Ni No Kuni: Wrath of The White Witch Hands-on Impressions

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Ni No Kuni: Wrath of The White Witch Hands-on Impressions
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of The White Witch Hands-on Impressions

It’s been quite a while since Namco Bandai Games first announced PS3-exclusive Ni No Kuni: Wrath of The White Witch. A collaborative effort between veteran RPG maker Level-5 and veteran animation house Studio Ghibli, Ni No Kuni promises to seamlessly blend Ghibli’s gorgeous art style with Level-5’s RPG chops for a completely unique experience not seen on PS3 until now. I went hands-on with the game at Namco Bandai’s recent media event in Las Vegas, exploring the lush world of Ni No Kuni, battling a plethora of creatures, and traversing through a pig-obsessed city appropriately titled Hamelin.

If you haven’t yet, check out the gorgeous new trailer for Ni No Kuni: Wrath of The White Witch above.

At Ni no Kuni 03 (Normal Resolution)Motorville 01

Oliver explores worlds both fantastical (left) and real-life (right) in Ni No Kuni.

If you’re unfamiliar with what Ni No Kuni is all about, here’s a quick refresher: players take on the role of Oliver, a young boy who has just lost his mother, as he searches for a way to find her again. As his tears fall on a doll given to him by his mother, the doll comes alive and leads him to a fantastical place, telling Oliver that he may be able to find his mother in this new world. Players will experience both the real and the fantastical worlds as the story goes on. It’s a very Ghibli-esque premise and one that suits the game’s presentation well.

It goes without saying that the first thing you’ll notice about Ni No Kuni is the striking visual style that Studio Ghibli and Level-5 have created within Ni No Kuni — it’s arguably the closest a developer has come to recreating the look and feel of Japanese animation within the confines of a video game. The cutscenes were created especially for Ni No Kuni by Studio Ghibli, and anyone familiar with the studio’s past work with films like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away will instantly recognize their unique aesthetic. Just as impressive though, are the real-time graphics. The whole world of Ni No Kuni ebbs and flows just as effortlessly as the Ghibli-produced cutscenes, lending a truly cinematic feel to the whole experience.

Fighting Scene

One of the most crucial elements to any RPG is its battle system, and Ni No Kuni takes a unique approach to the typical elements that many RPGs share. First off, there are no random battles when roaming the world map. Enemy groups can be seen well in advance, giving players ample time to decide whether to avoid or engage. Once in battle, players are free to roam the enclosed battle environment with their character, while issuing group commands to other characters. Players can also switch control to other characters on the fly. Additionally, Ni No Kuni presents a “familiar” system, allowing each of the main characters to summon creatures to fight by their side, each possessing their own special abilities. In my experience with the game, it helped to consider each enemy group before devising a tactical strategy to take them down, making the battle system quite a breath of fresh air in the RPG world.

My hands-on time also gave me a chance to explore the wider world. In an area called Hamelin, which is appropriately titled as my party encountered a society run by a porcine president, I encountered a vast culture with dozens of townsfolk and areas to explore. The town itself was filled with armory and item shops, which in the demo were closed for business. That said, the town itself felt like an interactive Studio Ghibli film, with a host of zany characters and an elaborate boss fight that I won’t spoil here.

01 Animation

Suffice it to say that if you’re a fan of RPG games you’d be wise to watch out for Ni No Kuni: Wrath of The White Witch in early 2013. Keep your eye on the PlayStation.Blog for more details as we get closer to the release date of this promising PS3 exclusive.

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  • Really sad this slipped into 2013, been waiting ages for it to be localized.

  • I can’t wait anymore!

  • Been wanting this game since it was announced. I love both studios behind it and I really hope that you can give us the same editions or better ones than the ones in Japan. I really want to have the book! xD

  • I agree Tarqosis 2013 release is a ways away but at least it’s getting localized. For awhile I thought they had given up, I miss the days of the JRPG. Good to see a return of them especially on the PS3.

  • Thanks for the news updates, Andy. Great art work & hopefully, some solid gameplay. No need to mention the music… should be excellent! I hope Ghibli keeps pushing the videogame space!

    • My pleasure! The game looks gorgeous in action, and the battle system definitely has me intrigued. Hopefully we’ll see the game again soon.

  • the game looks pretty amazing and i cant wait to play it.the only bad thing is that we are going to have to wait till next year in order to play….i just hope that you guys will keep us updated as the localization progress goes on.

  • I too have been waiting patiently for this game and it saddens me to see it slip to 2013. The art direction is fantastic. Hope it has the length of a traditional JRPG also. I love to build my characters up until their unstoppable. Anyway it turns out at least the game looks good.


  • I can’t even figure out what flavor of RPG this is, but it looks Awesome!

  • i have been waiting for this game for soooooooo long, and they just keep pushing it back! but who cares, it’s LEVEL-5! just make it beauitful namco! cuz you don’t know how bad i need a GOOD RPG, and playstation is the ONLY console that can deliver!

  • This game looks amazing. The Ghibli art style just doesn’t get old. Maybe Totoro’s one of the Familiars in the game. That would be awesome.

  • One of my most anticipated games. Too bad it got delayed.

  • From the videos I’ve seen, this game has turn-based menu-driven combat. THIS is the game that us RPG fans have been asking for since the launch of the PS3. Not MMO clones or action oriented combat.

    And the Studio Ghibli graphical touch is beautiful. Can’t wait to fiiiiiinnnnaaallly get to play this. I’m actually hoping that this gets a Vita port down the road so that I can play it on the go as well. Please pass my request on so that we may see this happen.

  • Amazing! I haven’t really seen anything about this until now, which is strange because I am a huge fan of all parties involved. Been craving a good JRPG for years, hopefully this will deliver on it. Sure looks like it will be incredible. Studio Ghibli + Level 5 = Incredible. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard more about this earlier. Come on 2013!

  • why delayed!!!!???? pls push this one forward!!!

  • Will this game have dual audio? Like all J-RPG should be…

  • This is certainly a day-one purchase for me. This game looks so good, visually, with and interesting plot and a diverse world to explore and unveil all of its secrets. Too bad its only for 2013, though. ;p

    ps: Thank for this great post, Andy ;)

  • Looks absolutely gorgeous! Will the North American release have dual language tracks?

  • Looking forward to this one, sucks it was delayed…2013 is a LONG time away.

  • I just can’t wait for this game ! Will this be coming out in europe ?

  • *WAS* my most anticipated PS3 game of latter 2012 but I guess that’s changed now.

    Oh well. Still a day-one purchase in early 2013.

  • Any chance for a collector/special edition for this game? I really want the gold controller that came with the limited edition PS3 in japan for this game.

  • Cannot wait! oh man i was waiting for this so badly this year. but i guess Tales of Graces f is enough.. please Namco Bandai dont forget about Tales of Xillia for PS3 and Tales of Vesperia for PS3! bring those two also please

  • Is there any female character in this game? I refuse to play a game without babes!!

  • Why must you tease us? :(

    I have longed for a game like this for a long time, LOVED Dark Cloud 2 back in the day, hoping this is just as successful as it is imaginative.

    BTW, by “Familiar” battle system, you mean like Pokemon, right? XD

  • Pre-ordered on Amazon since I first heard that Studio Ghibli was working on a video game. As long as it’s great, I won’t mind the wait.

  • Is the music in this trailer by the great Joe Hisaishi (who scored many of Miyazaki’s and Kitano Takeshi’s films)?
    It certainly sounds a lot like his Ghibli work.

    Also: Absolutely cannot wait to play this wonderful looking game!

  • I would trade all 2012 game releases for this game right now. It’s taking up all five slots on my top five most anticipated games.
    So glad they’re keeping the Japanese voices as an option too. I love when companies do that.

  • This is my most anticipated game right now, and I would say it’s my most anticipated game ever, but that honor belongs to Rayman Origins and will for some time.

    But seriously, I can’t wait to play this game with my son and daughter who will be 4 and 2 next year. They love Studio Ghibli movies (The childrens movies) so I’m sure they will enjoy this.

  • Getting this when it releases. I hope to see Sony team up with Level-5 in the future and create another game like Dark Cloud 2.

  • Namco, thanks for localizing Tales of Graces F and (eventually) this game. How you please hear the cries of .hack fans and find some way of bringing over .hack//Link and the upcoming .hack//The Movie+Versus hybrid game? The .hack series is soon to be at its final end, so please give us fans, who’ve been following the series for the past 10 years, some closure. :)

    “From the videos I’ve seen, this game has turn-based menu-driven combat. THIS is the game that us RPG fans have been asking for since the launch of the PS3. Not MMO clones or action oriented combat.”

    This. This. 100% THIS! The Atelier games are turn-based and all that but the game progression is really odd (not in a bad way). This game is on my radar because it looks like we’ll finally be getting a really traditional RPG experience out of it! :o

  • Beautiful game, i want it!

  • I’ve been looking forward to this game since it was first announced for Japan. Can’t wait.

  • Cool… bring on the rpgs!!!!!!!

  • I’ve been waiting for this game for a long time. Good to know it’s still coming. Thanks Namco.

  • Andy Burt, I am wondering if it has subtitle toggle on and off? I require subtitle in games or otherwise I won’t be able to enjoy the story. I will be happy to buy this game if it has subtitle ready.

  • Why so long this game was first announced for localization in october 2011 and we get the game earlier 2013 if it isn’t delayed again…

  • Ni no kuni, what a wonderful game! thanks to all the people making this possible! :)

  • Please stop posting about this.

    The wait is killing me. A delay followed by a new trailer and this……the madness.

    If you guys ever do Dark Cloud again, well when you do Dark Cloud again. Please make the graphics like this. I love the visuals you got going on. I was afraid only Naruto and other anime would make use the cartoon to life graphics. Very refreshing in this age.

  • @Monterossa

    Yes, there is a playable female character, Maru (who knows how they will translate her name officially), though like Oliver, she is around 12.


    It is very much like pokemon, you tame wild creatures, raise their stats by feeding them sweets, and then evolve them into stronger forms.


    The DS version is turn based, the PS3 version is NOT turn based. It is a real time battle system, and uses a menu to select commands. Which can get very annoying as you are trying to run around a boss and make selections at the same time.

    That said, I love this game, and have been playing it for about 3 months now.

  • Like most everyone else said, I want this game, BAD. Was so sad to see it slip, and I really hope the do a collectors edition, I will gladly pony up PLENTY of extra money for some extras.

  • would really like to see more rpg games come to the US from Japan, they have lots that have never come here and there are quite a few I really want to play but *sighs* I wouldn’t be able to understand them and in that aspect I wouldn’t know what to do or do the games justice. Please can we have more of the rpg games brought over. I am trying to wait patiently for this game but it seems like its so far away for release. guess will just have to wait for the new game I want in may for now. Can’t wait to see Totori and her apprentice let alone that totori’s teacher becomes a little girl.

  • I’m so looking forward to this game. To bad it’s been pushed back but I’m sure they’ll use the time well. I don’t mind waiting longer for a game of this quality. I hope it will have an option for the original Japanese dialogue with an English subtitles.

  • WOW, why have I never heard of this? the striking graphics alone make me wanna get this game. Looks great!

  • Waiting forever, i want this game, but if there are other great game in early 2013, i highly doubt i’ll be getting this…well maybe months after it drops. I seriously don’t know how translating languages can take over a year but whatever. I’m pretty sure it’ll be delayed again anyway.

    Also, i know Level-5 is high;y regarded as a great developer, but people must just be talking about their PS2 games because White Knight sucked, it was as average as ever and it still looked like PS2 game after it’s long long wait to be released. High point of the game was it’s battle system, only because it reminded me of FFXII’s

  • So excited about this! And I want badly a Collector’s edition!

    Oh yeah, just read an interview (Andriasang)with Level 5’s CEO, Akihiro Hino, and he said he’d like to continue with the series if Ni no Kuni is successful overseas.

    Well, I’m counting on you, guys!
    Buy this game, talk about it with your friends, gift your loved ones with it. Let’s make this happen! \o/

  • I NEVER buy JRPGs but this just look to good to be missed and the trailer have really gotten me hyped for it!!.

  • Been on board and waiting for this game the moment it was announced last year. I don’t care how long I have to wait so long as i get it. I do have a question though: Will there be a translated physical version of the Magic Master Book that was made available in Japan? I bought a Japanese DS copy of Ni No Kuni while taking a wonderful trip to Japan in March, and I would be willing to pay $20-30 for a translated version of that master piece of a book. It would even make for a good preorder bonus for the game as a thank you to fans who have been waiting so long for the game’s release. Really glad that both the Japanese and English dub will be available (I’ve gotten used to the Japanese voice actors from playing the Japanese game), and you can bet I’ll be buying the translated version of Ni No Kuni day one!

  • Awesome. Looking forward to this, unfortunately 2013 only!

  • It’s only Q! 2013. I’m sure that this will be released before Final Fantasy Versus Xiii even if it gets delayed to Q1 2014.

  • This looks sooooo awesome!!! A lot of games end up ignoring the storytelling aspect for the most part, and this seems like it will definitely be anything but that!

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