Skip to main content

Worth the Wait: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch preview

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Namco Bandai announced that it would localize Level-5 and Studio Ghibli’s role-playing game Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch for the United States and Europe in October 2011, just a little over a month before the game came out in Japan. On the one hand, it was a relief for fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s films like My Neighbor Totoro and of Level-5’s RPGs like Dragon Quest VIII alike. The original Ni no Kuni for Nintendo DS looked as sweet as actually going on a magical adventure since it came with a hardbound book of spells, but that game never made it out of Japan. On the other hand though, Namco said the PS3 version of Ni no Kuni wouldn’t be out in the west until 2013. The game was finished, so what was the hold up? Localization takes time said Namco Bandai. The fans scoffed. Sure it does, but more than a year? 

There was no need to scoff. Namco Bandai swung through New York to preview its upcoming games. These were the same suspects that peopled Namco’s E3 booth, but it was the first time that I’d gotten an opportunity to sample No no Kuni. E3’s blaring lights and thumping bass don’t exactly make for an ideal setting to absorb a quiet RPG, let alone one as emotionally tender as Ni no Kuni. For those unfamiliar, the premise is more thoughtful than the usual RPG rigmarole of angular-haired teens saving the universe from a big monster. Oliver, Ni no’s lead, is trying to see his mother one last time after she’s passed away. Mr. Drippy, the stuffed animal she made him, comes to life and leads Oliver on an adventure to see his mom in “Ni no Kuni,” or “another world.”

Just translating the game’s dialogue and text wouldn’t have been enough for this game to elicit the emotional impact it should. It really needed to be localized, adapted and reconsidered for international audiences with different cultural expectations and social mores. From the brief session I played, the extra time Namco’s spent properly localizing Ni no Kuni has served the game well.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

I tackled the first real quest area where Mr. Drippy leads Oliver to a wise old tree in the other world. The tree teaches Oliver some basic wizarding skills like how to cast fire and healing spells as well as ho to create monster companions. The first of these little cartoon beasts is the goofy caped swordsman pictured above.

The whole sequence is beguiling. Mr. Drippy’s ebullient Scottish expounding, the old oak’s patient baritone, and Oliver’s enthusiastic credulity—The acting and dialogue are of a higher quality than in some of the Ghibli films that have been localized for the West. The effort is obviously unfinished as well. Even in this early portion of the game, there are chunks of Japanese text, as when you walk into a new area and its name washes across the screen. 

It’s harder to say how the game will feel in battles over the full 40-hour adventure. After the charismatic story sequence, you set out into the field on an errand for the old oak, getting into fights with scrub monsters on the way. Oliver doesn’t fight alongside his first monster pal, but switches out with him as one or the other weakens. It’s a weird rhythm for an RPG, and at first it feels slow, but after just gaining just a few levels from fights raising basic stats, the battles become more fast paced. They are challenging too; forget to switch out to a healthy partner and you can die all too quickly. This is only the basic feel of Ni no’s skirmishes though. Later on, as your stable of monsters and their skills grow, it will no doubt feel very different. I didn’t even have a chance to play around with its Kingdom Hearts 3D; Dream Drop Distance-style monster raising portions where you feed and play with your monsters to grow their skills. 

Half an hour with an RPG is no way to judge its overall quality. My take away from this preview session was simple: Ni no Kuni looks as wonderful as it did when it was still a Japan exclusive, but Namco Bandai and Level-5’s slow, deep localization will make it perfect for the West.

The fall blitz is just starting but it’s hard not to feel like the best games on the horizon are waiting in 2013.

Editors' Recommendations

Anthony John Agnello
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Anthony John Agnello is a writer living in New York. He works as the Community Manager of and his writing has…
All new weapons in Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty DLC
Two gangsters looking at a row of guns on the floor.

CD Projekt Red is known for adding tons of content any time it releases an expansion to one of its games, and Phantom Liberty is certainly no exception. The biggest addition is obviously the entire new zone called Dogtown and the storyline it contains, but there are plenty of other additions that add even more reasons to take a trip back to Night City. Aside from the new Relic skill tree to experiment with, there are a handful of new guns you can get your hands on and test out against the improved enemy AI. These new guns are mixed in with all the rest, so if you're jumping back into the game after a while, you might not recognize them. Here are all the new weapons introduced in the Phantom Liberty expansion.
Every new gun in Phantom Liberty
Grit - Auto Pistol
Looking like a smaller, yellow UZi, the Grit is a rapid-firing pistol with a huge clip.
Hercules - Special
The only special weapon introduced is the Hercules. Considering special weapons are always a treat to find, we'll leave this gun's function a secret for you to discover yourself.
Order - Shotgun
Looking like a Frankenstein's monster of a shotgun, the Order is an illegal double barrel that doesn't play around.
Osprey - Sniper
This sniper comes with a massive clip and bulky design that indicates just how much punch each shot will pack.
Rasetsu - Sniper
A more sleek sniper, the Rasetsu also can use a mounting attachment to pull off tough shots.
Thermal Katana - Melee
While you can't get a lightsaber in Phantom Liberty, this burning blade is the second-best thing.
Warden - SMG
Like the big brother of the Grit, this yellow SMG is also illegal and built for an insane rate of fire.

Read more
The best P Organ abilities in Lies of P
Lies of P customization

The jokes just write themselves with Lies of P and its choice to include P Organ abilities. The game almost avoided any further snickering past its odd title by sticking to mostly normal names for things like weapons and Legion Arms, but just couldn't resist in this one area it seems. Putting the name aside, this is a mostly familiar skill tree system that you can slot Quartz into and unlock new abilities for your puppet character. The further down the tree you go, the more Quartz you will need to unlock said skill, so it pays to plan ahead on what skills you want to invest in. Here are the best P Organ abilities you should invest in in Lies of P.
Best P Organ abilities

P Organ abilities are separated into different categories, which we will note next to the skill name so you know where to locate them, as well as in different phases that must be unlocked by investing Quarts into enough synergies in any category. You can also only have one ability from each type equipped from the same phase, so you do need to do some planning based on which skills you want from which phase.
Increased Pulse Cells - Survival
If you don't automatically pick this ability first, you're either purposefully making the game harder on yourself or have made a dire mistake. Pulse Cells are your healing items in Lies of P, and it goes without saying that even getting one additional heal can mean the difference between just barely beating a boss and being sent back to the last checkpoint. If you invest further into this P Organ you can get up to three additional Pulse Cells.
Increase Staggered Duration- Attack
The stagger gauge is another system that will be familiar to fans of Soulslikes where, by breaking an enemy's stagger, you can leave them vulnerable to a powerful critical strike. Enemies won't stay staggered forever, though, so you can miss your chance for free damage if you're not quick enough. This skill gives you a few extra moments to realize what's going on and press your advantage, especially against challenging bosses.
Enhance Fatal Attack ATK - Attack
Pairing perfectly with the previous ability, this skill makes that critical hit you can pull off on a staggered enemy deal a huge chunk of damage to really make that moment count.
Enhance Pulse Cell Recovery - Survival
While not quite as immediately necessary as getting more Pulse Cells, eventually you will level up and notice a single heal won't bring you back to full. This skill makes your Pulse Cells restore more of your HP to keep you as healthy as possible. This can also be upgraded in the same way as Increased Pulse Cells.
Quick Cube Activation - Ability
Your Cube is what you slot your Wishstones into in order to activate them, but it isn't applied instantly. Odds are you will want to pull these buffs out in critical moments, and this simply speeds up the animation so you won't get caught unprepared. Considering each Wistone costs you Gold Coin Fruit, having them go to waste can be a major setback.

Read more
Take a break from September’s loudest games with this cat-filled indie charmer
Villagers fish on a pier in Mineko's Night Market.

September has been a high-octane month for video games. We got a loud multiplayer shooter in Payday 3, a tense spy thriller in Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, and a whole lot of gore courtesy of Mortal Kombat 1. Doesn’t all that just make you want to chill out a little? I can only take so much blood and noise before curling up on the couch with my cat and smoothing my brain over with something a little gentler.

Mineko’s Night Market - The Night Market Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Read more