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Ni No Kuni

Ni No Kuni

Ni No Kuni

Ni no Kuni is a role-playing video game, developed by Level-5 and Studio Ghibli, for the Nintendo DS and later PlayStation 3. The Nintendo DS version, titled Ni no Kuni: Shikkoku no Madōshi , was released on December 9, 2010, while the PlayStation 3 version, titled Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch , was released in Japan on November 17, 2011, with a Western release on January 22, 2013.

The North American and European PlayStation 3 versions are published by Namco Bandai Games and include both English and Japanese voice tracks. Due to problems in translation of the magic book, there are no plans to localize the Nintendo DS version. Despite this, a collector's edition of the PlayStation 3 version that contains the translated book was released alongside the standard edition.

Ni No Kuni Plot

Ni no Kuni follows the journey of Oliver, a resident of Motorville. While trying out a new vehicle designed by his friend Philip, Oliver almost drowns, but is saved by his Mother, Allie; however, she immediately dies from heart problems after saving him. As Oliver cries, his tears cause his doll, a gift from his mother, to come to life and reveal itself as a fairy named Drippy, who tells Oliver that he is from another world where an evil wizard named Shadar took control. He also tells Oliver that each person from his world has a "soulmate", a person that shares a link with someone in Oliver's world, and that his mother looks very much like a great sage, Alicia, who was captured by Shadar. Realising that Alicia must have been Allie's soulmate, Oliver sets out with Drippy to travel to the other world and rescue Alicia in the hope that doing so will bring Allie back in his world.

In the other world, Oliver finds a multitude of broken-hearted people affected by Shadar, and uses his new-found magic abilities to restore those pieces of heart which they lack, and travels the world to seek out the four great sages who may be able to help. Along the way, he meets Esther, daughter of one of the great sages, and Swaine, a thief who initially steals a crucial item from them, but who ultimately decides to help. As they enlist the sages' help, they learn of a wand known as Mornstar that could be used to defeat Shadar, but are at a loss as to how to retrieve it, as it was recently destroyed by Shadar. Soon after, they find themselves many years in the past by the actions of a stranger, and are able to retrieve the wand there.

After returning to the present and retrieving three stones capable of completing the wand, Oliver learns that his mother Allie was in fact the great sage, Alicia. Realising she could not defeat Shadar, and that he had destroyed his soulmate in the other world to avoid the possibility of being defeated through them, she chose to travel into both the future and into Oliver's world in the hopes of finding his next soulmate; after settling in to this new world, she eventually gave birth to her son, Oliver, who unknowingly became Shadar's soulmate. After he is defeated, Shadar's past is shown. He was once a soldier who helped a young girl against orders, and whose hometown was destroyed to set an example; a being known as the White Witch called to him to embrace his despair and become the Dark Djinn, Shadar. The spirit of Alicia talks to the dying Shadar, who realises that the girl he saved was the young Alicia herself. Shadar then uses his power to sever the link between himself and Oliver, in order to save Oliver from dying as well.

With Shadar defeated, Oliver prepares to return home, but the White Witch appears and casts a spell known as "manna", an ash-like substance that turns all living beings in the three major cities into undead-like creatures. A girl named Pea, who has been appearing to Oliver on occasion, travels with the group and uses her magic to clear the cities of manna and restore the people to normal; the group then travel to defeat the White Witch herself. They discover that she was a young queen called Cassiopeia from thousands of years ago who had noble intentions, but was manipulated by her "council of twelve", calling themselves the Zodiarchs, who desired to run the country. Feeling powerless, she found and used the manna spell, believing it would bring peace and prosperity to her people. When the horrific effects of manna were revealed, she gradually witnessed the death of all of her subjects, including the council, and found herself on her own; she was gradually driven to despair and became the White Witch, believing that all life must be destroyed in an attempt to "start over". Her power created an illusory version of the council to oversee the destruction of the world, but the remains of her kind intentions also created the council member that helped the group by sending them back in time, as well as Pea, the incarnation of her as a child. Having been defeated, Cassiopeia fuses together with Pea and is restored to her former, kind self. After assisting the group in destroying the last manifestations of the council, the Zodiarchy, Cassiopeia declares that she will dedicate herself to make amends for her actions and Oliver returns to his old life in Motorville.

Ni No Kuni Gameplay

In the Nintendo DS version, the player takes part in battles using the magic book given to him by Drippy, which contains various spells that are activated using drawings with the stylus. During battles, players can arrange their characters anywhere on the bottom screen to implement various tactics. For example, a character that can block certain attacks can be placed in front of the others to shield them.

In the PlayStation 3 version of the game, the player explores towns, villages, dungeons, and dangerous places scattered throughout the other world. Players can also travel between the other world and Oliver's hometown of Motorville in his home world by using the Gateway spell. Upon leaving a town or a dangerous place, the player will enter the world map. Here, Oliver can explore or go to the next destination on his quest; various forms of transport gradually become available to help travel around the world more easily. The errands that can be undertaken at the request of townspeople and the bounty hunts available from the Taskmaster are collectively known as "tasks". When tasks are completed, players will earn a number of stamps for their current merit stamp card, which can be exchanged for upgrades.

The game's battle mode begins when the player encounters an enemy, and can also occur during certain special events. When all enemies are defeated, the player receives experience points, money, and may also receive items. If enough experience is earned, characters' levels will increase, and their abilities improve; if all characters die or are petrified, the game is over. Players can command a single human ally, or one of the familiars accompanying them. Central to the gameplay, familiars are creatures that can be sent out by a character in battle to fight for the player. Familiars level up and evolve alongside the human characters; each have unique stats and capabilities, and can be guided through their upgrades with treats and equipped with items. Players can use Esther to tame creatures in order to make them familiars, while special treats known as "drops" can be used to evolve a familiar to a more advanced form.

The Nintendo DS version includes a book that is supposed to represent Oliver's magic book from the game, while the PlayStation 3 version allows the player to access all pages of the magic book directly from the main menu. In it, players can find a bestiary, short stories that offer game hints, alchemy recipes, and other information to assist players in advancing.

Reception
The DS version of Ni no Kuni was given 38 out of 40 by Weekly Famitsu magazine. The review stated, "The animation, music, and story all combine together at a high level to keep the player constantly excited. The way the game links up with the book is innovative, and there's a lot of backdrop that allows you to understand the story on a deep level." However, the publication felt that although the Japanese advertisements feature young children playing it, the game may be too complex for such audiences. RPG Land's import review was very positive, saying "Ni no Kuni is what happens when ordinary and simple pieces are put together by skilled people in wonderful ways. It sticks to simplicity, and does that better than almost any other game on the market right now."

The PlayStation 3 version of Ni no Kuni was critically acclaimed as well. The game scored a 36 out of 40 from Famitsu. The magazines PSM3 and Computer and Video Games gave the Japanese version of the game a 91% score, as well as the Best RPG award of E3 2012. RPGLand's review awarded Ni no Kuni's PS3 version the site's highest rating of "Legendary" and concluded, "Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch feels like the second coming of 16-bit RPG classics... It touches a deep vein of nostalgia and childlike wonder." PlayStation LifeStyle awarded the game 10/10 and said, "Virtually every aspect of Ni no Kuni is a hit. If you have ever liked a Japanese RPG at all, you owe Ni no Kuni a shot." IGN's Colin Moriarty rated the game 9.4/10 describing it as "a beautiful mixture of the traditional makings of a JRPG combined with gorgeous graphics, a wonderful story, a great cast of characters and thoughtful gameplay."


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