on 21 May 2013
So, there i was having spent the best part of a year playing Dark/Demon Souls and all of a sudden my gaming life felt empty, don't get me wrong i was still playing some great games but that little something special was missing. So after all the stuff i had heard and read about Ni No Kuni i thought i would give it a bash. 60hrs of game time have now passed and apart from the odd annoyance's of the occasional hand holding and the words 'broken hearted' i can safely say this the best game i have played since.
Great world, some fantastic mini games, gorgeous looking and very addictive, i can't recommend it enough. Mad thing is i have clocked 60 hrs but i only have about 6/7 trophy's.
Oh well i'm off back to the grind, if you like RPG,s like Dragon Quest then you can't overlook this,
great game and i have finally cured my Dark souls addiction...... for now
on 1 February 2013
First off, a little background. Ni No Kuni is a JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) from Level 5, creators of the phenomenal Professor Layton series, the latest Dragon Quest games and many others, and Studio Ghibli, a world-renowned Japanese animation studio that has created countless wonderful and charming movies, even winning an Oscar. Naturally, a collaboration between the two could only be something special. And it most certainly is.
The most immediately striking feature of this game is undoubtedly its graphics; the game is a gorgeous blend of Ghibli's signature hand-drawn animated cutscenes and gameplay inspired by that very art style. At times it genuinely looks like you're playing an anime, and this art style lends a degree of charm to the world I haven't encountered since the likes of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Also of note is the quality of the voice acting, with the majority of actors doing a truly spectacular job. Somewhat disappointingly the game isn't fully vocalised, but considering the number of lines of dialogue in there it's understandable.
Both Ghibli and Level 5 are accomplished storytellers, and this shines through in what is quite probably one of the most emotive, charming and well-told video game stories ever. It follows the main character Oliver and his hilarious companion Drippy, Lord High Lord of the Fairies, and their quest to save Drippy's world and bring Oliver's recently deceased mother back to life. Along the way they will meet numerous memorable characters and visit all sorts of exotic locations, and travel between Oliver's world (our world) and Drippy's in order to save the day. Don't be fooled by the somewhat cutesy characters, this (much like Ghibli's other work) is truly a story for all ages, and definitely not just children.
The trouble with many RPGs is that the gameplay is simply a means to progress the story and is consequently somewhat lacking. Thankfully with Ni No Kuni this isn't the case; the battle system is an immensely fresh mixture of the pseudo-realtime action of the Tales series and the monster collecting of Pokemon. In the game you will encounter monsters crawling over the world map and around dungeons, and aside from the bosses every one of them can be recruited to fight alongside you in battles as your Familiars. Much like pokemon they evolve (or 'metamorphose') into more powerful forms, giving you an edge in combat. This provides a potentially limitless number of battling possibilities, and serves to prevent the gameplay stagnating. Pleasingly you can also pamper your recruited Familiars to improve their stats, and watching their little faces as they chow down on their favourite food never fails to draw a smile.
Also the game is huge. You can expect to sink something like forty hours into it just to complete the main quest, and lord only knows how long it would take to do absolutely everything. Don't let this deter you however, as it never feels like a slog. The pacing is brilliant; I never once had to level grind, although I did do a fair few of the side missions which served to boost me a little. Incidentally, this game is chock full of side missions. In recent years JRPGs have become immensely linear, providing little to distract from the main story. While it isn't exactly Skyrim, Ni No Kuni is brimming with side quests, all of which offer tangible rewards, and they very rarely get repetitive.
It's hard to fully express how in love I am with this game. I have yet to do everything, but as soon as I do I will start right over just to experience the spectacular story again, maybe mixing up my party of Familiars to change up the gameplay. Coming from someone who has never played a game through twice on the trot I honestly can't give it any higher praise than that. If you have a Playstation then I urge you to buy this game. I have never played anything that I have loved as wholeheartedly as this.
on 4 June 2013
Well, supposedly I should of got this in a shop in England named Game, but I suppose it was cheaper on Amazon. Being a quick delivery to my house, next day delivery, but I chose 'Super Saver Deal'. The game itself is amazing, coming from a true gamer knowing that some games don't really look amazing but they're truly amazing on the inside. That's how I'll explain the game, but in reality, it's amazing.
The graphics are stunning, the story-line itself is depressing but very real-like in it's way. Namco Bandai did do a lot of work and effort to make this game the most stunning games that most Gamer's would apply to. If I had to recommend it to a person, I would recommend playing the game, no matter what favourite genre they like in gaming-wise.
If I had to say, this is the best game I've ever played in my whole five years of gaming. Truly, it's stunning, and it's perfect for all ages. Well, excluding five and under, because sometimes they wouldn't know a clue what they're doing. Do buy this product, because you'll see it's worth it at the end.
on 26 February 2013
Well, when i first initially heard of this game, i looked up a video on youtube to see the various trailers that were shown, and to be honest i was not impressed and i couldn't be bothered to remember the name either. So when i ordered it on amazon and played it on the same day released (I'm reviewing after finishing main story)i have to say i am thoroughly impressed.
You play as an average 13 year old boy, who (NO SPOILERS) goes on a miraculous journey. I have to say i have not seen a well developed JRPG story in a long time, everything develops at a nice pace, nothing seems to fast. The Story is playable in Easy and Normal. The first being to enjoy more of the story. There were several scenes in the game which probably got me close to to tears which is extremely rare in a game. And of course there are scenes which are funny, and of course bring the shock surprise that you wouldn't expect.
Overall Level 5 and Studio Ghibli did an excellent job on the story.
The music was also very good one where praise is needed. The music of the standard boss fight, to the normal fight, all to the music in an emotive or joyful scene, all of these add up well and are used appropriately which all makes the particular scene or action that is occurring fit for purpose. I unintentionally found myself humming the final boss theme myself several times.
Well you have your three main characters found in the game: Oliver, Esther (Maru) and Swaine (Jack?)and Mr Drippy
Starting off with Oliver. He is your typical hero of the game sent to try and save the world. However, he is not one of those annoying main characters who automatically seem to start off strong right from the start. Whilst he does to an extent he always shows weaknesses which develop as the game goes on, becoming a strong leader at the end of the game.
Esther: You meet her in the other world introduced as a person who loves to sing and play her harp (could be wrong here) she proves to be a very useful ally. Her relationship with Oliver is also quite special. For me anyway, she seemed like the reassuring older Sister to Oliver, always believing and having faith in him.
Swaine: The thief of the game, I gotta admit at first i have to say that i had no care for him, but as the game developed as well, he felt part of the family with them. Whilst him and Esther have their times of disagreement with each other he is still one that is liked.
Mr Drippy: When i first saw him as the companion, i had a terrible vision he was going to be one of those annoying ones who pop out of nowhere and say random things to you just to annoy you. I was wrong. Drippy is the lovable fairy who whilst started off annoying (flippin anyone?) I learnt to love his antics that he said, he is one of my favorite companions in any game so far.
There are other characters but i'll leave that for you to find out
The graphics are top notch. Everything here looks beautifully detailed, and when watching a cut scene i feel like i am watching a Studio Ghibli film. I cant say anything else but WOW!
Gameplay for me is mixed, in terms of combat. At first the combat is slow and it is quite tricky to defend some attacks. But after a certain point in the game the fights become easier once getting two new moves. The AI of the characters also could be improved. Maybe this is just my tactics i chose but in the beginning when having all three, my characters used a lot of mana. Its fine now but just a warning. The decisions of the characters when fighting could also be improved, sometimes walking right into an ice trap on the floor or walking into poison. These are only minor things and should not stop you getting the game. Familiars in this game, are sort of like pokemon. GOTTA CATCH EM ALL!!
Anyway yeah you catch them, train them and metamorphise them (evolve into next state)It's a nice feature to the game and adds for me a lot of extra things that i might do.
Overall, this game is one of my top games that i have played and i defiantly recommend you play it. You will not be disappointed.
on 23 February 2013
You pickup a game from the shelf and you see the names of Studio Ghibli (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle) and Level 5 (White Knight Chronicles, Dragon Quest) together. Well you just have to bring that game home and give yourself a treat, don’t you? That’s what I thought when I saw Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch but did it payoff for the expectations I had?
When I bought my PS3, two or three years ago, I thought: “Let’s go back to the good old SNES era and try some Japanese role-playing games.” For someone who still holds Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI as his two biggest references in the JRPG genre I went out for quite a disappointment in this generation. There were no catchy soundtracks, no addictive battle systems, no epic lore and characters to love. Just some plain boring and irritating voice acting (Yes, I’m talking about Final Fantasy XIII).
Well that changed when I got my hands on Ni No Kuni. As soon as the story begins (and I don’t want to spoil anything) Oliver, the main character, lives one hell of a family drama and you feel sorry for the kid right from the start, just to get the mojo to help him get things right. With him and his sidekick, Mr. Drippy, you embark on one hell of a journey between two worlds as Oliver attempts to become a wizard.
Oliver is acknowledged right from the start as the Pure Hearted One who can save the other world from his nemesis, the evil Shadar. Even though he may seem like a crybaby, Oliver steps up to the task. His Wizard’s Companion Book comes out as an original way to show you the game manual in-game, with maps, lore, and a list of all the familiars and spells.
During his adventure, Oliver meets many characters, all of them fit to cast in any Ghibli’s movies and goes on a ‘pokémonian’ quest to catch them all. Even though you don’t see Oliver throwing a poké-ball to a familiar, it always looks like he should. Nonetheless, they add even more fun to the game.
The fast paced battle system, a refined version of the ‘Tales of’ series, is quite good and SquareEnix could learn a lot with this game for their future products. Sadly, the Artificial Intelligence of your party members doesn’t live up to it. You can only go from do-it-all to not do-anything-at-all and that sure doesn’t feed your needs in your most complicated battles. However there are some ways to go around it, you just have to work hard with your thumbs.
Apart from that, the world map is awesome, plain and simple! And side questing gives you that extra content you need to complement your main story.
The English voice acting is just stunning, with multiple accents bringing the feel of an alive world to play, making you feel like you’re in a Ghibli movie. And let me tell you: Shadar’s voice is as creepy as it can be. Just like a badass boss should sound while he gives you goosebumps, just as Arthas did in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. The original soundtrack, created by the HUGE Joe Hisaishi and played by the Tokyo Philarmonic Orchestra, made me feel like I was back in 1995 or in 2000, with Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross respectively, always whistling along the tunes. I stopped that after looking at my girlfriend’s face. The battle theme is the one that annoys you the most and, unfortunately, the one you hear the most during the game. It just starts too abruptly although getting better at the end, working better in longer battles.
The visuals on this game are just stunning, Ghibli’s hand is written all over it, and sometimes you just have to remind yourself that you’re playing a game and that you cannot spend so much time staring at the landscape without getting yourself killed by a monster or something.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is full of the nostalgic feel that all of the JRPG fans deserved for quite some time. If you like good old Japanese role-playing games, and all the clichés that come with it (you can expect Shadar bothering you at mid-game just to spank you), make yourself a favor and don’t miss this one. It isn’t a perfect game but it sure shows the future of the genre, or at least the place from where it should never have left.
Final Score: 9.3
My review as first published on this site: [...]
on 1 July 2013
This game is extremely easy on the eyes, with 3D animation that in fact is a mastering of classical animation of the manga world like Porco Rosso. Beatiful world map scenaries and dungeons, Also, the story keeps you wanting to know more about the characters, always reminding you of Alice in Wonderland: Is all in this child's imagination to avoid pain and sadness? Is there really magic in this world of his?
It's quite a long game if you want to complete all the sidequests, and this is perfect to make your companions in battle level up and enjoy very different actions during combats. Some sidequests, though, are a little repetitive and too easy: all you have to do is travel around the world speaking to people. I think it would have been more fun if, as in Xenoblade Chronicles, you get to know the people of the world, their names, their problems, so you had to guess who needs helps and how to aid them.
On the other hand, the monster hunting is fun and incredibly varied, and gives you a lot of freedom to chose how to make a fight.
The bosses are often quite challenging, defeating you again and again until you learn the timing and weak points.
I recommend this game to all RPG lovers who aren't afraid of some emotional touch in the stories.
on 30 October 2013
As a fan of Studio Ghibli movies, Myazaki films in particular, and a part time lover of video games, I snapped this game up when I spotted it.
I'm most of the way through the game now and overall a very positive experience of the game. It has provided hours of entertainment, and I'm a little sad it's almost over.
The pro's and cons:
- Lovely look and feel - classic Ghibli
- Very rich detail; maps, supporting journals and material that has obviously had a lot of thought and effort put into it
- Lots of adventures inside of adventures; errands, bounty hunts, mini games, development of familiars etc
- A nice story (although agree with other commentors that it is a little 'cutesy')
- Too many familiar fights a.k.a. 'pokemonfest' - I can't count how many silly little fights I had to do, each with the same intro music ('da da du du duuuuu' - you'll know what I mean if you've played this game). After about 100 battles it made me want to rip out my ears.
I'm really stuggling to come up with more 'cons' - it's really the best game i've played in a long time. Buy if you enjoy RPG, Ghibli films, rich adventure games without combat that is too challenging/stressful/gorey.
on 14 February 2013
This is the best RPG I have played on the ps3. Visually stunning, a magical Disneylike story and great gameplay. Boss fights are certainly challenging but not unfairly so. The best part of this game though is the brilliant localisation and voice acting. It's charming and often hilarious! I recommend this game to anyone who likes RPGs .
on 3 February 2013
Humour me if you will. Type 'Dark Chronicle PS2' into the Amazon search engine and you will be taken to one of my favourite PS2 games. Scroll the page and your eyes to the highest rated review, made in 2004 i believe; its title...Dark Chronicle A WORK OF ART.
Yep, i agree. With every aged capslocked letter.
And so is Ni No Kuni. Another Level 5 game and another title deserving of a place in any gamers collection who has a love of that stubborn old beast, the JRPG. Ni No Kuni hits all the right notes and will whisk you to another world if you let it.
The visuals are sumptuous. Dipped in detail, colour and imagination. Game developers Level 5 have risen to the challenge of creating a game world that fits so seamlessly with the artstyle of Studio Ghibli. The detail of...well everything, is stunning. Just take look at the screenshots.
The colour palette sings out, from the seasonal landscapes of the world map, to the red and blue of hero Oliver's cape and jerkin to the splashes of orange, blue and green of an early spell effect. Animation throughout is top notch (i love the way Oliver carefully navigates a stairway), and the creature design is humorous, sometimes freaky and always beguiling; stirring feelings deep in my soul of a hunter / gatherer need to *ahem* collect 'em all.
The attention to detail, craftmanship and quality are obvious from the moment you first enter the game and presented with the hero's hometown; 1950's middle America seen through a dream like lens, to the town of Ding Dong Dell, a place so well realised of a Studio Ghibli vision i half expected to bump into Haru and Muta as i stepped through a fish themed archway.
The soundtrack is composed by Joe Hisaishi. If you don't know what that means with regard to quality, and i don't want to be a bossy boots here, but go to YouTube and check out 'Ni No Kuni OST - To The Decisive Battle' for an indication of the games soundtrack. When it comes to beautiful compositions and stirring accompaniment Joe Hisaishi really is a safe pair of hands. Out in the field or in a dungeon Joe Hisaishi's music is a welcome, foot tapping, memorable companion.
Voice work ranges from mediocre to very good. I was a little disappointed with a few of the main cast, they are not bad just somewhat flat, but there is not a truly awful voice artist that has you clawing for the mute button. If you are familiar with the NDS Professor Layton series or Inazuma Eleven then you will certainly recognise a handful of voice artists that Level 5 seem to fall back on. There is an option for the Japanese audio for those that prefer.
A sore point for some JRPG's. Well Ni No Kuni has a good one and more importantly a well paced and cohesive one that doesn't take tens of hours of gameplay to get to the telling of. The protagonist has a clear goal from the off, (he is going to save the world and rescue his mom), there are early mysteries that raise their head, (a cryptic, apologetic ghost girl) and what is something of a very pleasant surprise in a modern jrpg - a clear villain of the piece who returns onscreen regularly along with her cohorts.
There is a sweetness running throughout the game that involves travel between worlds and fixing the broken-hearted, but it is not ladled on treacle thick or as stomach churning as listening to the helium pitched babbling of Lymle (Star Ocean) with a side order of Vanille (FF13). 'Kay?? Oliver, whilst a pale shade of other Studio Ghibli heroes does as the game progresses display the steadfastness, honesty and courage so often displayed in their films and his fairy pal Drippy is down to earth, gruff, kind, impatient and wonderfully comic at times. (One serious cutscene between a father and daughter has Drippy, in the background, taking the opportunity to try on the girls dainty bonnet.)
Any jrpg worth its salt has many moving, sometimes bafflingly obtuse, working parts that come together to form a whole. Ni No Kuni provides layer upon layer of classic jrpg mechanics, with clear explanations of all the whirring cogs.
There is a world map to explore dotted with towns and dungeons in which to quest, grind and loot. A library of spells to build that is used to aid the locals, solve very mild puzzles, unlock scattered treasure chests or drop a fireball on a monsters head.
Combat starts simple enough, Oliver and his first familiar, a warrior type, form a tag team. Further into the game another two familiars can be added to his battle roster. Movement is in real time which means some attacks can be avoided by the more nimble paced familiars and gameplay pauses when you switch out combatants and locks you into an animation when an action is chosen, which can be cancelled at any time if a change of plan is required. A successful attack is based on a unit's stats not your trigger finger. Spells, special moves and even using consumables have a cool down period attached, with the familiars themselves drained of stamina the longer they fight. Counterattacks, interupts, elemental weakness and strength, limited but customisable familiar special attacks all come into play.
And then with the addition of more party members joining Ollie boy in his quest and in the field, each with their own party of three, battles can turn into a spell slinging, sword swishing King of the Ring. But is always fun.
The difficulty on normal provides a nice challenge and whilst nowhere near as punishing as fellow rpg Resonance of Fate, if attention drifts or consumables are allowed to run dry then trouble could be waiting. Boss fights are obviously a step up, with a more careful eye needed on when to defend and move.
Rounding out the main quest are job boards, bounties, alchemy, item farming and side quests. Familiar management and growth is as deep and as time consuming as you wish it. (They can be fed, which improves stats, charmed in battle, metamorphosize into bigger versions, earn abilities and kept in what looks like a manhole run by a...well i'll let you decide.)
There is even a compendium of fairytales, complete with drawings, out in the world waiting to be found and assembled.
Not much, but to be picky...
After a battle the game only gives a very brief chance to grab any health or mana pick ups which can be pain, especially if you just miss out on grabbing a 'glim' which provides a full restore.
Once or twice a voiced line of dialogue appeared not to play.
And the only point in the game thus far that my enjoyment evaporated into frustration was on one of the Temple of Trials missions that involved navigating a crumbling pathway with two characters at once, each controlled by a thumbstick. It was very much trial and error gameplay and my reactions and patience ain't what they were.
[EDIT] There are some difficulty spikes late in the game which is really down to the weak A.I of your party members. Using a familiar that is particularly weak to an enemy due to it being an elemental inferior when they have better options, not moving effectively resulting in a jam at the centre of the battle field and wasting mana (always a problem, but a real pain in the harder areas) can cause headaches. A more 'gamey' approach is required to off set these issues. Removing mana expensive abilities when not needed and avoid handing over the slower familiars to A.I control helped me.
...Is This Review Finally Over??...
Yep. Ni No Kuni is i think destined to be thought of as a classic jrpg. Level 5 have crafted a game that is as joyful and fun as some of their best work on the PS2.
It has stunning visuals, a beautiful soundtrack, great chunky combat and a game world loaded with humour, events and activities to provide depth and freedom around the main quest. The story is endearing, never cloying, even with Oliver and his 'jeepers!' and 'neato!' catchphrases.
Most of all, Ni No Kuni is a game with heart.
on 22 February 2013
I have to admit I was sceptical when I first started to play it - since the first part is driven by lot's of cutscenes and dialogue. But after you get into the game (going into the 2nd world - so to speak) you realise just how unique this game is you every other JRPG game. The story itself is very engaging and heart-warming and given it was directed by the people that bought you: spirited away and Howls Moving Castle, I can't see this game would be anything but perfect - and certainly comes close to being perfect. I've played lots of JRPGs (including Chronicles of White Knight and Final Fantasy Series), but this one tops them all. If you love RPGs in general (and you know there will be some repeative fighting due to levelling up - which this game is vulnerable too I'm afraid) then certainly buy this game. I bought this game for £37.99 from amazon and it was worth every penny - and glad I pre-ordered it (6 months in advance).