS owners will have something grand to look forward to when the title launches. It’s a good thing Capcom never let the franchise die after the poor sales of the first game, because this series has the potential to go far, and Okamiden may very well be the next step in making that happen. The game has already launched in Japan, and it has managed to receive a decent amount of praise thus far. Here’s hoping the title faithfully captures the magic of the first game. You can get your hands on Okamiden on March 15, 2011.