Sunday, September 7, 2014

Game Review: Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch: A fantastic Kids RPG


   Now I do not in any way, shape or form mean that in a bad way. This, in my opinion is not only a great way for kids to get introduced to Jrpgs, but also to the animation of Studio Ghibli. Of course this game will also give experienced Jrpg players a major run for their money, even though it doesn't have a hard difficulty, trust me! Normal mode will kick you and HARD!

   I will be using the English names for this analysis, not only because the majority of the game takes place in a world that have European design sensibilities but the main character lives in an American town (fictional granted but still). The game starts in the aptly named town of Motorville with our hero Oliver living with his mother Allie.
Oliver: Mom, where's dad? Mom: He went to get Milk, ten years ago, now eat before I start screaming about wire hangers again.

The only thing missing is a bald eagle on an apple pie being carried by Chuck Norris
   While Oliver is planning with his friend Philip to test out a motorcar that the two were developing, Oliver is being observed by the title character The White Witch conversing with her pet bird Apus about how Oliver is the chosen one that could save their world and how they need to eliminate him.
Now your radiance, observe the viewing globe.
   Later that night after sneaking out his house to meet with Phil, Oliver gives their car a test drive and the Witch causes a wheel to fall off, which causes Oliver to drive into the river and nearly drown were it not for the intervention of his Mother who woke up to find Oliver missing. Ollie is safe, but we learn the hard way that her mother has a very weak heart and due to these events causes her to have a heart-attack. She dies, leaving Oliver alone and in despair, in his sorrow he cries on his doll that his mother gave him when he was a toddler, and due to the laws of Ghibli the doll transforms into a fairy with a lantern nose piercing named Drippy.
The lantern does get explained.
   Drippy tells Oliver to stop acting like a cry baby bunting (seriously) and gives his back story, that he once accompanied a great Sorceress named Alicia against a horrible monster known as Shadar the dark Djinn who was terrorizing their world. Drippy was transformed into a doll and sent into Oliver's world and after words Alicia was sealed into a magic crystal by Shadar. Oliver showed Drippy a picture of his mom and Drippy said that she looked exactly like Alicia, he mentions that there may be a way to bring his mother back to life. Drippy explains that every person has an alternate universe counterpart that shares the same soul, referred to as a "Soulmate"and that if something happens to a person, their soulmate is likewise affected, so the two hatch a plan, the two will travel to Drippy's world, rescue Alicia from Shadar and hopefully find a way to revive Oliver's mother. Insane I know, but if you were a small child that is indirectly responsible for the death of your only other family member and there is a very slight possibility to save them, wouldn't you take it?
I would.
   Nobody asked you Walter! Drippy then says that they would need a wand and a spell-book to travel to Drippy's home world, they find the spellbook in the fireplace (It's fire proof, it totally works, I'm being super cereal!) But since this is a world that does not use magic, they seem to be up the creek without a paddle. But then a little girl with green hair appears before Oliver and gives him a stick, Drippy says that that is no stick, its a wand, since there are magic runes carved onto the stick. So casting the appropriate spell Oliver and Drippy's journey begins.

    Now for me to talk about the gameplay and combat itself, throughout your journey, you gain three party members, however you only get to control three in combat, with the fourth being interchangeable outside of combat, aside from Oliver. Each of these party members not only have their own special abilities but each can also have three creatures under their command, each party member being more compatible with three species of creature out of thirteen. for a grand total of twelve controllable characters in combat, each with their own abilities. Combat is in a third person view that does allow you to control the characters and use the left joystick to move and the left and right directional pads to move between commands. This game does borrow elements from several JRPG's and uses them to good effects. I mean, uses the best parts, in other words everything that the Final Fantasy 13 trilogy got horribly wrong! A properly explained world, relatable, likable and memorable characters, a fun and challenging combat system, logical world building, sane and logical exposition at the right time that doesn't over stay its welcome, and, most importantly, an overall game that does not suck.

    In the long and short of things, Ni no Kuni is a great way to introduce children to not only JRPGs but to the great Studio Ghibli. The voice-acting is wonderful, the combat system is easy to learn and understand, the characters are likeable, diverse, understandable, and yet have a nice touch of complexity to them ( the majority of the main cast mostly). The art direction is bright, vibrant, colorful and fun to look at, and the overall design is classic Ghibli, pure childhood whimsical but not to the point of annoying. While there are only two difficulty settings, both will give players quite the challenge, easy mode for the littlies and normal mode for the grownups which does give even experienced gamers a challenge. So pick this up, if only to show people how a good RPG should be made, either this or any of the Mega ten games,  those will work too.

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is propriety of Level-5 games, Studio Ghibli, and Namco Bandai. Available on the PlayStation 3.
Silent Hill 4: The Room is propriety of Konami Computer entertainment.

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