Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Yes, this one is over due. So overdue I am almost embarrassed that I am posting this now, yet proud because this is ultimately my first blog post for this blog site, and personally, I could not think of a better game to begin the journey with. When I had first heard of Ni No Kuni I was intrigued to say the least, and the more I read about it, the more my excitement grew. I must admit, I read about the anticipation of this game when E3 2013 was at the stages of being hyped the week before (kind of like right now… funny how life has a simplistic rhythm to it) and looked for more than a simple blurb of info on the game. This for me, this game, this new edition of adventures that was just waiting to be launched, could not have had less of a hype than it did last year, and the coverage of it was not received well in the United States. Well, Bandai Namco, let me try… just try to redeem last year, and make this game a very appealing take for the reader here who is looking for a new game to play, because Call of Duty, and NHL are getting too annoying with the headsets, and glitch gameplay (which we will [R]age [Q]uit about later).
When dropped in January 22, 2013, Namco Bandai supposedly shipped worldwide 1.1 million copies. Worldwide. Now I know I shouldn’t, but comparatively to that of a dominant gaming studio, that is a terrible release because 15 million people went out and bought GTAV on the first week it launched. 15 million people worldwide! And even with the one million shipped, 5-600,000 of the copies where sent to Japan (which received the amazing cover to go along with it) that leaves only 5-400,000 copies shipped to both the UK and the U.S. and Canada regions alongside the rest of the not-named world.
So in a nutshell, a masterpiece has slipped through the cracks, and I want to make my audience aware.
Granted you may be in a super-store looking through the game titles that they have, and this little red box with the PlayStation’s Greatest Hits at a can’t beat price of $19.99 is just staring you in the face. What do you do? Nothing. Possible have an inquiry about it, but where have you ever heard of this game?
This is my problem. It is the lack of knowing what the box holds inside, and in this case it is probably one of the most beautiful games created for any system up to date (and selfishly I love that it is a PlayStation exclusive). Not for just its genre, although holding interest in the adventure RPG area will only reinforce my opinions here for you and vice versa, but in its entirety Ni No Kuni brought to the table, and still does bring; a story like no other, a lovable cast and character base, and the creature hunting adventure that we all use to have when we were young be it with Pokémon, Monster Hunter, all the way back to the Ferbie (am I spelling that correctly?). Yeah I said it, I hated those things but they were ubiquitous in my young past and kids were raising little monsters right before our eyes. Ni No Kuni did hit my nostalgic love for a very similar creature catching game that I would play for endless amounts of hours with my best friend, even breaking curfew to evolve that one creature that I waited so long for… and when I got it, it was like winning the Super Bowl, well not that insane but it was very exiting. The world of creature catching and training them so you can defeat evil has far surpassed the times of Team Rocket! and moved on to bigger and more important things: defeating the most evil wizard in dark times to save your mother from death! Yes! This young, vivacious game drops one of the heaviest hammers I have ever encountered.
Let us begin then. Once you pop the game in, Ni No Kuni brings you on an adventure with a boy named Oliver in a simple town. Unfortunately Bandai doesn’t let you enjoy the peacefulness of the town and Oliver’s situation for too long before his mother is pronounced dead, and all Olly is left with is the stuffed toy his mother sewed for him. Mind you throughout this experience the scenery and the graphics of this game are extraordinary simply because of the graphic design. Bandai created an anime-like look for its people and most of its environment, but does not withhold on the talents of their design teams or their [assumed] highly talented musical producers. Final Fantasy definitely holds up to having the best music for video games, hell they even sell their soundtracks on iTunes, and in stores on cd, but the group that worked on Ni No Kuni has made a statement on their own. But I digress… the adventure that Oliver embarks on, begins when his tears leak onto his toy and spark a magic that brings him into some sort of parallel universe. Now, as a gamer and someone who pays attention to the story, the question for me is: Is it a parallel universe that he travels to, or is it all just in Oliver’s head?
For me, of course it is the parallel universe triggered by magic caused by love! How could it not be?! As soon as Oliver is introduced to his wizardry talents, the quest for finding his mother begins! The characters that Oliver team up with correspond to those whom existed in the other universe from which he came, and are utilized throughout the game in both universes. Oliver’s story carries you along through a timeless adventure in search for his mother. His companion, Drippy, is definitely there for comic relief throughout some of the more heart aching points of the game, but is also very helpful in times of duress in battle. At one point in the game Oliver realizes that the only way to save his mother (or get to her) is to save all of those whom are heartbroken, and distraught by the evil wizard Shadar. Now I know this may sounds terrible, and something that a little boy should never endure on his own… and you’re right! Because not only does Oliver get Drippy to hang with him the entire time he his joined by Swaine (the DPS/Theif) and Esther (the healer). Oliver is the wizard of the group, and the most important in this universe because he is the only one who is destined to defeat Shadar and restore all of those whom are broken hearted in the world.
Now before I blabber on about the story and make this a book report, I need to explain exactly what makes Ni No Kuni a great game. Personally I have logged over 50 hours on the game, and have not completed the story. I know that sounds crazy but when I pick up a game I need to get almost everything done before I see those end credits roll. Within those 50 hours I have tamed, trained and fought over 200 hundred familiars (minions who fight for each main character).
The familiars are a major factor in the game, and similar to the old classic Pokémon, you have to catch them all. Except now the Pokémon have grown up and have become more intricate in keeping them by your side. Each member of the group has benefits with certain familiars, and the same goes for certain foods for the familiars. You are able to evolve each one, teach them moves, and conquer evil with them! But as a gamer in this universe do not forget about Oliver and the all his capabilities.
From casting spells to conjuring up rare items in the cauldron, everything can be used as an ingredient and should not be forgotten. Ni No Kuni is a wonderful story about a brave little boy with endless love for his mother and the willingness to aid everyone who needs his help. The story is very well written and excellently composed by the Bandai Namco company which creates a true piece of art in a time of mass produced assembly line type of game. It is very rare for me to say that a video game should be held up to as a masterpiece, but Ni No Kuni definitely gets my vote. It truly was an exciting find for me, and playing it proved to be an even more enjoyable experience than I had originally anticipated.
As stated previously, my aim is to try to extend why these games that I write about are worth buying or not, and in this case Ni No Kuni is a game that NEEDS to be on your shelf if you like to think of yourself as a true PlayStation gamer. From fresh animated action fighting, to the travel music, Ni No Kuni delivers in every which way. Yes it is a bit childish, but the message that you can make everyone happy, or fix their broken heart just by doing good by them, sends a brilliant message to those who are the younger generations of gamers. So not only are you running around thrashing monsters and potentially one of the most evil wizards to ever exist, you are spreading joy and healing those who truly need you!
Overall grade: 10
Story line: 10