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#1 Edited by Fredchuckdave (10824 posts) -
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From my blog:

Ni No Kuni is a fantastic game and the best thing Level 5 has produced since Dragon Quest VIII. The game is very similar to DQVIII but has a better combat system, better characters, and a more interesting story; on the other side it has slightly worse music (admittedly still excellent) and the world exploration progression doesn’t feel quite as natural. Dragon Quest VIII is a mammoth game clocking in at around 90 hours and Ni No Kuni is merely around 40 or so, so maybe it is slightly easier to pace a much longer game in a notoriously lengthy genre.

We start out with Oliver in Motorville, home of douchebag Phil. Douchebag Phil makes Ollie go and crash a car which mysteriously kills his Mother somehow or other and then his doll comes to life and they’re transported into JRPG land. This all sounds a fair amount dumber than it actually is and truth be told they handle the emotional aspect of the game extremely well, making the vast majority of the game a fun, exciting experience with only a brief handful of moments being particularly emotional one way or another. This isn’t on par with something like Vagrant Story, Xenosaga, or Final Fantasy Tactics in terms of storytelling but it certainly does much better than various games (almost every Final Fantasy, Rogue Galaxy, Grandia, and so on) that fall short of the titans in the genre; and as far as the last generation goes it is probably in the top 5 of best storylines in games.

Douchebag.
Douchebag.

What really does shine is the game’s incidental dialogue, the stuff that isn’t in cutscenes, isn’t voiced. Almost all of it is extremely self aware, humorous, or interesting in one way or another. As a small example Oliver has an imaginary friend effectively in the “real world” that his other imaginary friends aren’t aware of so they mock him for having one. This is the second version of Ni No Kuni to be released and said imaginary friend is not in the original game; it is simply brilliant that they actively make fun of their own design decision like that, and it all adds an additional layer of levity to almost every conversation. Mr Drippy really is a fantastic character just for comic relief, and most of his best parts aren’t voiced, they’re simply written or translated extremely well.

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The plot itself is sort of weakened to start out with due to the obvious over arching additions to the original storyline. Basically the game has 2 final bosses spread 10 hours apart or so, but for the first 30 odd hours of the game it’s all about the main guy from the original game. However you have these random scenes with a council of dudes and the titular White Witch who constantly make fun of how incompetent Shadar is, which makes Shadar a lot less intimidating than he could be. However, the main additional character is legitimately good so it kind of works out in the end anyway.

Speaking of 2 final bosses this game’s difficulty is a little bit all over the place (I don’t think I died once without really grinding at all, but I’m pretty good at JRPGs so this is mostly a thought on how much of a pain XYZ battle was, or how much I had to abuse items to succeed). Most battles are fairly simple press the X button affairs, but randomly you fight a tank that’s resistant to physical attacks and that shit doesn’t fly anymore. After a while every boss has a massive aoe damage spell that’s next to impossible to interrupt (even though the game wants you to) because the enemy gets it off so fast; so you just wind up defending with your main guy and hope your relatively stupid AI buddies manage to defend (they won’t). Ultimately the healing abilities that are in the game are vastly inferior to the restorative items, which means you just have to stockpile a shitload, and I do mean a shitload, of recovery items.

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For the first final boss fight you have to go through the hardest dungeon in the game by far, then 3 boss fights, then immediately after this you’re transported to another dungeon followed by another boss fight. You can’t go to the world map in this process once you begin the first boss encounter. Like any good Level 5 game there’s a casino to abuse, and I did abuse it however taking a mild sum of 15 “restore 200 health to the party” items (the maximum health endgame is around 300-400); which I thought would probably be good for the rest of the game. Wrong. The dungeon ate up at least 2 or 3, the first boss fight (probably the hardest fight in the game) took up another 7, the next phase another 2 or 3, then randomly an MMO boss where you don’t stand in fire and win, then a boss that spams his AoE like no other in which it was completely impossible to keep the party alive; lucky for me I had dozens of cheeseburgers to keep Oliver alive and you can kind of abuse the recall familiar feature to dodge physical attacks. The actual last boss is a pretty decent challenge, though there’s random mega experience mobs that I somehow got 3 of and that might have made it a fair amount easier; still plenty of using those healing items because the actual aoe healing spells are garbage.

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Look, I prefer difficult games and I wouldn’t even classify this game as difficult, but for the love of God just keep it consistent. Easy at the beginning, hard at the end? Good. Hard as fuck at the beginning, Harder as Fuck this game at the end? Even better. Randomly difficult at more or less unpredictable spots? Not good. I can’t even imagine what you do to the stupid anti physical boss if you somehow don’t have an air caster in the party, you’d have to use virtually all of your consumables up to that point in the game to succeed. Sure the not last boss was difficult but did his dungeon have to be a ridiculous gauntlet of much harder regular battles than anywhere else in the game with the longest distance between save points in the game? Backloading a totally random dungeon at the end of the not last dungeon for no reason? What the fuck? The game is definitely better than Rogue Galaxy (easy first dungeon, randomly hard as fuck second dungeon, super easy for the rest of the game) at managing difficulty, I’ll give it that. But I still don’t understand what’s so difficult about tuning bosses in a single player game. Rant over.

Despite the weird difficulty hiccups I definitely still recommend the game, I don’t know if I’ll go back and grind out the Platinum (not really a challenge, just a grind), but I enjoyed it and now I get to say my most shameful backlogged game is finally cleared out. If you’re a scumbag like me (*cough* @starvinggamer *cough*) then go back and play Ni No Kuni, don’t let it just sit there forever. JRPGs are rare enough you might as well play the good one.

9/10

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#2 Posted by Sinusoidal (3608 posts) -

I only skimmed this because like you until now, Ni No Kuni sits in my backlog. I keep not playing it because it's my last hope for a decent JRPG of the last generation. Besides Xenoblade Chronicles which unfortunately was on the Wii, the last generation of JRPGs was incredibly disappointing. I imagine I'll like this one, but I worry very much that it'll be a disappointment as well.

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#3 Edited by Fredchuckdave (10824 posts) -
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#4 Posted by Slag (8151 posts) -

Yeah massive random Difficulty Spikes are a pet peeve of mine in RPGs too. The fear of those has caused me to waste a lot more time grinding and consumable hoarding than I care to admit.

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#5 Posted by Corevi (6796 posts) -

Did you mean Rogue Galaxy instead of Rogue Legacy?

Ni No Kuni is a great game. Still haven't actually finished it though. Should probably go back to it when I feel like playing a JRPG instead of just Persona 3 for the sixth time.

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#6 Edited by Onemanarmyy (4109 posts) -

@sinusoidal: Extremely cool game. The art is super sharp, the writing is pretty damn good and the characters are all pretty interesting. The weakest part for me was the part where you basically have to find out which pokemon are really worth it to grind with and which one are better left unattended.

Also, have i mentioned the music? I think the overworld music is the best overworld music i've heard during the xbox 360 / ps3 era

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#7 Edited by Oscar__Explosion (2980 posts) -

I gave Ni No Kuni an 8 hour chance to wow me and I just don't like it. While I do like how colorful the world is (that overworld map is gorgeous) and how much I love hearing Mr.Drippy talk, I honestly couldn't stand hearing Oliver's voice. The amount of times I had to hear him in every single battle saying the exact same opening and closing line was bad enough.

Also I'm not a fan of the combat system at all. Had this been turn based I bet I would like it way more, but a lot of my fights turned into wack things really fast or play a little more defensively by smacking a bit then switching to Oliver, healing, switch back and go at it again and I have long past gotten over the pokemon style of "collecting and leveling up specific monsters until I find better ones to fight for me" type gameplay.

Also while I will preface this statement by admitting I haven't played Dragon Quest VIII in quite some time I am certain in saying that I believe it to be a vastly superior game to Ni No Kuni.

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#8 Posted by Oscar__Explosion (2980 posts) -
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@onemanarmyy: If Lost Odyssey had an actual overworld instead of a map select screen this would give Ni No Kuni a run for it's money (you gotta listen to the whole thing. It fucking rules)

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#9 Posted by Sterling (4134 posts) -

This was my game of the year in 2013. I love this game.

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#10 Edited by Onemanarmyy (4109 posts) -

@oscar__explosion: Listened to it, was going to say it would be 50/50 between the two songs, but then that last minute kicked in and you convinced me.

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#11 Edited by Fredchuckdave (10824 posts) -

@corevi: Yep, happens a lot just due to the nature of visual identification. Edited.

@oscar__explosion: The Pokemon part is a pretty minor issue all things considered, the 3 primary minions you get are some of the best in the game. Only really comes into play for 100%ing, just fill the other slots with random stuff and there you go. Oliver does all the damage endgame anyway.

@slag: I don't grind in these games because I'm afraid of them being too easy if I do, interesting other side of the coin I suppose.

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#13 Posted by Slag (8151 posts) -

@slag: I don't grind in these games because I'm afraid of them being too easy if I do, interesting other side of the coin I suppose.

In modern games you are absolutely right, and I'd probably be better off I do as you do.

I cut my teeth on NES era games where losing was the expected outcome in most game genres and outside help either didn't exist (no interwebs), wasn't reliable (friends and rumor) or cost exorbitant amounts of money to obtain (overpriced tip guides and 1-800 numbers). Fortunately games are for the most part better designed today, but it's given me bad habits I can't shake to this day.

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#14 Posted by Steadying (1905 posts) -

Really good game, just wish they never bothered adding that White Witch stuff in this version, definitely made the story less good in the long run. (And don't even get me started on that horrific ending).

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#15 Posted by nophilip (680 posts) -

I got the platinum in this a while back. I really enjoyed it, but there is one design decision that made me crazy: This is the only pokemon-style game (catch monsters & have them fight for you) that I've played where the chance to capture any given monsters is incredibly low. It really discourages experimentation, which was kind of a bummer.

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#16 Posted by Morningstar (2458 posts) -

Such a great game. I would love for more console jrpg's from level 5.

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#17 Edited by Teddie (2102 posts) -

So much of my enjoyment for this game came purely from the art design. It was just such a beautiful and pleasant world to be in, and even after 60 hours I felt weirdly empty the first day I didn't play it after finishing it. I think it even killed my interest in other games for a while after because nothing else had quite the same charm to it. Weirdly enough, I loved the shit out of Rogue Galaxy (Fucking Steve, man!) despite it being painfully generic for the most part, so maybe I just have a thing for Level 5.

And god damn I wish they released that special edition book separately.

@steadying: Totally agree. I tried to think of that section after the original ending as DLC or something, but man, did it just take all the steam out of that game for a flop of an ending. Made even worse by the lack of any new Ghibli animation. Thankfully they stuck in some post-game content so I didn't leave with a bad taste in my mouth.

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#18 Posted by Marcsman (3823 posts) -

I enjoyed it.

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#19 Posted by nasp (652 posts) -

i thought it was ok.far from their best game(which is rogue galaxy by far)and extremely far from the best JRPG,but it wasnt bad.honestly i liked alot about this game,but it never clicked.i think one of the biggest reasons was the monsters being in your party.ive played so much pokemon over the years and when i played this it just wasnt as good.it made me wanna play pokemon,which made me not like this as much.i also didnt care about anything i was doing in the game,which didnt help.anyways i just want them to remake rogue galaxy or make a sequel.that game is top 3 best JRPG to me,and its the only one from level 5 i REALLY like.

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#20 Posted by Zirilius (1700 posts) -

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@onemanarmyy: If Lost Odyssey had an actual overworld instead of a map select screen this would give Ni No Kuni a run for it's money (you gotta listen to the whole thing. It fucking rules)

I wish that had a PC release. I sold my 360 and would love to play it again. It was unexpectedly pretty awesome.

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#21 Posted by Boniti (131 posts) -

I loved the game, but I NEVER had any issues with consumables. In fact, I don't even remember using them that frequently. I did grind though, but not a ridiculous amount. After getting to the last continent I think after you beat Shadar where the ancient kingdom is I found that the random mobs there were way more powerful than I was so I went off, ground for a bit, got one of those random xp boost creatures, and was okay for the rest of the game. I agree that certain bosses were far more powerful, but I found most of the late game bosses very enjoyable. It bugged me how frequently the dungeon music was repeated, there were maybe two dungeon songs and a LOT more than two dungeons, but besides that I loved the game.

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#22 Posted by Boniti (131 posts) -

Scratch that most annoying thing about the game easily the stupid amulet fetch quest things. Massive distractions, big wastes of time and I do not think they added to the story or the world whatsoever.

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#23 Posted by Karthas (153 posts) -

I actually just started finally playing through this myself when I needed a palette cleanser following a 36 hour GTA V marathon. I've turned the difficulty down to Low/Easy since difficulty isn't really something I come to this genre for anyway, and there's no trophy locked behind completing on Normal. I'm not too far in yet, a measly 11 hours or so (I just saved a town from a volcano by dumping a rock in it- that's how volcanos work, right?), but I'm enjoying it so far despite Oliver's repetitive battle cries. Tidy game, it is.

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#24 Posted by oldenglishc (1539 posts) -

All the love for Rogue Galaxy in this thread is super confusing to me. Did I wake up in a world where Level-5 didn't make Jeanne D'arc or Dark Cloud 2?

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#25 Edited by Jeust (11739 posts) -

I liked the game, but was disappointed with it, especially because of the battle system, with the broken AI, the repetitive structure of the story, with the emotion collecting, and the overworld, that for a game that relied so much on charm and graphics, having a isometric perspective on the overworld killed part of the magic.

Still it's a whimsical game, that played on my heart strings.

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#26 Posted by mosespippy (4751 posts) -

I had terrible luck with my creatures. None of the ones that I chose to level for the endgame had a revive skill. I figured there probably wasn't one considering I never came across it. I spent the game using revive items, but you aren't allowed to use items in the Colosseum, so I was fucked. Faced with the prospect of leveling another couple creatures to end game levels just for one skill seemed like more time than it was worth.

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#27 Posted by nasp (652 posts) -

All the love for Rogue Galaxy in this thread is super confusing to me. Did I wake up in a world where Level-5 didn't make Jeanne D'arc or Dark Cloud 2?

i think rogue galaxy is better than dark cloud 2 in every way.i havent played jeanne d arc and dont know anything about it,could you tell me about it?

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#28 Posted by Teddie (2102 posts) -
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#29 Posted by oldenglishc (1539 posts) -

@nasp said:

@oldenglishc said:

All the love for Rogue Galaxy in this thread is super confusing to me. Did I wake up in a world where Level-5 didn't make Jeanne D'arc or Dark Cloud 2?

i think rogue galaxy is better than dark cloud 2 in every way.i havent played jeanne d arc and dont know anything about it,could you tell me about it?

It's a SRPG for the PSP (Acronyms!). It's loosely based on Joan of Arc. It's really, really good.

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#30 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (7827 posts) -

Ni No Kuni is one of my favorite Jrpg's in recent memory. I spent all of 2013 to beat it - Coming back to the game every month or so and marathoning as much as I could of it. I actually finished it up relatively near the Ps4's launch and promptly boxed up the system after I finished it. In hindsight the game really struck a chord with me. Everything from the combat to the music to the character design were top notch. The story came in went in quality, but it kept me interested enough. With all that said, it's still a Jrpg and I can totally understand people who couldn't get into it.

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#31 Edited by Fredchuckdave (10824 posts) -

Jeanne D'arc is alright, if it was a non tactical RPG it would probably be better because there's already enough good games in that genre.

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#32 Posted by nasp (652 posts) -

@oldenglishc: now i know why i hadnt heard of it,its on the PSP.

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#33 Posted by Oscar__Explosion (2980 posts) -

@onemanarmyy: I know right!? I played so much of that game not knowing that the song goes into a wicked shreadfest until one day I left the game on the map screen and made myself some food. I heard the song playing from my kitchen and I was like "O_O holy shit where did that guitar come from?!"

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#34 Posted by madnesshero88 (56 posts) -

The way people talk about this sometimes makes me feel like I played a different game. I loved the art and music too, but i felt the story was not nearly as impactful or emotional as it tried to be (and boy did it try hard), and the voice acting was phantom menace level of kids being annoying. Certainly not a bad game, I enjoyed myself throughout, but most people want to make it into an all time classic and i just dont see it myself.

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#35 Posted by Shortbreadtom (1009 posts) -

I really liked what I played, but the difficulty spikes around the boss battles were just a bit much for me. I think I stopped playing around the faerie town with the giant faerie mother?

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#36 Posted by StarvingGamer (11517 posts) -

I've been playing AC Unity and actually have been ignoring a majority of the side content without it bothering me. I may be ready to take on this game and just critical path it.

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#37 Posted by Petiew (1465 posts) -

@jeust said:

I liked the game, but was disappointed with it, especially because of the battle system, with the broken AI, the repetitive structure of the story, with the emotion collecting, and the overworld, that for a game that relied so much on charm, having a isometric perspective on the overworld killed part of the magic.

Those are pretty much my feelings on it as well, though I didn't mind the overworld too much. The sidequests are terrible and the battle system is really clunky especially with the cinematic attacks the bosses use that cancel out anything you were attempting to do. I enjoyed the atmosphere but after the second town they really seemed to cut back on production values.

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#38 Posted by N7 (4159 posts) -

Ni No Kuni is the shit and everyone who disagrees is wrong. Okay, that's not true. Not true at all.

I fucking love Ni No Kuni. I had no interest in it when it first came out. I got it because hey, it's just some new game to play. I knew that Level 5 were making it, and that they made one of my favorite games of all time(Dragon Quest VIII: Journey Of The Cursed King), but eh, just some new game.

Holy fuck. Welcome to 2013. It was like I was playing Dragon Quest all over again. It reignited the spark I've been missing in my life since I was so young.

In my opinion, Dragon Quest VIII was the best RPG I've ever played. It took what Final Fantasy did and gave it the long-hair-swinging-middle-fingers-in-the-air and kept on chugging along like the little engine that could.

White Knight Chronicles didn't live up to that. It had some of the ideas there but it just couldn't execute on them well enough. I felt like I was way into some things that it did but way out of the rest of it. There were always scenarios I went into going "Fuck yes this is it" and coming out of going "Fuck no that wasn't it". I never even bothered to play White Knight Chronicles 2 because I was just done with it by then.

But with Ni No Kuni, I was pulled back into this... thing. This experience. The gameplay was fucking cool(Because POKEMON), the characters were neat, I suppose, and the story seemed a little typical of what you'd expect, but I didn't give a shit, because I was having too much fun.

I never had an issue with difficulty spikes because I ended up being way over leveled pretty much the entire game. If there's one thing Level 5 seems to always fail at nowadays, is the difficulty. I would cheese right through parts of WKC and then immediately fall flat on my face in the next areas. Ni No Kuni wasn't that bad, but once I got ahead I seemed to stay ahead.

Ni No Kuni was just one of those games. I just couldn't find a flaw. I was totally enthralled by that fucker.

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#39 Posted by Fredchuckdave (10824 posts) -

@starvinggamer: The nominal sidequests you get are fine/relatively expedient, just probably don't bother with the collect-a-thon.

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#40 Posted by Rorie (5524 posts) -

Dis game gud. It was super grind-y, alas, but I really enjoyed it quite a bit.

Staff
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#41 Edited by xyzygy (10595 posts) -

It is definitely in the top 5 RPGs of last generation, along with Lost Odyssey, FFXIII, Resonance of Fate, and Nier. Lost Odyssey is the best IMO, and the others ones are in an ever changing number 2-5.

@oscar__explosion: But Lost Odyssey DID have an actual overworld and several different vehicles to traverse the world in... did you play until you get the boat and then the airship?

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#42 Posted by Oscar__Explosion (2980 posts) -

@xyzygy: oh man you are totally right. I just remember there really isnt much reason to travel the world once you reached a new location because you can warp there.

For the record I finished the game, but it's been a while.

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#43 Posted by Random45 (1805 posts) -

@oscar__explosion: Listened to it, was going to say it would be 50/50 between the two songs, but then that last minute kicked in and you convinced me.

No freakin kidding. That last minute or so was rad as hell.

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#44 Edited by GERALTITUDE (5984 posts) -

*sigh*

I really, really need to go back and finish this.

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#45 Posted by TrafalgarLaw (1715 posts) -

I'm sorry Dave but this game is all flash no substance. Dark Cloud 2 was the studio at its peak, not this crap. That I have to force myself through a Level 5 game says a lot and I absolutely adore Level 5 games.

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#46 Posted by Slax (1120 posts) -

This is one of the games that makes me regret trading in my PS3, and an unopened copy of this game...