NWR is mesmerized by Capcom’s sequel to its Japanese-themed adventure game.
One game that Capcom did not have at its press-only special demo event was the newly announced Okamiden for Nintendo DS. Instead, they had a gorgeously decorated play area dedicated to the game on the TGS show floor, complete with statues of the main characters, a Tori (a gate used in Japan to represent the divide between the real world and the spiritual world), a Shinto-style altar, and even a fake cherry blossom (sakura) tree that cherry blossoms would fall around when a play session was over. To top it all off, everyone who tried out the demo received a complimentary Japanese-style Okamiden fan (which we will be giving away on the website).
Okamiden takes place several months after the first game, where once again evil begins to plague Nakatsukuni. You control Chibi-terasu, a smaller version of the wolf from the first game, and her partner, Kuninushi. Movement of the characters is relegated to the control pad, the B button jumps, the Y button attacks, the X button is used to make Kuninushi mount/dismount Chibi-terasu, and the A button is used for contextual events such as talking to locals and opening chests.
The emphasized play mechanic is once again the ability to draw on the screen, which is done by switching into the drawing mode by pressing one of the shoulder buttons and then drawing with the stylus. The demo at TGS showed three different abilities that this mode offers: Kiru (Slice) which is done by drawing a horizontal straight line over the area you wish to slice, Michibiku (Guide) which allows you to guide Kuninushi somewhere on screen by drawing a line from him to the destination, and Saku (Bloom) which is done by drawing a circle over a bare tree, which causes it to grow sakura blossoms.
The TGS demo includes two modes of play: a basic play mode that gives an introduction to all of the play mechanics, and a story mode that allows the player to use the techniques learned in the basic play mode to progress through a challenge.
The game’s initial draw is its gorgeous art direction. Any Japanophiles will be instantly enchanted by the game’s look and atmosphere. Perhaps I just haven’t been playing many DS games as of late, but I thought it was beautiful for a DS game. The game’s use of vibrant colors and paint stroke-like outlines of its various characters and environments make for an immersive and breathtaking experience. In fact, I was so impressed that I chose to play the demo twice.
The basic play mode takes place over some cliffs and chasms high up in the night sky. Here you are given a primer on how to control Chibi-terasu and her partner. The story mode offered in the demo presents the player with a more varied environment in the form of a lovely little Japanese town near the mountains. While I didn’t get very far in either of the demo modes, just past the town was a cave where I experienced some combat with enemies.
Combat is handled by attacking enemies with the Y button which, when pressed in rapid succession, will cause Chibi-terasu to execute a combo attack. The drawing mechanic can also be used during combat, in particular the slice technique mentioned earlier. Certain enemies will only be beaten by using a combination of regular attacks and the drawing mechanic, presenting the player with a somewhat puzzle-like combat experience.
All in all, Okamiden presented a very enjoyable experience at TGS. While I have not yet actually played the first Okami, playing this demo has inspired me to pick up the Wii version and give it a go.