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