Why The Prettiest PlayStation 2 Game Wasn't A Smash

In April 2006, Okami was released on the PlayStation 2 in Japan. The game was a critics' favourite and a commercial flop.

Selling a mere 66,000 copies the year it was first released in its native Japan, the Capcom game follows a Japanese sun goddess and uses game controls based on a brush calligraphy. The fallout from the game's failure resulted in the designers who created it leaving Capcom, founding their own studio and developing titles like Bayonetta.

But there has to be a reason why the 40-hour-plus game failed in Japan. According to Capcom's Motohide Eshiro, who is producing a Nintendo DS game based on it, there is a reason.

"I can't comment officially but, personally speaking, I think it had a lot to do with the announcements for new consoles," said Eshiro. "That was overshadowing any other game news at the time."

In 2006, the PlayStation 2 was fading from the limelight with the approaching PlayStation 3 and Wii releases that November. The Xbox 360 was released in December 2005, but this is Japan we're talking about, and we all know how that turned out.

But, Final Fantasy XII came out on the PlayStation 2 in 2006, and it sold boatloads, moving over five million copies. So you can see the holes in Eshiro's logic. The big, giant, gaping holes.

While sales were slow in Japan, the game somewhat betterl in North America, selling 200,000 copies for the PS2 in 2006. A Wii version was released in 2008, and to date, the game has sold north of a half million copies, but how well can a game about a goddess in wolf-clothes do?

Okami was released on the wrong console at the wrong time [Official Nintendo Magazine]


    Game was fantastic and truly one of the best PS2 games out there... I double dipped when the Wii version came out...

    Another console game needs to come out again!

    Damn, I LOVED that game, although I did think it went on a little too long. But yeah, absolutely superb stuff - the way whole areas would burst into colour when you cleared them never got old for me, no matter how many times I saw it.

    I think comparing its sales to FFXII is a little unfair, though. Okami was an original IP and therefore had no sort of brand recognition, not to mention having extremely Japanese sensibilities which would have made it less accessible/enticing to people outside Japan. FFXII was a long-awaited installment in a multi-million selling mega-franchise which was specifically targetted at a global audience with all the hype associated with those kinds of productions.

    I did start playing Okami and found it was a great game, but with other games and consoles grabbing my attention I never finished it.

    I bought the PS2 version at release. If ever there was a game that should be redone in HD for PS3/Move, this is the game.

    That said, they would have sold a lot more copies if they had actively marketed it as a Zelda style game, with 40+ hours of gameplay.

    It also didn't help that the PAL version of Okami was released in direct competition (give or take a month) with FFXII, Rogue Galaxy, and the PS3 launch.

    I've been looking for the Wii version of the game. It's driving me nuts, can't find one anywhere. Heck there seem to be more new copies of the PS2 version lingering around the internet than there is the Wii version. Guess I should just buy it second hand though even then, they're fairly hard to find.

    "But, Final Fantasy XII came out on the PlayStation 2 in 2006, and it sold boatloads, moving over five million copies. So you can see the holes in Eshiro’s logic. The big, giant, gaping holes."

    I don't think you could choose a bigger "exception to the rule" possible...

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