So after some deliberation, I finally picked up Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch mainly because I lucked out and Walmart had a bunch of copies for $30. I would like to have gotten Xenoblade Chronicles but we all know that right now you have to spend $90 for a Gamestop "used" copy (apparently they're doing the same thing with the Metroid Prime Trilogy).
Ni No Kuni was one of those games that I considered but wasn't a day one purchase for me mainly because I don't like a lot of things modern RPGs are doing like overly long cutscenes or tutorials that go on for half the game, but at the same time, this was made with help from Studio Ghibli who as you know, I like their movies despite not being big anime fan.
When I started playing the game, since the PS3 is at my mother in law's house while my husband works until we get moved (which is hopefully really soon) but I was up there visiting with my nephews who were visiting grandma before school started. They're 13 and 7. The older one wanted to try out my copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf and the younger one saw Ni No Kuni and it's E10 rating meaning he knew he could watch me play it and actually said he wanted to see it. The 13 year old is a big MST3K fan so feels the need to make sarcastic comments now and then. He's also at that weird age where he doesn't like colorful cell shaded games like this or Wind Waker and yet he was sitting there playing Animal Crossing as well as the evening before he commandeered my download of Ducktales Remastered and played through it before I got to play it.
So for those who still don't know what the games about. There is a young boy named Oliver who lives in Motoville which is a 1950s era town. His buddy Phil coaxes him to sneak out one night to check out the go kart he built. So Oliver is test driving it, when his mother wakes up and realizes he's gone. She arrives just as the wheel on the go kart breaks off and the car steers widly into the water. Video Games Awesome made the point of "he can drive stick but can't swim?" Oliver's mom rescues him but somehow the stress of this causes her to have a heart attack and die which seemed kinda odd to me. I guess she couldn't do her deathbed speech if she had been hit by the car or drowned.
Then comes a "FEELS" scene. Oliver is sitting alone in his room, adopted(?) by the shopkeeper lady remembering a time a few years ago where his mom gave him a stuffed toy and Ollie starts to cry onto his stuffed toy. This was a sad scene but luckily Ollie's tears bring his toy "Mr. Drippy" to life and he's Scottish (actually someone later told me he's supposed to be Welsh) but there's something to be said about a sidekick who basically will tell the hero, he's an idiot. But after some insanely long exposition, Oliver is told his mother has a look alike in Drippy's world and saving her may bring his mom back to life and like Harry Potter, he's told he's a wizard and the one destined to save the world from Volde-er Shadar.
So we FINALLY get into the Fairy world and reach the overworld which looks fantastic. Bright green rolling hills with shadows of clouds moving around and I get into battle. Now I will admit that I'm not too good with these sort of "hybrid" battle systems. In a western RPG, you can just run up and start wailing on the enemy and turn based JRPGs will stop the action while you select your next attack but for a good while, I was getting my ass handed to me while I was trying to select things from the menu while the enemies were running at me. The first area in the forest, they keep it rather easy but when I got to Ding Dong Well, I was dying left and right and it took a while to get the hang of the system.
You also get "familiars" which are little Pokemon-like creatures except that if a familiar dies, you die as well unlike Pokemon where they fall in battle, and you just swap them out. This is a bit annoying though after a while you get the hang of bringing them back when health is low or keeping a look out for Drippy to drop orbs if needed. That is one nice thing about this "Hybrid" RPG system is the ability to run around the fight arena and dodge some enemy attacks. Also familiars are really involved in mainly trying to find the right food for them to build up their stats, then again if I had played more Pokemon games, I might have gotten used to that.
Still it is one of the best RPGs I've played in a while. Even on Easy mode, there's still a lot of grinding involved and there is a lot of talking and text at times but there's a lot involved with quests like taking feelings or enthusiasm from one person and give it to someone who's "brokenhearted" or lacking in a certain feeling, so there is ALOT to do in this game and I've barely scratched the surface.
I also like that there are cat people in Ding Dong Dell. The 13 year old nephew was going to make a crack about it except that I pointed out that in Skyrim which he's currently playing, there are cat people as well, along with lizard folk as I recall from Oblivion. So now I'm interested to see what other unusual places I come across.
So yes, I'm liking this game a lot and hope to play more soon.