.:Minor Nino Kuni Spoilers below:.
I’m about halfway into Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. With about 30 hours into the game (hey, I can take my sweet time) I’ve reached several conclusions:
- This game is good. I mean really, really good. I mean “do nothing else but play this game” good.
- Someone better come up with some kind of sequel. I will expect this quality of entertainment on a regular basis.
- This is the closest we will ever get to the perfect Pokémon game.
Now, I’m not knocking all Pokémon games. Pokémon Stadium (1 & 2) came very close to what I would call Poké-perfection, but let’s face it I was more excited about the mini games. Pokémon Snap gave my brother and I hours upon hours of enjoyment (we must have played this level about 50 times).
However, I was never able to find a Pokemon game that let me explore the world on my own. It was always Ash’s story, or Red’s story…and as we all know, the story ended up getting repetitive.
Additionally, when I see the latest attempts at new Pokémon I cant help but assume that we will never see them back to their original glory. Take this Pokémon for example:
This is garbage. Literally. This is Trubbish: a garbage type Pokémon. How did they go from mythical creatures to garbage? My only guess is that Nintendo has officially stopped trying.
And this is where Ni No Kuni rolls in on a tidy wave of glory…
I have to start by admitting I was initially interested in this game mostly because of Studio Ghibli’s involvement . After playing the demo, I was convinced that the game was special, but I wasn’t sure that I’d love the game play. Now, after playing the game for a while, I’ve realized that this the kind of Pokemon game we’ve always been waiting for.
This game has everything I already loved about Pokemon:
1) Cute companions I can name and gear up
2) Evolutions I can strive toward and pine over
3) Battle System that tests your wits (though sometimes your patience as well)
…but Ni No Kuni is also exceptionally good with:
1) Story & Characters –
The characters in the story have very real feelings and are a lot easier to identify with. Oliver, the main character, is one goal-oriented little dude. Even with countless distractions, he is focused on his one true goal : saving Mom. I’m really enjoying seeing what little life lessons he learns in each area, and can only hope there’s more lessons on the way.
Esther and Swaine, two characters that appear later in the game, have equally profound stories. They feel less like your side kicks (sorry Misty, sorry Brock) , and more like friends you’re incredibly lucky have.
The main villian a.k.a. The White Witch pops in an out throughout the game, in cut scenes that show you what she and her minions are up to. She’s a very mysterious character, and I still have no idea what her true motivations are.
2) Animation/Art – Sometimes while playing the game I swear I’m just watching a movie. The art is beautiful throughout: in menus, tutorials, 3d models, and maps. The Ghibli animated cut scenes are always a treat and help in tying the game together. I’ve also seen several easter eggs that give the game a very personal feel.
The game world is vast and there are many ways to explore it. Many spells give you new reasons to explore old areas, so i find myself re-discovering the map every day.
3) Alchemy – I was a fan of alchemy in Dragonquest IX, and I found the alchemy system in this game to be just as fun. Some of the alchemy ingredients are a little bit harder to come by, so I haven’t been able to play around with this as much as I’d like to.
4) In-game literature – I honestly didn’t expect the Wizard’s Companion to be as useful a tool as it really is. Dare I say, better than a Pokedex? The Wizard’s companion includes monster data, spells, recipes and best of all, actual lore from the story’s world. It almost makes me want to buy the real thing. Almost.
This game has set a new bar for what I am expecting of games. I’m immensely happy to see what a wonderful product this collaboration produced.