Okamiden started off from the bottom up as a pitch from a fan inside the company. When I met with Motohide Eshiro, Producer of Ace Attorney Investigations and Okamiden, I started by asking him about the game’s unique origins before moving on to questions about the Solar Disk and Okami HD.
I was reading on the Okamiden blog this game started off as an internal fan project. Can you tell us more about this?
Motohide Eshiro, Producer: It started with the director of the game, Matsushita, who was working for Capcom and he’s a big fan of Okami. He threw this thing together, like a pre-production working version, not that workable, but it was playable. He came to me and said I want to make this game and showed me what he had. I thought, oh that is pretty good!
Can you tell us more about the prototype version that sold you on the Okamiden project?
It was pretty basic. Chibiterasu was in an open world environment, but there was nothing really in there. He could run around, but that was pretty much it. Then they showed me how he would use the Celestial Brush for drawing. You could draw things, but they didn’t have any effects that the Celestial Brush had. It was just drawing for the sake of drawing.
So, pretty much Chibiterasu running around and drawing with the Celestial Brush, that’s what they showed me at the pre-production stage.
Another blog post said Amaterasu was being considered for the game.
Ah yes. The model base was Amaterasu, but when you put in on the DS it became so small it’s not really Amaterasu anymore, it’s Chibiterasu. During the pre-production stage, before we started moving into making the game, that gave us the idea if we’re going to do something like a small Amaterasu then it can be a child. Then we can make the game about the adventures of Amaterasu’s child.
So, Chibiterasu is Amaterasu’s child?
How do all of these parent-child relationships between characters come together in Okamiden?
The basic story behind this game is about relationships between children and their adventures. How they grow and experience things. And how Chibiterasu interacts with other characters, for example, Kuni, the son of Susano. First, there is a father-son relationship with Kuni and Susano. Then when Kuni meets Chibi the relationship between them. Then Chibiterasu meets and forms bonds with other characters in the game. It’s about meeting people, learning, and growing relationships with them. By the time you’re done playing the game you’ll feel as if you know these characters.
What other Okami offspring are in Okamiden?
One of the characters we just talked about in Japan is Tamaya. You find out about him and his parents in the game. There are a lot of characters from Okami that make an appearance in Okamiden. I can’t talk about them now, but it’s something to look forward to in the future. You’ll see how the relate and what relationships they have in this game.
The main focus is Chibiterasu, being the child of Amaterasu. Chibiterasu takes center stage.
Since Okamiden is a follow up to Okami and that was an action game we wanted to maintain an action feel for this game. If you just had the Celestial Brush as your only attack you kind of lose the tempo of a fast paced action. We wanted to design the game with an attack button so you can easily attack enemies, but then you finish them off with a flourish with the Celestial Brush. I think it provides a more enjoyable experience when playing the game.
Since the Nintendo DS has a touch screen, were there any ideas you wanted to try with it?
With the touch screen and stylus, the Celestial Brush was the easiest thing to improve on. It makes it easy to draw with the brush. We knew we wanted to make as many Celestial Brush moves as we could for the game.
Then we added partners and decided it would be great if partners could help you solve puzzles in the game. A lot of people who own and are fans of the DS enjoy puzzle games. While still marinating the action element, we wanted to increase the amount of puzzle elements. Because its on the DS and we have touch screen controls and partners we were able to add more puzzle elements than before.
The game is about to be released in Japan. Looking back, is there anything you wish you could have added to Okamiden?
Thinking back about it during production, especially the director, he had a lot of different things he wanted to put into the game. He just kept coming up with ideas. There just wasn’t time for a lot of them and they would pad the game in an unnecessary way. There is so much already in the game it isn’t lacking anything by not having any of those elements. I think you’ve got a full package on your hands here.
Some things he wanted to do were add a few more puzzles. Shortcuts, but I thought those defeated the purpose of partners because they can help you solve the puzzles. There were a couple of other different Celestial Brush moves he was thinking of putting in, but you already have so many Celestial Brush moves. Plus what you can do with the partners that it wasn’t really necessary to add those to the game.
How come you didn’t hold Okamiden back as a Nintendo 3DS title?
First of all, our production schedule wasn’t that long. It didn’t go that long to match up with the launch of the 3DS. Also, when we started working on Okamiden we did not have any information about the 3DS so we focused on making a Nintendo DS game.
Yeah, I’ve heard requests like that way before even. Our goal with this game is to make an Okami game you can bring with you and play at any time. The whole point of being on a portable system is you can have Okamiden whenever you want it. That’s why we decided to put it on Nintendo DS.
As far as a HD version goes, I understand why Okami fans would want such a graphic improvement over the original. I wouldn’t rule anything out. After this game comes out, if the response is good and people still want an HD Okami it will be something I definitely consider.
For now, I hope Okami fans and fans who want Okami HD will try out Okamiden and enjoy it for what it is, a portable Okami experience. Then maybe later down the line we can talk about something HD.
Speaking of HD how do you feel about Amaterasu in Marvel vs. Capcom 3?
[Laughs] I didn’t really know much about that, but if the fans are happy to hear about it I’m happy too!