STUDIO GHIBLI. When I think of those two words certain thoughts come to mind. An amazingly bright mix of colours and beautiful music set to an amazingly touching story that sticks with you. A feeling I haven’t felt from a company like Disney, since The Lion King.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is beautiful. If video games could be considered art then Ni No Kuni would be one of our flagship titles to say “this is gaming”.
Ni No Kuni started out for the DS titled Ni no Kuni: Shikkoku no Madōshi which was released in 2010 in Japan. Both games followed the same story but featured different directions of gameplay, graphics, data, and artwork. The PlayStation version was released in Japan in 2011, and from that time, many in the gaming industry have kept their eyes glued to this game; as it has caught their attention as a game that would and could change many people’s expectations. When released here in Australia many stores were sold out as they were understocked and didn’t expect the high sales figures for Ni No Kuni. This could very well mean a sequel for us in the future.
One of Ni No Kuni’s greatest accomplishments is its beautiful story. Growing up and watching Studio Ghibli films, I knew to expect a lovely tale with a sad tone that was sure to follow, as with most Studio Ghibli films.
I believe this is one story that should be experienced first-hand with no spoilers, and so I won’t go into too much detail about the story. We begin with our main leads, Oliver and Mr Drippy. Straightaway, we are introduced to Mr Drippy’s world. Oliver is a young boy and a tragic experience leads him to leave his town of Motorville and head into Mr Drippy’s world, where he is taught to become a young wizard to stop a growing dark power from taking over both worlds. In his company is Mr Drippy, an unusual and strange looking welsh speaking fairy. Again, while not wanting to spoil any details of the game’s story, I will say that it is a sad, yet hopeful and exciting ride that any gamer should enjoy.
Gameplay stands out here, and for two reasons. Anyone who has heard of Ni No Kuni knows that it borrows traits from Final Fantasy and Pokémon and makes it its own. This somewhat true; however, while the fighting style designed in the same way as Final Fantasy, you are able to move about during battle. This helps a lot when it comes to fighting tougher bosses, as Mr Drippy shoots off little orbs of HP and MP (health points and magic points), and at times enemies will shoot out a yellow orb that allows for a special attack to do major damage.
When you first start out you only defend yourself, and as you progress you receive your very first familiar through a spell you learn. As you progress you receive another familiar and then another. The actually catching, of the familiars is done around 9 hours into the game where you pretty much have to swoon the familiars after defeating them, as opposed to throwing a poke ball at them.
Battles initiate just like Final Fantasy. The screen blurs and then zooms into the screen. There is some light puzzle solving in game but you won’t encounter these everywhere.
As for the familiars they can be compared to pokemon in the sense that they level up, learn new moves, and eventually evolve, or in Ni No Kuni it is called metamorphosis; this first happens about 9 hours into the game. The familiar is evolved through using a stone to help it evolve through its various levels. They also have certain strengths, weaknesses, and resistances when it comes to different moves in game.