Capcom’s one of the few video game companies with a presence at The Consumer Electronics Show this year. CES plays host to loads of high-end hardware manufacturers looking to convince the masses that their products represent the future of entertainment.
But, the company responsible for the Street Fighter mega-franchise doesn’t have such lofty goals. Instead, they’re rolling out a fresh look at one of the most anticipated Nintendo DS titles coming this year. As I’ve written about before, Okamiden revisits characters from 2008 action/adventure game Okami, where players controlled sun-goddess-turned-wolf Amaterasu trying to beat back an evil darkness threatening ancient, mythological Japan. The portable title picks up where the cult hit left off, only with Amaterasu’s son Chibiterasu as the lead character Capcom’s announcing a new partner character for Chibiterasu at CES and I had the chance to get a few questions answered by producer Motohideo Eshiro and director Kuniomi Matsushita. Read on to find out about who’ll be helping Chibiterasu out and to see how the game concepts from the PS2 title carry over to the DS.
Who decided to make a sequel to Okami?
Motohide Eshiro: We have developed Okamiden not as the sequel to Okami, but as its spiritual successor that derives its worldview from Okami. The original game received high critical acclaim, and because we also like that world, we wanted to ensure that we recreated it accurately. In order to deliver this great world to broader audience, we’ve decided to develop Okamiden for the DS.
What was the biggest challenge in taking the basic game design from Okami and moving it to the DS for Okamiden?
Eshiro: The biggest challenge lies on how we could implement the look and feel of the beautiful worldview of Okami on the DS while taking the full advantage of the platform’s performance for Okamiden.
Is there a formula for how you’re trying to achieve cuteness in Okamiden?
Kuniomi Matsushita: The game was initially designed to illustrate the two young characters growing up and cooperating; they build trust through their adventures together. We wanted to design a world of “young and innocent” characters that seek adventure.
Matsushita: You can enjoy the brush techniques in Okamiden just like you’ve enjoyed them in Okami on PS2 – but now it’s even easier to draw on the DS platform. There are three basic categories for the puzzles, ones that you solve with the Celestial Brush, ones that require co-op action with the partner characters and ones where players use the Celestial Brush while cooperating with the partner. In order for Chibiterasu to learn new techniques, you must visit the Brush Gods that rests in various regions in Nippon and acquire the ability from the sons of Brush God. Of course there are brush techniques that are original to Okamiden that you will be thrilled to use.
One of the other important features in Okamiden is the co-op action with the partner character. “Two heads are better than one” – that’s the idea. So you will be taking advantage of Chibiterasu’s different partner’s capabilities throughout the adventure.
Beside Kuni, who will be helping out Chibiterasu in the game? Will they have a different relationship than Kuni and Chibiterasu?
Eshiro: We’ve shown the mermaid Nanami, who is one of Chibi’s partners. As a mermaid, she can move freely above and under water, and these abilities will surely be useful in the underwater stage. She’s a very charming character, but when she gets angry she can be quite difficult to deal with – I feel this is a part of her charm. When the player meets Nanami, they can pick up the new Celestial Brush technique, “Waterspout.” You get full command of water with this celestial brush technique, which opens up abilities such as filling a dried-up pond with water and putting out torches. The deity for “Waterspout” is Young Nuregami, a small and cute snake.
Another partner is Kagu, a child star with some spiritual powers. She has the ability to see the Spirit Floors when she’s on Chibi’s back. With her special skill, you can enjoy solving various puzzles in the Playhouse stage. When you meet her, you can also obtain a new Celestial Brush technique called “Inferno”. The phoenix deity, the child of Moegami, endows you the full command of fire such as melting the frozen things, lighting up candles.
Yet another partner and one we are showing for the first time now is Kurow. He’s a good kid, but has a weakness for women. He’s a key figure in the story, and we’ll be revealing more information about him in the future, so keep an eye out for it.
Does Chibiterasu have a different personality than Amaterasu?
Matsushita: Chibiterasu shows love towards all beings. He can be clumsy sometimes but he has a strong sense of justice and a care for others. Chibi has a similar personality as the mother, Amaterasu. However, Chibi shows some traits typical to children, such as somewhat being tearfully sentimental or not being able to make decisions.
Are there other figures from Japanese myth or folklore that you think would make good game characters?
Matsushita: I’m sure there are possibilities of many interesting characters from Japanese folklore which might have a chance showing up in video games such as, “Plump Old Man,” “The Battle of Crab and Ape,” and “Click-Clack Mountain.”
Amaterasu is going to be in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Is there any chance that we might see Kuni, Kurow and/or Chibiterasu in a future fighting game?
Eshiro: Well, I think that would be fantastic if they would make an appearance in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, though they haven’t received an offer to be included yet.
If you had the Celestial Brush in real life, what would you paint on the world?
Eshiro: I love cherry blossoms, so I’d like to try out the Bloom spell on dead cherry blossom trees and bring them into full-bloom.