Between writing for this wonderful studio, telling people that I’m trying to read Don Quixote, podcasting, and trying to read Don Quixote, I’ve been playing a video game. Now, before I get into this mini-review, let me give this simple preface: I am not a professional gamer, writer, programmer, or reviewer. I do, however, think that critics are usually spineless dirtbags, so under that criteria, I’m more than qualified. I’ve been playing Ni No Kuni, a J-RPG that was released early this year, and a collaboration between Studio Ghibli and Level-5. Awesome!
As I write this I have yet to finish this game, but what I have played is amazing. The art design is fantastic. The color palette and environments lush and beautiful. Ghibli has made the game I always thought they could make with these colorful and varied environments. Too often in J-RPGs I feel like I’m going from dark cave to musty dungeon, grinding levels away in some ugly hell. This hasn’t been the case with Ni No Kuni (at this point, anyway).
The game’s difficulty and sometimes dark tone were a welcomed surprise as well. I would describe the character design as ‘cute’. The voice acting is top-notch as is the writing, though the writing. I don’t think either of those observations are negative, but I felt a bit misled once I hit my first serious battle.
This brings me to the battle system. The player controls one, of several, main character(s), as well as, one of hundreds of possible ‘familiars.' Familiars are found during the quest-line, tamed in battle, and offered as free DLC. The game gives me that ‘Pokémon’ feeling. Not only are there a ton of familiars to collect, but each one can be evolved several times, giving said familiars new abilities. The battle system is fun. The player retains control over his character in the battle screen. The battle screen is a fixed area in which the player can move their character(s) at will. This adds the ability to remove your character out of enemy attack range at will. This, combined with a very deep familiar, magic and ability system, (clichéd writing alert!) creates an experience that is both challenging and rewarding.
If I were to assign this game an arbitrary rating, it would be 8 dead cats out of 6 dead dogs.
Okay, I’ve talked long enough. Add the game to your collection.