The Tale of The Princcess Kaguya: Studio Ghibli’s Back With Some Classic Beauty…

The Princess Kaguya MP 
Currently, this one’s only part of a children’s film festival here in NYC, but I’m hoping it at least gets a limited release in regular theaters after that’s all said and done, as it’s quite lovely and yes, it’s Studio Ghibli doing some amazing animation work as usual. Check out the trailer below for some lovely visuals:

(Thanks, Movieclips Trailers!) 

This is one of those films that NEEDS to be seen even if you know the classic story by heart. Let’s hope this gets more notice and that wider theatrical release before it pops up on Blu-Ray/DVD and people somehow forget it exists because it’s not being promoted outside of a niche audience. Oh, wait. OOPS. It IS getting a US release on October 17, so I guess I can see this after all and not have to deal with squealing kids, shushing parents and overpriced tickets. No wait, the tickets will still be overpriced, but one out of three is just fine by me…

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Slow, Sleepy Sunday Soars…

the wind rises MPSo, I saw The Wind Rises today and it’s quite a magnificent sendoff for Hayao Miyazaki (if this is indeed his final film), although it’s not quite a film for kids unless you want to be studying aviation history and a few other things afterward. It’s absolutely gorgeous to look at and while the grand dream sequences and a stunning interpretation of the massive 1923 Kanto earthquake here are amazing blends of that wonderful Studio Ghibli hand-drawn and CG animation, the film’s intentionally slow pace means some viewers might find themselves drifting off when the film is making it’s points. For a biographical film (animated or not) both the subject and subject matter call for post viewing brain expanding because unless you’re an aviation nut who knows names, places and anime faces really well, some parts of the film may seem hard to follow until you can place dates to some of the important events shown.

This isn’t a review at all, though. It’s a recommendation if you’re wanting to hit the theater near you, this is playing and your curious as to whether it’s worth the price of a ticket. The short and easy answer is a resounding yes. Okay, back to being bored as hell by Mad Men. Man, this show needs to end or hopefully get better. I missed it, but after such a damn long delay, I find I don’t care about it all that much now…

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.

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.

E3 2012: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Trailer: Level-5 At The Top Of Their Game

As I’ve said elsewhere, anyone saying the PS3 has “no good games” either doesn’t own a PS3, is a massive fan-troll with FAR too much time on their hands or just really doesn’t get out to the shops much. This latest trailer from Namco Bandai’s upcoming Level-5/Studio Ghibli collaboration shows off just how gorgeous a game can look when everyone behind it is dedicated to the project. This one’s not out for a little while, but don’t worry, NamBan has some other fine games for you to play (as do a bunch of other developers and publishers)…