By Furious Francis
Games like Ni No Kuni used to be around all the time. The epic JRPGs that took hours and hours to complete. Vast worlds, awesome artwork, effervescent fun, but amazing battle systems. The Super Nintendo was littered with them. Chrono Trigger, Lufia II, Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, Super Mario RPG, Final Fantasy 6 and much more. The PS1 and PS2 followed suit. Having an array of fantastic JRPGs that stressed exploration and combat over sheer graphical prowess. However, my favorite genre took a turn for the worst with the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii. While good JRPGs did come out for these systems. None of them were as memorable and as good as the JRPGs of the past. Microsoft and Sony were focused on online, realistic graphics, and the Western markets, while Nintendo was busy with their Blue Ocean Strategy. Microsoft did make a small push with some exclusive JRPGs like Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon. But it was short-lived, as neither game has seen a proper sequel. Square Enix decided to make Final Fantasy 13 and its subsequent games, about graphics and story telling, rather than exploration and battling. Xenoblade was the only JRPG to score above a 90 on Metacritic this generation, and Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch will join Xenoblade as the best JRPGs on current generation systems.
Ni No Kuni is a truly special game. The art is nothing short of stunning. Some of the best animated art in a game since Kirby’s Epic Yarn on the Wii. It really looks like an Anime is playing out on-screen. There is no need for intense polygon counts, blood, or gore. Ni No Kuni is nowhere near Uncharted 3, Killzone 3, or God of War 3 on a technical level. But for some reason I think it looks better than all of them. Proving that you can have all the polygons, bump mapping, and graphical enhancement you want in a game, nothing beats exceptional art and an ingenious battle system
Not only is Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch a stunning game visually. The gameplay is unique and innovative. It’s the most innovative full retail exclusive I’ve played on the PS3. The gameplay has a Pokemon vibe, but mixes in some real-time battle elements with fantastic depth. Its shows that when Japanese developers try, they can make games that transcend the benchmarks set. Western Developers might think they are the best in the world now. However, Level-5 has created a game that has more depth and new ideas than 95% of games released in the market. Lets be honest here, in Uncharted, you grab a gun, auto jump, hide behind walls, and shoot people. Killzone, you grab a gun (in first person) hide behind walls, and shoot people. In Resistance, you grab a gun (in first person) hide behind walls, and shoot people, but there aliens. Call of Duty, Mass Effect, Crysis, Army of Two, Halo, it’s all the same. The abundance of shooters released this generation is becoming, if not already overkill. There needs to be a little bit more variety. I’m going to give Ni No Kuni big props for one: Not following the norm. Nobody attempts to copy Pokemon and has much success. In some ways, they have surpassed the Pokemon battle system. Two: Innovating through combat. There is no game on the market that does what Ni No Kuni does, as well as it does it. And three: Having the balls to release this game on the PS3 in the West, when shooter tend to dominate the sales charts.
Level-5 has brought some exclusive JRPGs to the West like White Knight Chronicles 1 & 2, but its safe to say Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch destroys those games in every aspect. From art, to gameplay, to functionality, Ni No Kuni is one of those games you’ll look back on 10 to 15 years from now and say, ‘damn this still looks and plays good’.
By no means am I knocking the previous efforts of Japanese developers this generation with their games. (Except Square Enix, Infinite Undiscovery, The Last Remnant, those sucked) I personally loved Lost Odyssey and Star Ocean The Last Hope. Lost Odyssey is one of my favorite JRPGs of all time. But Lost Odyssey and Star Ocean came out years ago. And neither game got the sequel it deserved. The SNES, PS1, and PS2 were pumping out sequels to classics all the time. It was so rewarding to play those games back in the day. Chrono Trigger to Chrono Cross. Final Fantasy 6 to Final Fantasy 7, 8,9,10, and 12. Lufia 1 and 2. Secret of Mana and Evermore. The dominate days of the JRPG might have been lost this generation, but I’m glad games like Ni No Kuni come around every now and then. I might never relive the golden days of the JRPG, but at least I can bask in its glory one more time with the release of Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch.
What do you guys think? Have you gotten a chance to play Ni No Kuni? I’m a wrong, or right? Please comment below.
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