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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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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
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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.
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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.

...Graphics...

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.

...Sound...

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.

...Story...

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.)

...Gameplay...

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.

...Bad Stuff...

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.
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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 .
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on 21 November 2015
Arguably one of the best Jrpg of last generation and the result of a fruitful collaboration between Sudio Gibli and Level 5 the makers of Rogoue Galaxy and Dark Cloud. It feels like a fairy tale with a touching story and very beautiful art. The battle system is real time which pauses once you access the meno to use skills or items. You can recruit most of the monsters you fight, which is very fun and adds a strategic element as differnt monsters have different strengths and weaknesses. There is also a post-game phase, which is an added bonus. All in all a must-buy and it's very cheapt to boot, 15 pounds at the time of writing this review.
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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:
Pros
- 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')
Con
- 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.
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on 4 February 2013
Still very early on in the game but it has been an absolute joy so far. The animation is the best I have seen on PS3 and the Studio Ghibli influence is present from the very start.

The world map looks amazing, with a very workable camera. Music so far works very well with the game. The story flows at a good pace and is interesting, and the side quests (mainly fetch quests) do not make you travel miles to complete, nd a lot of the time coincide with the story.

The familiars that you pick up through the game are cute and full of character.

The battle element is like a simplified Final Fantasy with a few options available (such as attack, defend and cast spells etc.) but with the ability to move you character around the field of battle so you can manually dodge attacks.

So far, very impressed.
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on 7 June 2013
A mix of Pokemon and a 'Tales of' game, this RPG is reminiscent of the classic Japanese games we came to love.

Ni no Kuni goes back to the roots of what makes a good JRPG. Lighthearted at times, with a great plot and fantastic voice-acting and background music. I'm finding it difficult to fault this game, to be quite frank.

At the end of the game, I did feel a little disappointed. It all ended on a slight anti-climax. What I mean to say is, the ending didn't really feel like an ending. Maybe the end of a chapter but not the end of a game.
I would have liked to see more animated Studio Ghibli cutscenes. They were rather sparse and far apart, much to my dismay.

Over all a lovely and charming game though. :)
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on 29 May 2015
I am 67 and love this game, I have played it over and over again, each time doing something different. I do not find it boring, do some of these people not realize, it is fantasy, things are not supposed to be logical or make sense at times. The graphics are beautiful, bit biased here as I also love Studio Ghilbi. As for Mr. Drippy, he really makes the game, just wish they had used more sound for the voices. To me getting the right voice can make or break a game for me, if I do not like the voice I end up turning the sound off, if I cannot do it in the game. All games have repetitive parts in them, if you did not have this there would be no battles. They should bring out more games like this with great graphics and good voices. To me if you like fantasy and want to get lost in the game this is the one.
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on 2 February 2013
First off i'm not a JRPG gamer what so ever (only ever played the classic Final Fantasy VII previously)

I was curious about all the hype and praise being attached to this game.
so after some research i took a punt and ordered it of amazon (luckily while price was £36 and not the extortionate price the sellers cashing in and selling now £55+ for the standard version 1/2/2013)

Game looks awesome and plays out like the Japanese Manga movies like Spirited Away.
The voice overs are well done,and the music/score is out of this world.

The story is well told and a tad tragic at the start,but always engrossing and easy to follow.

Gameplay is pretty easy as i was worried it was going to be nerdy and far from it,the game is very family friendly and will point out the basics required,and marks with a star where you need to be to progress the story.

Battles are very Pokemon style,fighting it out with wee creatures similar to that game.
only difference is you do not take turns to have a go,but sort of battle while on the move.
You even get to capture the creatures in a similar fashion.
so far nothing to taxing (touch wood) lol.

Basically if your like me and JRPG's are not your normal cup of tea you won't be disappointed in trying one out with this game.
And as one of those novices i was sucked into this games story and world and seemed to be able to handle anything the game has thrown at me to date.
Just don't get ripped off with sellers cashing in how popular the game is in the first few weeks.

10 out of 10
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------edit 16/2/2013

Finished the main story after 60 hrs (took time to level up)
After the story ends you get to return via a post world with all your earnings and stats.
This post world is when some flaws start to show up that were not so obvious during the story.

Main flaw and it could irritate many a gamer---the remaining few quests are long winded,which forces you to hunt many an item that can not be found in shops or on location.
And actually requires you to track down rare golden creatures and in the hope of that creature dropping or stealing an extremely rare item.

(all of which seeing the required golden creature in first place can take sometime and the rare item can take several hours to drop or steal,with multiple items required for just one task)

Took over 10 hours to collect enough of these rare items (10 items) just to progress the quest line only to be instantly given another similar quest.

There are around 5 of these tiresome quests....each will test your patience to the max.

Flaw 2---your ai team mates will on many occasions later on the game lose all intelligence and begin hindering your battles,resulting you in wasting time rescuing them.
(yes granted bosses get slightly harder,but your team will waste magic and stand still to be attacked for no reason that you have to babysit them many times, therefore dragging out battles making your job harder)

Flaw 3----capturing the creatures is a pain in the arse as well,just like the quests mentioned above,all luck based and sometimes very rare,something like 1 out of every 50 tries before you get a chance at capturing a particular creature.

so 102 hours in total with 25-30 hours post game hunting those quest items to 100% the game.
still a great title but some what an aggravating one after the main story ends.

8.5 out of 10
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