Okami DS producer takes the TGS stage

TGS 2009: Motohide Eshiro outlines Okami's handheld sequel and reveals the secret of Chibiterasu's identity.


TOKYO--At the 2009 Tokyo Game Show, one of the anticipated titles at Capcom's booth was the DS sequel to Okami, Okamiden: Chiisaki Taiyou, ("Okamiden: The Small Sun"). As expected, Capcom held a stage show to show off the highlights of the game and to give a more in-depth look into the game's characters.

Eshiro, Kitajima, and Matushita talks Okamiden.
Eshiro, Kitajima, and Matushita talks Okamiden.

First, Okamiden producer Motohide Eshiro appeared onstage and began by showing a trailer. The trailer started with a brief outline of the game's plot: It has been only a few months since peace was brought to Nippon by the sun god reincarnation Amaterasu. But demons have once again returned, and instead of Amaterasu, a smaller, cuter puppy with her same powers has appeared to save the land.

The trailer then introduced Chibiterasu's partner Kuninushi and showed a few scenes where one-way dialogues were happening between Kuninushi and Chibiterasu. Examples of the celestial brush system using the DS's stylus were shown, like slashing through the screen to cut objects and enemies and lassoing objects to fix them or bring them back to life. A couple of battle scenes were quickly shown with enemies like a big red frog, and then near the end, we saw two familiar faces; the tree sprite Sakuya and Susanoo.

After the trailer ended, Eshiro gave a general overview of what gamers can expect in terms of Okamiden's system.

"The game is now on the DS, and the celestial brush system really goes well with the handheld's stylus," he explained. "You can directly draw on the screen and it'll reflect right in the game. Also, the battles in the previous console release may have been a bit challenging. Since the game is on a handheld this time, we've tuned it up so that it's more simple and easier to play. For example, you can use the celestial brush and quickly slash a like to attack while you're fighting."

Director Kuniomi Matushita then appeared onstage to present a quick demonstration, which took place in Kamikimura village. As Chibiterasu trotted through the village with flowers appearing after each step, Eshiro commented that the developers made a lot of effort to bring Okami's graphic quality to the DS and that they've used the DS's hardware capabilities to their maximum extent.

Eshiro then showed off two new moves that can be done with the celestial brush in Okamiden. He first showed off a move called "Kiseki" (path). When the game is playing in bird's-eye view, the player can go into the celestial brush mode and draw a path starting from Chibiterasu. When done, it'll make Kuninushi get off from Chibiterasu and walk in that given route. Some areas of the game require the use of Kiseki because the platforms are too rigid for both characters to pass together.

In the demo, Eshiro assigned Kuninushi a path, and he followed the route to step on a switch at the end of a rigid platform. That caused a new switch to appear within Amaterasu's range. Amaterasu was then controlled with the D pad to step on the new switch, and a bridge appeared on the map, allowing the two characters to unite and advance to the next the area.

According to Eshiro, this kind of team play will be a core part of Okamiden's gameplay. "Chibiterasu is still young and needs a helping hand. So that's why Chibiterasu will adventure with a partner riding on its back. This also has a lot to do with the game's storyline," explained Eshiro.

Eshiro then showed another new way of using the stylus, this time in the battle screen. Chibiterasu encountered an enemy in a dungeon, and the screen switched to a battle area where Chibiterasu had to fight two large blue clams. Since they had shells, they couldn't be damaged with normal moves, and a simple slash with the celestial brush didn't do any good either. Then, we were shown that drawing a circle around the clams let us open up their shells, and their meaty insides could be attacked for an easy defeat.

As a little additional bonus, Eshiro then showed off that the developers have actually been able to include the "Okami Oroshi" scenes, where life is brought back to beautiful Mother Nature. It was one of the graphical highlights of the previous console release, and it's also going to be in Okamiden. "It was a real challenge for us to realize it on the DS," said Eshiro.

Okamiden writer Yukinori Kitajima (428: In Blockaded Shibuya, Debug Girl) then came onstage, and the three developers talked about the story side of things, starting off with the biggest question: Chibiterasu's relationship to Amaterasu. As it turns out, Chibiterasu is actually Amaterasu's child.

"It'll only be mentioned indirectly in the game, but yes, they're child and parent. Chibiterasu is still young, so it doesn't have as much power as Amaterasu," said Eshiro. "We probably won't go into details like where it was born or how it was born."

As a game on a handheld hardware, Okamiden will have a storyline that's split into short chapters and easy to follow along. While the three developers didn't make any mention as to whether Amaterasu will appear in Okamiden, they reconfirmed that Issun will be returning in the game and will appear time and time through the game's storyline.

Scenario writer Kitajima then went on to talk about the game's main themes, which are trust and growth. As it turns out, Chibiterasu and Kuninushi aren't buddy-buddy with each other at the very beginning of the game, but their friendship grows as the story goes on.

As the son of the Susanoo, Kuninushi tries to act strong to live up to his father's name, but deep down, he's still a young boy and he easily gets cold feet. As his friendship to Chibiterasu grows, he learns to show his real self. (The unnatural age gap between Susanoo and Kuninushi is a secret that will be explained in the game.) Chibiterasu will also have other partners aside from Kuninushi, though details weren't revealed during the presentation.

Okamiden is slated for a 2010 release in Japan, with North American and European release plans to be determined later. For more details, check out GameSpot's hands-on preview from TGS 2009.

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