Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch saw release Tuesday in the US– exclusively for the Playstation 3. The collaborative effort of Japanese game studio Level-5 (Dragon Quest XIII, Rogue Galaxy) and anime powerhouse Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, Princess Monokoke, Ponyo) has received rave reviews so far in the American Video Game Media. Some are proclaiming it to be the first great game of 2013 (which isn’t saying much– with today only the 23rd of January)… While others are saying it is the best JRPG released in years.
I am quite surprised to see Ni no Kuni getting such positive reactions in forums known to harshly criticize (some would say unfairly) the quality of Japanese game releases these past few years. I also see it as a somewhat encouraging sign. I and fans of quality have known for decades that Japanese video game developers put out the most enjoyable games money can buy. But I also know many people who stay far away from Japanese releases– especially JRPGs… And I believe much of that stigma is directly related to the American Media.
Hopefully Ni no Kuni and its positive word of mouth can bring some of those ignorant people in from the cold.
Though I haven’t had a chance to purchase the game yet, I did play the one hour demo earlier this month. From what little I saw, I can safely say Ni no Kuni is one of the most visually beautiful games to be released since Okami. With an estimated playing time of 40 to 80 hours, I’m sure I haven’t even seen close to the best Ni no Kuni has to offer.
For some, the actual game has been hard to come by. It seems Ni no Kuni has been severely under-ordered by a lot of Big Box retailers. Stories of brick and mortar Best Buys receiving a total of 5 copies are becoming the norm. I’ve noticed many places online do have the game in stock– so it’s not all bad news for gamers who want to pick Ni no Kuni up. And if you don’t want to wait for it to be delivered, Sony is offering a download of the game on their PSN Store for $54.99. The download clocks in at a whopping 21.7 gigs so I can see why people might just hold off and try to buy a physical copy. It will be some time before I pick it up myself, but Ni no Kuni is at the very top of the lists of games I need to play this year.
Beneath the launch trailer, I’ve included 3 behind the scenes videos for Ni no Kuni which focus on Level-5, Studio Ghibli and the music of composer Joe Hisaishi. The last two videos are after the jump.