Studio Ghibli, Japan's beloved animation studio, is teaming up with Level-5, one of the country's most popular game makers, for a new adventure called "Ni no Kuni". A high definition version is coming to the PS3. It is beautiful.
Studio Ghibli is known for anime like My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service, while Level-5 has made a name for itself with titles like the Professor Layton series and White Knight Chronicles.
The demo that Level-5 is showing of the PS3 version had two playable choices. One was a story mode and showed Oliver, the young boy, and his fairy companion Shizuku entering the city around the castle in Ni no Kuni.
Ni no Kuni: Shiroki Seihai no Joou on the PS3 is a visual treat. A truly stunning, stunning game. It feels as though you have slipped into a Studio Ghibli anime. You don't know whether you should play or just stand still and soak up the incredible scenery before you. This game is a knock-out.
When you approach people in the town, a bubble with smiley face appears over townspeople's heads indicating that you can go up and talk to them. But if you go up to them once and then return to the same person, they say the exact same thing. To be fair, this was a demo and not the finished title. Moreover, I didn't talk to all characters in the town to confirm this with every single one. A little variation would be nice and hopefully will make its way into the finished product. The game is such a looker, though, that it is somewhat easier to forgive 20th century-era JRPG repeating dialogue.
The second choice for the TGS demo was combat. Oliver and Shizuku make their way through a lush forrest. As with other sections of the game, everything just looked wonderful. Combat-wise, the system offers several choices in the bottom left hand corner. Players can toggle through typical choices like "Attack", "Heal" and "Defend" using the directional pad. To select an option, players press the circle button, which is the Japanese equivalent of the X button for Western players. It is possible to move your characters around during combat, giving the game a more interactive experience that is somewhere between traditional turn-based combat and an action role-playing game.
The design for the enemies was akin to the visual look of the game: wonderful. A large, orange-colored moose-like character with horns that resembled a radar dish proved a formidable foe.
The demo I played was limited to only fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes was not enough time, and I am interested in checking out Ni no Kuni on the PS3 in greater depth.