Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Falling in Love with Ni No Kuni
I fully admit that I am coming into this game with a deep affection for the studios behind the game. Studio Ghibli has animated some of my favorite films of all time. They always imbue their worlds with a stunning sense of magic and wonder. Now, the moment I see a piece of animation clearly produced or even influence by Studio Ghibli, I alight with excitement and open myself up to be impressed.
I feel the same way about Level-5, the creators of the beloved Professor Layton series of puzzle games (and Dark Cloud, which I still remember fondly). The Layton games are clearly made with such care and affection for the story and I cannot help but revel in their stories. Above all else, I love that every game is so wholly built in adoration of curiosity and inquisitiveness. Their consistency and care is intoxicating, so much so that I even built a word puzzle in my review of The Last Spectre.
With this in mind, who better than these two studios to collaborate on a fairy-tale JRPG? Playing Ni No Kuni, even in the first couple hours, I find myself looking for signs of each studio's touch. I actively search for the wonder and joy I expect, and earnestly, I find it in heaps. However, I also realize my expectations could be coloring my experiences for the better. I am not an JRPG zealot, so I have no instant fuzzy-feelings towards the gameplay, but did you see that little hope my familiar gave!? How cute was that? Speaking of familiars, isn't it amazing how well illustrated and the movement animations appear? Also, isn't it neat how closely the story adheres to children's literature conventions?
Really, I go on and on like this. How do I know if my attitude towards this game is too heavily influenced by my preconceptions? Or maybe this is a good thing. Maybe I'm willing to look a little harder than most and find the best parts of Ni No Kuni.