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Okami's initial sales were "huge failure", says director Hideki Kamiya

"Clover would have probably continued" had it been more successful.

Artwork collage of Okami characters in Japanese style, with white wolf Ameterasu at the centre
Image credit: Capcom

Okami was a "huge failure" in terms of initial sales, director Hideki Kamiya has said. Had it been more successful, its developer Clover "would have probably continued" - rather than shutting down the following year.

Kamiya discussed the development of Okami with Ikumi Nakamura for the YouTube channel of her new studio Unseen. The pair worked together for the first time on the Zelda-like adventure game.

Okami has received plenty of cult acclaim since its release on PS2 in 2006, but was one of only a handful of games made by the Capcom-owned studio before it was dissolved.

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Discussing his recipe for success, Kamiya said in the video: "There is no secret recipe". The pair agreed they haven't succeeded purely in terms of sales.

"Even Okami, did it make 150,000 units?" asked Kamiya. "The initial shipment was 90,000. It was a huge failure. If it had been successful, Clover would have probably continued."

He admitted: "For us who made it, it turned out something we can be proud of."

The pair chatted further in the video about working together, with plenty of banter and anecdotes between them.

Nakamura, for instance, recalled a party near the end of Okami's development where Kamiya said: "This team was the worst!"

Kamiya then elaborated further, explaining how Okami's development team was meant to be a "dream team" and Okami "Clover Studio's signature title". However, he described the team as a whole as "weak", due to different levels of passion from staff. Nakamura agreed and Kamiya stated he can be honest "because we're friends".

Later Kamiya said: "If [enthusiasm] had been a bit higher, Okami would have been even better. So to be honest, I'm a bit torn by the voices saying that the game is amazing."

"We could have done more," agreed Nakamura.

In another anecdote, Kamiya said Okami was originally intended to be photo-realistic, instead of the traditional Japanese art style eventually used.

"At the very beginning before you joined, we were trying to use a photo-realistic style," Kamiya told Nakamura. "But it became clear that it was impossible to create this vast natural environment on PlayStation 2."

Later in the discussion, Kamiya said he was inspired by the GameCube remake of Resident Evil Capcom was working on at the time. "When I saw that I thought the sense of realism was amazing," said Kamiya. "The level of photo-realism was very high. I thought it could be nice if we used that for something more light-hearted instead of horror."

However, once character designer Kenichiro Yoshimura created the Celestial Brush, the pieces of Okami's style and gameplay fell into place. "That Japanese touch struck a chord," said Kamiya, "so we decided to completely change the entire game."

After its initial launch in 2006, Okami was ported to the Wii with motion controls, before a HD version was released across PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC. It's become a beloved game, despite its seemingly troubled development.

Having moved on from Clover, Kamiya left his next studio Platinum Games late last year due to "issues of trust". It's unclear what he's working on next.

Nakamura, meanwhile, unveiled her first independent project Kemuri around the same time, though it's currently without a release date.

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