‘Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch’ is Enchanting
By: Jeb Haught
DEVELOPER: Level 5
PUBLISHER: Namco Bandai
SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 3
ESRB RATING: Teen
REVIEW RATING: 4.0 stars (out of 5)
It’s not surprising that Japanese Role-Playing Games (JRPGs) were eclipsed by action RPGs soon after Japan lost its worldwide domination of game development. Nowadays it’s difficult to find a good old-school JRPG on any console. Fortunately, the PS3-exclusive title, “Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch” is just as enjoyable to watch as it is to play!
This lengthy game centers on a young boy named Oliver who is in despair after the tragic death of his mother. He meets an unusual fairy who whisks him away to a fantasy realm, teaches him magic and helps him prepare to save the day. For some reason, saving this magical realm might also bring Oliver’s mother back to life, and that’s all the motivation he needs.
One cool feature is that this daunting journey takes the wizard-in-training all over both the new-found fantasy realm and also his familiar Earthly neighborhood. Both areas, as well as every aspect of the game, are so beautifully rendered that they also motivate players to explore every inch possible!
Exploration will inevitably lead to countless combat encounters, which are the highlight of the game. Players form traditional small parties for combat out of their characters, but they can also utilize Familiars. These are small creatures found throughout the game that are highly effective in combat, and they can even learn new moves. Unlike a certain other game, players don’t “gotta catch ’em all” to win or even enjoy playing.
Anyone who doesn’t like the combat might as well stop playing because it takes a lot of “grinding” (fighting monsters just to level up) in order to defeat tough enemies. Grinding is common among JRPGs, but newcomers to the genre may find that it becomes monotonous.
“Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch” has a few small hurdles to overcome, but the overall game is fun and delightful!
‘Devil May Cry’
DEVELOPER: Ninja Theory
SYSTEM: Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3)
ESRB RATING: Mature
REVIEW RATING: 3.0 stars (out of 5)
It only took a few minutes of playing the original “Devil May Cry” for the phrase “wow, that was cool” to become my own personal mantra. Since then, the DMC series has undergone several changes — some good and some bad. Now the DMC reboot has received an overhaul, and my new mantra has become “wow, that was easy!”
Future Earth is covertly controlled by the Demon King Mundus, who poses as a wealthy businessman. Only “The Order” knows the truth, and this secret organization has the lofty goal of freeing humanity from enslavement. Dante is recruited by The Order to help slay demons, and his selfish attitude is only eclipsed by the unnecessarily offensive and childish storyline. After witnessing the ridiculous events in this game, indeed the devil may cry … with laughter!
Just like past installments in the series, combat is fast and furious! Players build up high-scoring combos and earn style ratings based on their skills. However, there isn’t much challenge to fighting, especially since it’s too easy to render enemies nearly harmless by endlessly “juggling” them in the air. I also wish that the style ratings weren’t changed from being based on variety to being based solely on damage!
New to the series is the ability to have a variety of Angel and Demon weapons in addition to Dante’s trademark pistols and Rebellion sword. Sadly, there’s hardly much use for the pistols during combat. However, I do like how changing weapons during combos can actually increase the amount of damage inflicted. It’s also cool that certain platforming areas add much-needed variety to game play.
“Devil May Cry” may disappoint core fans of the series, but newcomers will surely find something alluring about slaying demons.
REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM
5 stars = Must Have
4 stars = Very Good
3 stars = Above Average
2 stars = Bargain Bin
1 star = Don’t Bother
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
E10-plus: (Everyone 10 and older)
T: Teen (13 and older)
M: Mature (17 and older)
To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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