Ninokuni: Shiroki Seihai no Joou Hands-On

We take Oliver on a walk through the woods in Level 5's PlayStation 3 version of Ninokuni.

The partnership between Studio Ghibli and Level 5 is an exciting one, given that the animation studio behind films such as Princess Mononoke and the developer (Professor Layton series) excel at what they do. Level 5 announced earlier this year that there was going to be a PlayStation 3 version, built from the ground up. The two games will have the same story arc, but they are quite different from one another. At the 2010 Tokyo Game Show we were able to play both, and because of the PS3's technical capabilities, playing Ninokuni was very much like watching one of Studio Ghibli's films.

We were able to get a better idea of the story after playing the Nintendo DS version (you can read that here), but the basic premise is that Oliver gets transported into a reality that is parallel to his own, where he has a chance of saving his mother. There were two areas to jump into for this particular demo, so we decided to pick the one that had a boss battle at the end. It placed us in a lush and breathtaking forest, with cascading waterfalls and blossoming flowers. As Oliver walked along the path with his companion, the male fairy Shizuku (who looks like a giant nose), you could see the subtle details in his movements, which is what Studio Ghibli is known for. For the most part, he's walking lightly along the worn path, but his steps will change as he hops onto a fallen tree trunk, where he gingerly makes his way to the other side.

The characters in the world of Ninokuni stand out. We were ambushed early on by a creature that looked somewhat like an alligator, and another that was sort of like a rooster. It's like an alternate universe, where everything is familiar but not. Normally, you'll see enemies onscreen, and you run into them to initiate battle. Combat is in real time, and you have a bizarre-looking puppetlike creature with a cape that fights with you, or for you, if you prefer to hang back. Oliver has several thought bubbles on the bottom left side of the screen that likely indicate what kinds of skills he can use. We were limited to whopping enemies with our stick and casting spells from a magic book.

Also in our group was a young blond girl whose companion was a fat penguin of some kind. Who she is and how she came to be in our party, we're not sure, but the more the merrier. By the time we reached a clearing, a massive bull-like beast with abnormally large antlers was waiting for us. The fight wasn't too difficult, given that the bull tended to charge in a single direction when provoked, so it was easy enough to step out of its way. As it grew more upset, it would toss its weapon and shield aside and continuously charge. Our little buddy Shizuku came in handy--he hopped into the bushes to grab the creature's shield and toss it right back at him.

The demo ended there, but we are eager to play more and explore the world of Ninokuni. Last year we played with the magic book a little in the DS version, and we had to draw symbols to cast certain spells. We're curious to see how that functionality will work on the PS3. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more details. Ninokuni: Shiroki Seihai no Joou for the PS3 is set to be released sometime next year in Japan.

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Discussion

35 comments
DaNubianPryns
DaNubianPryns

OMG....Ghibli is my favorite anime studio! They have done some of my most beloved movies, from Howl's Moving Castle to Princess Mononoke, and one of my all time favorites, Spirited Away. I CAN NOT WAIT to see this released in the U.S. It looks just as faithful to the source material as Naruto Shippudden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 does. Hopefully, they will announce a US release date soon! So excited for this one!

nintendo-naut
nintendo-naut

After seeing trailers and reading this, I'm oddly excited for this game. Not sure why, but the plot intrigues me. :? Anyway, I'm kind of confused as to why the DS and PS3 release dates are so spread out. If someone is looking forward to this game, and buys the DS version, will they really play the PS3 version a year later? And in another light, will someone who wants the game want to wait a whole year more for the PS3 version when he can buy the DS version right now?

lowkey254
lowkey254

I like level 5. I would like a collection from them on the ps3

Dechorus
Dechorus

Hm, I don't know how to feel about this - being an action RPG with magic and boss battles and such. I thought perhaps Studio Ghibli might take a unique approach with the video game medium. Still, this definitely looks interesting, and knowing both the companies' past works I'm excited to see how this turns out.

digitalheadbutt
digitalheadbutt

Watched the trailer, now I think the creature somewhat defies categorization, perhaps Minoelk? Minoyak? Though doesn't really hail from Crete/Minoan so the Mino-prefix doesnt really work Ghibli-taur sounds like Pokemon though. It's big semi-humanoid creature with horns/antlers but not really a bull. Love Ghibli creature design. Love it!

finalstar2007
finalstar2007

Amazing and just amazing!. only on PS3!. cant wait

lightwarrior179
lightwarrior179

Looks great. Studio Ghibli and Level 5? Dream Team V 2.0 I say. :D

klbader
klbader

Do we know if this game will be released in the US?

Charliesix
Charliesix

Looks amazing. There are so many great games coming out for the younger markets. Too bad I've grown too old and cynical to enjoy these games fully. lol.

jordanm89
jordanm89

Sweet, now for the PS3. This is Perfect!

soulless4now
soulless4now

I definitely might have to get this version over the ds one.

Nintendo_Ownes7
Nintendo_Ownes7

@Kleeyook Because the two games are different versions. The PS3 game is called "Ninokuni: The Queen of White Ash" The DS game is called "Ninokuni: The Jet-Black Mage". But I've seen 3 different translations for the DS game. They also have a Mobile Phone game called "Ninokuni: Hotroit Stories."

MKID232
MKID232

This game looks very pretty. Cel-shaded is so much more better than the realism graphics companies use nowadays.

james2509
james2509

It would be nice if Level-5 made a new Dark Cloud game or remastered the original series for hd ps3.

Leria
Leria

Looks like this could be a good game, IF they get the right balance between eye-candy and gameplay.

digitalheadbutt
digitalheadbutt

Since there is no picture I have to go with what I know and a bull-like creature with abnormally large antlers that uses a sword and shield fall squarely into Minotaur country. Can't wait to see some gameplay footage, loves me some Ghibli.

wolfyrabbit
wolfyrabbit

very excited about this game. it looks similar to animes from Ghibili studio

Wolf-5
Wolf-5

I definitely would play it. It looks very good!

floydfire
floydfire

by the way bulls have horns not antlers

elbert_b_23
elbert_b_23

level 5 is easily becoming one of my favorite developers

Eclipse_ShinRa
Eclipse_ShinRa

@ Kleeyook, PS3 and DS versions aren't 100% the same. There will be a big reason to own both titles.

LoserMike
LoserMike

@Kudorigami Not that well. Which is why Dragon Quest 9 was on the DS and Dragon Quest 10 is being developed for the Wii. Why Square Enix was willing to port FF13 to the 360. Why many early exclusives for the PS3 became multi-platform like Devil May Cry 4 and Resident Evil 5. Anyways Ninokuni was developed as a DS game first way back in 2008 and wasn't announced as a PS3 game until 2010. Probably because when FF13 came out, PS3 finally became a viable system for expensive games.

Kudorigami
Kudorigami

@LoserMike What are you talking about? The PS3 sold well in Japan. The biggest reason they release it on DS game is probably because it's relatively easier to develop.

LoserMike
LoserMike

Best looking cel-shaded game of all time.

LoserMike
LoserMike

@Kleeyook Because the PS3 isn't selling so hot in Japan and the DS is the 2nd best selling console of all time in Japan after the Gameboy. Handhelds are more popular in Japan, which is why Dragon Quest 9 was released on the DS.

Hanzoadam
Hanzoadam

Hope this turns out good looks promising

thattotally
thattotally

You can talk about it in a Preview, but I really want to play this game for myself and check it out because for now all I see is a great artistic design, and I really hope the game has more than that because while it would be nice on the DS, the ps3 is the one that really needs a bigger library, and a great AAA game would be marvelous.

pooyanh
pooyanh

I hope they localize this one.

Kleeyook
Kleeyook

PS3 with Move suport might work out like DS with stylus. Thus I don't understand why they would release the game on 2 completely different consoles, a low resolution handheld and a HD console. :(