85 of 98 people found the following review helpful
An Instant Classic; Charming, Entertaining, and Timeless,
This review is from: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (Video Game)
Ever since I saw My Neighbor Totoro as a kid back in the early 1990's, I had wanted to see what would happen when Studio Ghibli combines their efforts with another developer to create a video game. Now that we have the end result, I couldn't be more satisfied. P.S., this is going to be one heck of a bias review.
Ni No Kuni is one of the best JRPG'S I have ever played. Combining Studio Ghibli's incredible imagination with Level 5's polished and fun gameplay mechanics, Ni No Kuni feels like the JRPG'S of old while revitalizing a dying genre. It feels like Dragon Quest VIII (a personal favorite), mixing elements of Tales, Star Ocean, and Pokemon into one pot of pure bliss. And man, how I've missed an overworld!
The story and world sucks you in right quick, creating a sense of charm and wonder right from the get go. The opening is a tear-jerker, creating a sense of desperation and sympathy for our hero, Oliver. More than anything, Studio Ghibli's incredible ability to create such unique and real emotion in such with their animation is one of their strengths, and combining that with Level 5's sincere approach to the story, it works like magic. Right away, you meet Drippy, one of the most incredibly charismatic and lovable characters to ever grace a video game. The writing and script is top notch, filled with hilarious dialogue and wonderful characters (that feature some of the best English Dubs of any JRPG translation that I've played).
Battles play out like a synthesis of Tales meets Pokemon. You gain control of familiars, small creates that have attributes (sword and shield, tank, fire, etc.) that do your fighting in battles. You can also take control of Oliver to command him to use various tools such as the ability to use items, heal, and run. Battles begin fairly simple with you fighting one to two monsters, but the progression exponentially increases and by no time battles become chaotic affairs that will test your wit and reflexes. The combat is incredibly addicting, rewarding constant interaction and movement on the battlefield. One of the best features is the real time aspect of the battle system. If you command your familiars to attack, defend, and use tricks (or special abilities) at the right time HP and MP orbs fall from your enemies, offering a quick heal. It sounds like a simple mechanic, but it keeps you constantly engaged while in combat, offering a fun, fast paced and exciting tug of war against your enemies.
Story telling is, to put it simply, reminiscent of Studio Ghibli. A hero going on an epic adventure to save his kingdom, healing the people of the land of their broken-heartedness, all while trying to save your mother sounds, walks, and talks just a Ghibli presentation shoud. NNK can be enjoyed by a younger audience, but the elements here are consistently dark and mature, which comes as a major relief. Keeping it spoiler free, the game engages you quite well. It's a simple yet emotionally effective story that grabs you right away.
Also of note is Joe Hisaishi's majestic, sweeping, and beautiful original score. Frequent collaborator with Studio Ghibli, Joe was (gladly) offered to compose the score, and man is it incredible. The overworld theme is still reverberating in my head as I write this. It captures the moods with gorgeous melodies and memorable themes. It allows you to explore and enjoy an already tremendous achievement all the more. They seriously need to release the PS3 soundtrack, because this is as good as JRPG and video game scores get.
And speaking of outside influence, Studio Ghibli made a significant contribution in the art department. There are original animated cut scenes produced by Ghibli themselves (namely Momose)which are wonderful (especially in HD!), the monsters are original and cute, and the gorgeous colors used in the backdrops provoke the imagination. Everything is here, and it feels like Ghibli production combined with Level 5's JRPG mastery in full force.
If there are any complaints (and these are minor grievances) it's that the draw distance is nothing to write home about. On the world map you'll see mountains "peel" in in the distance, and foliage in more graphically intensive areas obviously pops in as you walk through the areas. This is such a minor complaint though, honestly, as it comes from years of playing games and eventually noticing technical "tricks" that developers use to cut corners.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is sincere, wholesome, and most importantly FUN entertainment that might just be the last push the JRPG genre needs to get its legs again in a predominantly "bald-space-dude-marine-bro" controlled market. Some may ask "why is the title stupid?" or say "it looks like a game for ten year olds!," which at that point I would say that Ni No Kuni game isn't appropriate for them. If you aren't willing to give the game a shot, you'll be missing out. Ni No Kuni takes skill, dedication, and maturity to play and enjoy this long and challenging adventure; it dares to be different from just about every JRPG out there, straying from the spiky-hair-big-sword cliches that have plagued the genre for years, and succeeds so incredibly well at doing so.
And in case you just looked to the end to see the score or closing comments, here they are: Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch is one of the best JRPG's ever made, and it rightfully deserves the praise it is receiving. Part homage to JRPG's and part fan service for Studio Ghibli lovers, it's hard not to like Ni No Kuni. If you love RPG's/JRPG's, this is a no brainer. If you love Studio Ghibli, this is a no brainer. If you've been looking to jump into the genre, you won't get a better chance. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a steroid shot to the imagination, giving players freedom to explore one of the best adventures this console generation. It's a masterpiece that won't soon be forgotten.
It's not every day we are given such an incredible gem. Just leaving here with one comment: Thank you Level-5 for the incredible adventure and Studio Ghibli for continuing to create entertainment that is both wholesome and enjoyable.
So what are you waiting for? Go play Ni No Kuni for flippen sake!
Afterthoughts: Just completed the game! My opinions from the beginning couple hours have not changed. I love Ni No Kuni even more now. The ending tied up and explained all of the mysteries and loose ends (without being stupid, farfetched, or cliche), the characters came full circle and were developed so well, and Oliver really grows up into a hero, and a quite likable one at that. There seems to be plenty of post game challenges left, so consider me excited to continue exploring this world.
Total play time for story run: 51:14:06.
Final score: 10/10
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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 14, 2013 9:17:50 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 14, 2013 9:22:26 AM PST
H. Jones Jr says:
Very nice thorough review, thank you! I'm not a huge JRPG or anime guy, but I do dabble ocassionally (I have the portable Personas, P3P and P4G, and love them). Anyway, you've convinced me that I might need to get this.
EDIT: I also totally agree about the oversaturation of "space-marine machoism". Not that I don't like playing a macho bad@ss, but my RPG palette needs a cleanser, after all I'm still bitter about how ME3 ended.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 14, 2013 11:09:52 AM PST
You have no idea how happy that makes me feel! I'm glad you enjoyed my review!
Not to get into a bitter debate about ME3's ending, I loved the game and felt that entire run time was the ending. Now I will say that the last choice is stupid, but the extended ending makes up for it.
Anyway, I sure hope you enjoy ni no kuni!
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2013 5:40:04 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 15, 2013 5:48:17 AM PST
H. Jones Jr says:
I agree the extended cut certainly helped. I actually am not too bitter anymore (I should probably dial back my rhetoric on that point ;) ), but I guess when we're talking about space marines and rpgs my mind goes only one place. Actually, though I hated the final choice, the extended made it a lot better, and I am in fact wrapping up a playthrough of the entire trilogy on PS3. I actually bought the PS3 trilogy as an excuse to go through them again, despite my feelings toward the finale! Not to derail the comments here too much... :)
Anyway, great review and I ordered Ni No Kuni yesterday, and it should get here today or tomorrow, and I am actually quite excited to play something different!
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2013 8:08:49 AM PST
Awesome! I do hope you enjoy it! And, it's also nice to talk to someone rational about the ending! Enjoy Ni No Kuni!
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2013 2:54:06 PM PST
Now that I have read this fantastic review, I am excited to get the game!! Thank you for this inspiration to get back into JRPGs :)! Oh how I've missed them...
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2013 2:57:11 PM PST
Awesome! Thank you for the positive feedback, and do enjoy Ni No Kuni!
Posted on Feb 26, 2013 9:46:16 PM PST
Aric J. Krewer says:
Did you get Griffy as a promo with your order?
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2013 8:36:17 AM PST
Sadly, no. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the wizard's editions.
Posted on Mar 3, 2013 8:03:48 PM PST
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2013 8:07:01 PM PST
Nothing? I just like the game?