Okamiden - hands-on

Chibiterasu is just too cute for his own good. The new puppy protagonist in Okamiden, a DS sequel to Okami, lured in large crowds at the most recent Jump Festa in Tokyo, Japan. Set roughly three months after the end of Okami, Okamiden puts players in control of the sun god/wolf pup, Chibiterasu and charges you with ridding the world of demons. The Jump Festa demo took place on the celestial plane around the Milky Way, which was also featured in the early parts of the original Okami - and we got to play it.

Above: Fans who braved the long lines at the most recentJump Festa got a chance to play a demo of Okamiden

While each area we explored seemed simpler in design than the original - with fewer moving elements onscreen - fans will be pleased to know that the Okamiden team has managed to capture the spirit of Okami’s striking art style. The bright watercolors and sumi-e style brush strokes are back - and the animations for Chibiterasu look great as you prance through the game’s picturesque world.

The focus of Okamiden’s gameplay still revolves around the Celestial Brush, a magical tool that allows you to attack enemies and affect the world with bold brush strokes. By drawing on the screen in Celestial Brush mode, we could call forth Chibiterasu’s powers. For example, by drawing a square over part a collapsed bridge, we were able to reconstruct it. Other powers were displayed in the game’s trailer, but not the demo. Expect to see the bloom power from the original game, which allowed players to cause trees and flowers to blossom. The cutting stroke, which can be used to quickly dispatch enemies, was also sighted.

Above: An example of how the Celestial Brush can be used to help you navigate Okamiden’s world

Chibiterasu was controlled with the D-pad, so don’t expect any Zelda-like touch screen controls. The A button was used for interaction, B was for jumping, Y was for attacking, and the X button was used for partner interaction. While Okami’s Ameterasu had the poet Issun for a partner, he wasn’t very good at helping her out in a pinch. In contrast, Chibiterasu will be accompanied by a number of friends throughout the game. In the Jump Festa demo, we got to experiment with Chibiterasu’s companion, Nushi. When pressed, Nushi would dismount Chibiterasu. By hitting the L or the R buttons we could turn the world into something that looked like a traditional Japanese scroll, which slid down to the bottom screen of the DS and allowed us to use our Celestial Brush powers.

Above: Slash enemies with your Celestial Brush to damage them

Trace a path across the screen, and Nushi will follow. In the demo, this power was used to lead Nushi across a flimsy bridge that would’ve collapsed under the weight of Chibiterasu. After directing Nushi across the bridge to perform some traditional switch pulling, we were able to cross the bridge later with Chibiterasu.

Unfortunately, Capcom has yet to officially confirm Okamiden’s release for the west – and no further details concerning the possibility of a western release were available at Jump Festa. Expect more details as Okamiden’s 2010 release in Japan draws nearer. In the meantime, be sure to check out everything else you may have missed at this year’s Jump Festa and the ultra cool trailer for Okamiden below.

Above: The Tokyo Game Show trailer for Okamiden

Jan 5, 2009