It appears we meet again fellow readers. Well, good. I was getting bored and you obviously have nothing better to do with your time either. So how about listening to me review a game that’s been all the rage lately? No, it’s not Metal Gear Rising Revengeance (YET! Emphasis on the word YET! As in still coming soon, just not YET! So stay tuned… YET!), but rather a game that I wasted almost 40 hours of my life on. That game my friends, is Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.
Ni No Kuni is a Japanese Role Playing game or JRPG (WHAT!? They still MAKE those!? *cue the face from Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” painting* I know you can picture it…) developed by Level-5; the group that gave us the kick-ass Dragon Quest VIII, Rogue Galaxy, Professor Layton series, Dark Cloud, and even a few wieners like the White Knight Chronicles series (Hey, I’m just as disappointed as you that the game was a failure. I wanted “Escaflowne: The RPG” to succeed, damn it!). This game takes a bit of a different approach from what many are used to in this genre (which is why I actually have the patience to review it with you now), trying to form a bridge-gap between ‘hardcore’ JRPG and ‘casual’ JRPG. In order to do this, they teamed up with Studio Ghibli, the genius Japanese animation studio, to make all of the game’s visuals and co-developed with Level-5 on pretty much everytang. I even heard the game got delayed multiple times just so they could make the story tug on our heart strings more. Those jerks! They know just how to get us… in the feels.
This game focuses on young boy named Oliver, who is eventually pulled from our world to enter a parallel one with magic, wizardry, and awkwardly named creatures like a sheep known as the “Baatender.” Poor Oliver loses his mother, and in his moments of grief and sadness, the doll his mother gave him (named Drippy, just cuz) comes to life, telling of wizardry and his true calling in life to enter this other world and save both of them in the process. As you can clearly see, we are dealing with some serious s@#t right here! NOTHING screams “psychotic breakdown theory” like this game’s plot. A boy just happens to escape to this fantasy realm while still trying to cope with the loss of his mother? Come on! At least when they put me away in a straight jacket, it’s because you know I legitimately went nuts, shouting “I’m Batman!” from the rooftops, while spying to to see why kids love the taste of Cinnamon Toast Crunch… Seriously though, what the hell do they see in that crap!?
Those who know JRPGs know that it’s all about the constant combat. So how does it fare this time? Well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. See, they tried to combine the free-form elements of the Tales series, while trying to mesh it with other elements of Pokemon. For the people who just went cross-eyed because they have no idea what the hell I just said, I’ll break it on down for ya. You and your party are able to move around anywhere on the battle plain to do attacks and spells. The battle will pause when you are selecting items from the menu, but not when you are scrolling through attacks or commands. It’s incredibly disjointed, bothersome, and all-around eww. Thankfully, you’ll like the game itself so much that you’re probably not even going to care. The game also lets you collect Pokemo- ah, I mean familiars, which you bring to battle with you. You can carry up to three familiars (pokeballs) at once per party member, with three others in your reserve. The remaining familiars get sent to Bill’s PC…, I mean storage.
So basically, imagine a 3D Pokemon game where Ash and the other trainers have the ability to fight with spells at the same time, and you’d be closer to gauging what the hell you can consider this game to be like. This isn’t as drool-worthy as it sounds though, so put your damn drool back in your damn mouth and let me finish. Your health bar for each party member is tied. If your familiar is getting weak, so is your character. If your familiar gets knocked out in battle, you are also knocked out. This can be incredibly annoying, especially when you’re trying to switch from one character to the other just to heal. One other annoyance is how some attacks will interrupt others in order to display a cutscene of that attack kicking ass. Oh, were you about to cast that healing spell on yourself? Well that’s a shame, because the boss just cast a fire spell that cancelled yours out and killed you. Joy! They give you a way to go into a defensive mode and lessen the damage you receive, but it doesn’t seem to work all the time when you command your whole party to do it, causing even more pointless deaths. Those phoenix feathers don’t come cheap, you know! Thankfully the experience is also shared, which means faster leveling. It almost compensates for the dying… Almost… *sobs*
As you travel around the world in the game, you’ll come across new spells, fables, and other interesting facts about monsters and regions to fill up your wizard’s compendium with. Unlike the Pokedex which mysteriously starts out empty… (Seriously, WTH Professor Oak!? You’re supposed to have a doctorate in freaking Pokemanz and you never registered ONE into the bloody thing!?), your wizard compendium comes chock-full of goodies right from the get go, and expands as you progress.
Your familiars can even evolve with the use of an evolution stone…, I mean with drops. (No, I’m not getting tired of making this joke. Shut up.). After they gain enough levels, they can use these drops to reach their next form. Unlike… that other game, your familiar will go back to level 1 each time that you do this, so don’t go evolving right before a boss fight, because you’ll just get destroyed… hilariously. The overall personality and story of this game are top-notch, and the biggest reason above all else to experience the whole thing from beginning to end. You’ll laugh at Drippy’s stereotypical British dialogue, cry at the really sad (and REALLY happy) moments, and even curse at the boss fights when they cheat you out of victory because someone forgot to block in time (even though you told them to… yay).
If you weren’t a fan of JRPGs prior to this, Ni No Kuni isn’t going to change your mind. It’s got most of the genre stereotypes that people love to hate (That same battle theme!? AGAIN!!!!? KGHAKDFHSD!!!), though many that fans of the genre will still love. This is one of those rare titles that people of all ages can appreciate however, with a charming little story, and messages that both kids and adults can benefit from. And hey, you even get the chance to “Catch Em’ All” in the process. A win-win baby!
8 Silly British Puns Out Of 10
And off I go, back into my “fantasy land of monsters to go save my mother from the evil White Witch.” Ahahaha, sure, that’s what’s really happening, Oliver. This isn’t a mind trip of yours or anything like that… >>