What We Know: Before Tokyo Game Show, Okamiden (tentative title) was a Capcom fanboy's wet dream. Well, I should say "before the Famitsu scans hit the Internet," but that's neither here nor there. The PS2 cult favorite (and Wii almost-cult favorite) has always felt like a game that would go together with a touch screen like pickled plums and shiso or peanut butter and jelly. Apparently, Capcom thought so too. That's why it commissioned another adventure for the great white wolf goddess Amaterasu. Also, from what I can tell in my limited Japanese, it seems to be a prequel.
What's New at TGS: An Okami game for DS, that's what's new. It's Okamiden's worldwide debut this week at the show, and of all of Capcom's lineup for TGS, it boasted the longest booth lines with a 45 minute wait today. More than Lost Planet 2, more than Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles, and more than fellow DS debutant Ghost Trick. Demos were restricted to 15 minute playthroughs, but that was enough to get an idea of how it works. Also, enough time to overcome the language barrier that made simple puzzles more challenging.
The basic idea is that you control both Amaterasu and a child. The child rides on Amaterasu's back as she performs many of the same mechanics we saw in Okami. Those include shattering clay pots for items and using the Celestial Brush to overcome obstacles. The brush, if you haven't played Okami, allows you to draw brushstrokes in the environment that affect the game. A slicing motion can clear a path of forest trail. Filling in the parts of a broken bridge with paint can restore it. And in Okamiden, the brush is as intuitive as you'd expect, thanks to the touch screen. Although I couldn't read the differences, it appears that two types of ink are used, depending on the character. Puzzles for the child use red ink to lead him to a point on the map. Puzzles for Amaterasu are similar to Okami and use black ink.
I used both inks for a handful of puzzles during the demo, and although it took a little time to get used to when and where to use them (it helps if you can read Japanese), the gameplay felt perfectly intuitive to anyone who invested time in the first game. Combat also feels like the PS2 game, since Amaterasu has similar button-based attacks.
It also helps that Okamiden boasts the same stylized art design that the prior game had. Although it's not as clear in visual fidelity, several DS games have proven that you can do cel-shading well on the platform, and Okamiden is no exception.
What I Want to See: A time machine that will fast forward me to the English translation. Barring that, I'm simply looking forward to more time with Okamiden. My short 15 minute demo showed off an experience that seems to pack all of the beauty, magic, and Zelda-like gameplay into a portable package. Whenever Capcom announces it for the US, it'll immediately be one to watch.