Last Minute Look: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
I’m not a huge fan of JRPGs. I find them generic, cheesy and drawn out. However, there’s a new JRPG on the horizon. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was released in Japan in 2010 for the Nintendo DS. Its large popularity among players brought the game to the PS3; the port was released in 2011. I’m happy to announce that Ni no Kuni will be released tomorrow, Tuesday, January 22nd, in North America. Now, this isn’t breaking news, as the game was announced in the NA a few months ago. However, I find it appropriate to report on this gem a few days before its release as the level of excitement for this game seems to be lacking.
Gem? Griffin, how do you know it’s a gem? You’ve never played it, you jackass! Well, I will tell you why this rare phenomena of gaming should be on everybody’s wish list for the new year. Two words: Studio Ghibli. (I should also mention that Level-5, the other studio involved, is an immensely successful company as well). For those of you who don’t know about the famous studio, it’s the best anime studio of all time (this is not refutable!). Fantastic films such as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and Howl’s Moving Castle are just a few examples of Studio Ghibli’s renowned resume.
The best part: The brilliant Japanese team founded by Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese Walt Disney, is making a jump into gaming! Now if you haven’t seen a film by Studio Ghibli two things are certain: one, there is something wrong with you. And two: you won’t be as excited for this game as I am. Regardless, fan or not, this game has more to offer than its connection to a well known studio.
First off, the animation is gorgeous. Level-5, the other developer, and publisher, of the game, made an ingenious choice by choosing to partner with Studio Ghibli, as the animation is truly heartwarming and will certainly create a bond between players and characters. In addition to the already fantastic atmosphere, the game is composed by Joe Hisaishi, a prestigious composer who has worked with Studio Ghibli before. You can expect orgasmic sounds throughout your playthrough of the game. Despite the Ni no Kuni’s charming animation and characters, expect the game to be very mature, as themes such as death are not ignored.
The story is simple and trademark Ghibli, as the protagonist Oliver is struck with tragedy and introduced to a magical land where he meets a world full of weird creatures and adventures, as he tries to aid both the magical world and his own. It doesn’t sound too interesting, but characters will be, at the very least, engrossing. (The first magical character you meet is Oliver’s toy turned fairy that has a lamp hanging from his nose. ) You can expect to build a genuine bond with not only Oliver but all the characters in the game, as this JRPG will be undoubtedly driven by its story and atmosphere. The game should take around 30-40 hours to complete, with lots of side missions to pleasantly occupy more of your time. Expect the game to be huge, and long. Annnndddd…. You get to ride a dragon…. a dragon!
Although the game is story driven, do not discount its gameplay. You battle enemies through the use of familiars. Think Pokémon!! Almost any enemy can be captured and used in battle. Just like Pokémon, you are not restricted to only one familiar. This is fantastic as the combat is also real-time, straying away from that turn based crap that was popular for so long. It looks as though the combat will have a lot of depth and be strategically challenging, in turn making the game more enjoyable. Also, who doesn’t like capturing and battling small animals? If that doesn’t grab your interest, I don’t know what will. Combat is accompanied by puzzling, as Oliver will have to use different spells to traverse puzzles throughout the game.
I believe that the release of this game is the beginning of a trend, or a revolution if you want it to sound epic…. I think I’ll go with revolution. I’ve expressed Studio Ghibli’s importance in the filmmaking industry, especially in animation. I’ve realized that Studio Ghibli’s decision to join up with Level-5 is an extremely important decision, as it marks a continued rise and evolution of video games. What I mean by this is simple. Most people don’t categorize video games into the same group as literature or film. I do.
I believe that video games offer a similar experience to that of reading a book or watching a film. Regardless of your beliefs, it is certain that a huge animation studio like Studio Ghibli has made a choice to create a video game. And that is huge! Sure, people like Steven Spielberg have gotten involved in video games and have lent a hand in making certain franchises, but this is different. Studio Ghibli has made a completely “Studio Ghibli” styled video game. They have translated their art of storytelling and their atmosphere into video game form. It may not seem like a big deal, but I believe Studio Ghibli is making art through video games. That is not to say that other games don’t create art, but Studio Ghibli emphasizes the possibility of games being viewed as art.
So where am I going with this rant? Well, I used the word “revolution” before and I believe it’s at its precipice. Video games are becoming more respectable and beginning to be talked about in the same ways as literature and film. It needs to happen more regularly and without the social stigma of being a nerd, but it’s happening. Another prime example is the upcoming South Park game, South Park: Stick of Truth, which has Matt Stone and Trey Parker in control of the game. Who would’ve thought that you should let the creators of the show come up with the story and do the voices for their video game?
So when tomorrow rolls around dig deep into your pocket and pull out that last sixty bucks, you don’t need to pay rent. On a more serious note: I don’t actually know for sure if Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch will be worth playing, as I haven’t played it. However, I do know that this is one of the most promising titles of 2013 and if its half as good as Studio Ghibli’s other content it will be well worth playing. If someone like me who usually cringes at JRPGs is this excited, you should be too.
Comment below, let me know if you’re excited for Ni no Kuni! What other upcoming games catch your eye for 2013?