FANDOM


This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch.

TranscriptEdit

You ever get that uneasy feeling you're playing something that completely isn't aimed at you? I imagine it's a feeling quite familiar to a large percentage of Nintendo's fanbase, but that's the wrong attitude to take, isn't it? You've gotta get out of your comfort zone now and then. Just because I find most JRPGs to be duller than a dead cat wearing an over-designed belly shirt and find children less enjoyable company than poisonous sea urchins with attachment issues, those are no good reasons why I shouldn't play a JRPG for children now and then. (Well, actually they might be very good reasons.) But what attracted me to Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was that it was co-developed by Studio Ghibli, whose works I've found to be always equal parts charming and stomach-churningly saccharine but most importantly, NOT SHIT! (Except Tales of Earthsea, I mean Jesus fucking Christ...) But even if it was developed with only one foot in Studio Ghibli's "not shit" department, Ni No Kuni'd still stand out prominently among most of the genre, so let's have a look!

Now, if you've watched a lot of other Studio Ghibli films, you might want to dig the old Studio Ghibli Bingo Card out for Wrath of the White Wale: 'small adventurous child', 'victim of at least one form of parental neglect', 'brought by some cataclysm to a world of adventure', 'there's a friendly monster with really round eyes and a big mouth', oh and, 'they also have to rescue their parents at some point' as well, that's about four rows complete by the end of the first hour.

Specifically, our adventurous child for your parental regulation is Oliver. Although his abandonment by his mother is perhaps justifiable on account of her being dead and accidentally killed by him! HA! Clumsy twat! But while he's mulling that one over, one of his toys comes to life and tells him he has to travel to a parallel world of fantasy in order to liberate it from an evil Djinn and also bring his mum back to life, somehow. And what curiously fortunate timing that the fairies carry him off to fantasy land at exactly the same moment one would expect a person to be undergoing a massive guilt induced mental breakdown! But there's me being cynical again; this is Studio Ghibli man! Neverending Story mindset, not Fisher KingStill, it would stick closer to standard formula if the mum was just sick, like he'd accidentally sprayed a bubonic plague in her face and has to quest for the cure. Bringing her back from the dead adds layers of unhealthiness to the proceedings, like an infected vanilla slice.

I mean, she's just gonna die again at some point, maybe it would be smarter to get over it while you're young! Yes, I equate bereavement with chicken pox! But then there are quite a few aspects to the plot that the adult mind might question more than a child's would, like the one bit where you have to go inside a pregnant woman's vagina in order to dislodge her unborn children, only to find them being harassed by a giant octopus blocking the way to the cervix. Can't we all just stop being so cynical and appreciate the octopus abortion sequence in the innocent spirit with which it was meant?

That's quite a ways in though; the game slows to a crawl once the juicy dead mum aspect is set up. You're in the fantasy world and doing the grasslands, desert, forest, jungle, ice-world, fire-world, boss, badabum-badabum-badabum-badabum thing, and the game settles into tutorialising for the next 17 hours. Surely one would need to have eaten a lot of paste to require a special tutorial to show that you use the left analog stick to move. Could we maybe take that as understood if the player has gotten as far as holding the controller with their hands rather than their buttcheeks?

It's fair to say that Wrath of the White Guilt has a bit of game mechanic overload to the point that they're still being introduced about twelve hours in. First there's casting spells for both combat and general progress, where if you reach a a torchlighting puzzle and are out of MP for fireball casting, then you're shit out of luck, you matricidal ginger tosser! There's item crafting sidequests, there's an odd mechanic in which you fix people who are lacking in certain positive qualities like enthusiasm or kindness by injecting them with some of that quality donated from someone with an excess of it. Which I find very suspect because it's basically communism, and implies that every single character in the game is some kind of emotionless automaton who only gets depressed because their internal processors broke, and not because (to pick an entirely random example) they just killed their mum! And after a while, you're granted the ability to capture random monsters as familiars, and without warning the game turns into needlessly over-complex pseudo Pokémon, where each monster has elemental weaknesses, a genus, and one of four symbols of mysterious significance, and you have to micromanage their equipment and what desserts to force feed them with so that they acquire diabetes-themed buffs.

At times, Wrath of the White Privilege pleasantly evokes the old 16-bit JRPGs I can actually tolerate, like Earthbound or Final Fantasy VI with it's actually coherent plot and random monsters occasionally smart enough to scarper if you're over-leveled, but the actual combat sucks a fat one. I find I'm more tolerant of turn-based combat than I used to be, because it is nice for a game to constantly pause itself in case you happen to be playing it while fighting a panther. And of course real time combat would be chocolate smeared all over a consenting biscuit. But it's these hideous hybrid systems that modern JRPGs tend to have that piss in my radiators, 'cause you end up with the worst qualities of both: we find ourselves having to cycle through an option menu while simultaneously running around avoiding the hits, and I've got this lovely big controller here just covered in buttons, any one of which could be a dedicated "defend" command. But no, I must instead wrestle my way to the "defend" option in the half second it takes for the enemy to brew up another devastating fart.

Fortunately, the A.I. partners are a great help if one happens to be running an insurance scam, but otherwise they think "defend" means "hard of hearing buttocks." And a lot of boss fights ended with me alone running around in circles to stay outside of melee range, hoping my fairy friend will drop some mana when he's finished dancing about, laughing at me getting my teeth kicked in. Oh, but you do get the ability to command all your party to attack or defend at once. That's the mechanic gets introduced 12 hours in about three boss fights after it would have started being useful!

That's the problem with JRPGs; they're so bloody long, 'cause they always stretch the content to breaking point. Always batting you about back and forth between locations setting arbitrary story flags and using twelve dialogue boxes where one would have done, usually to hammer you over the head with the solution to the current puzzle which you figured out before the dialogue even started. The weirdest thing is that you can usually press a button to go to the next dialogue box, but every sixth line or so it won't let you. A feature I assume was added for the primary purpose of annoying me.

So for all the charm in the story and visuals, it was messy combat, and gameplay flowing like a dead crab in a bucket that wore me down to the point that I couldn't go on. Yeah sorry kid, looks like you're not getting your mum back. Nothing you can do now but take up taxidermy and start wearing her dresses.

AddendaEdit

Was born fully mature and wearing a smoking jacket: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw.

I understand that running around in a little fruity cape is an often overlooked stage of bereavement.

'Spirited Away' is what I call my unmarked van.

ScreenshotsEdit

Ni No Kuni 1

The old Studio Ghibli Bingo Card

Ni No Kuni 2

Can't we all just stop being so cynical and appreciate the octopus abortion sequence in the innocent spirit with which it was meant?

Ni No Kuni 3

Using twelve dialogue boxes where one would have done

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.