Okami’s Creators Explain How It Could Be Even Better, How It Could Save Clover Studio, and More


Capcom and Tango Gameworks veteran Ikumi Nakamura has made no secret of her love and nostalgia for the project that launched her into AAA development: Ōkami. And now, in a fresh video interview with Hideki Kamiya, the pair opened up about Ōkami’s development, including Kamiya’s belief that the development team as a whole… could have been better.

It comes from a fresh entry in a video series presented by Nakamura’s fresh studio, Unseen, titled Ask Ikumi. In it, she shares all sorts of behind-the-scenes insights into game development, both about Unseen’s project, Kemuri, and her own experience in game development. In this latest video, she sits down to talk with longtime colleague Hideki Kamiya, with whom she worked on Ōkami, Bayonetta, and briefly on Scalebound. Their conversation largely focuses on the development of Ōkami, and the pair have a lot to say!

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The video begins with Kamiya explaining his infamous philosophy of blocking anyone who annoys him on Twitter, asking questions he’s already answered, or not addressing him in Japanese. They then begin a discussion of Ōkami’s development. First, they discuss his original concept in a photorealistic style. Ōkami was apparently first conceived while Kamiya was working on Viewtiful Joe and saw work being done on the Resident Evil remake for the GameCube alongside him. He was impressed by the realism and wanted to utilize the style for something more “light” than the horror genre. So Ōkami was conceived as a game about “healing”.

But, he says, the photorealistic style they were aiming for was complex to implement on the PS2. With Ōkami struggling, the team sought fresh ideas when character designer Kenichiro Yoshimura drew the lead character Amaterasu with a brush. That design began a fresh visual style for the entire game. Shortly afterward, studio executives called a three-day weekend summit to revamp the game, during which Celestial Brush was introduced and Ōkami changed direction for the better.

Ōkami was supposed to be a Clover Studio signature title… It was supposed to be a dream team with the best staff in each section. That was the plan, but ultimately not everyone, but as a team, I honestly think it was feeble.

But despite all this, Kamiya honestly admits that Ōkami could have been even better. For one thing, Ōkami was supposed to have a bigger story, but the team ran out of time and ended up halfway through what Kamiya wanted to do. Furthermore, Kamiya was apparently notoriously critical of the team that worked on Ōkami, as Nakamura recalls. He recalls that at a party toward the end of development, Kamiya supposedly told the entire room, “That team was the worst!” Kamiya admits this, and although he somewhat retracts his comments at the time, he continues to say that he was “half right.”

“Ōkami was supposed to be a Clover Studio signature title,” he says. “So we wanted to create a dream team. It was supposed to be a dream team with the best staff in each department. That was the plan, but ultimately not everyone, but as a team, I honestly think it was weak.

Kamiya expands on this a bit in his conversation with Nakamura here and later in the interview, suggesting that the problem was that the level of passion and enthusiasm for Ōkami wasn’t high across the team, but rather uneven. Nakamura admits that she noticed this as well.

“If I think about the bands Viewtiful Joe and DMC, the passion was equally high,” Kamiya says. “But in Ōkami’s band, there was a huge contrast.”

“Since all the users who played and enjoyed Ōkami, I’m sure they all think it was made by a great team, but that wasn’t really the case,” Kamiya concludes. “That’s my honest opinion.”

The entire conversation between Kamiya and Nakamura is fascinating and worth watching in its entirety. In it, Kamiya refers to Ōkami as a “failure” (though he seems to mean commercial success) and notes that Clover Studio could have continued on had it been a success. Nakamura also states that Ōkami was a major influence on the work he now does at Unseen with Kemuri. You can watch the entire video here , and then check out our own interview with Nakamura from IGN FanFest earlier this year.

Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. Have a story tip? Send it to rvalentine@ign.com.

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