Death by Cute


It could be argued that the PlayStation 2 had a number of swan songs. Unquestionably, one of them was Okami​​, Clover Studio's stunning watercolor adventure through the world of ancient Japanese mythology. It was praised for its incredible visuals and engaging gameplay mechanics, but it wasn't a resounding commercial success. Capcom is looking to find that success with Okamiden, a DS exclusive.

Okamiden​ takes place roughly nine months after the events of Okami​. Despite Amaterasu's heroic exploits, Nippon is once again being threatened by demons. The sprite Sakuya attempts to summon Amaterasu (Ammy for short), who doesn't show up. Instead, Sakuya gets Chibiterasu, who looks like Ammy, but appears to be much, much younger.

One of Capcom's goals for Okami​den is for it to be recognized as a spiritual successor -- their words, not mine. Successor is actually an ironic term, here. The two main characters could definitely be considered successors. Of course, we have our lupine protagonist, Chibiterasu. The name references two things: the wolf's young appearance, and the sun goddess heroine of the first game, Amaterasu. Capcom isn't explaining exactly how this adorable little wolf is related to Ammy, but it's safe to say that there's a connection. In the playable demo, Chibiterasu does indeed have a few of Ammy's abilities; he seems to attack with similar weapons in similar patterns, and the trademark mechanic of Okami​ is his to use. Kuni, the little boy who accompanies Chibiterasu, is the son of Susano, the man who went from zero to hero with more than a little help from Ammy. Kuni seems to be the Issun of Okamiden, but he's more than just comedic relief. He plays an integral role in some of the gameplay sequences.

The Celestial Brush will play a huge factor in Okami​den. In Okami, this divine creation tool/deadly weapon/miracle worker allowed Amaterasu to restore life to Nippon by rejuvenating withered trees, slicing demons in half, creating objects, and summoning natural forces. In Okami​den, that power is Chibiterasu's. The E3 floor demo featured four Celestial Brush techniques: Rejuvenation, Bloom, Power Slash, and Guidance. Several of these abilities must be used in tandem in order to achieve success in battle or with puzzles. One encounter with a demon clam requires a practical strategy. Bloom opens the shell, exposing a conspicuous-looking eye. Power Slashing the eye finishes the beast off.

Okamiden's E3 floor demo also contains a few puzzles, which make use of the other two Celestial Brush techniques. If two buttons need to be stood on in order for a door to open, the press of a button will have Kuni hop off. Then, it's a matter of using Guidance to dictate where he goes. What works about the puzzles in Okamiden is that the camera can be moved independently of Chibiterasu; if there's something you need to see on the other side of the room and you can't get there, the camera will help you out.

If you own a DS and enjoy The Legend of Zelda, Okamiden is shaping up to be just the game for you. It launches next year, so keep your eyes peeled for further details on this gorgeous DS exclusive.