Okamiden Hands-On PreviewBy Patrick Klepek - Posted Apr 21, 2010
I'll begin with an admission: I haven't really played Okami. Not out of disinterest, it was just one of many games crossed my desk only to be buried under a mound of other games. In essence, I was among the many who found themselves saying "crap, I should have played that." Fortunately, Capcom is giving me a chance to redeem myself with DS-bound Okamiden.
At the beginning of the Okamiden presentation at Captivate 2010 last week, the company wanted to make it very clear that the game is considered a full-fledged a sequel to Okami. This isn't a spin-off meant to appeal to a difference audience. Rather, Capcom believes they were onto something with the original Okami, but for whatever reason, it didn't connect with enough gamers and placing it on a platform with a wider audience (the DS) might help this time.
That said, Okamiden certainly plays like a sequel to Okami and thanks to the brush gameplay being transferred to the DS touch screen, Okamiden actually feels like a much more natural application of the mechanics from the original game. Of the limited time I spent with Okami on PlayStation 2 and Wii, painting the brush strokes always felt a little...off. That's not the case with Okamiden, however, as the stylus is actually outlining the various brush designs.
It's quite remarkable what Capcom has pulled off with the aging DS hardware, too. There's really no reason Okamiden should look as good as it does. The art style's held up remarkably well on the DS. As we've seen with other DS games, cel shading and cartoonish looks hold up much better with the limited 3D capabilities of the system. Combine that with Okamiden's naturally beautiful aesthetics and there's something special. The environments, at least the ones at Captivate, were small and involved a decent amount of loading from room to room, but the individual areas were so good looking that it hardly became a distraction. Over time? We'll see.
Capcom did address two major complaints that were lodged against the original Okami. One, the lengthy tutorial. The Okamiden team is aware of that one and said it shouldn't be an issue. It won't take hours to get moving into the core gameplay. Two, the fairly ridiculous length of Okami's story. While Capcom said Okamiden would remain a big adventure worthy of being a named sequel to Okami, it apparently won't be nearly as long.
Like Ghost Trick, Capcom didn't let me play around with Okamiden too long. The hands-on demo lasted maybe 10 minutes before teasing a boss battle against a massive frog. Okamiden is scheduled for a release in Japan sometime before the end of the year, but sadly, we'll be waiting until 2011 for the version we can actually read. Before then, maybe I can play Okami.