December 6, 2012

Demo Report – Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Demo Report Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch
Namco-Bandai’s bite-sized taste of the overdue RPG joint between Level-5 and Studio Ghibli comes up rather short given the size of the PS3 download. The demo offers two small assignments, racing to the top of a volcano to tackle a lava beast, and fighting a forest guardian in order to help a wise old tree and gain access to the Kingdom of the Cat King.

It’s a little depressing that the demo ends before giving us a glimpse of the fat old Cat King, but you can’t win them all I suppose. It’s a shame the demo doesn’t share some more of the animation I spied via the E3 demo earlier this year as well, because it was rather fantastic.

Despite the lack of a hand holding tutorial, combat comes across rather easy, with players able to swap between using Oliver to cast magic or controlling his tiny critter familiars to issue more standard attacks against enemies.

The demo’s emphasis is on teaching players to switch between offense and defense when larger enemies are powering up for more devastating attacks, and moving around said foes to discover critical weak points – for the lava beast this is the tail, while the forest guardian seems to have weak knees.

The rather simple combat could leave this feeling a bit like baby’s first JRPG, but it’s several shades refreshing to my fingers – I’ve been long for an RPG that was this easy to fall into in an age where one of my favorite childhood genres has a habit of putting me to sleep with increasingly complex designs and endless explanations.

Since the PS3 owners in the room can check the demo out for themselves, I’d encourage you to do that rather than listen to me ramble on, assuming you haven’t already.

Two things in particular worth basking in while visiting the other world are the world map itself, which reminds me a bit of the romantic aerial views of the landscape offered in Ghibli’s film Porco Rosso, and the character designs of smaller enemies encountered – these designs are rather simple, and capture something Pokémon-like while still resembling the primary bestiary known to Ghibli fans. My instant favorite is the colorful Ouroboros, which you can find on the road to Ding Dong Dell.

The other point of interest is for your ears. Joe Hisaishi’s fingerprints instantly bring back memories of the feature films, and discovering how the theme for the game expands is as high on my list as unraveling the story of Oliver’s quest to bring his mother back from the dead.

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch hits the PlayStation 3 exclusively on January 22nd, 2013 in North America and Europe on January 25th.

If you need more of a Level-5 fix, Namco-Bandai has also served up a behind the scenes tour of the developer, which you can catch below.


June 7, 2012

E3 2012 – Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch E3 2012
There’s a distinct language to the work of Studio Ghibli, not within a single stream of media such as the writing or the musical scoring alone, but rather in the way the visual style, narrative direction and audio join together with a unique logic that makes any and all fantastic things possible, delivering film experiences that find me still able to recall where I saw each Ghibli masterpiece for the first time – they tend to make a strong impression.

After stopping by Namco-Bandai’s booth today, I’m more certain than ever that Level-5 and Studio Ghibli have crafted all these streams into a singular symphony of wonder and delight in videogame form, and that Ni No Kuni is the only RPG you’ll need for an indefinite period of time still to be named and marked.

But just in case you’re somehow not a drooling Studio Ghibli fan, allow me to elaborate on some reasons why.


September 23, 2010

Demo Report – Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
On the chance you’re not familiar with Ninja Theory, the recently revealed developer for Capcom’s freshening of Devil May Cry, most of the sound bites and two-second headlines attached to the team involve an emphasis on story. Since it has been awhile since Heavenly Sword, the burden of expectation and elaboration those words create is on their upcoming title Enslaved, which currently has a demo available for PS3 owners, and hits retail shelves for the PS3 and 360 in two weeks.

The push is that Enslaved has an epic story to tell, which probably means to tap our expectations of the scale and drama. All I can say is that the last epic I remember reading also had the word Odyssey in the title, and for some reason remains rather respected to this day, but my eagerness to read it again is on par with my willingness to sit and watch a game rather than play it – which is nil by the way.

Traditionally when developers emphasize story, we are left watching rather than playing, in an environment that creates two separate experiences, failing to take advantage of the medium – expertly demonstrated by Metroid: Other M recently. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good story, rather that my enjoyment of one doesn’t blind me to there being a very bad sort of old-school out there.

My interest in Enslaved is short and sweet in trying to discover which side of this it comes down on. After giving the demo a try, I’m earnestly still not certain.


August 4, 2010

Your Recommended Dose of Solatorobo

Filed under: News Feed — Tags: , , , , — Jamie Love @ 12:01 pm

Whilst getting into gear here in Sugarland, I couldn’t help noticing that there’s a healthy dose of concept art from CyberConnect 2’s upcoming DS title Solatorobo floating around this morning – which of course necessitates this PSA.

Aside from the fact that I like to mention every update about this Japanese release, you should definitely investigate for yourself if you dig fresh designs, or if you just have an unhealthy interest in humanoid animals.

Meanwhile I’ll return to waiting for any word that lends hope for an North American release.

UPDATE – Ahh Snap, we get a trailer today too, catch it after the break.


June 7, 2010

Trailer Park – Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Filed under: News Feed — Tags: , , , — Jamie Love @ 4:57 pm

Let’s kick off the E3 2010 trailer bombardment right, with another look at a title I’m increasingly interested in, Ninja Theory’s Enslaved. It’s definitely the one title I’m most turned around on this year – now I just need to get my paws on it.

The haunting beauty of future wastelands, robotic monstrosities, and a bit of water surfing await you, after the break.


April 9, 2010

Review – Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 7:31 pm

Fragile Dreams
Wandering through the decaying monuments to civilization that litter the world of Fragile like dead museums, Seto attempts to give words of justification to his obsessive search for a survivor, Ren, the girl with silver hair, who leaves a trail of cave art chalk drawings on the crumbling walls like breadcrumbs meant to lead the player toward understanding the abandoned landscape.

Reflecting on the sight of a pale moon against Fragile’s chilling sky, Seto realizes that if he can never tell another human about that sight, never share the feelings it stirred within him with another living person, that the memory and moment will never achieve meaning and ultimately be lost.

Fragile Dreams is a game possessed of a goal, a hope of making a connection with the player. And while this is ideally the goal of any release, this particular title continually reflects upon this need as the only way in which the experience of the game can achieve a sense of meaning that extends beyond the disc containing that hope.


March 30, 2010

Farewell My Love, and Tomorrow We Shall Meet Again

Fragile Dreams
When Muramasa released last year, I understood why some criticized the game for not offering more to collect, find, and simply “do” while running through the crafted backdrops Vanillaware paints with a level of detail and skill worthy of history’s artistic masters. I didn’t agree with any of those people, but I grasped the complaints of those that weren’t drawn into the real depth of that living-breathing world just beneath the digital brush strokes of painted splendor those same people saw as the game’s central draw.

When it comes to Fragile, I can already hear a similar chorus not so thoroughly impressed with the way the furnishings of the apocalypse are offered on the Wii. Part of me enjoys a ruined world full of junk to collect and strange personalities to catalog – the world of Fallout does make for good stories from the road.

And yet, Fragile is carving a path that allows me to justifiably use the word unique for once, exploring a neglected aspect attached to the end of civilization – the immense and chilling isolation that leaves stray animals to inherit the earth.


Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress