Capcom is getting set to unleash a double shot of awesome into your DS this coming season with the release of Okamiden and Ghost Trick. One is the sequel to the unique and original fan favorite, while the other is a new IP from the creators of the Ace Attorney series. We sat down with the producers of both titles (and their translators) to get an insight into just how and why Capcom will soon be holding your Nintendo DS captive.
First up was Motohide Eshiro, producer of both the Wii port of the original Okami and of Okamiden. If you are not familiar with Okami, let this video illustrate just what sort of game it is before we go any further.
As you can see, there are some very unique aspects to the Okami universe. The first being the hand drawn visual style (which has been credited as in influence in games such as Street Fighter 4 and The 2008 iteration of Prince of Persia) and the second being the “Celestial Brush” which literally lets you draw upon the game world and help you progress through the game. Both the style and brush are making a return in Okamiden for the DS. Fans of this critically acclaimed series simply cannot wait. Check out the E3 and Gamescom trailers for Okamiden below.
The game takes place three months after the end of Ōkami, with the player now in control of Chibiterasu, another wolf like Amaterasu (from Okami). So, now that you know exactly what to expect in Okamiden, let’s get some insight from producer Motohide Eshiro.
DO: For somebody who has never played the first game, what’s going to attract them to this game?
ME: I think the thing that will make an impact on someone most are the unique visuals of the game. The visual style and the art style of the game isn’t something that you usually find on a portable gaming system. I can say safely that there’s not many games that look like that. So, number one, that would be attractive for people. Second thing, the main character himself, Chibiterasu, pretty cute, the wolf cub, I think he’s got a lot of charm, so people are going to like that. The way you can control him, the way you’re just free to roam around and run anywhere with him. I think that’s pretty fun. Also, there’s the Celestial Brush, the drawing mechanic in the game which now we have on the touch screen. You can draw exactly what you want and Okami originally is about drawing, so the touch screen is perfect for that. I think that will be interesting for people who have never played an Okami game.
DO: That being said, how great is it to have technology like the Nintendo DS for a game like Okamiden?
ME: The original Okami, I think, is the first game that brought the Celestial Brush mechanic to gamers, but the problem is they couldn’t really control it as a brush because they had to control it through a controller and they might have found that experience not as intuitive, a little stressful even, but once the Nintendo DS came out with the touch screen, we said, oh that’s a perfect match for the brush because you can just draw what you want right away. I think it’s safe to say that because we have a DS with a touch screen, you have Okamiden.
DO: When did you realize it was the time for a new Okami game? How did you pitch the idea of a new Okamiden and was the company excited? (The original Okami was critically successful, but did not sell well.)
ME: The original Okami, after that came out, I think it created a lot of fanbase. Okami fans are pretty passionate, and after that came out there were a lot of requests from fans for a follow up in some form and unfortunately as you probably know and it’s no big secret, the original staff that worked on Okami were no longer at Capcom any more, they had moved on to other things. There wasn’t really a team in place that could follow in their footsteps.
DO: So you had to build a new team?
ME: Exactly, A lot of the people that do work at Capcom are fans of the original Okami and one of them is the director of the current game. He wanted to make another Okami game, so he put something together on his own with a few people. They came and showed it to me and said, “Look we can do this Okami on the Nintendo DS, what do you think?” And I looked at him and went, “This is a good idea, I think we can do this!” So then I presented it to the higher ups at Capcom, they said we’ve got something here and we can make this work and with it being on the Nintendo DS it’s a perfect match, it seems like the best system for it, there’s a lot going for it, ya, so it just went through and now we’re making the game!
DO: Are there any plans to bring Okamiden to the Wii? As far as canvas goes, the DS is a small canvas and the Wii is a very large canvas, so with a game like Okami, if this is successful, is there any chance of this coming to the Wii as well?
ME: I think what’s more important than having a big canvas is the fact that you can draw directly. The Wii, you wouldn’t be drawing directly on the screen. (I realize he is right and I nod my head in agreement) The DS allows you to actually draw how you want to on the screen, that’s where the intuitive drawing system comes into place. The fact that you’re able to touch the screen directly and draw what you want, you’re connected to it. And first of all, we’re concentrating on this Okami and we want to get it out there and we hope the fan reaction is good and we hope it does well, and it’s commercially successful. If it is, and the fans request something, then we can talk about sequels and other systems. The Wii itself is a very good system. The specs are great, I don’t have problems with the Wii, but as far as Okami as a series goes, I prefer the direct drawing with the brush. Not to say we wouldn’t do a sequel on another system but I do like the fact that you can draw directly with the Nintendo DS.
DO: How important is it to have a devoted fan base and to get feedback from that fan base in the development of a game like Okamiden?
ME: Yeah, I think it’s VERY important to have fans making requests and giving us feedback for a game like this and join the development of this game because the director is making the game but the game is not for the director it’s for the fans who are going to be playing the game. So of course the director has these artistic elements of the game that he wants to focus on and polish and that’s all good and well, but at the end of the day, he’s not making the game for himself, he’s making it for the fans. So, we listen to the fans’ requests and listen to what they say and we get feedback at the various stages and we take that to heart. If we can we reflect it in the game we try, but not all of it is always doable. So we do like to listen to the fans when possible, and I don’t think that anyone should ignore their fans when making a game. Especially when you have fans like Okami does.
Next it was time to sit down with Hironobu Takeshita (Producer) and Shu Takumi (Director) of Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective. I brought LA Canvas editor and Ripten contributor Andrea Emmes in to investigate with me.
Shu Takumi is the creator of the acclaimed and best selling Ace Attorney series, and came up with the idea for Ghost Trick while working on the third Ace Attorney game.
Ghost trick has already been released to much critical success in Japan, but will not be available here in the US until this winter. We had a chance to play Ghost Trick and must say that it is very, very cool. You play as a dead man named Sissel, who must solve the mystery of his own death by possessing and manipulating inanimate objects. Sound interesting? Well, it is. Check out the trailer below.
After getting some great hands on time with a game that manages to be compelling despite having only two commands throughout it entirety (Ghost and Trick), it was time to sit down with the creative minds behind it.
DO: Ghost Trick is a brand new intellectual property following in the footsteps of Ace Attorney, which was very successful. Where did the inspiration come from when making a game like this about someone who possesses inanimate objects while being dead?
Capcom: The main inspiration for Ghost Trick actually came from the fact that Mr. Takumi (translator nods at Takumi), having worked on Ace Attorney for so long wanted to create something very different from Ace Attorney. So basically he took Ace Attorney and looked at it, what were the basic aspects, when you’ve got multiple cases and each case was a self contained story, you had a character who was solving mysteries around him and I said, “You know, this time I think I’d like to make a game that has one continuous story.”
So, Ghost Trick features one continuous story from start to end and having a dead character who doesn’t remember anything about himself makes it easy for him to go around and peer into the lives of others in an effort to gain information about himself. For example, we have over 30 characters, and Sissel goes around and he actually interacts with each and every one of these characters, looking at their lives, seeing the mysteries and the little puzzles and whatever little pieces of information he can get from them and try to piece together who he is and what he was killed for. Why he was killed, who killed him? And to find the answers to all these mysteries about himself.
AE: I’m really interested in the art style of the game, it’s beautiful. How did you make that decision to make the game 2d instead of using motion capture or 3D, especially with Nintendo launching the 3Ds next year?
Capcom: One of the big things right now is that everyone is making 3D and we wanted to make something that really stood out from the crowd. One of the things we wanted to do with it is, we have so many characters and we wanted them all to have an impact. So what we did is we chose to make silhouettes that were very striking and each of them very unique so that when the player sees them they will remember the characters individually and as a whole.
So, that is why we chose such a striking silhouette and a striking style. In terms of the animation and the motion that you mentioned, we did hand make each one of those and we didn’t use motion capture. We created the 3D models for them, that’s why they are so fluid. 3D polygon models, and because they were hand created, we were able to put into them a lot of individual characteristics and individual quirks and each character has their own set of motions and animations that are very unique to just that character. And so we hope the players will enjoy the huge variety of actions and animations that these characters do.
AE: I know it can be quite time consuming doing 3D modeling . . .
DO: Is it easier doing it in 2D?
Capcom: As you mentioned, yes it might have been a bit faster to do it 2D with hand drawn cells, but not at the quality level we wanted. Because what we wanted to do was take the newest technologies and we wanted to make the best 2D graphics you could imagine. So, by making the polygons in 3D, we were able to make these high res, incredibly detailed high polygon count models and then make the animation as smooth as possible and incredibly beautiful . . . then we can scale it down to the motion. You’ve got the fluidity, you’ve got the actions and motions and without having to have somebody draw each and every one, like I mentioned earlier, there’s over 30 characters and even if we did it by hand, let’s say we did it the traditional 2D animation style, that would take forever, so this was definitely the way to go to create that fluidity and motion in Ghost Trick.
AE: Well, I think you achieved it!
DO: Do you set out to see that a game like this appeals to all ages, because there are mature themes in this game . . . or do you just try to make the best game possible and hope that it appeals to gamers both young and old?
Capcom: We actually made this game at the onset thinking we wanted to have this game appeal to as many people as possible. We actually set it up to make it appeal to people young and old. The game only has two controls, Ghost and Trick and that’s it. So, that style of play appeals, we hope, to everybody. It’s something that you could pick up. Despite the kind of dark theme, as far as the gameplay goes, anybody can just pick it up and just play it. As far as the story goes, again, it’s a little bit dark, but at the same time you get to help everybody in the story. Everyone you meet, you get to help them, save them, you do something to change their life! We think that helping people in the storyline can resonate with anybody and we hope that everyone will enjoy playing the game. When you finish playing the game, you will get a sense of relief from being able to help so many people. We are very proud of what we have accomplished with Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Okamiden and Ghost trick will both be available from Capcom in the coming months. Looks like it’s time to dust off your DS, because Capcom clearly has some great titles in store for you.
In fact if you can tell us why you think both of these games have DS Game of the Year potential, we might even send you some Capcom swag!! Chibiterasu silly bandz!? No Way!!