Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch


12 cert, Namco Bandai, PS3 ****

Sumptuous, eye-popping animation is standard for Studio Ghibli. To say that the makers of Spirited Away and Ponyo make lush and beguiling cartoons has become a cliché. Their latest, a collaboration with game developers Level-5, forgoes the cinema for the PS3, and is a typically spectacular affair.

Okay, enough talk of beauty. (So, so pretty!) Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is the story of an ordinary 13-year-old boy named Oliver who discovers that one of his cuddly toys comes to life, awakened when soaked by Oliver’s tears – a nice touch.

The newly animated Mr Drippy then takes the boy to a parallel world, where Oliver learns about magic, good and evil. And it’s a place where he just might undo a tragedy in his own world.

Ni No Kuni is a Japanese role-playing game and, like many JRPGs, you can expect to watch plenty of cut-scenes and wear out lots of virtual shoe leather on long walks. There are also turn-based battles, a staple of JRPGs. Choose to attack or defend for a few seconds, delegate tasks to your virtual friends (a variety of magical creatures) and manipulate menus mid-skirmish.

Even the game acknowledges that it can get complicated, as Oliver says “Jeepers, there’s so much to remember!”

But Ni No Kuni is a perfect introduction to the genre. The gameplay, while sometimes knotty, is user-friendly. And perhaps most importantly, Ni No Kuni works as an original fairytale – an epic animated story overflowing with sincerity, imagination and emotion.

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