Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Review

Nachtmahr

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Feb 17, 2011
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This review actually makes me really sad :/ I'd looked forward to this game so much. But so far Susan's reviews have never led me astray, and I trust her more than any other game review site.

I mean, I really am okay with grinding to a point. Playing Ys: Origin on the highest difficulty I had no choice but to do a fair amount of it, but... this review makes it sound like you've basically forgotten the main plot by the time you are powerful enough to advance to the next area?
 

Susan Arendt

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Jan 9, 2007
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Stalydan said:
Susan Arendt said:
Eclipse Dragon said:
Susan Arendt said:
So here's the problem with that. You don't get multiple familiars for yonks, and adding companions takes even longer. So you won't really begin getting the hang of the combat's potential until, oh...I'd say a good 15 or so hours in.
I wasn't really talking about using the battle system to it's full potential immediately, I was just thinking about knowing it enough to not get my arse handed to me tooooo often... Did you at any point want to break your controller?
Oh god. So many times. All the time. You will, in all seriousness, handle yourself well in a boss fight and then get one-shotted by the first random monster you run into in the next area. The little fantasy squirrel is more lethal than the enormous boss you just killed? I'm sorry, WHAT?

Mechanically, the battle system is easy to understand and use - but once you start getting more options, and, say, want to switch between familiars so one can cast a buff before another does his attack, or you want to switch to your companion so you can heal the party or recruit a new familiar...that's when it gets clunky.
Well squirrels have been the deadliest things in Marvel Comics since Squirrel Girl came on to the scene so that's going to be a fun little joke for me until I actually face one.

I don't have too much of a problem though with extreme grinding; I pretty much had no problem with most of the bosses in Persona 3 because I spent so much time grinding, not intentionally but because I love fighting, that when I got to any of them, I was tremendously overleveled to the point of not having any challenge against them past September in the game. Still got my arse kicked in Tartarus a lot though.

In terms of Level 5 games though, would Ni No Kuni be comparable to Dragon Quest IX then? Not really a lot of story but so many side quests and brilliant atmosphere that it can be looked over?
Hmmm...I really didn't like DQ9. Stopped playing it after about 20 hours or so. (There are other DQ games I very much prefer over 9.) Overall, I found that NNK lacked the charm and humor of the DQ franchise, though mechanically it has many similarities. (The focus on grinding, for example, the alchemy.) I personally prefer the turn-based combat of DQ to NNK's fighting, though that's just a matter of personal taste.
 

SpaceBat

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Torrasque said:
And no, this isn't fan-boying. I just wish you'd actually pick issues that were actual issues, instead of nitpicking things that are not even problems.
That's the thing. Issues in games are often issues if you perceive them as such. You say that the music and landscape turn grinding into something you'd do without any complaints, but she might not perceive the music, the landscape or the tediousness of the grinding the same way. She might also not agree that kids of that age should be so slow. If you believe the mob killing is because of improved efficiency, rather than becoming overpowered, you should say that. If you look at your initial response, it contained no such criticism.

And I'm going to ask you to calm down and take a breath, as you went too far with this post a bit. Because nobody or at least no sane person would ever want to play FF XIII for a second time. Nobody. Implying that someone just wants to play such an abomination and a blight on the face of gaming history borders on ad-hominem =P.

PedroSteckecilo said:
$60 is a lot of money to spend on a "gamble" for a lot of people and when a reviewer whose taste generally mirrors your own it's hard not to take their word as either an endorsement or disincentive towards picking up a title.

Isn't that really the whole point of game reviews? To glean an impression of a game before you spend the money and possibly end up with something you hate?
I'm not saying you should dismiss reviews and just gamble it on a game that you may or may not dislike and of course it's the whole point of game reviews to give you an impression of what the game might be like, I'm saying that if you're even remotely interested in a game, it is always a good idea to look at it from different viewpoints. Of course, if Susan's taste mirror yours, it's understandable. I have to admit that I didn't take that into account, as I usually don't concentrate on a single reviewer myself, regardless of how often I agree with them. My apologies for that.

Stalydan said:
Not really a lot of story but so many side quests and brilliant atmosphere that it can be looked over?
It's a Ghibli game, I think that specific question answers itself. If there is one thing the game gets near unanimous praise over, it's the absolutely amazing atmosphere and a unique and lovely charm that only Ghibli can create.
 

Shakura Jolithion

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Grinding gets way too much of a pass I think; having read this review and skimmed Jim's (thanks for the link, Eclipse Dragon), I'm definitely saddened to know this is another game relying on grind. No amount of pretty graphics and wonderful music can make up for a long slog just to level up and progress...
I don't know where people criticizing the review for being too harsh; it's being honest and descriptive, something I value much more than simply hearing whether a game is good or bad. The fact that I can get a feel for what the game is like, in terms of gameplay mechanics, story, setting, etc., is what makes the reviews here so useful, rather than simply an opinion.

Anyway, I wasn't planning on throwing down $60 on this game, but after reading the reviews and some of the comments, I can definitely recommend it to a friend of mine who has much more tolerance for grind than I do.
 

dragonopt1

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Jan 24, 2013
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"If you're ok with extraneous grinding, slow pacing, and shockingly stupid heroes, then you'll come to love Ni no Kuni"

Wow really? I'm level 14 and have done NO GRINDING and I've just followed the story. If you call killing 8-10 mobs on the way to your next objective "grinding" I don't think you grew up playing a lot of rpgs lol, if you know what you're doing in combat it's actually pretty easy to kill things as well. Slow pacing? Really? I've been involved in a lot of action in and out of combat and the boss fights are a lot of fun. I thought the "little kid" aspect was going to be uninspiring but I'm actually enjoying the "stupid heroes" as you put it. A 3.5/5.0 isn't a bad score but this is one of the best jrpgs I've played since FF7 and that's saying something.
 

neonsword13-ops

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Mar 28, 2011
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I wasn't really expecting all that much from this game, even though I'm a huge Ghibli fan and I love Level 5 games.

Looks like I'll continue playing Persona 4: Golden and FF IX on my Vita until it drops to $20, then I'll pick it up.
 

PedroSteckecilo

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Feb 7, 2008
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You guys do know that Ghibli collaborated on a game before right?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jade_Cocoon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jade_Cocoon_2

Which were also only alright for the most part, so really Ghibli being "in" on the game isn't a guarantee of its quality.
 

Daniel Laeben-Rosen

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Jun 9, 2010
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PedroSteckecilo said:
You guys do know that Ghibli collaborated on a game before right?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jade_Cocoon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jade_Cocoon_2

Which were also only alright for the most part, so really Ghibli being "in" on the game isn't a guarantee of its quality.
Huh. I ended up checking the first one up on wikipedia(thanks for the link), and had a "Oh wait! I remember this!"-moment from trying the demo. I remember being annoyed at the controls but loving the visuals.
Thanks for the little trip down memory lane :D.
 

Quiotu

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Still playing this game and still enjoying it immensely. But yeah it really is like DQ8 with more complicated combat. I can't say DQ8's protagonist was as dumb as Oliver because he didn't speak, but a JRPG protagonist having the alignment Heroic Stupid is a pretty common cliche. Plus Oliver's 13... and all 13-year-olds are stupid. Hell it'd be the same in modern times, he'd just be saying 'shit' and 'fuck' constantly and at inappropriate times.
 

Imp_Emissary

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I like to take my time in RPGs/JRPGs and grind up as high as I can before I do almost anything.

However, grindig for HOURS just to read a map, or to look at my stuff? To think that is normal is to say you are mad, and not in a fun way.

Also anyone saying Susan doesn't like JRPGs/grinding needs to read the review again.

Or rather, they need to READ THE FIRST 3 WORDS OF THE REVIEW AGAIN!
"I love grinding."
 

Blunderboy

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Susan Arendt said:
AldUK said:
I haven't played it myself yet, but I have watched quite a few videos. Seems to me that it's more like the older SNES era JRPG and less like the more recent PS2/PS3 offerings, at least in terms of gameplay mechanics. And you know what? I'm totally fine with that, I played those RPGs growing up. Those mechanics, plus Ghibli's amazingly beautiful art? Bring it on.

I think if you have a lot of free time, if you're older than 20 and you appreciate JRPGs and Miyazaki movies, you'll love it. If not... you'll be frustrated. And yes, I get it, that's a lot of ifs.
I'm older than 20, appreciate JRPGs and Miyazaki movies and I can't stand the game. I absolutely understand why folks would enjoy it, but let's not assume that those of us who don't are doing something wrong.
But then how am I supposed to judge my worth as a human being, if not by comparing the things I like to things other people like and assuming I am better?

In all seriousness I was never going to like this game, but I'm surprised you didn't Susan. It seemed pretty damn up your street (at least going by the things you say in the podcast) and the fact that it's not, and that you're so honest about it, shows why I love this site so damn much. If anyone ever accuses you of being paid off, point them here, to this wonderfully honest review.
 

The White Hunter

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Oct 19, 2011
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Susan Arendt said:
Elamdri said:
I kinda wish this was a video review.
We'll be following up with a video!

Eclipse Dragon said:
I've played so many jrpgs that grinding just comes naturally anyway.
Judging by the demo, I might have to grind 20 or so battles right off the bat, just to get a handle on the battle system.
So here's the problem with that. You don't get multiple familiars for yonks, and adding companions takes even longer. So you won't really begin getting the hang of the combat's potential until, oh...I'd say a good 15 or so hours in.
NOw if this were five years ago I'd have been absolutely fine with that and from other reviews I was considering purchasing this, but as an adult I just don't have the hours to pump into grinding up in JRPG's.

It's a prime example of how my enjoyment of Xenoblade Chronicles was cut down, I'd grind for an hour, then try move on, the boss would smack my ***** ass down and I'd have to go and grind for another 3 or 4 hours in order to make any kind of progress.

A few years ago when I was in high school that would be no problem, but in the adult world where I need to work and devote time to relationships and other such grown-up things I just can't afford the time to sink into grinding. So it really puts me off that JRPG's cling to grinding in such a way, it's something the genre needs to get over, I don't mind a little bit of grinding, hell I'm one of those freaks that EV trains his pokemon and breeds them obsessively, but if I have to stop every few hours dead to gain a fuck tonne of experience with slow mechanics then I just can't afford the time for it.

If a game makes itself challenging but manageable without grinding, thats about right for me, if a game outright requires I halt progress to level up, then it's a deal breaker. I'd rather win by strategy and clever tactics and skill investments than outright overpowering.

Thanks, this reviews stopped me from adding to the mound of unfinished grind-fests.
 

AgentCooper

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Dec 16, 2010
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I plan on buying this when I get my backlog to a manageable level. I will say the grinds in JRPG don't bother me much and I am able to chart out on paper the hours I spend on them and assign times properly for grinding and what not. I'm still excited to play it.

I managed to find the soundtrack online. Pretty tops if I have to say.
 

Yeager942

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And this pretty much kills it for me. Grinding is the reason I dropped MMO's, so if this game is guilty of that, I think I'll pass. On another note, is grinding really that common in jrpg's? I've never played one, so I have no idea they were considered to be a common element.
 

Lance Icarus

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While I'm sure I'll enjoy Ni No Kuni when I eventually get it, I'd have to say Susan's review is pretty spot on if this game is anything like Level 5's past efforts. While I do love the variety of characters in Level 5 games, they do have a tendency to just do anything asked of them even when common sense would dictate learning more about the situation before jumping headlong into it. Adding in Studio Ghibli and their struggles with having characters use any kind of logic and you have the recipe for some painfully naive characters.

Funny enough, I was expecting Ni No Kuni to have abusive levels of grinding and weird difficulty fluxes simply because it was a Level 5 game. Level 5 is notorious for making you grind to high levels before you'd even think about entering certain zones. I knew any hope of them streamlining the leveling system to preserve game flow was a long shot, but now I'm just hoping it's not any worse. If it's anything like Rouge Galaxy's grinding then I'd debate hiring the neighbor kid to do the leveling.

I was suspicious about all the great reviews Ni No Kuni was getting with it apparently having none of the faults that were so prevalent in other Level 5 titles, but Susan's review kind of cinches it for me. I'm sure I'll love Ni No Kuni just like I loved other Level 5 games, but I can almost see the scenes Susan's talking about without ever playing the game.

Great review Susan. I'm glad you gave your honest feelings about the game instead of giving it high marks just because the production values are high.
 

Weaver

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Apr 28, 2008
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I bought it and I think Susan is pretty on the money in this review. I'd score it about the same, personally.
 

bigupyourselfman

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Jan 25, 2013
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I agree with Susan in terms of the grinding and pacing issues. However, I completely disagree with her negative review of the characters, particularly Oliver. She claims Oliver is:

"...a brainless gorp of a child who lacks the deductive reasoning skill of your average sandwich bag."

This, in my opinion, shows that she has misunderstood what the character is about. Oliver is meant to show a lack of reasoning because a) he is a child and is naive to many things in the world and b) because he purposefully disregards reasoning in favour of emotion. The latter of these is exemplified by the fact that Oliver is so trusting of a doll which came to life (Mr. Drippy) that he will follow it into a parallel world and will try to save that world from its evil ruler, just for a chance to save his Mum. All the while, he rarely asks any questions nor seems phased by the extreme weirdness of it all or the possible consequences (how many of us could say the same in his situation?). He just wants his Mum back and will do anything to get her. This is what makes him exceptional. His age also seems to play a significant role because kids are, generally, more fearless and, when faced with a challenging prospect (such as diving off the top diving board at a local swimming bath), they often focus on the rewards of the task (getting friends' approval)rather than the possible consequences (potential injuries). As we get older, and particularly when we have kids, our sensibilities come out and we allow potential consequences (such as injuries) stop us from doing certain things. Therefore, I believe that the writers have created a refreshingly innocent and selfless character, whose lack of reasoning skills, or general care for reasoning, make him an even greater hero. Better than the ever-increasing gun toting male, who prides himself on the enjoyment he gets out of killing and being selfish, anyway.

I might well have read too much into the innocent nature of the character, but, given the meticulous nature of Studio Ghibli and Level-5, it seems reasonable to assume that there was significance in making Oliver a naive and ignorant pre teen in the context of the story. It's a common theme with many Studio Ghibli films, and is partly what makes the extraordinary events all the more compelling.
 

Susan Arendt

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Jan 9, 2007
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I thought you'd love this game unconditionally, Susan.
I hafta say I wasn't impressed by the Demo, but I thought you'd like it enough to not mind its flaws.

Grinders gonna grind.