Capcom was performing double-duty in San Francisco this week with both GDC and Wondercon. While GDC is very much closed off to the gaming community, Wondercon on the other hand offered a perfect opportunity to demonstrate their upcoming software library to the gaming masses.
Okami has had an interesting life, It started as the labor of love from the killed off "Clover" studios, Was loved by the gaming critics at large, some even declaring it game of the year, and yet ignored by the public all around the world. Capcom in America decided that sometimes great games need a second chance before fading into the halls of obscurity and legend. Proposals were made and "Ready at Dawn" studios was given the daunting task of porting over the title to Wii in a very short time, with no input from the original team.
One thing that is noticeable is the graphics of the game. While it is certainly nothing drastic between the two, there is a definite difference. On the Wii, Okami has lost the sort of paper filter that covered the screen on the PS2. While some long for the "effect" I personally think the game benefits more from the removal. The graphics are cleaner, the draw distance looks better, and the colors are more vibrant. I did not notice any framerate hiccups either, so it all looks to be running smoothly.
The controls are really hard to understand, First of all the painting aspect requires the use of the remotes IR functionality. This has, and always will be a major problem at trade shows for the Wii. The IR is constantly interfered with or blocked, and the booth set up had a the TV mounted on a wall slightly above the average persons head and then the IR receiver was placed above the TV. What this means is that standing and pointing straight in front of you is actually pointing at the control description box below the screen. This made pinpoint accuracy with the celestial brush a nightmare and realizing this, I would not judge the painting aspect on this demo at all. The combat system is also strange, you waggle the remote to attack, but it seems that you can only attack once very slowly, it seemed like connecting a hit would enable you to waggle the remote again to attack in succession, otherwise waggling the remote would result in nothing. I am not sure if this is how combat in Okami is supposed to work because I have not played the original. The second problem is there is no lock on button, again not sure if there isn't supposed to be one. If not then that seems to be a huge oversight and step backwards on Clovers part. All of the other actions in the demo seemed to work just fine. from the running, jumping and interacting.
Sadly, Okami seems almost doomed to go unnoticed again by releasing on March 25. 16 days after Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I would certainly hope that those interested in an imaginative take on Japanese folklore with similar gameplay structure to the Zelda series actually go out and buy this game. Port or not, it certainly looks poised to be a good addition to every Wii owners library.