Capcom confirmed that its sequel to Okami, Okamiden, is being primed for release in the US in 2011 at its recent press event. The sequel, for the Nintendo DS, picks up a short time after the original game and adds an adorable twist. Rather than playing as Amaterasu, the sun goddess from the original game, you're cast in the role of her offspring Chibiterasu an adorable wolf cub. We tried out a work-in-progress demo of the upcoming game that ran us through the basics of control and let us mess around in the game's magical world. Although the gameplay has seen some tweaks from its previous incarnations, Okamiden works incredibly well on the DS.
The demo we played featured two parts: basic and trial run. The basic section ran us through the game's control scheme, which is pretty standard. You'll use the D pad to move Chibiterasu and use the buttons to attack, open items, dodge attacks, or jump. The shoulder buttons call up the celestial brush screen so that you can begin painting your troubles away. Combat has been streamlined a bit, but you'll still be mixing button mashing with brushing. Stunned enemies will show the paint pattern needed to dole out a hefty amount of damage.
The trial-run portion tested what we learned in the basics portion by sending us on some proper questing. We were able to explore a small town and talk to locals. Most importantly, we hooked up with Chibiterasu's buddy Kuni, Susano's son from the original game who rode on our backs. The duo fought together and even executed some slick team attacks in combat. The short demo offered some puzzle solving; pretty basic paint-in-the-missing-shape stuff that was easy to figure out. The demo got interesting, though, when Chibi and Kuni had to split up; we had to use the new guidance brush power where we used the stylus to paint a path to direct our buddy. The mechanic has a distinctive Zelda feel, which isn't a bad thing at all. There was a good bit of multitasking at one point as one puzzle required us to hit switches to clear Kuni's path. The adventuring was punctuated with some combat, as well as using the slash-and-bloom celestial brush powers. The action feels very much like the console game, albeit cuter--Chibi will be receiving his brush powers from other young animals. Yes, it borders on cuteness overkill, but it works out better than you might think. The demo ended with Chibi facing off against a massive toad boss named Master Anura who teased their battle in the final game.
All told, Okamiden is packing all the charm of its console cousins with an added dose of cuteness. What we've played feels a lot like the DS Zelda games but with a bit more personality and charm. From what we've played, fans of the original game will be pleased. More importantly, the gameplay refinements have made the game a bit more accessible to newcomers. Painting is obviously a breeze on the DS and control is solid. The only downside to what we saw is that we're going to have to wait until an undetermined 2011 date to get our hands on it. Look for more on Okamiden in the coming months.