Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Box Art(http://ninokunigame.com/)  Rated E10+ by ESRB.  Perhaps there’s a feeling you had as a kid playing video games–that sense of wonder and excitement; that feeling of starting a new adventure in a mystical and wondrous world. Whether it was Pokemon Red, Final Fantasy 6, or even The Legend of Zelda, it’s a feeling only certain games can spark within you the first time playing them through. It was a feeling that I thought had been lost to the golden ages of gaming, until Ni No Kuni was released. Level 5 again lends their excellent design touch in this game, but this time they are accompanied by an unusual guest, Studi Ghibli, which is famous for being the studio that made Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, My Neighbor Totoro, and many other classic animated features. So not only is Ni No Kuni an excellent old school RPG based game, but it has the style and beautiful visuals to bring it to life as if you were imagining the world through a child’s mind. Ni No Kuni follows Oliver, a boy who frees “The Lord of the Fairies” (also known as Mr. Drippy) from an imprisonment, and is asked to return to the fairies world in order to help him free their world from the evil rule of Shadar. It’s a classic tale of adventure and wonder, and Level 5 Studios does a fantastic job of making the gameplay fresh and fun, while Studio Ghibli make the game look as beautiful as it should be.

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Box ArtNi No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Logo(http://ninokunigame.com/) Rated E10+ by ESRB.  Perhaps there’s a feeling you had as a kid playing video games–that sense of wonder and excitement; that feeling of starting a new adventure in a mystical and wondrous world. Whether it was Pokemon Red, Final Fantasy 6, or even The Legend of Zelda, it’s a feeling only certain games can spark within you the first time playing them through. It was a feeling that I thought had been lost to the golden ages of gaming, until Ni No Kuni was released. Level 5 again lends their excellent design touch in this game, but this time they are accompanied by an unusual guest, Studi Ghibli, which is famous for being the studio that made Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, My Neighbor Totoro, and many other classic animated features. So not only is Ni No Kuni an excellent old school RPG based game, but it has the style and beautiful visuals to bring it to life as if you were imagining the world through a child’s mind. Ni No Kuni follows Oliver, a boy who frees “The Lord of the Fairies” (also known as Mr. Drippy) from an imprisonment, and is asked to return to the fairies world in order to help him free their world from the evil rule of Shadar. It’s a classic tale of adventure and wonder, and Level 5 Studios does a fantastic job of making the gameplay fresh and fun, while Studio Ghibli make the game look as beautiful as it should be.



 

Graphics:
If you’ve seen a Studio Ghibli film, you will want to know that you can expect to see their famous cute styling and colors at play here in Ni No Kuni. If you are not familiar with their films, you will be happy to be introduced to some beautiful details, characters, monsters and towns in this title. The characters and monsters in the game are cel shaded, and feature smooth colors and light details to make them appear as if they’re from a story book. The towns, world map, and other environments use realistic soft graphics. Everything looks very smooth and soft, as if it was painted or colored on the screen. The colors are used appropriately to emphasize the tone or mood of the location, and really do aid in immersing the player in the atmosphere of the game. The graphics aren’t groundbreaking or impressive by any means, but they are certainly beautiful and pleasant to look at.

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Screenshots Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Screenshots Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Screenshots

Sounds:
Many of the weird and magical characters you’ll meet in Ni No Kuni will feature full voice acting, but otherwise there are text character bubbles to read for character discussions. For what voice acting that is there, it is truly a professional job. The characters are easily identifiable by voice alone, and express great emotions within their voices, as well. For example, Oliver’s kind, soft words are very different from those expressed by Mr. Drippy, with his action-based attitude. The music featured in Ni No Kuni is very well composed, as well. Each town has different music that fits the image of the town perfectly. The battle music works well, too; it’s upbeat and action oriented, but not too in-your-face like some games.

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Screenshots Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Screenshots Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Screenshots

Gameplay:
For as simple and cute as Ni No Kuni looks, it’s actually a pretty intense and difficult game, even on normal difficulty. It plays like a traditional RPG, with a huge world map for you to run around in, with monsters scattered visibly on the map. Through the first few hours, the game adds 2 more party members, some additional spells, monster companions, conjuring, and many other crucial gameplay elements as you progress through this section. There is definitely a learning curve to getting good at Ni No Kuni’s unique battle elements. You can have full control of your party members in real time combat and act for them, or choose for them what sort of battle style to follow. On top of this, you’ll be using “familiars” or little monsters, to fight the other “wild familiars” in the world. You can switch between three familiars at a time, equip them with different weapons and armor, have them evolve into new forms, or choose which magic attacks they should use. You can also use your human character to fight, cast spells, heal conditions, and so on. If it sounds like a lot, it’s because it kind of is a lot. However, the game presents all these mechanics out over a good couple hours, so it gives the player a sufficient amount of time to grow into the game’s unique style. Along with the main quest are many side missions that have a wide variety of tasks, from simple fetch quests, to catching certain familiars for someone, or even restoring someone’s heart that has been broken by the evil Shadar. The game’s battle system is fun, and catching and evolving familiars is really entertaining, as well. While the game may kick your butt form time to time on normal difficulty, you can change the difficulty at any time, which is a really nice touch.

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Screenshots Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Screenshots Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Screenshots

Innovation:
While Ni No Kuni is by no means a “JRPG Saver”, it certainly is a charmer. It brings back those wondrous days of 16-bit RPG games, filled with excitement and adventure, but which also left enough of the imaginary elements up to the player.

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Screenshots Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Screenshots Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Screenshots

Longevity:
With so many side quests, familiars to catch, and a very long main story campaign, Ni No Kuni certainly is worth every dollar. It’s a beautiful and imaginative game that gives the player a sense of wonder and adventure. I’d call it a love letter to RPG fans, and it delivers on all levels, too–it’s even challenging all the way through on normal difficulty. If you’re an RPG fan, this is a must have title. If you’re more of a casual gamer, consider this game if you’re looking to maybe getting into RPG games. Ni No Kuni is an instant classic, a true RPG for the ages, and is easily comparable to the greats of the past.

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