Ni No Kuni first impressions

Posted by Deakor (39 posts) -

I have not been a big JRPG guy since the halycon days of the SNES. I have tried (and failed) over the years to get back into the genre but I have never been able to capture the joy and excitement I had back then.

I had heard about Ni No Kuni during its development but this release managed to sneak up on me. Based on the Quick Look and hearing Brad talk about it on the Bombcast I thought that this would be a good opportunity to try again and see if I could get back into the genre. I'm only a little ways into the game so far but I am really enjoying it. The game is beautiful from top to bottom, the limited mechanics I have encountered so far seem intuitive and appear to build upon each other. The game doesn't throw too much at you at once and you have a chance to get comfortable with new mechanics as they are introduced. The voice acting is superb as is the writing and Mr. Drippy may be one of the best NPCs/companions I have ever encountered.

The game also has an earnestness to it that I find strangely refreshing. Oliver's naivete and "aw, shucks" type attitude, rather than being off-putting is actually quite endearing. I am really enjoying the game and looking forward to progressing further.

I would encourage anyone who has fond memories of JRPGs from their youth to check this game out. I do not think you will be disappointed.

#1 Posted by Deakor (39 posts) -

I have not been a big JRPG guy since the halycon days of the SNES. I have tried (and failed) over the years to get back into the genre but I have never been able to capture the joy and excitement I had back then.

I had heard about Ni No Kuni during its development but this release managed to sneak up on me. Based on the Quick Look and hearing Brad talk about it on the Bombcast I thought that this would be a good opportunity to try again and see if I could get back into the genre. I'm only a little ways into the game so far but I am really enjoying it. The game is beautiful from top to bottom, the limited mechanics I have encountered so far seem intuitive and appear to build upon each other. The game doesn't throw too much at you at once and you have a chance to get comfortable with new mechanics as they are introduced. The voice acting is superb as is the writing and Mr. Drippy may be one of the best NPCs/companions I have ever encountered.

The game also has an earnestness to it that I find strangely refreshing. Oliver's naivete and "aw, shucks" type attitude, rather than being off-putting is actually quite endearing. I am really enjoying the game and looking forward to progressing further.

I would encourage anyone who has fond memories of JRPGs from their youth to check this game out. I do not think you will be disappointed.

#2 Posted by JJWeatherman (14483 posts) -

B--Brad? Is that you? Haha.

You've regurgitated his exact thoughts, but hey, that's cool. Almost makes me want to buy a PS3 to play. Almost...

#3 Posted by Deakor (39 posts) -

Eh, I guess I sort of did but those were my impressions. Not going to be contrary for its own sake.

#4 Posted by bunnymud (703 posts) -

After DMC this is a nice change of pace. Really loving this game and I don't care much for JRPG's.

#5 Edited by project343 (2807 posts) -

I think the Ghibli stuff really adds to the genre. It's so whimsical and silly. There is a portion later on where you are shipwreck on an island, and without spoiling much... oh boy. So silly.

I think the 'familiar' design is top-notch too. I find myself laughing out loud at all their outrageous puns and designs.

#6 Edited by Seppli (9735 posts) -

@project343 said:

I think the Ghibli stuff really adds to the genre. It's so whimsical and silly. There is a portion later on where you are shipwreck on an island, and without spoiling much... oh boy. So silly.

I think the 'familiar' design is top-notch too. I find myself laughing out loud at all their outrageous puns and designs.

Really looking forward to it (Europe only gets it on the 31st). The Ghibli aspect certainly is one of the main reason's why I am excited for it. Hopefully their cooperation is an ongoing thing, because I'd love a game more along the lines of Mononoke or Porco Rosso, rather than Totoro.

Regardless, I'm glad I commited to playing Ni No Kuni. If only to vote with my dollars for more Studio Ghibli in my games.

#7 Posted by sween24 (48 posts) -

Honestly, how good is this game? It looks great but i'm really worried it will turn into every JRPG from the last 10 years- total nonsensical rubbish, with annoying cutesy-ness and a retarded plot.

How much of the game have you played?

#8 Posted by rentfn (1267 posts) -

Awesome. I can't wait for my copy to get here!!!

#9 Posted by FancySoapsMan (5750 posts) -

Mr. Drippy is such a fun character, I love the way he keeps calling Oliver a cry baby.

The presentation really is beautiful all around too. Especially the animations and the voice acting.

#10 Posted by lilbigsupermario (840 posts) -

Bought this game yesterday and I'm really liking it. I felt the same interest and fun I had when I first played FFVII on the Playstation. I haven't really played a lot of RPGs recently since the PS2 days, but this one really got my attention.

If you're a Studio Ghibli fan, you'll definitely like it. If you're into the old-school style of JRPGs with world maps and stories that are balanced with seriousness and some jokes here and there, then I'm sure you'll appreciate Ni No Kuni.

I'm just a couple of hours in the game and I can't wait to play more. ;)

#11 Posted by kishinfoulux (2077 posts) -

It's a fun, solid game. The reviewers giving it 9's and 10's though aren't doing their jobs correctly though. Too many flaws for the scores to be that high.

#12 Posted by OllyOxenFree (4968 posts) -

@kishinfoulux said:

The reviewers giving it 9's and 10's though aren't doing their jobs correctly though.

What.

#13 Posted by project343 (2807 posts) -

@sween24 said:

Honestly, how good is this game? It looks great but i'm really worried it will turn into every JRPG from the last 10 years- total nonsensical rubbish, with annoying cutesy-ness and a retarded plot.

How much of the game have you played?

The characters are completely endearing. If you hate Miyazaki's stuff, you'll probably hate this.

Plot-wise, I tend to hate JRPGs for that exact same reason (mostly having them feel like they're purposefully trying to throw you off the coherence train), and this feels very succinct. They lay out your end-goal within the first 5 minutes, never stray, and give you some solid excuses to explore this completely magical world. Along your adventure, you come across a regional situations that take ahold of the narrative for a little bit, tell a great little story, you solve things, then you continue forward.

@kishinfoulux said:

It's a fun, solid game. The reviewers giving it 9's and 10's though aren't doing their jobs correctly though. Too many flaws for the scores to be that high.

It's my favourite JRPG since FFXII. I'm going to have to defend those scores. The majority of of JRPG enthusiasts seem to be lumping this in with Xenoblade as being one of the best JRPGs of this generation.

#14 Posted by Spoonman671 (4371 posts) -

Yeah, it's too bad they feel the need to explicitly tell you how to operate the right stick in order to control the camera. I guess this game's intended audience was people who have never played a video game? I'm still pretty early, but hopefully the completely unnecessary tutorials won't last too much longer.

#15 Posted by Deakor (39 posts) -

@sween24: I'm only an hour or two into it (work has not allowed me to pick it back up since that first night unfortunately) but I can understand your trepidation. I tend to have the same sorts of concerns about JRPGs, but so far (and again, it is early) it seems to avoid those pitfalls. Unless the devs have a bunch of curveballs coming, your overarching goal/objective seems fairly clear and straightforward. None of the characters are instantly irritating like is so often the case.

Granted, things could change but I have a good vibe so far. The story seems to make sense. The characters are memorable and quirky without being annoying and the gameplay seems fun.

#16 Edited by Pullarius_Capax (78 posts) -

To begin this rant I have to say that I absolutely hate it that I don't want to play this game anymore.

I am a huge fan of the Tales series (this game is a Tales game in everything but name and combat) so I went into it with high hopes, and my first impressions were that I loved it, the presentation, the merit stamp sequence and the heart system are all really cool, but as I got deeper into the combat I realized I really didn't like it at all. One, I have never found a monster collecting system compelling other than in pokemon as I feel it just distracts from the characters of the story. Two, switching between familiars and characters and their commands is too clunky, the fact that it takes several steps (some of which don't pause the action) to get from using a familiar to use an item is just absurd to me. Three, a lot of the difficulty of the combat to me comes from the fact that MP is scarce (characters don't have a lot of it, doesn't regenerate and restorative items are ridiculously expensive for how much MP they restore) and I don't find that kind of challenge very fun at all. I may give this game another go (I'm maybe 2-3 hours ahead of Brad in the quick look), but I think I may just replay Tales of Vesperia or Tales of Grace F even though I will be really missing everything about this game.

As a demonstration of my love of the Tales series I will just say that Tales of Symphonia for the Gamecube is my favorite game I have ever played.

#17 Posted by kishinfoulux (2077 posts) -

@OllyOxenFree said:

@kishinfoulux said:

The reviewers giving it 9's and 10's though aren't doing their jobs correctly though.

What.

Too many issues to warrant those scores.

@project343 said:

@sween24 said:

Honestly, how good is this game? It looks great but i'm really worried it will turn into every JRPG from the last 10 years- total nonsensical rubbish, with annoying cutesy-ness and a retarded plot.

How much of the game have you played?

The characters are completely endearing. If you hate Miyazaki's stuff, you'll probably hate this.

Plot-wise, I tend to hate JRPGs for that exact same reason (mostly having them feel like they're purposefully trying to throw you off the coherence train), and this feels very succinct. They lay out your end-goal within the first 5 minutes, never stray, and give you some solid excuses to explore this completely magical world. Along your adventure, you come across a regional situations that take ahold of the narrative for a little bit, tell a great little story, you solve things, then you continue forward.

@kishinfoulux said:

It's a fun, solid game. The reviewers giving it 9's and 10's though aren't doing their jobs correctly though. Too many flaws for the scores to be that high.

It's my favourite JRPG since FFXII. I'm going to have to defend those scores. The majority of of JRPG enthusiasts seem to be lumping this in with Xenoblade as being one of the best JRPGs of this generation.

I'm not even a super big Xenoblade fanboy like a lot of others are out there, but it blows Ni No Kuni away in many respects.

#18 Posted by project343 (2807 posts) -

@kishinfoulux said:

I'm not even a super big Xenoblade fanboy like a lot of others are out there, but it blows Ni No Kuni away in many respects.

I haven't played enough Xenoblade to really comment. What I had played seemed like a really solid Final Fantasy XII-styled game with some incredibly typical 'JRPG as usual' narrative stuff. While I'm certainly not seeing all the flaws that you're going on about, I feel like the one thing that really bugs me about Ni No Kuni is exactly the same thing that bugs me about Xenoblade: the frantic action combat needs a pause-and-issue-commands ability. Both games end up feeling like a complete clusterfuck of spinning plates in a genre that tends to be a lot more about thoughtful management and a lot less about chaotic reaction.

#19 Posted by Marz (5608 posts) -

I like the game, has a cute aesthetic ...  only about 8 hours in but hasn't blown me away yet.  Hoping combat gets more challenging later on.

#20 Posted by kishinfoulux (2077 posts) -

@project343 said:

@kishinfoulux said:

I'm not even a super big Xenoblade fanboy like a lot of others are out there, but it blows Ni No Kuni away in many respects.

I haven't played enough Xenoblade to really comment. What I had played seemed like a really solid Final Fantasy XII-styled game with some incredibly typical 'JRPG as usual' narrative stuff. While I'm certainly not seeing all the flaws that you're going on about, I feel like the one thing that really bugs me about Ni No Kuni is exactly the same thing that bugs me about Xenoblade: the frantic action combat needs a pause-and-issue-commands ability. Both games end up feeling like a complete clusterfuck of spinning plates in a genre that tends to be a lot more about thoughtful management and a lot less about chaotic reaction.

I feel that moreso in Ni No Kuni then Xenoblade mainly because as I've mentioned, my party in Xenoblade is actually competent.

My issues with Ni No Kuni:

1. Terrible party A.I.

2. Random ass difficulty spikes.

3. Slow traversal on the world map and just in general really.

4. A lot of "sidequests" are just "oh this guy is feeling down, better get him some enthusiasm...oh hey there's a guy 5 feet away who has some to spare. Let me grab it from him, watch the stupid scene that I can't skip and give it to the other guy and watch that stupid scene I can't skip". A LOT of the sidequests are just that and are utterly pointless. It's just tedious busy work.

5. The merit stamp system on paper sounds fun/cool. Problem is the rewards it gives you don't really seem to change much. I don't feel I run any faster on the map, or get any extra EXP, etc. I'm sure that I DO, but it's super minor.

I could probably go on. Oh and there's also a game breaking glitch early in the game too. Again I must emphasize I like the game. I just don't think it's amazing. Reviewers really glossed over a lot of stuff because they're too busy slobbering over the Studio Ghibili crap.

#21 Posted by project343 (2807 posts) -

@kishinfoulux: I feel like the only issues that you've mentioned that bug me is the party AI. Later on, when you get the ability to force your AI to defend against spells, a lot of those quibbles cease to be a factor (although, mana expenditure is still a bit of a thing, but never really 'hurts' the gameplay experience for me personally).

Difficulty spikes just feel like a typical RPG level check--nothing out of the ordinary. A lot of the sidequests tell cute little tales, and give you significant payback for very little time investment. And I'm a huge fan of the stamp system because it scales so well with your level. Those stamps are always meaningful, from any sidequest, at any level.

Just reflecting back on the JRPG highlights of this generation that I've played, and I'm having a hard time thinking of better:

  • Final Fantasy XIII was painfully boring in terms of everything other than the core combat mechanics
  • Eternal Sonata was a pretty looking game with some terrible narrative, annoying voice acting, and actively punished you with monotonous battle after monotonous battle for lingering and backtracking
  • Lost Odyssey's combat was a snorefest and had a completely forgettable UE3 art direction
  • Tales of Vesperia had some janky-ass animation commitment that ruined that combat system for me

I mean, I'll get back to playing Xenoblade Chronicles eventually, but after my save got corrupt (and is now forcing me to replay the first 5-7 hours of the game), I sort of don't want to sift through that awful narrative shit again. I also understand that Tales of Graces F is pretty okay, and The Last Story is good. So I might get around to that eventually.

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