Okamiden Updated Impressions: Shopping at the Demon Market

Capcom shows us an updated version of Okamiden that lets players do some shopping and meet a new companion.

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Capcom's Okamiden is the promising spiritual sequel to 2006's Okami, which cast players as Amaterasu's--the game's lead character--godling offspring, a wolf cub named Chibiterasu. The game is set roughly nine months after the end of Okami and finds demons reappearing in the land of Nippon. Although Amaterasu isn't around to deal with the demons, Chibiterasu is on the case with the help of some friends. The game has made a good impression on us every time we've seen it, and this latest demo didn't break tradition.

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Our guided demo kicked off with Chibiterasu and his travelling companion Kuni nearing the entrance to the Demon Market. As non-demons, Chibiterasu and Kuni had trouble gaining entry, but the problem was solved by using the game's celestial brush mechanic to draw masks for the pair. Players will be tapped to draw anything they want on masks for both characters to wear as disguises. Once the designs are set, Chibi and Kuni will both be seen wearing them in game as they bluff their way past the guards at the market entrance.

Once inside the market, players will be able to explore the different stalls, manned by floating demons that buy and sell assorted goods, as well as a bulletin board that features postings with useful information. The pair winds up hitting a roadblock in the form of a fairy guard who demands an item called the fire eye, which sends them on a quest throughout the market to find it. The search for the fire eye is a good showcase for the expansive area that is full of places to explore. We saw a number of different areas that yielded items after the use of brush techniques, such as cherry bomb, slash, and rejuvenate. Besides the standard items, such as ink pots, we always saw Chibi collect part of a masterpiece, which are works of art created by Issun as seen in the first game that focused on Amaterasu.

Once the dynamic duo track down the fire eye and turn it in to the guard, they're able to progress a bit further but hit another guard who demands a lengthy three-part password. Chibi and Kuni have to do some additional exploration in the market to uncover the passwords, which are spread throughout the market. Once the passwords are presented and the pair advance, they come across a tournament whose prize is a mermaid. Upon closer inspection, it's clear that the mermaid, named Nanami, isn't a willing prize, so Chibi makes Kuni feel guilty in order to participate and save her. Being good Samaritans leads the pair into a series of rounds fighting against an increasingly tough selection of enemies. While the first batch of foes is pretty straightforward, the later fights against flying enemies, hammer-wielding enemies, and bizarre demons riding tops look pretty tough. The fights offered a good showcase for the game's combat system and the ways you'll be able to make use of the celestial brush techniques to take out enemies. We were able to see slash and the cherry bomb techniques mixed into Chibi's standard attacks, which appeared to be key in dealing with the tougher foes. After a several rounds of fighting, the pair stomped all their opponents and won Nanami.

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Unfortunately, the surprisingly hot-tempered nymph isn't exactly thrilled with her would-be rescuers given their disguises. Matters are complicated when, in the process of trying to clear things up, the pair's disguises are lost. As you'd expect, the population at a Demon's Market--which has a pretty tight entry requirement--doesn't take kindly to intruders. This is especially true of the Witch Queen, a local figure of import, who immediately dives at the boys, which initiates a boss fight and ended the demo. From what we saw, Okamiden is shaping up to be a promising follow-up to the fan favorite original. The game appears be capturing the key qualities that made the PlayStation 2 game a hit with fans. The visuals, despite being crammed on the DS, retain most of the look and feel of the console game. The game's audio has also made a good transition to the DS, despite the switch from disc to cartridge media. We're excited to get our hands on the final game and see how the whole adventure plays out, but sadly it's going to be a bit of a wait: Okamiden is slated to ship in the first half of 2011.

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