Written by Heath Hindman Every year, there are games developed in some regions that don’t make it into others. It would be easy, while reviewing Ni no Kuni, to sit at my desk and fling adjectives on the page like a fantasy novelist. And, yes, those are all fitting words for the new RPG, which came out last Tuesday for the PlayStation 3.
But what makes this fairy tale work so well, what has earned it a place among my all-time favourites, demands more of an explanation.
Next, as you might expect, some Major Events happen, the game breaks your heart a little bit, and eventually Oliver is told that he is The Chosen One, destined to save both his world and the parallel fantasy world in which you’ll be spending most of the game. We play video games for many reasons, and different types of games can be appealing in totally different ways. It’s a fantastic Japanese role-playing game, one that will stun your senses and break your heart in the best possible way. The writing, the combat, the side quests, the ridiculous puns, the music, the world, the dungeons, the… oh, was this supposed to be just one thing?
Hey Drippy, do you really need to make me go through like four menus just to restore someone’s heart?
But as a journey, this is a special sort of experience, a gruelling adventure filled with ups, downs, corny jokes, heartfelt moments and unbelievable sights. Oliver is joined, in addition to Mr Lumpy Drippy, by a feisty girl named Esther and a snarky rogue named Swain. No matter who you’re controlling in battle, you can move freely and swap through commands in real-time, selecting between options like attack, defend, or special abilities. Or you can just say screw it and stand around listening to the score, a sweeping, brilliant set of tracks composed by Ghibli’s Joe Hisaishi and performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic.
Honestly, haven't been this eager to play a game in so so long (maybe since Zelda: Skyward Sword or Mass Effect 3). I put in an order about a month ago and was being shipped on Wednesday or so (can't remember exactly since got the email notification on my phone at some ungodly hour).
It should be here by next week but might take a little longer due to being the Wizard's edition. I forgot to place my order in time with them and all the pre-orders had gone when I remembered.
Was lucky to have snagged the Oz Game Shop pre-order, the only trouble is waiting for it to arrive from overseas and that's never a consistent thing in terms of timing. I'm basically distracting myself with Final Fantasy classics (8 at the moment) on the Vita. Thanks for the reply champ, the main reason I was hoping to get it this week was I had a week off and start a new job this Monday so presumably won't have much time to delve into a game as deep as Ni No Kuni until the weekend!

If you haven't grabbed them yet, the 2 free DLC characters, Golden Hurley and the little dragon, are on the PSN for free. Japan in particular gets a lot of games that don’t give foreign publishers much confidence. I’d call the game whimsical, charming, beautiful, fascinating, smart, pleasant, challenging, slow-paced, grand, surreal and aggressively colourful. Surrounded by nature and strangely shaped rocks, the boy and his tiny friend are clearly in some sort of fantasy world. There’s no better way to sum up the Ghibli-crafted animation, which is grand and meticulous, so lovely that it must be impressive even to the most jaded of gamers. Before you can become a powerful wizard and fight monsters and save the world, you have to go get your mother some milk. During moments that might feel hackneyed in a lesser game, Ni no Kuni always delivers — mostly thanks to the script, which has been crafted and translated with masterful precision. A puzzle game might challenge our minds, encouraging lateral thinking and unorthodox solutions. Playing Ni no Kuni is akin to becoming a virtual tourist, experiencing a few hours at a time as you wander through a strange land. Once a character starts an action, he has to stay in place for a few seconds while doing his thing. You have to find the best way to take down each specific encounter, whether that’s just going all-out and defeating a monster as quickly as possible, or carefully dancing around the battlefield, guarding and firing spells as you zip back and forth.
In fact they do quite the opposite, and perhaps because they had so much confidence in the aesthetics, this is a game that experiments, and tries very hard to make sure every other aspect delivers. Every time you finish one, you get a certain number of Merit Stamps, which can be used to fill up a Merit Card, which can be traded in for cool minor bonuses, like cheaper goods and a completely useless (but awesome) jump ability. Part of the main story is that this evil wizard dude named Shadar is going around and cursing people by taking away important parts of their souls, usually in the form of emotions like restraint, courage and belief. Or Breach Time, a spell that teleports you through time, but can only be used once in your lifetime. I'm still waiting and generally I'm pretty good with this sort of stuff but I'm struggling to cope. It's all within the 2 week limit, so no stress on this side but if it hasn't appeared by this time next week, then shall get sherty with it all. Designed like an animated film, Ni no Kuni blends three-dimensional character models and watercolours in a way that makes everything pop, from crusty stone tablets to flying purple dragons. We get our first of many anime cut-scenes, and our first look at Motorville, a generic US city that looks very much like what Japan thinks America looks like.
Shooters test our reflexes, while multiplayer games like StarCraft II let us feed into that competitive instinct that keeps so many of us going every day.

Each hero can hold up to three of these critters, and you can swap between them at any time. As the Ultimate Hero Wizard, Oliver can go around the world, find people with extra emotions, take those and bring them to people who are deficient. There are also, of course, far more helpful spells, like Spring Lock, which opens doors and chests and Nature’s Tongue, which lets you talk to plants and animals. Like a good basketball team, Ni no Kuni is significantly greater than the sum of its parts. While you might get frustrated during a few early boss battles, before you get a pair of quick commands to make your AI-controlled companions attack or defend with the click of a button (commands that really should be available from the beginning), Ni no Kuni‘s combat system never feels unfair.
Oliver, a character who is as essential to Ni no Kuni as any sharp backdrop or charming animation, sometimes says some painfully cloying things, but it’s his stubborn naivety and unnatural courage that make this adventure possible. So you might find a cowardly soldier and give him back his courage, or help an angry merchant learn how to be nicer to his customers.
The way Drippy stops dancing when you visit one village in the snowy northeast tundra, and instead mopes behind you, shivering from the cold. While of course you would do this no matter what because you are a lovely and selfless person, helping people out also gets you Merit Stamps.
Care Bears and iCarly are made for children; Spirited Away and Nausicaa can be enjoyed by children. The way every nook and cranny of this massive world feels like it’s been crafted with care and precision, from the tiny cave full of tiny crabs to the giant volcano full of nasty fire monsters. Are you one of the million net nerds complaining about that certain special flavor that Final Fantasy has lost?
You see, there’s a vampire-zombie-thing problem in Tokyo, and everyone knows that when a vampire’s skin is exposed to sunlight, they disintegrate, right? Much in the spirit of the Salem Witch Hunts, your job is to yank people’s outfits right off their bodies and see if they die. The game is hilarious in its concept, so it’s a minor shame that it could go completely without international release.
There are rumors that XSeed is showing interest in an unnamed Acquire title, so there is still a small chance it could make the swim.
If you liked the combat of Crisis Core and don’t mind a story that uses a lot of made-up words, Type-0 is practically a must-buy.
The HD version of this obviously features huge visual upgrades that can further immerse the play in the world.

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