Disclaimer: My opinion on this matter in no way impacted my review. It wasn't even mentioned in the analysis because in truth, it shouldn't – and doesn't – matter. This is a purely subjective editorial.

There's no doubt that the recently released Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a great game. That's obvious. I think a lot of critics and gamers are turning a blind eye to the clear drawbacks (a lame story, mediocre dialogue, and some questionable combat design choices among them), but that's simply because we've all been so desperate for a top-notch, traditional JRPG this generation. I get that. I really do. I played just about every JRPG there was to buy back in the PS1 days, and that actually didn't change much during the PS2 era (although I branched out and played other things).

But critics overestimating the game – which I do believe – is not the point. As far as I'm concerned, give the damn thing a 10 so maybe other developers will take a cue from Level-5 and Studio Ghibli. No, this concerns the art style in the game. Now, here's the deal- If you say that it looks "kiddie," it's like the worst insult in the world, and the entire hardcore gaming community will leap down your throat. They will defend that style to the death, saying it's charming and beautiful and unbelievably well designed. That's all 100% true, by the way. Still, I'm getting really sick of people acting all uppity and elitist if someone looks at something like Ni no Kuni and is turned off by the style.

Look, let's face it: We're playing as a 13-year-old boy who actually looks more like 10. Even the biggest baddest creatures in the game are still almost adorable. All the creatures you take with you into battle are somehow even cuter than the Pokemon creatures. The world is colorful and fantastical…in a way that would seem to appeal most to children. Some will argue that this is the way JRPGs used to be, but that's false . Sure, there were always teenagers, but they were in their late teens and in general, the worlds, enemies, and overall presentation was much older, much darker, much more mature. Final Fantasy , Suikoden , Wild ARMs , Legend of Legaia , Legend of Dragoon , Chrono Cross ; none of them are even close to having the same sort of obvious child-friendly attraction as Ni no Kuni .

And I'm just not all that enraptured by the thought of playing as this little boy who wields a stick and orders some cutesy animals around. I know that sounds insulting and I apologize for that, but it's the only way I can say it. It seems people would have me apologize for that standpoint, as if I'm somehow not secure enough in my age and masculinity to play something like this. Well, that's junk. A lot of my favorite movies of all time are animated, actually. But beyond that, just because a 35-year-old isn't all that interested in playing a game that looks like Ni no Kuni doesn't suddenly make him a casual gaming moron who only wants to play shooters. No, I'll still go back and play all the old JRPGs, absolutely none of which appear as "kiddie" as the game in question.

I'm sorry, but this is just something else I had to get off my chest. I don't need the hardcore looking down their noses at me as if I'm missing something. I'm not missing anything. I get it. And if I really loved the game, I'd probably play it. But I don't really love it and the child-like presentation isn't helping. That's all I can say.

Related Game(s): Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

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WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

Eh, it certainly isn't for everyone. You won't catch me watching a Pixar movie sans the family little ones and I have no interest in watching Harry Potter ride brooms about.

To me it comes down to imagination and an appreciation for the medium of anime. If you lack it, you will find more fault in these kinds of games than actually exist simply because you don't have the depth of experience to see what is there just as the uninitiated will look at a famous painting and say "My kid could have done that." It misses the point entirely.

But most of us who appreciated Mario and Zelda can still do so without maligning it for its presentation or lack of real growth, and those things still score damn well.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

But even Mario and Zelda aren't as kiddie as Ni no Kuni in my eyes. Mario is a cartoon but he's a grown man. Zelda is a princess, and not an 8-year-old one. Link is an elf, and maybe he's young, but I'm pretty sure he's not 13.

If you really think about it, we very rarely play as actual CHILDREN in video games, stretching back as far as gaming goes.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

Grandia and Justin.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

Still more in the way of slightly older content the whole way around.

Axe99
Axe99
8 years ago

I strongly disagree about Mario – Super Mario Galaxy felt like it was made for five year olds. The cues, the presentation – both the language and story and the broader visual and aural approach were very much tailored towards sub-10 year olds. It was still a quality platformer, but the presentation was all-kid, no two ways about it. Sure, we play as a grown up, but it's a child's caricature of one.

As for Zelda, I've only ever played a few hours of Wind Waker and the first ten or so hours of 'Ocarina of Time', but these were also very children's games (at least that far in) – indeed, in LoZ:OoT that time is spent playing as child Link. I'm not saying they're bad games – but they are well and truly games for kids that adults also appreciate, rather than games for adults.

That said, there's nothing wrong with having nostalgia for children's games played as a child, and this not carrying across to games pitched primarily at children that are not played as a child.

ethird1
ethird1
8 years ago

This "opinion" is what happens when you get tired and burnt out with RPGS and certain games. I did the same thing back when Final fantasy 10 part 2 came out. I said it was an effiminate game that only gay men and girls should play. You know, because of all the dress up the girlies gameplay it had.

But, apparently, it was a good game. Many people loved it.

Years later, after having raised children and booting them out into the real world, I realized I was just an old sourpuss who just didnt have the time to play rpgs any more, like I had before, and was more hardcore in my choices for rpgs, and games in general.

Now I have a little more time to play so I will play Ni no Kuni. Still wont play FF 10 part 2 though. Dont like girly stuff. What?

End of Line.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

Then play it for the best turn based ATB battle system to come out of the franchise ever.

Me? I love the girly stuff, slutty outfits as each skillset, making up and dressing the gals in Yakuza 4 to serve my whorehouse, ahem Hostess Club properly, and even the dainty goofy girly ladies of the Atelier series.

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

I don't know why people didn't like the dressphere change animations. I even did it in easy battles…. lol

And world is right. I've said it a number of times in the past too. FFX-2's battle system was outstanding.

sawao_yamanaka
sawao_yamanaka
8 years ago

I understand what you mean but the story would be way over some children's heads. Art style can be very subjective, I never once looked at cel shading and thought kiddie game because it really isn't. Killer 7, gungrave and other series have adapted the cel shaded look and I think they are fantastic. They age better to me as well, I think that's the reason why the Sly Collection looks fantastic because of it. Looks better than the jak collection.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

If that story is over any kid's head, they really need to crack a book or two.

sawao_yamanaka
sawao_yamanaka
8 years ago

Not all children are born reading Ben. They talk about death and such. That's all that will be said otherwise I could spoil story for people. Like all Pixar films, they are made for children but have humour only adults will adults will understand.

Beamboom
Beamboom
8 years ago

Don't underestimate what a children can understand, Sawao.

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

Kids pick up more than you know. My son is only 1 year and 3 months, but I'm regularly shocked at what he's picked up. Last week, I said, "Where's your ball?" And sure enough, he went to another room and brought back his ball… amazing. Kid can't even talk yet.

My mom says one of my first words was the F-bomb. lol!

Beamboom
Beamboom
8 years ago

My little girl turned one year last Wednesday, Underdog. 🙂
It is fantastic to follow her development. Amazing.


Last edited by Beamboom on 1/25/2013 10:27:26 AM

shadowscorpio
shadowscorpio
8 years ago

And that Ben, is absolutely fair. I am one of those whom is not turned off by this game but I would never accuse someone off being a "close minded" gamer for not digging this game . I have yet to meet someone who likes every genre or game ever created. To each their own.

Plus, lets just get real here. Ni No Kuni does have a "kiddish" presentation. Some don't care , others might be turned off by it.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

The problem lies in the fact that without that appreciation, all the interrelated connections to the rest of the game won't come off the same. Just as some can give an okay review for Gran Turismo but not have the proper appreciation for cars to grasp the intricacy and interrelationships taking place in the simulation.

shadowscorpio
shadowscorpio
8 years ago

World

I can see your point. When I first played Dragon Age Origins I thought it absolute trash. Returned it within the week. Hated the presentation and gameplay. A few years later, I picked the ultimate addition and just decided to let the game proof itself to me.

Played DA:Origins from beginning to end and absolutely loved it. The story was great . The gameplay and presentation began to make sense.

So yes, it is possible for one not to grasp unseen value/quality, what have you if they don't have a developed appreciation for said elements that make a game what it is.

Of course, one might say this describes you World when it comes to Demon's/Dark Souls. 😉

Geobaldi
Geobaldi
8 years ago

Unfortunately, it seems that most of the stuff that Studio Ghibli does is branded kiddie, Just because it's animated doesn't mean it is. That's like saying all anime is just cartoons, which a lot of people tend to do. But tons of anime have far greater stories, and are more mature, then most theatrical films. Art style shouldn't have any bearing on whether or not something is "kiddie". Disney is always referred to as kiddie as well. Family friendly and kiddie are not the same thing. People nowadays seem to hate on any game, or any other media for that matter, now just because they don't like the way the art style is presented. Cell shading comes to mind. Heck even Little Big Planet is referred to as a kiddie game because of the cute way it looks. It all makes no difference to me, as I look past all that and look at the gameplay itself and then judge it based on that.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

Uh…there are different kinds of animation. Studio Ghibli's stuff isn't kiddie because it's animated; it's kiddie because it essentially seems geared toward KIDS. While most anime OBVIOUSLY is not.

Bonampak
Bonampak
8 years ago

Ben, please watch SPIRITED AWAY.

I used to think like you did in regards to Studio Ghibli flicks. That was until I saw that animated film.

That movie is in no way kiddie, despite having a child as a protagonist. This movie is surreal as you can get in animation. And as deep as the 7 rings of hell. So much so, that most kids will not appreciate it until they age a bit.

Because that film speaks to those of us that forgot how to dream. And who forgot how it feels to have a sense of wonder in our daily lives. Its pure magic.

BTW, I saw Spirited Away with my 5 year old niece. That's how I ended up watching it. My niece got bored after the first 15 minutes but I saw the whole thing through. Best damn film I've seen in ages. And I don't even like anime. But this film was quite a trip. See it.

Clamedeus
Clamedeus
8 years ago

I loved Spirited Away! Great film. 😀

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

I don't know why people are thinking I dislike Studio Ghibli. I never said anything they did was kiddie and as a result, DUMB. I said it LOOKED kiddie. There's a very big difference, and I'm aware of that difference.

dmiitrie
dmiitrie
8 years ago

That's the way I feel too. Truth be told, aside from Princess Mononoke, I've never cared for Studio Ghibli's style. That, combined with an unappealing combat system, made this one a non-buy for me.

Abidan13
Abidan13
8 years ago

To appreciate a title and to like it are completely separate things. Understanding what a title brings to the industry is, to me, the most significant trait a gamer can possess. More often than not, we solidify in our minds the idea that if we do not enjoy a game, it must be bad. Why can't we just admire from a distance?

Games exist with their good points and bad; some of them will be concrete, like poor AI, or more abstract, such as the title appears kiddie. That's okay. A game doesn't need to be all things to all people. If it was, we wouldn't ever need a new game.

Just like with tv shows, movies, food, colours, no one should make you feel badly regarding your opinion of a game.I would never dream of anyone having to apologize about having an opinion. To think otherwise is simply foolish.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

agreed

Beamboom
Beamboom
8 years ago

Very good post, Abidan. I agree too.

shadowscorpio
shadowscorpio
8 years ago

Good to see more objectivity . No ones opinion is without merit. Its okay to disagree . Pretty sure we all don't agree on everything .

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

I will say "too kiddie" is an adequate but not exhaustive impression. In other words that should be an imppression gamers use to know if they should or should not be interested in it. Much as "too much pointless violence" sends some away. But it cannot have any place in the review. The danger of review-creep here is that to judge it only as a game (and not a game influenced heavily by some very important aspects of art and film and culture and the higher-art goal)is not an adequate analysis because there's a whole hunk of data missing, data that the fanbase for this game already possesses thankfully.

So we wind up with a game that is not too kiddie, but should be satisfied with that judgement by those who cannot appreciate it because, well, they simply are not in a place to appreciate it. No harm done, move onto what you do like.

Killa Tequilla
Killa Tequilla
8 years ago

So it's too kiddie for your tastes? I've been wanting this game so dearly because i use to play pokemon as a kid. I have been wanting a replacement. But saying it's kiddie impacts wether I buy it or not.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

What? Why? You played Pokemon and liked it, so this game is just for you, especially if you've been "wanting the game dearly."

LividFiction
LividFiction
8 years ago

Because "kiddie" is used as an insult, and has been for years. When people say "But when I say 'kiddie,' I don't mean it insultingly," it's kind of like trying to turn the phrase "That guy's such a douchebag" into a compliment.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

Ridiculous. Kiddie means it's for kids. Douchebag means he's a douchebag.

Terrible analogy.

Killa Tequilla
Killa Tequilla
8 years ago

Well, I don't want to look "kiddie" playing Ni No Kuni.

I'd look like a big baby?

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

Dude, you really shouldn't be worried about what you'd "look like" playing a game.

Killa Tequilla
Killa Tequilla
8 years ago

Yea, im going to go head' and buy it. It's a JRPG though, not the kind of games I play. If I don't like it, my 4yr old can play it.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
8 years ago

I'll tell you why I have been looking forward to Ni No Kuni for so long now, it is because it of it's lighthearted presentation – It looks FUN!

This gen, all the mainstream games have gone for a sense of realism and the majority of them are rated 15+ with intense violence. It is so refreshing to see a developer take a chance on a game which can appeal to a younger audience too, because it just doesn't happen enough nowadays. I have to say I am starting to get really sick of violence in games. I look at the majority of my titles and they're third/first person shooters. I look at my PS1 collection and the majority of them are platformers and JRPG's. I feel my PS3 collection doesn't identify my gaming interests fairly.

To criticize Ni No Kuni for it's friendly art direction is very shallow (And I know it's a mere observation and did not effect the review.) in context with the actual game it blends so so well. The closest we had to this before was Rouge Galaxy, though the difference there is that RG had realistic proportioned characters but it had the same cel-shaded style but just a different art direction, does that make it acceptable. Though if it is just the character models which are at fault then so must many older RPG's including Final Fantasy VII – Which had a clear difference which the character models in battle and out. This also reminds me of the initial reaction to Zelda: Wind Waker.

But if it is more than that and about following the story of a young boy then there might be some credibility to the argument. Many criticized Tidus in Final Fantasy X for being childish, I liked Tidus very much and it was nice to have a lead character who wasn't just a badass. I have yet to play Ni No Kuni beyond the demo so I know nothing of Oliver. So I don't know if he is really childish or not yet, but I am not going to dimiss the game beforehand because it is through the eyes of a young boy. Final Fantasy X-2 I did dismiss because they turned Yuna into a daft, childish slut and ruined the character for me completely. To enjoy a story you have to engage with characters – Like I am with Xenoblade right now, I love the cast and the characters motives keep me engaged in the story.

But Ni No Kuni just looks like a lot of fun. Something we are in desperate need of this generation. It is getting the point where I am even considering getting a Wii-U. because the PS3 line up is just to serious all of the time. I may be over 18, but that doesn't mean I want to kill everything in sight. I want an RPG with a strong sense of adventure and Ni No Kuni looks like it shall deliver on that front. I still have to wait a week for the UK release, but I am certainly counting the days 🙂

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

Three things:

1. Tidus wasn't 13, like Oliver.

2. Saying that Yuna was portrayed as a "daft, childish slut" in FFX-2 only means you never touched the game. Square Enix did NOT present her as any such thing. That's crap.

3. Saying that Rogue Galaxy is about as close as they've come to this kiddie style in JRPGs isn't quite accurate (I'd say DQVIII was closer), but it does prove my point that JRPGs were never this childish-looking in terms of characters, world, enemies, etc.

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

A slut can hardly describe a young woman in her early twenties holding out exclusively for the one love of her life alone despite the fact it may or may not ever happen.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
8 years ago

I mention Tidus because many claimed for him to be childish. As I said I have yet to play Ni No Kuni so I don't know much abut Oliver regarding the comparison.

I have however had the misfortune of playing Final Fantasy X-2 and it was just horrendous, they completely betrayed Yuna and how she was in X. She was completely out of character for no valid reason, it was like having a 2nd Rikku in the party. As I have said many times before, I do not mind having a Final Fantasy with 3 leading females, what bothers me is just how immature and irritating they were. Also the whole games story was just a massive diversion. It reverts back to finding Tidus for the end, but of course you're only privileged to see that if you use a strategy guide and get 100%

I disagree firmly on the third point ben, many 16-Bit RPG's look quite childish. even Final Fantasy's from that era. You could say it was due to the graphics of the time but compare it to Phantasy Star on the Megadrive (Genesis) it falls short of looking as realistic as possible back in the day. Mind you I still think in general it looked a lot better than Phantasy Star even if it did have proportionate character models.

But in anycase, say if Ni No Kuni is aimed at a young target audience, I fail to see the problem with that. So is Pokemon and that series is regarded very highly (Even if it does recycle the same adventure everytime…) As I mentioned before, the gaming industry has focused far to much on delivering games which are realistic and violent. I for one find it very refreshing to find a 'Triple A' title which is created to appeal to a wide age range and friendly tone.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

Saying Yuna was different in FFX-2 is one thing; saying she was a "daft, childish slut" is quite another, and completely incorrect.

And the only reason the games looked like that back in the day is because of the graphics. That's all. The characters in the stories were not meant to be children. None of them were. They just looked the way they look because of the sprite graphics.

And by the way, games in that era really WERE for kids, for the most part. Not sure why people are missing that.


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 1/25/2013 1:24:09 PM

mehrab2603
mehrab2603
8 years ago

Yes, the presentation is kiddy. But you know what, I love it and wish more games to adopted this kiddy/cell shaded/anime style. And I don't think kids are the primary targeted audience for this game. It is firstly for JRPG and anime lovers.

wolfsinner
wolfsinner
8 years ago

I understand where you're coming from. I don't mind people that dismiss the game because of its art style. What I dislike is people insulting adults that enjoy it (and that is the most frequent behavior).
I'm a big fan of Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki, so the art style is very endearing to me.

___________
___________
8 years ago

i really really like the artstyle, its actually what drawed me to the game in the first place!
theres a billion and one dark gritty realistic games out there, so its nice to see someone trying to do something just a little different.
both artistically and story wise.
i just wish the games combat was a proper RPG combat, not this turn base boring BS!
id love to see a game with this style, but with a proper in depth combat system!
instead of pressing x, y, and z than sit back and enjoy the movie.
am i playing a game, or watching a interactive movie?

berserk
berserk
8 years ago

I agree about everything you said except i still like it a lot .

I don t recruit my familiar based on their ability but on their look because i don t want to have " cute " ( rather use that word then a mean word to describe them ) familiars . Fighting monster who look like they want to hug you instead of killing you is hard enough to accept .

Thank god that at least most of the bosses actually look like a treat .

DIsmael85
DIsmael85
8 years ago

Wow, this game is being branded as Kiddie? I mean I understand that the game is designed to be played by a wide range of gamers, but in no way to I feel like I playing a childish game. The story is charming and sad at times. This is what I expect from a Studio Ghibli backed game. To be honest at least this story and game play are coherent as compared to DmC, which I tried out and was having a laugh fest over the Hunter Boss. Anyway, opinions aside, Ni no Kuni is a breathe of fresh air for JRPG fans. If you opt out you are missing on a gem.

duomaxwell007
duomaxwell007
8 years ago

I dont think the issue is whether or not its kiddie I think the issue is people turning a blind eye to it/refusing to lay it BECAUSE its kiddie and calling it "pedo game"… I mean Disney films are made for kids.. I know PLENTY of adults who watch them.. so why would a game be any different.. especially a studio Ghibli game which is pretty much the Japan equivalent of Disney

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

I don't think anyone is calling it a "pedo" game. And if so, that's a stretch.

duomaxwell007
duomaxwell007
8 years ago

not anyone on this site but LOTS of peolpe do… according to them any JRPGs that have little kids and main characters or teenagers that dont LOOK like teenagers.. i.e just about every JRPG that isnt Persona) and its played and liked by adults is because those adults are "pedophiles" ESPECIALLY games that put said characters in provocative situations (i.e neptunia or agarest war) etc etc. and this is not MY personal opinion Im just relaying what i see over the internet daily when the topic of JRPGs comes up.

CrusaderForever
CrusaderForever
8 years ago

I don't think it's kiddie. I think it's a gorgeous work of art, charming and extremely well done with high production values. I am in love with this game and cannot stop playing it. I guess that is all that matters.

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

I absolutely agree that the artstyle appeals to kids. Who wouldn't?

What I do think, however, is that the title can obviously appeal to adults as well. Take an animated movie like Shrek, for example. Clearly kid friendly, and indeed, kids LOVED it. But most adults, especially college and university aged people, loved it too.

Personally, I think it's quite an accomplishment to appeal to every age group.

I do agree that it's silly to pretend it isn't kid-friendly. But I'm not sure many at this site would go that far, anyways.