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A Brief History of Ōkami

A crowd of blue 3D smiley faces with frowns, a single yellow smiley face with a smile, raised above/standing out from the unhappy crowd.
Standing out from the crowd

It can be quite sensible to work towards discovering and being oneself in the crowd of the many – learning to stand out rather than conforming to the norm. However, separating too much can risk being ignored and less able to communicate.
Perhaps reaching a near-perfect compromise, Ōkami has certainly stood out from the pack but never strayed too far to be forgotten or unreachable.

Starting out as an idea by Hideki Kamiya to create a video game with nature at its core focus,1 https://web.archive.org/web/20121019205741/http://www.1up.com/news/platinum-games-kamiya-reflects-bayonetta and created at “Clover Studio” (short for “Creativity Lover Studio”), Ōkami from its very beginnings was destined to become unique and leave an intriguing trail for others to discover.
First intended to become a “realistic 3D simulation” video game, the gaming hardware of the time wasn’t powerful enough to create the desired visual quality. To overcome hardware limitations and still allow for an immersive experience, Ōkami was created in a painterly style – as a type of “Japanese-style painting” which the player can control/paint.

Ōkami Early (2003) “Realistic Wolf” Prototype Demo: Clover Studio, Capcom

Basic video game info:

Certification/Age Ratings: Australia: M, Germany: 12, Japan: A (CERO), Singapore: G, South Korea: All, United Kingdom: 12 (PEGI), US: T 2 https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0884870/parentalguide
(Retrieved 24 June, 2020)

Developer: Clover Studio
Publisher: Capcom
Director: Hideki Kamiya
Producer: Atsushi Inaba
Designer: Hiroshi Shibata
Programmer: Ryuta Takahashi
Artists: Sawaki Takeyasu, Kenichiro Yoshimura, Mari Shimazaki
Writer: Hideki Kamiya
Composers: Masami Ueda, Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Rei Kondoh, Akari Kaida
Platforms: PlayStation 2, Wii, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
First Release: 20 April 2006
Genre: Action-adventure
Mode: Single-player 3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ōkami
(Retrieved February 2, 2020)

(Fuller list of staff credits will be shown in future updates)

Hip Hideki

Hideki Kamiya smiling, sitting in an office, apparently talking with someone.
Hideki Kamiya: Platinum Games

Hideki (born 19–12-70)4 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hideki_Kamiya
(Accessed April 14, 2020)
being a man who was already known for being “outside the box”, having his DNA deeply entwined in trailblazing games like Resident Evil 2, the Viewtiful Joe series and Devil May Cry, became the director and writer of Ōkami at Clover Studio.5 https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1400430/ Rather than remaining one of many (yet important) names in a list of game staff credits, his energetic presence has imprinted itself into the minds of the video games’ players.

Ōkami was released exclusively on the PlayStation 2 to the Japanese and North American market in 2006, and Europe and Australia in 2007. It was one of the last games released for the PlayStation 2.

Common Sense Media website screenshot of very positive Okami game review
Positive Ōkami reviews: Common Sense Media

Going by reviews of gaming review websites, magazines but especially the gamers themselves, Ōkami was a huge success6 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ōkami#Reception
– yet overall sales were disproportionately low. A few weeks after Ōkami was released, parent company Capcom (of which Clover Studio was a subsidiary) announced the studio’s closure – likely due to key staff of Clover Studio (including Kamiya) already having quit.7 https://web.archive.org/web/20070928120104/http://www.errormacro.com/2006/10/capcom_dissolving_clover_studi.php
It seems that the decision for various Clover Studio staff to quit was already made some months before Ōkami’s initial release, and largely due to them wanting more creative freedom.8 https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2016–02-07-a-brief-history-of-one-of-gamings-greatest-studios

Clearly however, Capcom (owning the intellectual property/rights) had noticed that Ōkami was a title worth hanging on to and re-releasing on new gaming hardware, rather than shelving and forgetting.

Can’t keep a good dog wolf down

In 2008 Ōkami was remastered for a newer gaming machine: the Nintendo Wii, then in 2012 for the PlayStation 3 in high definition, then to the PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2017 and Nintendo Switch in 2018.9 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ōkami#Wii_port
(Accessed April 14, 2020)
Note that the Wikipedia page incorrectly states that there’s a boxed retail disc available for the PC (it’s download-only), and download-only on Xbox One (retail disc is available).

Okami game screenshots, side-by-side comparison between PS3 and PS2 version.
PS3 HD, PS2 comparison: C.S., Capcom

Although the game itself hadn’t changed and remained faithful to the 2006 release, each new release was once again welcomed with overwhelmingly high praise from gaming publications and more importantly, by the gamers themselves.
As of November 2019, one million copies of Ōkami HD have been sold.10 https://metro.co.uk/2019/11/07/okami-finally-becomes-million-seller-video-game-11055783/
Note that for some reason the sales data on the “million+” page doesn’t include the non-HD PS2 and Wii sales – as of April 7 2020, total “unit sales” are at 2.8 million, which apparently also includes “Ōkamiden”:11 https://www.capcom.co.jp/ir/english/finance/salesdata.htm
(Accessed April 7, 2020)

Okamiden game promo video screenshot, showing a boy with sword riding on Chibi's back.
Ōkamiden promo: Capcom

In 2010, Capcom had released Ōkamiden (created by Mobile & Game Studio, Inc.) for the Ninetendo DS – generally reported to be a sequel to Ōkami.12 (on almost every major website/store selling Ōkamiden, such as Amazon.com)

Okamiden game promo video screenshot, showing Chibi looking at Shiranui with open mouth. Joking text written on image: "Y... You're NOT my Momma", "LOL no, I'm a guy! Oh by the way, your dad's a psychopathic space alien."
No wonder Chibi took to hard Sake: Capcom

Due to the original developers of Ōkami not having created Ōkamiden, and contradictions being introduced into the game’s story (which to this day cause confusion amongst gamers), Ōkamiden was generally not considered to be a true sequel by Ōkami’s fans, but rather a spinoff.13 Contradictions such as Shiranui no longer being Amaterasu’s wolf form 100 years prior (Ōkami), instead in Ōkamiden Shiranui being Chibi’s grandfather with Ammy being the mother to Chibi, but all three being an incarnation of the same female (with boobs) Shinto deity/goddess Amaterasu… wat? Just keep it simple please, Capcom!
Ōkamiden’s producer Motohide Eshiro apparently first called this game a sequel (source), but soon afterwards calling it a “spiritual successor” (source).
When reading candid comments about Ōkamiden, most gamers (and virtually all fanart/craft producers) appear to believe Ōkami’s original story.
Many gaming articles/journalists not calling Ōkamiden a “true sequel”, but instead hoping Kamiya will get a chance to create one (source, etc.)
Kamiya himself using words along the lines of “creating a true sequel” (source).

The momentum for Hideki Kamiya to be the driving force behind a true sequel to Ōkami appears to be growing, with the go-ahead already having come tantalisingly close:

Looking forward to the next adventure…

Platinum Games staff group photograph from 2016.
Platinum Games staff 2016: Platinum Games

In 2016, Capcom were in the final stages of signing a deal with Platinum Games (of which Hideki is currently the senior vice president and chief game designer). However, due to Capcom’s reservations about not having enough control over the game’s development and its costs, and subsequent internal rifts within the game studio’s leadership, Capcom decided not to go ahead.14 https://www.gameinformer.com/gamer-culture/2018/09/16/how-okami-2-nearly-happened-at-platinumgames

Ikumi Nakamura and Hideki Kamiya Twitter announcement of wanting to make a sequel to Okami, October 18 2019
We want to make a sequel

In October 2019, Hideki Kamiya and Ikumi Nakamura (Ōkami environment artist) posted messages on Twitter teasing that there will be a sequel to Ōkami, much to the delight of fans.15 https://twitter.com/nakamura193/status/1185203513543933953
(Accessed April, 2020)

That short post on Twitter also inspired the immediate work on this independent fansite, with the aim to not only document Ōkami’s impressive history and positive adulation, but also become a completely free go-to place for related discussion and eagerly-awaited future news.

Enjoy your visit, dear fellow fans! Please take a look around, and say “Konnichiwa” at our forum.

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Ōkami Artbook and Comics

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Ōkami Merchandise

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Ōkami Soundtrack

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  • https://okami.fandom.com/wiki/Ōkami (Accessed February 29, 2020)
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ōkami (Accessed April 16, 2020)
  • 1. https://web.archive.org/web/20121019205741/http://www.1up.com/news/platinum-games-kamiya-reflects-bayonetta
  • 2. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0884870/parentalguide (Accessed June 24, 2020)
  • 3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ōkami (Accessed February 2, 2020)
  • 4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hideki_Kamiya (Accessed April 14, 2020)
  • 5. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1400430/
  • 6. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/game-reviews/okami-hd (Accessed April 29, 2020)
    https://www.deviantart.com/okamigroup/journal/Ōkami-earned-a-Guiness-World-Record-Award-767402298 (Accessed April 29, 2020)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ōkami#Reception (Accessed April 29, 2020)
  • 7. https://web.archive.org/web/20070928120104/http://www.errormacro.com/2006/10/capcom_dissolving_clover_studi.php
  • 8. https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2016–02-07-a-brief-history-of-one-of-gamings-greatest-studios
  • 9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ōkami#High-definition_remaster
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ōkami#Wii_port (Accessed April 14, 2020)
  • 10. https://www.capcom.co.jp/ir/english/finance/million.html
    https://metro.co.uk/2019/11/07/okami-finally-becomes-million-seller-video-game-11055783/ (Accessed April 16, 2020)
  • 11. https://www.capcom.co.jp/ir/english/finance/salesdata.htm (Accessed April 7, 2020)
  • 13. http://www.capcom.co.jp/ir/english/interview/2010/index.html
  • 14. https://www.gameinformer.com/gamer-culture/2018/09/16/how-okami-2-nearly-happened-at-platinumgames
  • 15. https://twitter.com/nakamura193/status/1185203513543933953

Header image is an edited excerpt from the official Ōkami artbook.

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