Can we talk about the ending...? (SPOILERS!)

#1 Posted by DonChipotle (3077 posts) -

Or rather the tacked on bit after what should have been the ending?

I've finished Ni No Kuni. The credits have rolled and now I am free to do all those post game bounty hunts and errands that I am not going to do because I don't like this game. But I did. I did up until a point. I'm not here to talk about why I think this game is not very good. Instead I want to talk about the ending.

Did anyone else feel that the whole Cassiopeia stuff seemed a little bit tacked on? I can't be the only one, right? (Yes, yes, I know I just used the most annoying thing on forums, but forgive me.) Here's why. The entire point of the game as Oliver knows it is to stop Shadaar from breaking hearts and generally being an evil asshole. He starts telling people that he is out to defeat Shadaar, conveniently leaving his mother business out of it. For the entire game Shadaar is the one directly responsible for all of the bad shit going down and even attempts to stop you at multiple points. We, as the player, know that there is some White Witch watching events and commenting on them, but Oliver doesn't. And outside of the part at the start we never really see the Witch do anything other than plot with the Zodiarchs. It is Shadaar who is the target. It is he who is the main antagonist.

So when you finally confront him, the major plot bomb is dropped. You fight him complete with JRPG cliche three boss forms. You win. You have literally, as far as you know, saved the entire world and come to terms with the whole dead mother thing. There is a Ghibli scene of the characters running in a field because they are so stoked that the world is saved. I almost believed it was the end of it.

But then the game kept going.

Suddenly, like 40 hours into the game, they introduce the White Witch. Because they remembered the subtitle of the game. Now they spend time rushing through shoddy motivations for the titular character in a bad attempt to make the player (and thus Oliver) care enough to fight her and thwart her vague evil plot. In what can only be described as an annoying boss rush (seriously, they all regain their health. I took one of them down to zero health but the fight didn't end because he HAD to get his second form on) you are given this rushed story about Pea and Cassiopeia. Oh, yes, and Marcassin decides to tag along because everyone wants another party member mere hours before the end of the game when you've no doubt got your end-game team ready to go.

The entire end chapter with Pea and Cassiopeia just feels like something tossed in because the White Witch had yet to factor into the story. It completely ruined what little narrative hook the game had. The Witch was not an effective antagonist because she was essentially like Ultimecia or Necron or Zeromus. The only difference is that they at least tried to give her a reason for showing up instead of shoving that crap in a book. The entire part of the game post-Shadaar could've been nixed and the story would have been far better for it. Am I wrong here? I just think the way they introduced the secondary, yet titular, antagonist was handled poorly. And the way they say Cassiopeia didn't help.

The real kicker is that after beating the final boss what happens? Oh just a few lines of dialog and an in-engine clip of the party members on the dragon. No Ghibli stuff. No real sense of resolution. Because you already had all that three hours ago when you beat the real final boss of the game.

A better subtitle for the game would be Dream of the Dark Djinn. It keeps the structure of the current title and actually makes sense within the narrative in the game.

Ni no Kuni has its flaws, but the biggest one is its shit ending.

#2 Edited by SpunkyHePanda (1861 posts) -

It did feel weirdly tacked on. If I had to guess, I'd say the DS version probably had Shadar as the main villain and final boss, and they added the White Witch for the PS3 version. But I'm really not sure.

#3 Posted by drac96 (748 posts) -

I agree that the whole part after defeating Shadar felt tacked on, but I don't see why people keep saying they introduce the White Witch at that point. She's in cutscenes with the council throughout the entire game giving orders to Shadar. If they didn't have any of those scenes, or scenes with Pea, and Gallus then they could have stopped at Shadar.

What I really didn't like was the final scene with Oliver flying around on his broom. He's going to continue on with his life how? He's 13 and his only relative is dead.

#4 Posted by DonChipotle (3077 posts) -

They only introduce the White Witch to Oliver after Shadar. Before that point she is pretty much just someone that pops up after plot points to sound upset that Oliver is not failing. She is in the game but she is second fiddle to Shadar.

#5 Posted by drac96 (748 posts) -

I agree that she's second fiddle to Shadar, but she's set up to be the main antagonist. She wasn't introduced to Oliver, but she's ordering Shadar to destroy the world. Once Shadar is gone, what would stop her from choosing another "executor"?

Oliver couldn't have even defeated Shadar without Mornstar, which Gallus allows him to get by sending him into the past. He couldn't have even gotten to the other world in the beginning of the game without the wand Pea gives him. If the game ended with Shadar major plot points would have gone unanswered. Overall it could have been a better story if they had just had Drippy give him a wand at the beginning, and if they never introduce Gallus. But after integrating both of those characters at pretty integral points of the story they have to do something with the White Witch or the overall plot would have turned out even worse than it did in the end.

I don't even know what I'm arguing. I disliked what happened just as much as you did. The entire thing should have been thought out and paced a whole lot better than it was.

#6 Posted by rjayb89 (7806 posts) -

Man, I was pleading for the game to stop after all those multi-stage boss battles. Ni no Kuni, stop. Please. Stop.

#7 Posted by blackichigo (195 posts) -

I forgot about The White Witch. Shadar was way more threatening. I would have rather they just made Shadar the main villain and made fighting The White Witch a sequel.

#8 Posted by Mesoian (1618 posts) -

@DonChipotle: Absolutely 100%. I couldn't have said it better myself. The biggest annoyance about the whole thing is that the game is so perfectly balanced when it comes to where your level should be up until you defeat Shadar. Immediately after that, the difficulty skyrockets in a way that breaks the combat system. High damage spells cost too much MP and your AI partners aren't smart enough to conserve MP unless you tell them to; high level skills stop pausing battle time which allows for the enemy to chain combo you for up to 10 times your total HP, and the demand for your familiar (except for a select few) is for them to be right near your own level, so you're power leveling them to get them into a certain shape, but THEN, it doesn't even matter since the final boss does so much damage even while you're blocking that it almost doesn't make any different.

Everything in this game after Shadar is terrible. Shadar was a wonderful end point and everything after feels stapled on.

#9 Edited by happymeowmeow (226 posts) -

Glad other people felt the same way about the ending. Last boss is very imbalanced difficulty wise, really brings out the shoddiness of the partner AI and the combat system in general, and, to add insult to injury, you have to tediously fight through two other battles again if you lose. A sour note to an otherwise great game.

#10 Posted by Sterling (3382 posts) -

I agree with everything said. I loved the game up until the tacked on stuff they added for this version. It was too fast, and seemed rushed/forced. The story arch/line was not panned out properly. They should have worked something in much earlier with her being introduced to Oliver. Gallus saying something, Shadar saying something, etc. Her just showing up to him out of nowhere like that was kinda just, bad writing and poor execution. It would have been much better if during his final count down with Shadar if he explained to Oliver her side of what he was doing, and then Oliver sets off to find her to make sure she can't appoint another executor. Cutting out that entire part about, oh its over, party time, say good bye to everyone. That was just terrible. And the zombie thing was pretty stupid too. It should have been much more of a flawless transition into her segment. And it should have been much longer to get to that final battle. It only took me I think two hours. They added two hours of extra content over the DS version. That is a little sad. Over all I loved the game, but man.

#11 Posted by DizzyMedal (419 posts) -

I haven't played this game, but I knew I wasn't going to (just can't stomach another epic jrpg right now, prolly won't for a few years) so I read the thread, unafraid of spoilers.

It kind of sounds like Ni No Kuni went the way of Far Cry 3 a bit, where they tossed out Vaas and brought in some guy in a suit (whose name I can't even remember because he didn't get a subtitle on the game) and we were supposed to give a damn. That was annoying and somewhat jarring in Far Cry 3, but something like that must be almost will-shattering (I didn't want to say heart breaking because of the game thing) in a jrpg.

If I ever do pick this game up, maybe I'll just turn it off after Shadaar.

#12 Posted by Deathpooky (1519 posts) -

Yeah, this was pretty terrible. I kept thinking that we'd find out more about the White Witch and that Shadar would turn out to be double-crossing her and the council to get some sort of super-power and take over once and for all. I thought the Tale of Wonder about the boy who wanted the power of the gods was an allusion to Shadar, and foreshadowing to his character or what he had done. Instead we defeat Shadar, find out everything about him, find out everything about Oliver, and then literally while we're having a victory party we're told to beat the White Witch. For reasons. Because she wants to end the world with manna. For reasons. The main Shadar plot was kind of weak and badly told, but once they went beyond that it fell apart completely.

I wonder if the Japan-only DS version had a plot that ended with Shadar, and they pumped up the White Witch as the new, supreme antagonist at the last minute. Because her scenes sure seemed extraneous to everything that happened up to that point.

#13 Posted by Demoskinos (16442 posts) -

I don't know... I felt it was fine. Just beat it and if they hadn't had Pea around from the very start I think you could probably drum up an argument for that but the seeds were planted early on. If anything was muddled about it was the hook for how Oliver learns of her existence with her casting the Manna spell. The bit with Gallus might have been a bit to convenient but then it was a bit to convenient when he just showed up to teleport them back in time to get Mornstar when he was just still worried about nothing but Shadar.

I mean again, Gallaus and Pea were the reasons for Oliver even being able to get over to the world period and it would have been dumb to have her exist without revealing what and who she was. It would have just been a hanging thread. I think what is throwing people off here is that the traditional story arch is kind of completely thrown out the window here. Usually you hit the peak and then the story mellows out into the final resolutions of the plot but this keeps on going. So I guess I can see how some would find it weird that the game keeps on going but again the very nature of Pea, Gallus and The White Witch needed to be explained or they just needed to not be in the game.

Although apparently from what Ive gathered the DS version does end with beating Shadar. Anyways, I really really liked it one of my favorite RPG games in a long while. If anyone is interested I'll try to get a blog written up soon fully exploring my feelings. I don't think I can do a proper review because honestly, I'll be frank I'm way to bias here my entire 65 hours (and counting) so far has been nothing but joy for me (even the grinding) so honestly a review seems pointless. But I will go further into detail soon.

#14 Posted by callmeTREEHOUSE (2 posts) -

@donchipotle: The least of my worries was the unfluid adjustment from pursuing Shadar to the White Witch. Although it was.

I think for a lot of people they were trying to get a whole new movie out of the game as far as 2d animation goes and there is only like 20 minutes plot jumpy animation. Yes, The Secret World of Arriety did just come out relatively recently, but was it really that good? It didn't hold up. It was a rip of The Borrowers and the only thing fantastical about it was that it had tiny people. And Ni No Kuni didn't offer much more. A talking tree, A talking cat, a talking bird and some magic and a dragon. It wasn't as out there as their older creations.

My main complaint was the crappy battle system. Between the enemy beating you to casting every spell even if you casted the same spell first and the AI not doing anything useful Ever, I found myself just mashing on X the entire game because i didn't want to have to pay attention to that little, blue clock arm going around. I think i need a new controller.

The only thing I liked about the game was Shadar and even that had it's limit. He is one of the best villians/characters I've seen in a long time. The last time I felt this way about a character was Auron in Final Fantasy X. From Shadar's clothes, to his voice, to his hair; it equalled epic. I just kept saying to myself, "Don't show his face. Don't show his face. If they don't show his face it will be awesome." But what happens audience? They show his face. And have him end up living in some sort of limbo/after-life with Alicia/Allie. Awesome, (he stated sarcastically).

In conclusion, if you kept up with your Nano-Babies....Oh, I'm sorry....Familiars. If you kept up with feeding your familiars all their little chocolates and cupcakes and all that wonderfully time consuming garbage, then the transition into pursuing Cassiopea isn't really that difficult. Yes, you have to level up a little in the White Witch's Castle, but come on. It's an RPG! You're supposed to have to do that.

And to Level-5: Good job not putting in and extended ending for 100% completion. Remind me again why people should do all that extra stuff after they beat the game.

P.S. Don't put an airship in an rpg that the player can't fly. It's a dick move.

P.P.S. Don't give the player an instantaneous travel spell as an alternative to a slow ass dragon that you have to summon to ride.

This is all RPG 101 Studio Ghibli. Good luck on the next game you won't make.

I'm out.

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