Ni No Kuni II Demands Your Desire


Even with the up, down and sideways health issues happening, I’m still intent on diving into a bunch of games this spring. Right at the top of things to get to is Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, out NOW on the PS4 and PC. As a fan of developer Level-5’s games since the two Dark Cloud games, it’s been fantastic to see each new experience grow more and more polished. As you can see here and below, this game is absolutely packed with things to do including all-new kingdom building and RTS elements that seem very much like whole games in themselves.

While Studio Ghibli wasn’t part of the sequel, on board are former Ghibli character designer Yoshiyuki Momose and music composer Joe Hisaishi, both returning from the wonderful first game. Keeping that unique anime look and lovely sound is key to the experience and yep, this game nails it perfectly. In any event, get it digitally or get it physically (a walk to the game store counts as EXERCISE, folks!) – just get it and prepare to spend way too much time thinking about it when you’re not playing (well, that’s what I fully expect to happen to me given my past experience with Level-5’s other great RPGs).


VGA 101: New Additions: A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That…

silent hill 4Whee, a library update after a wee bit too long. OK, I never found my missing Silent Hill 4: The Room for the PS2 (what, I never told you it was missing? Well now you know!), so I figured that I probably accidentally sold it off or worse, stuck it in that big box lot of about 80 or so PS2 games I sold a few years back as a freebie. Oops. Anyway, I hadn’t been actively looking for a copy for a while, but poking around on ebay recently, a sealed Japanese version turned up at a crazy low price and my brain said (in the words of the late Merv Griffin) “D’ooooh!” as I ended up bidding and winning this one. I also finally got back the Xbox version I’d lent out ages ago the same day this arrived, so here you go. Yes, the import game has an English text option, so it’s quite playable…

ps3 additionsSome recent PS3 games? OK, two racers and two RPGs for your viewing pleasure. MUD (recently reviewed here) and WRC 3 (which just came in today and will be reviewed soon – so far, it’s quite good), plus White Knight Chronicles II and Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, both developed by Level-5, and one FAR better than the other, period. Look, I LOVE Level-5’s games a great deal, but the first WKC, despite some nice-looking visuals and online play (it’s basically a MMO engineered for the PS3), is a pretty dull affair from the chunk of time I’ve put into it so far. The main issue is the combat system which should have been simpler and more action RPG oriented (like a Dragon’s Dogma, or Demon’s/Dark Souls) slogs down to a sea of menus and more menus plus a few menus for good measure. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if the game wasn’t insanely easy once you’ve gotten those menus and powers figured out. It’s also generic to the point of being maddeningly RPG 101 at times and despite a decent character editor, the guy or gal you create is a silent partner to another character who’s not much more interesting. I haven’t fired up WKC II yet, but I’m not expecting much other than better-looking visuals and probably a few gameplay tweaks. It’s not a BAD game, by any means… but it sure is bland for all those large maps, huge cast of characters and lovely CG movies…

Ni no Kuni, on the other hand is beautiful and brilliant, thanks to Studio Ghibli teaming up with the developer to create something visually impressive with gameplay that’s a near total joy. I need to finish this so I can post a full review (I’ve only played about 9 hours so far), so it’s next up after WRC 3 gets taken for more of a spin…

Ni no Oopsie: Namco Bandai Sells Out of Wizard’s Edition A Wee Bit Too Early…

Well, it’s getting stellar early reviews from the critics and fans who’ve gotten their copies on day one, but it seems that some folks who ordered the Wizard’s Edition of Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch in North America had to “settle” for a refund and $20 coupon after the publisher seems to have not produced enough copies of the limited edition to go around to those who paid for it. Oops. Digital River, the distributor for the game issued the following statement:

“We apologize for the discrepancies you may have encountered with your order of Namco Bandai’s Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch – Wizard’s Edition. As one of our valued customers, we want to assure you that a Digital River representative will be reaching out to you individually via email to address your specific issue. We sincerely appreciate your patience as we work through this situation”

In plain English… Oops… Continue reading

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Is in Stores Now. If You Own a PS3, Buy It.

Granted, if you own a PS3 and all you play is the yearly Madden, CoD or other manly-man, chest-puffing, square-jawed games that require hyphenation when describing them, welllll… perhaps you shouldn’t buy this. But then again, why the hell not, I say? I think you should take a well-deserved break from the testosterone-fueled sausage-fests and get out in the beautiful virtual outdoors only Level-5 and Studio Ghibli can bring your way, courtesy of Namco Bandai Games, of course. No matter what sort of beefy action or sports games you like, you absolutely NEED to dive into something lighter (but still challenging). Ni no Kuni offers up some absolutely beautiful visuals, a score for the ages, surprisingly tough battles and many hours of content that doesn’t require you hanging out online downloading or waiting on your stumble-bum buddies to roll out of bed or back home from whatever they were doing when they were supposed to meet up with you hours ago. Anyway, STORY matters as well (yeah, I watch stuff on AMC. So sue me), and this game will make you more emotional than the time you accidentally rubbed your eye while eating those hot wings last week while watching your team lose and not make the playoffs. Yeah, that’s right – you need a good game that will hook you in and make you care about more than some bad call a guy with bad eyesight in a striped shirt made. Anyway, I bet you know someone who’d play this game even if YOU won’t… so get up off that sofa, you slug and do the right thing… You’ll be a more rounded gamer for it, trust me…

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch: Meet Joe Hisaishi, The Final Piece of a Perfect Puzzle…


As you’ll see here (and hear here, ha ha), Joe Hisaishi’s stirring score for the Level-5/Studio Ghibli collaboration Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch fits the game wonderfully well. It’s definitely one of those cases where every element of the game’s development flowed together into what’s looking to be a truly spectacular and memorable experience for JRPG fans. North American PS3 owners only have about two weeks more to wait before the game hits retail, but it’s absolutely going to be one of those games that was not only worth the wait, but worth every penny spent on whatever edition you end up owning. Namco Bandai has a big hit here, I say – hopefully, it’ll do as well as the company and all involved in the project hope, as these sorts of expensive epics may be going the way of the dinosaur thanks to too many publishers focusing on quickie casual, social and mobile titles more and more for faster revenue generation.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch – Behind the Scenes With Studio Ghibli


If that first Ni no Kuni developer diary  from a few weeks back made you want to make games, this one will make you want to pick up a paintbrush and get to making some art and/or go watch a bunch of Studio Ghibli’s wonderful animated films. The PS3 exclusive game hits retail on January 22, 2013 (hey, that’s after the world is supposed to end!) and it’s practically guaranteed to be one of the best JRPGs on the console to date. Go give that PSN demo a shot if you haven’t yet and see what’s what.

This Ni no Kuni Behind The Scenes Video Will Make You Want To Make Games…

…Or hell, at least want to buy a PS3 just so you can play THIS one. Personally, I love this video because you can see the passion as well as dedication the team at Level-5 put into the project (and boy, do they have some nice offices in Fukuoka), with a “little” assistance from Studio Ghibli, of course. Kids, remember to show this to your parents so you can prove that all that time you spend in front of the TV will lead to something other than the need for glasses or contacts, a lust for caffeinated beverages and the occasional bandage to cover up those blistered thumbs.

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Demo Arrives on PSN Tomorrow

Ni_No_Kuni_CoverNice. Namco Bandai is giving PS3 owners and JRPG fans an early holiday gift with the release of a two level demo from the upcoming (and eagerly anticipated) Level-5/Studio Ghibli game. In the demo, players can expect two tough boss battles against the Guardian of the Woods and Moltaan along with a load of absolutely gorgeous visuals and animation guaranteed to bring a smile to just about any face. Seriously – the game looks quite spectacular in screenshots and movies online, but when you see it in motion on an actual TV, it’s quite incredible. The full game arrives next month for the PS3 in North America on January 22nd 2013 and in Europe on January 25th 2013.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Hands-On: Level-5 & Studio Ghibli Do The Genre Proud

I’m not at all sure just how many copies of Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch will sell when it finally slides into stores on January 22, 2013, but if there’s any JRPG that deserves to fly off the shelves, it’s this one. Namco Bandai is handling the publishing of this Level-5/Studio Ghibli gem that’s bound to be an instant classic and remembered for its stirring story, outstandingly gorgeous visuals and really interesting take on the active time battle system originated in the Final Fantasy games.

My hands-on with the English demo made me wish for a time machine so that I could finally dive right into the story and lovely game world that’s going to be one of the best-looking you’ll see on the PS3.

Continue reading

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Wizard’s Edition Revealed

As much as I’m not so crazy about pricey collector’s editions these days, this one’s actually a nice buy for the sole reason it’s got an ACTUAL 300-page hardbound book as part of the deal. Namco Bandai’s Club Namco online shop is the first to offer up this $99.99 pre-order, so definitely book it on over there if you want one, as I expect these to sell out FAST.  The other stuff in the package is pretty cool as well, but it’s absolutely awesome to see Namco Bandai doing a limited edition that has something players can actually use as they play the game that gives them a bit more of an attachment to the main character.

OK, it’s worth a hundred bucks, but it’s still not a PERFECT package for some people. If I had to complain about something, it would be the addition of DLC characters in a single player RPG (what if a gamer doesn’t have/want a PSN account or lives in an area where they can’t access broadband?) and the plain US package art which actually manages to make the import version’s lovely but dull cover look absolutely thrilling in comparison. Anyway, start saving up those pennies or if you have them saved, go grab yourself one of these sets ASAP.