Ni no Kuni [Videogame Review]

Ni-No-Kuni

Imagine the most generic, stereotypical, uninspired JRPG possible without a single drop of genuine care put into it. A tale of friendship and forced drama shoved in right away. A story you can guess every major plot point, twist, and the ending from the first 15 minutes of play (or rather, the first 15 minutes of watching a sub-par ghibli cartoon). Consistently frustrating combat made that way through clunky and bad game design – not difficult, just unfun, annoying, and horribly crafted. Bland art. Generic grating music. A green forested area with a talking tree. A desert with a temple of trials. A volcano about to erupt. An ocean with a boat you can use but can’t go anywhere the game doesn’t want you to access yet. Rehashed, recolored, and renamed enemies within the first hour of play, yes, a bestiary that’s actually full within an hour if you don’t count re-colors. Make a new friend, get a new ally against the evil big bad – who by the way is also just that, ‘im the evil big bad!’. Characters who have so little personality it’s hard to remember they exist even when you’re controlling them and with such bland motivation that you have to wonder why any of them exist.

Maybe I’m going on too long with this obvious and cliched bullshit – but to cut it short, you’d be imagining Ni no Kuni.

Much like Xenoblade Chronicles, Ni no Kuni was lauded as the second coming of the JRPG by it’s fans and even moreso by the self-titled “professional journalists” of gaming. A rebirth of the genre filled with incredible writing, superb stylization, life-changing characters that you feel a genuine connection with, gameplay breaking the norm, an immersive and charming world, and unique original ideas throughout that blew away what the “overly generic and stale” conventional JRPG market had become while of course pulling you into another world every second the game is on. And no, this isn’t me exaggerating – it’s them.

Ni-No-Kuni-01

Ironically enough, it’s because of being the exact OPPOSITE of those things that this game is so awful – while all the things they praise these two games for goes entirely ignored in every single JRPG these same people ever talk about. This game was wrongly raised up as being a masterpiece simply because the ignorant “JRPGs are shit because it looks like anime” retards (Game ‘journalists’) saw OH GHIBLI I KNOW THEM THEY MAKE THE GOOD ANIMES ;). On top of that, they praised it nonstop for being so very unique and different to all the ‘generic’ JRPGs being released after the ‘good ol days’ before they realized Final Fantasy wasn’t made by hot blooded Americans because they simply have no idea what JRPGs are anymore…though, really, given how this game is as ‘jrpg for dummies’ as you can get, I’m still confused by how they felt it was anything else.

Admittedly, Ni no Kuni does have one singular thing unique to it – the art style, sadly even that is less ‘stylized’ and more ‘shit’; everything but the background always looks more like those Simpsons games on PS2 than Ghibli during anything but cutscenes.

Seriously.

Seriously.

Absolutely nothing else about this game takes a single step out of the “how to make the most generic and mainstream-accessible JRPG ever” and “Games 4 Kidz” guidelines – worse, it can’t even stay within those lines properly like a 3 year old with a coloring book. This is another situation like the ‘generic anime’ one; people who literally don’t know shit about something try talking about it as if they do. The people who say Ni no Kuni is good are people who, if you look up the reviewers or have basic info on the random people saying it, do NOT usually like JRPGS. They purposefully avoid the genre and only tried Ni no Shitty because of the fact it has Ghibli art – which is even accepted and liked (for some reason) by normalfags, and then labeled the game as one of the best JRPGs of all time. It’s the same way you’ll see Spirited Away or Cowboy Bebop treated as the be all end all of anime – these people literally KNOW NO BETTER because they are massively ignorant of what they’re spewing on about, but they choose to put on airs of confidence and knowledge and your typical dipshit consumer buys into that. However, as I said earlier, it still makes no sense given this is not just a godawful JRPG, but a terrible game in general.

Ni-no-Kuni-1

The combat is a very basic spam X situation mixed with a watered down version of djinn/pokemon that don’t even serve a real purpose aside acting as a gimmick to make the battles seem different. Along with that, it’s not only unoriginal, but it’s simply not ever fun. The whole pokemon/djinn/persona bullshit is a waste of time when every enemy is a piece of cake with your starting monster thing, including bosses. Yet, somehow, you’ll find yourself losing or near death often even if you collect more of them and go out of your way to grind. Why? Because the combat is some of the worst shit imaginable, and that goes beyond just JRPGs – the gameplay in fights in Ni no Kuni is truly some of the worst in the entire medium. To block in combat you have to use the D-PAD to clunkily (it’s not a super-responsive game) and slowly click through the d-pad specific options and find Guard while using the left analog stick (so you need to use the D-pad while also using the left stick, which means doing some really weird shit with your hand because your thumb is busy on the stick) to keep running so you don’t get hit and clicking x, then a second or two later he’ll finally do it after a pause on his part. This means you’ll never actually block the majority of the time you want to because of the fuck-awful setup, controls, and slow responsiveness even after the input has gone through. Keep in mind you’re doing this in real-time as the enemy is about to hit you – there’s no way to do it in time even if you memorize the tells for certain attacks. This is not “challenge” but faulty game mechanics designed by a goddamn idiot. Oh, and of course you have to go back to attack again to be able to attack/command your pokemans to attack, so it’s not like you can just sit on defend the entire time and make it simple. Mix all that with the fucking retarded AI and you have something unplayable, which is what you get with Ni no Kuni. It is very seriously some of the worst combat you will find in any game.

your mom

The voice acting is fucking atrocious, every single character is inconsistent and sounds awful. Not to mention Oliver who, for some reason while living in some white suburban AMERICAN town, happens to speak like a very poor boy in the slums of some shithole in Europe 70 years ago. He dresses like he’s over there as well, while nobody else in the entire town he lives in does. It’s obnoxious, out of place, and even aside all that it is very poorly acted. The same goes for every single person in the entire cast that has a voice. Everyone sounds like shit and has less acting ability than Brina fucking Palencia, and that’s pretty goddamn terrible. It’s a game you want to play muted because, wow look at that, even Mr.Overrated Hisaishi did a poor job on the music. There are admittedly a few okay songs but even these become grating when you realize they loop almost every fucking 60 seconds. You’re stuck with godawful voice acting and shitty sub-par cliched sounding music tracks the entire length of the game.

Truly a unique world. A snow area, a volcano area, a plains area, a grassy area, a forest even?! By God...

A snow area, a volcano area, a plains area, a grassy area, an evil spooky place, and even a forest?! My God…gaming will never be the same.

The locales are extremely uninspired and lifeless. Each one is something straight out of what some kid would make in RPG Maker in twenty minutes. Actually, I’m pretty I remember the officially sanctioned RPG Maker tutorials covering making every single one of these places. And no, Ni No Kuni does nothing new with them, nor does it handle doing the basic things you’d expect out of them very well. They aren’t just generic, but bland and pointless as well. The volcano has what you’d expect. Lava, some fire, and lots of red. You fight earth type enemies. The forest has lots of trees and some water. You fight plant based enemies. This is how every region and zone is – the bare minimum, and the worst part is it’s extremely linear within the zones of these regions (and even the regions themselves much of the time) so it’s not like they did good in some kind of ‘at least you can explore’ way either.

On top of all that, the game is just not fun whatsoever, and instead a massive chore from the get go.

“Instead of simply fetching an item for someone – which admittedly does happen on occasion – you’ll instead be expected to cure a character’s broken heart.” – IGN (http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/01/15/ni-no-kuni-wrath-of-the-white-witch-review)

If you’ve ever played Ni No Kuni, you’ll understand the issue with this statement immediately; they very literally said “Instead of fetch quests you do fetch quests”. For those who don’t know – curing people of their lack of courage or curing their broken heart (and all the other stupid shit you ‘cure’ for people) equates out to LITERALLY FETCHING courage (yes, it’s actually called ‘courage’), heart (yup), and so on – and returning to the person who needs it. You do so by talking to someone else and then talking to the original person again, sometimes with a small quest mixed in (no joke; a fetch quest. Yes, a fetch quest you have to do in order to get the item for the other fetch quest). This is the MAIN THING YOU DO IN THE GAME. Truly enthralling.

Scruffy 30 year old pirate joins a young blonde child on her adventures.

Scruffy 30 year old pirate joins a young blonde little girl on her adventures without hesitation, oh and some kid who thinks he’s cute for acting European.

The characters are pathetically cookie cutter – and we’re talking some pretty generic “circle and triangle” cookie cutters here, not even “snowman” or “christmas tree” level shit. It’s almost embarrassingly bad. Boy saving the world. Girl who he saves coming to his side. Older-but-not-old guy who looks like a for-sure pedophile who joins these children on their journey. And then there’s more annoying shit like generic Ghibli characters such as a massive woman because every fucking ghibli thing has to have a goddamn massive character of some sort and talking cat-people, can’t forget those. Praising this game’s characters and their personalities would be like praising Dr.Seuss for his intense emotional and mature atmosphere. None of them have personality, none of them have depth, none of them have anything remotely unique to them or original about them. Absolutely none of them have a single endearing concept to who they are and yet manage to be extremely unlikable at the same time.

The dialogue and overall writing gives you the same enjoyment as pissing into a public toilet clogged by massive amounts of people’s shit mixed together. It ranges from incredibly childish stuff that you’d think up as a joke idea for some kind of awful fan fiction to just cringe-worthy unfunny attempts at humor like mine.

Original character, do not steal.

Original character, do not steal.

And the story. Ohhhh the story. Mommy kills herself by mistake trying to save your dumb ass who almost drowns in a 3-foot-deep man-made river while half the town watched in hopes you’d drown because they had enough of your “pip-pip cheerio” bullshit. Who would guess the autistic child who just suffered horrible trauma would go into a fantasy world where he can be a hero and get away from his guilt and loss? This is supposed to be a ‘twist’ later on, but they spell it out for you right in the goddamn intro to the actual game part of the game while pretending you’re too stupid to ‘get it’ and thus being something they can use later as some big surprise. The story aside that is equally bad, just an extremely vapid constant chain of fetch quests, shitty boss fights, and ‘go to this generic place for your next generic quest line’ to stop the evil big-bad because he’s eeeevil.

The Chamber of Big Bads: Reserved Only For Big Guys.

The Chamber of Big Bads: Reserved Only For the Biggest of all Bads.

Overall, Ni no Kuni is one of the most standard, generic, uninspired, boring, bland, unoriginal, do-it-by-the-book JRPGs ever to grace any gaming platform in history. To make matters worse it executes all of that EXTREMELY POORLY so it’s actually sub-standard rather than acceptable even on the most basic of levels. This game has absolutely no creativity, it’s not imaginative, it’s not unique or different, and the idea that “b-b-but it has colors and isn’t an FPS” is some kind of compliment ignores the fact that the vast majority of games are just as colorful and of different genres. It doesn’t even have a fleck of ambition or passion, something to at least show that the developers gave a shit and just ended up with a bad result.

This is not “childish” or “a kids” game, which would make it endearing at the very least or good for younger players – it is instead a game that pretends it’s for all-ages while treating you like you’re a seven year old with a learning disability, memory problems, and lack of basic motor skills. It’s insulting to the player, including children, rather than being a remotely positive experience. The game is, with only one exception (Time & Eternity), the absolute worst JRPG to come out in the history of the genre and one of the worst games I’ve EVER played. It fails on every single level without even coming close to meeting the bare minimum standards that games should have, let alone doesn’t come close to exceeding them.

Ni no Kuni serves no purpose whatsoever; it is not entertaining, it is not fun, it is not interesting, it is nothing short of a disaster of a game. At it’s best, this game is everything wrong with JRPGs and showcases every major and smaller issue within these types of games, almost as if it’s a caricature of the genre. There is absolutely no reason it should exist, nor does it deserve to. I wouldn’t recommend anyone to play it for any reason, not even just to see how bad it is for themselves.

 

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7 responses to “Ni no Kuni [Videogame Review]

  1. What do you think are the best Jrpgs for ps3? I never played much of the genre and bought ni no kuni recently. I didn’t think it was bad like you did but it does have some serious flaws and I don’t have the will to finish after 20 hours.

    ps: sorry for my english, not my native language.

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    • There’s a shit ton of JRPGs on the PS3, so plenty to pick from. My personal favorites are the Tales games (Tales of Graces F, Tales of Xillia), and the Atelier franchise which has two trilogies on the PS3 – the Arland trilogy (Atelier Rorona, Totori, Meruru) and the Dusk trilogy (Atelier Ayesha, Escha&Logy, Shallie).

      If you don’t mind playing a tactical JRPG then Valkyria Chronicles is a must-play. Actually it’s one of the best games on the PS3 in general.

      There are plenty of other good JRPGs as well that may fit your tastes more if those don’t.

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  2. It’s a shame Ni No Kuni had great potential but not-so-great execution. I know Level-5 is capable of much better than this, they did make Dark Cloud and Dragon Quest 8 after all. Hopefully next time they won’t disappoint.

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  3. Having put about a hour or so into the game, a lot of what you’ve mentioned here is what I was afraid would be the case. I’ll at least play a bit more to see if it clicks.

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    • The game is pretty much the same throughout, if you don’t like what you saw you won’t like what you’ll see. I guess if you bought it full price and can’t return it/trade it in for any worthwhile amount then I guess go ahead and try, just don’t have any expectations because even then it’ll still disappoint.

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  4. “To block in combat you have to use the D-PAD to clunkily and slowly click through the d-pad specific options and find Guard”

    Wow. Say what you will about muh Kingdom Hearts 1, but at least there you could block or roll out of the way with square.

    Funnily enough, I know a guy who likes JRPGs fairly well(not as much as I do, but he likes them). Though from what I can tell he just thinks the game is okay, not anywhere close to what some say about it. I wonder what he’d think of this article, he didn’t seem to mind you putting it on you worst games list.

    Level 5 should really stick to puzzle and soccer games, they can’t seem to make a good RPG.

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    • I’m surprised their soccer games don’t make you do all this clumsy fucked up control shit too. The combat in this game is really a sight to behold in how awful it is.

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