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Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Discussion Thread

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I couldn't find a specific thread about the game so I thought I'd make one. I just finished the Old Smokey volcano stage and I'm having the time of my life with it. It's like a perfect combination between old school and new school JRPG ideas. Imagine if you will, a combination of Dragon Quest 8, DQ9, Final Fantasy 12 and Pokemon. That's how I'd describe the game in a nutshell.

The art and graphical presenation are really, really good...particularly for Ghilbi fans. It's amazing how a six-year old console can produce such a beautiful game in this day and age...even with the superior PC games, Ni No Kuni still looks great. Nothing like it in the market right now. Very charming presenation and plot. And don't get me started on the orchestrated soundtrack...shades of Dragon Quest 8 here.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Discuss away! Your liked/dislikes. Favorite mechanics. Favorite familiars, characters, etc. I'm quite fond of Drippy's dialog quirks and scottish accent. Tidy!

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I beat the game and started over. I felt unhappy with my final teams and figured starting fresh would help me plan better. Very fun, but also pretty grindy, and the story falters at the end a little. Ally AI also leaves something to be desired as they tend to blow all their MP quickly and too readily favour defensive familiars but do nothing with them. One of my allies had a Monolith, which would've been perfect for tanking, but he'd pull it out and it would JUST SIT THERE. He wouldn't use Yoo Hoo (ie, drawing aggro).

But it's still fun and has lots to do and see, and I really am having fun.

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I like and dislike Drippy all at once. I like the idea of his voice more than hearing it. I'm not that far into the game, 2-3 hours. It bothers me how zoomed out the world map is, maybe just because I've been playing a lot of Tera lately and the camera is very customizable. I look forward to playing it more when I get some time. It's very beautiful, and i love the soundtrack. I saw a post on Kotaku or somewhere complaining about the battle music, I found it delightful.

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I don't get the complaints about grinding. I'm L20 and have done no grinding whatsoever. The combat is too easy if anything.

I really like the touch of the random enemies running away from you when you're more powerful. With most RPGs I'm yelling at the enemies: "really, level 1 bandit, you're going to engage an armed-to-the-teeth war party with your fucking toothpick? Stop wasting my time!" I should probably get out more.

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Grinding is not necessary all that much, but if you ever want to change up your team and get the new familiars up to par, THEN you'll find you gotta grind.

Also, since recruiting is random, you may fight many, many battles trying to get that one familiar you desire. I fought well over 100 Boneheads in the desert trying to get one. Well worth it, though.

Also, go back to Ding Dong Well and get a Danglerfish. They are absolute brutes. I gave it to Esther and she never comes close to dying now.

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Guys, as soon as you're able to fly, go on top of the hills next to the Temple of Trials and tame that Dino familiar. He's freakin' insane and made the game much easier for me. He's a natural tank and his attack power is insane! He's harder to level up though.

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Best damn pokemon game I've ever played.

Okay seriously, I'm at Old Smokey now and I'm really enjoying this game, even if everybody else I know has already beaten it once. I think the game's pretty, oh so pretty...the combination of the backgrounds, colorful characters and orchestrated music make this game gorgeous. Some nitpicks though:

The battle UI is kind of clunky. As you're learning options and skills through your characters and your familiars, you have to memorize what's there and where it is on the list. Since battles are real-time, you can easily get hammered on while you're cycling through those damn speech balloon menus trying to find the spell or skill you need. Using items in battle is worse, it makes me think of using items in Kingdom Hearts.

Secondly, this is a small nitpick, but I really don't like how Oliver bows. He's from the USA, and when he bows he does a western bow (one arm behind the back, one in front), but the writers don't understand why Americans bow. We don't bow to be polite or say thank you like the japanese do, we may just say "thanks" or nod our heads and smile instead. Because of this Oliver's bowing seems alien, because that kind of bow he's doing should be done if he's just been in a school play or something. It's just one small thing that made the Motorville parts and Oliver's character seem not quite right.

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I can't believe there isn't more discussion on this one. Ni No Kuni is absolutely enchanting. I am pretty cynical when it comes to JRPGs these days; I can't remember the last *console* JRPG I played and enjoyed. Probably FF7. I don't think I've played more than 5-10 hours of anything after that; to me, the magic of the genre was gone.

NNK on the other hand summons a feeling of nostalgia I simply haven't felt for games in a long time. It is a JOY to play. For the first time since I was in middle school, I've actually woken up and played the game before doing *anything* else. It's just... incredible. The music is brilliant, the graphics are breathtaking (despite their cel-shaded style), the story is heartwarming and enthralling, and the gameplay is a blast.

Speaking of, I've heard some criticisms of the battle system. I think it's one of the best battle systems in any JRPG I've ever played and the only negative is that the AI isn't super smart. However, I think this adds a bit of extra challenge. The game might be a little too easy if you could program your teammates with the same level of granularity as, say, FF12. I think this is a very minor blemish (if it is one at all) on an otherwise very fun and engaging combat system.

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I can't believe there isn't more discussion on this one.

Calling it Obligatory blah blah blah blah blah blah instead of simply "Ni No Kuni" could have contributed to this thread not doing well.

I'm up to Old Smoky, loving the game. Glad there weren't a lot of spoilers in here, looking forward to playing again. I love my little Mitey Mite. >:]

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I've played a little bit more in between bouts of WoW and a Chrono Trigger DS replay, and I'm now about to go to Hamlin. I've spent most of my hours catching a second one of everything now that I've learned that the evolutions split for the final form. Such. A. Pain. But hey, because of the running around catching junk I've managed to get my main team up to its second and third forms already. Props to whomever said to go give Esther a Danglerfish, because those things are crazy strong tanks.

In any case, while the quality of the music is fantastic, its usage is pretty limited and sometimes ill-suited. Joe Hisaishi is a great composer, but I don't think he really understood how many songs you need to write for a full-length JRPG these days. I don't think he understands atmosphere in a game versus atmosphere in a movie either, so that's why there's a generic battle theme, generic dungeon theme, fits-for-everywhere overworld theme, and silly-background-crap-theme for feeding your familiars. It also doesn't help that music starts over again whenever you fight a battle, exit a battle, enter the world map, ect ect. We keep hearing those same few bars over and over unless we put the game up into a menu, set the controller down, and wait to hear what interesting parts a song might have. It's really not how game music should be.

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I agree that in an ideal world it would have tons of unique music for every possible thing, but it is extremely unlikely that Joe Hisaishi had any control or say in how many songs would be composed for the game. An orchestral recording session can cost literally thousands of dollars *per hour*, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars, so the total music budget has to reflect that. The composer fee is usually on the order of thousands of dollars per minute as well. Again I'm speaking from experience here, having worked on PS3/360/Wii games myself...

Even that said, I actually find the music growing on me even more. It's really like a classic SNES game in that regard. Very bold, dramatic, and memorable. The overworld theme is downright gorgeous!

As for gameplay, I do love my Mite (named Derp). Some other species I like are the Green Buncher (banana thing) which has a lot of punch and very strong defense, the Sleepeafowl as an offensive spellcaster, and Lagoon Naiad and Seed Sprite for healing. My team currently looks like this...

* Mighty Mite (he's too cute to evolve!), Seed Sprite, Purrloiner (not 100% on this guy... I want another fast fighter though)

* Strongo, Anglerfish, Clubber Cub (also not sure about this)

* Green Buncher, Girlfriend (trying this instead of Sleepeafowl), Lagoon Naiad

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Zircon, I chose the Purrloiner and have been keeping him equipped with a good sword and metamorphosed him once and on the entire continent where Hamelin is, he is killing every enemy almost all by himself.

I am under the impression that there are no ultimate familiars or anything like that. Assuming this is true, I just decided that I'd go with the monsters that appeal to me visually. Upon looking in the Wizard's companion, I saw that Purrloiners can metamorphose into Pusses in Boots and was instantly sold! I also have a lot of robot characters and noticed that the tin man's attack and defense go up 3 where other familiars' go up 2. I can't wait to turn him into a brutal death machine!

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I agree that in an ideal world it would have tons of unique music for every possible thing, but it is extremely unlikely that Joe Hisaishi had any control or say in how many songs would be composed for the game. An orchestral recording session can cost literally thousands of dollars *per hour*, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars, so the total music budget has to reflect that. The composer fee is usually on the order of thousands of dollars per minute as well. Again I'm speaking from experience here, having worked on PS3/360/Wii games myself...

I have to wonder if somebody at Ghibli intervened and say "no, this MUST be pure orchestrated music!" and then went with limited orchestral tracks over expansive sampled ones, because Level 5 is a good studio that knows what they're doing. Kind of sad, because if that's the case then it wouldn't be the first time the people wearing suits at the top intervening ruined some of the artistic merit of a game by saying "NO IT MUST HAVE THIS THING".

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Zircon, I chose the Purrloiner and have been keeping him equipped with a good sword and metamorphosed him once and on the entire continent where Hamelin is, he is killing every enemy almost all by himself.

I am under the impression that there are no ultimate familiars or anything like that. Assuming this is true, I just decided that I'd go with the monsters that appeal to me visually. Upon looking in the Wizard's companion, I saw that Purrloiners can metamorphose into Pusses in Boots and was instantly sold! I also have a lot of robot characters and noticed that the tin man's attack and defense go up 3 where other familiars' go up 2. I can't wait to turn him into a brutal death machine!

Certain familiars dominate others in terms of stat gains, but you can build a strong party out of just about any group of familiars you like. Purrloiner, it turns out, is actually really good-- later in the game (around level 50 or so, if I recall correctly), he started outperforming my Mite by a substantial margin and never looked back, even with worse equipment. And he's a pirate cat, which is just too cool to turn down.

I agree that in an ideal world it would have tons of unique music for every possible thing, but it is extremely unlikely that Joe Hisaishi had any control or say in how many songs would be composed for the game. An orchestral recording session can cost literally thousands of dollars *per hour*, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars, so the total music budget has to reflect that. The composer fee is usually on the order of thousands of dollars per minute as well. Again I'm speaking from experience here, having worked on PS3/360/Wii games myself...

Even that said, I actually find the music growing on me even more. It's really like a classic SNES game in that regard. Very bold, dramatic, and memorable. The overworld theme is downright gorgeous!

Agree'd on all fronts. And to clarify for others, that "per hour" is one recording hour. Which translates to maybe 5 minutes of music (depends on so many factors), but the point being that it's really very expensive. I thought that the score was beautiful-- one of my favorites this generation, in fact.

As for the rest of the game: it might just be the best of its kind since Dragon Quest VIII. The game is gorgeous. The gameplay is pretty strong, though I do feel that the strategy aspect could have been deeper if not for an AI which doesn't take full advantage of your familiar assignments and isn't very customizable. It's very easy to overlook that though, when everything else about the game is pitch-perfect.

Highly recommended!

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I have to wonder if somebody at Ghibli intervened and say "no, this MUST be pure orchestrated music!" and then went with limited orchestral tracks over expansive sampled ones, because Level 5 is a good studio that knows what they're doing. Kind of sad, because if that's the case then it wouldn't be the first time the people wearing suits at the top intervening ruined some of the artistic merit of a game by saying "NO IT MUST HAVE THIS THING".

I think that's some interesting fan fiction, I've literally heard 2 people complain about the music. Could always mute the TV and play something more fitting on your iPod... like... Cannibal Corpse. (Recommended)

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There are some ultimate familiars, actually: Dinoceros is one you can catch in the field, and puts all other mons to shame with his sheer insane damage output. Up his attack frequency and metamorphose him and he's basically unstoppable.

There's also Sapdragons, which can only be earned in the post-game, as well as the only naturally-planet-aligned, Nobilia-species mon you get from clearing the coliseum (again, post-final boss).

That said, as familiars grow higher in level you may see diminishing returns on stat growth. Drongos and Cutpurrses are such examples. There may be levels where their stats don't go up at all. These are called "early bloomers" -- they receive their best gains early on, before level 50. Late bloomers, on the other hand, start with pretty low stats gains but as their level increases they get much better stat gains, more so than early bloomers.

But like I said, Dinoceros makes it all moot so maybe just recruit one of him and enjoy your new easy mode.

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I don't know if you can get it in the wild, but the Amazon preorder familiar Griffy just eats everything up. I feel like I'm cheating a little bit when I use him, as I probably should have been dead and gone in a few spots only to have him come out and rake.

Regarding the music, I think there are some truly beautiful tracks that do a great job of capturing the game's themes, especially in regards to childlike innocence and adventure. Also, I am in agreement with Zircon that the music makes it feel like a classic RPG, and that just adds to its charm. Could be that I just don't play many JRPGs nowadays, but I can't remember the last time I felt the type of nostalgia I do when I play this game.

It *is* way too repetitive, though, but it could definitely be worse: the music could be ridiculously repetitive and ear-wrenching, or the writing could be downright boring. As is, I find the repetition pretty bearable--take a few days off from playing and go back to it, maybe, if it's getting too hard to take.

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I've finally finished the game after taking it nice and slow (I prefer to do that as opposed to rushing through something). I have some spoiler-related thoughts below but first, my overall opinion:

Ni No Kuni is a brilliant game. It's without a doubt the best JRPG I've played in many years, and on par with the hallowed pantheon of SNES/PS1 classics like Final Fantasy 6 and Chrono Trigger. I've already talked about how much I love the music and graphics, but one thing I haven't mentioned is the rich world-building and memorability of all the different locations. In NNK, nearly every town or dungeon you visit is unique and memorable. You won't forget the sprawling, cat-based hamlet of Ding Dong Dell, the summer village of Castaway Cove, the stunning final dungeon, and certainly not the Fairyground on Teeheeti.

This kind of worldbuilding is something I think many, if not MOST other RPGs (Western or Japanese) sorely lack. This is where the collaboration with Studio Ghibli was readily apparent. So many fantasy and medieval worlds rely on the tired Dwarf / Elf / Goblin (etc) tropes; it's a welcome change to have totally new races and creatures like the fairies and Tomte. The sidequest system also helps flesh out the world further - meeting a chef in Al Mamoon and helping him with his tikka mahala, solving Horace's riddles, following a doe-eyed couple as they try to open a store, interacting with the forest dwellers, and so forth. Even though the errands were often simple, it's the dialog and design that again helps breathe life into the game's world.

The combat is exciting and dynamic. For the majority of areas and encounters in the game (unless you're really grinding and min-maxing your familiars), you need to plan your combat strategy. Simply using regular attacks and nothing else is typically not too effective, and you have to use a wider array of tools at your disposal based on what you're fighting. This is especially true for the boss battles, which I thought were very challenging throughout the game. I'm not an RPG novice by any means but I got my share of game overs during some of the particularly difficult encounters.

We've talked already about how the AI is on the stupid side, rarely doing what you want it to do, but I don't think this detracts from the experience much, if at all. If you could totally control every action of your allies, the game would probably be too easy. As it is now, the challenge level is just right. Plus, even some of the most highly-regarded JRPGs of yesteryear had gaping balance problems and broken tactics. To some extent, that's part of the fun :)

Though I started Ni No Kuni with Japanese voices (I'm glad they included that option), I switched to English about 10 hours in and never looked back. So many Japanese games have major problems with English voice acting, but I think this game did a remarkable job. Sure, there are some cheesy lines and a few pacing issues (probably due to audio implementation), but overall, the character voices are memorable and full of personality. Again, who can forget the Cowlipha or Drippy, for example? Though not all the lines were perfect, I really respect that they put the effort in to making the English voices actually bearable.

In terms of the overall gameplay - which includes not only combat, but also exploring the world, going through dungeons, questing, and so forth - I really only have a couple of complaints. One is that I felt the 'take/give heart' quests were too easy. The game really holds your hand for these; it would have been nice to leave more of this to the player's problem-solving ability instead. Similarly, I thought the game could have done much more with dungeon puzzle-solving. There was a bit of this early on (e.g. the Temple of Trials) but it significantly tapered off later. Is this a necessity for a JRPG? No, but given the library of spells they introduced, I thought it was a missed opportunity for stimulating gameplay. On a side note, Horace's quest line had some excellent riddles, particularly toward the end!

Another criticism which I'm sure relates to the game's budget and original size constraints is the lack of animated cutscenes later in the game. The first half has such gorgeous animated sequences throughout; I would have really liked to see more of them later. I'm a huge Studio Ghibli fan and so each one was a real treat. However, again, I can understand how these were probably a major resource challenge, and their absence is not a big deal at all.

Spoilers begin here - highlight below!

I loved the story of this game. It's heartwarming and has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, even though the overall arc is a fairly familiar one (save the world from bad guys!) For example, while we might have suspected Shadar was Oliver's soul mate, I did not expect that Alicia was actually Oliver's mother, who had been traveling between the two worlds. I thought if nothing else, Oliver might save Alicia, even though his mother would still be gone - that was a surprise. Likewise, learning that Cassiopeia had essentially dreamed up much of what we saw around her was a neat twist.

Speaking of, the backstory of both Shadar and the White Witch were pretty tragic. Cassiopeia's story - killing everyone in the world, or at least one continent - was shockingly dark, even if they didn't 'show anything'. You have to feel for a character who has been in isolation for hundreds if not thousands of years after such a terrible event. The redemption of Shadar was also very interesting and Ghibli-esque.

Browsing some other forums, I saw that some people felt the game post-Shadar felt tacked on and unnecessary, detracting from the experience. I don't think that's the case. While they certainly COULD have ended the game at Shadar (provided they tweaked some of the earlier events), I definitely appreciated that additional story arc. The mystery, interacting with the adorable Pea, learning about Cassiopeia's tragic mistake, uniting the world... all of that was great.

My only problem with the plot structure is that after such a dramatic climax (defeating the Zodiarchs), there was not enough payoff afterward, compared to the post-Shadar celebrations. I would have loved to see a solid 15-20 minutes of story - seeing where everyone ended up. What did Swaine end up doing? How is Hamelin recovering? Is Esther a famous musician now? Where's Drippy? We can of course use our imaginations, but I would have loved to see more. This is really the only significant complaint I have. However, I can almost entirely forgive it on the merits of the GORGEOUS end credits music.

In summary: Ni No Kuni now ranks among my favorite games ever. It conjures feelings of nostalgia, wonder, and joy that I haven't felt for RPGs since I was in middle school. Though it isn't perfect, what is? :)

Edited by zircon

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Spoilers in response to zircon's spoilers.

One thing that kinda bothered me was Mr. Drippy's involvement in Alicia's past and how the story never really addressed it. In reality, there was no way he COULDN'T have known Ally was Alicia. To him, the last thing he can clearly recall consciously is Shadar turning him into a doll. This had to have happened during Shadar and Alicia's final battle.

So then, if Mr. Drippy knows all that, plus what his fairy allies have been telling him for over ten years, PLUS when he returns to normal in another world entirely (and knows where the magic book is stored)... Why doesn't he connect the dots and realize the truth well before it's explicitly stated? I posit Mr. Drippy knew the entire time, but kept up a lie so Oliver would do what he wanted. He then pretended to act shocked and surprised with each new "revelation" about Alicia (he is an actor, after all), to throw off suspicion.

Also in the original DS game, Shadar was indeed the final boss, which explains why the fake ending after his defeat is so more developed.

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I just started this yesterday, and, honestly, until I read zircon's mini review below I was ready to put it down after the first 30 minutes. I am so story-focused, and I felt like I was being set up for a ham-fisted plot with hammy acting and other types of pork that I can't find words for. It seems that video games in an "anime" style take the worst parts of anime storytelling and make them the standard instead of trying to build on good foundations.

BUT! I am going to continue and see what makes this zircon's "best JRPG" of recent age. I will resume being opinionated and right about everything after maybe 10 hours of play.

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I recently went back to this after stopping about 4 hours in. I just now unlocked a secondary party character and finished the first "trial". Really fun game, and I'm glad I started it back up.

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I'm about 4.5 hours in and it's not really grabbing me. It's really, really kidsy. "Jeepers!"

From a storytelling perspective (70% of the reason I play any game), if it wasn't for Mr. Drippy there would be no story because they don't deliver the narrative in any other way. 80% of the dialog is him explaining things to you (and calling you stupid for not knowing) which is awful writing mechanics.

I can see how people like it from a JRPG gameplay perspective though. The battles are fun, if the random encounter rate is a little high. And of course the graphics and score are preeeeeeetty awwwsome. It's just falling flat story-wise right now.

Right now, though, it's feeling a little bit like an immature Zelda game for a younger target audience and I'm not sure I'll continue. Argue with me!

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