The Video Game Odyssey: A Journey of Imagination and Heart

Ni no Kuni is a touching tale of one boy’s journey to save his mother’s life.

Ni no Kuni is a touching tale of one boy’s journey to save his mother’s life.

There are rare instances when gaming commentators, journalists and critics hail a game as a “work of art” or perhaps as a “masterpiece.” The recently released Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch certainly seems to fit the bill, with a triumvirate of impressive names involved in its production. Combining the art style and animation of the Academy-Award winning Studio Ghibli, the design and vision of JPRG (Japanese Role-Playing Game) developer Level-5, and a heavenly musical score provided by renowned Japanese conductor and composer Joe Hisaishi, Ni no Kuni is an artistic tour de force in addition to a masterful RPG adventure.

Ni no Kuni features a memorable cast of characters, from the fairy Dripper to the lovable rogue Swaine.

Ni no Kuni features a memorable cast of characters, from the fairy Dripper to the lovable rogue Swaine.

Now before I go any further, I should be clear. I have not had the pleasure to play Ni no Kuni yet. Ni no Kuni is a PS3 exclusive here in the U.S. and to my everlasting regret, I do not yet own a PS3. There is a DS version of the game available, but it was a Japan-only release. While I am studying Japanese myself, I have nowhere near the mastery to comfortably play through the game. That said, I am incredibly excited to play this game, as it represents a great break from the usual JRPG tropes in terms of story and characters.

Ni no Kuni is the story of a young boy named Oliver who lives in the fictional Motorville, U.S.A. However, when a great accident robs him of his mother, he meets a fairy named Dripper who hails from another world. Dripper explains to Oliver that perhaps because their two worlds are connected, vanquishing the evil plaguing the other world could save the life of Oliver’s mother. And so Oliver sets off, with Dripper at his side and a magical spellbook known as the Wizard’s Companion at his side.

Oliver’s pure-hearted magic may be the only thing that can save both worlds.

Oliver’s pure-hearted magic may be the only thing that can save both worlds.

In terms of gameplay, Ni no Kuni combines active turn-based battle with a monster-taming mechanic reminiscent of games like Pokémon. IGN’s review describes it best as a fusion between “Tales and Pokémon.” Players can take actions while their familiars serve as the primary offensive and defensive bulk of the party.

If you are even remotely interested in RPGs in general and you happen to own a PS3, then I urge you to give Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch a look. I can promise that it will be an adventure unlike any other.

So dear readers, have any of you played Ni no Kuni yet? Better yet, perhaps you have a PS3 that you don’t need?

 

What to get in touch and talk gaming? Contact the reporter at preston.sotelo@asu.edu or via Twitter at @p_sotelo