Here is the winning submission from our recent giveaway.

The 1990’s are fondly remembered for many reasons. There are those who loved the television shows of the 90’s, while others had a love for gangsta rap. I happen to fit into both camps, but more than anything I was a fan of the 90’s because some of the most stellar JRPGs that have ever been made were released in those years. Games like Final Fantasy VI, Xenogears, and Suikoden swept me away to worlds much more interesting and exciting than my own, and remain some of my favorite games.

This fondness for the glory days of JRPGs is a big reason why Ni no Kuni sparked my interest when it was announced. The colorful worlds and characters was something that grabbed me in particular. The fact that it was developed by both Level-5 and Studio Ghibli set my heart on playing it as soon as my wallet would allow it. My old age has made me a cynical man, but games like Ni no Kuni give me hope that there may still be a chance for JRPGs to return to the level of quality and acclaim they once held.

The turn of the new millennium marked a shift in the JRPG market. Developers seemed to start spending more development time on making their games look good and trying to reinvent tried-and-true JRPG mechanics instead of delivering the same kind of quality stories I so fondly remember from the JRPGs of the 90’s. Perhaps it’s partly for this reason that JRPGs have lost much of their popularity in recent years. I’ve certainly experienced a lack of interest in modern JRPG series, instead opting to boot-up a PS1 JRPG when the mood strikes. Still, it would be nice to experience quality gameplay in a modern JRPG with more current graphics.

It is my hope that Ni no Kuni can deliver on this desire. I feel like I’ve waited a lifetime to play a JRPG that sparked that kind of wonder and excitement that I felt in old-school JRPGs. Every preview I’ve seen of Ni no Kuni has elicited that feeling I’ve missed from my childhood. I’ve heard some reviewers say that it has a definite appeal to children rather than adults, and I get that impression as well, but for me great JRPGs are synonymous with my own childhood, so having a juvenile appearance and story only increases my interest in Ni no Kuni.

Something I really appreciate about Ni no Kuni is that it isn’t afraid to be unabashedly colorful and light-hearted among all the dark, serious games we see currently. Developers have started to focus on trying to make games as dramatic as movies, with blockbuster game series commonly having central themes of death, drug addiction, and gun violence. After so many years of such dramatic games, I could use a palate cleanser like Ni no Kuni to remind me why I started playing games in the first place: to have fun and be engrossed in another world unlike my own. I’m excited to see a game that isn’t afraid to use colors other than grey, black, and red.

Playing a game where the main characters consist of children and cute monsters would also be a welcome change for me. I am used to playing as a grown man in just about every game I’ve played in recent years, so the prospect of playing through an adventure as a child is something that excites me and brings a smile to my face. I crave something different after so many years of the same gameplay experiences. I yearn for the innocence I had as a young gamer, when I wasn’t so jaded about cliché story elements and gameplay mechanics. I want to shut my brain off for once and be able to enjoy a game that doesn’t attempt to blur the lines between game and action movie. Ni no Kuni seems like a game where I could do this, a game where I could just have fun playing it.

The pedigree of Ni no Kuni is fantastic. Level-5 has made a number of games I thoroughly enjoy, most notably Dragon Quest VIII. Studio Ghibli has made some of the most fantastic animated movies of all-time. For me, having them work together to make a game is something out of dreams. The final product of this partnership looks as beautiful as a Studio Ghibli film and as fun as I’ve come to expect from games made by Level-5. The gameplay videos make the game look like a playable Studio Ghibli film, which I am very eager to experience for myself. Films like Spirited Away have the ability to transport you to a fantastical world that you can get lost in. This is something I value in games as well. It’s my hope that the quality both companies bring to their products is evident in this collaboration and the reviews and videos I’ve seen give me the impression that this is the case.

It has been a good while since I’ve been so excited to play a JRPG. If I was a richer man, I’d have no doubt beaten Ni no Kuni already. Supporting a game like this would certainly be a positive thing. Unfortunately, I am currently forced to swallow my enthusiasm until I have a chance to try this game out for myself. I am definitely pleased to see that so many reviewers think favorably of the game and cite its use of traditional JRPG elements, since that’s what initially got me interested in the game. It’s nice that some developers realize you don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel to make a great game. I really hope that such a lighthearted game rooted in old-school mechanics can succeed in the modern games market.

Maybe then we can enter into a new age of great JRPGs. Maybe it’s a fantasy to wish for such a thing, but even glimmers of hope are enough to bring out the optimist in me.

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

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xenris
xenris
8 years ago

Congratulations man! I am about 35 hours into the game and I am loving every bit of it.

It keeps getting better and better and doing things games and RPGs in general just aren't doing anymore.

I recommend you do all the side quests as they are some of the most fun things in the game.

Enjoy 🙂

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

The side quests also toughen you up for the boss battles. If ya do em the complaint about grinding becomes irrelevant.

Bevel
Bevel
8 years ago

Not to mention if your the proper level enemies run from you, making the unavoidable constant fighting complaint 😉

Also they are just awesome. I love the ghost boys missions. They are fun, and some of the dungeons are nice too, they just require you to think a little differently. Definitely nice touches.

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
8 years ago

Congrats again… Very good read! My submission pales in comparison to be honest. I hope you enjoy it very much, it certainly sounds and looks like a fantastic title!

clockwyzebkny
clockwyzebkny
8 years ago

I totally agree. My submission pales in comparison too. You can tell Grant has a deep passion for jrpgs. It's sad to see it being so scarce when they were so popular a decade or two ago.
It's a very eloquently written article. Enjjoy the game Grant!

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
8 years ago

Yea I think thats the difference I havnt played many jrpg's, so its hard for me to express a passion for them. But its easy for me to understand why they are so good.

It is unfortunate there is a lack of them this gen, because when they release the fans really seem to enjoy them from WKC to Ni No Kuni.

Vitron
Vitron
8 years ago

Congrats man! No doubt you'll enjoy the game very much.

I've finished this game already at 44 hours. First time I played this game, I can't stop grinning. This is the jrpg I've been thirsting for after Valkyria. This just really plucks the right strings within you. The Lightheartedness of its story…

…..Am gonna play some more 🙂


Last edited by Vitron on 2/10/2013 11:15:01 PM

Hand_of_Sorrow
Hand_of_Sorrow
8 years ago

congrats!

i'd be playing this game right now, i've never been
able to get into the turn base battle system :/

Beamboom
Beamboom
8 years ago

Really well written. Nice read, Grant!

Hynad
Hynad
8 years ago

Congrats Grant!

A friend of mine was basically in the same situation as you were. Over the years, he started to lose interest in JRPGs because they changed so much and didn't offer what he used to enjoy so much back in the days.

But I talked to him about Ni No Kuni, and over the weeks, he started to get hyped about it. We watched a few videos showcasing the gameplay and feel of the game and he had the feeling the game would deliver what he used to enjoy so much in JRPGs.

Well, a few days after its launch, he got the game, and now he just can't stop playing. Once, we went to have coffee, downtown, and he told me, all smile, that he couldn't wait to get back home to continue playing!!!

He's addicted to the game. Which I think is a testament to how great it actually is!

So I do hope that the same will happen to you!

Again, congratulation for winning such a great prize!


Last edited by Hynad on 2/11/2013 8:14:37 AM

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

That was very well done, Grant. You sound like a true professional. How I miss the days when editorials were written with honesty and passion by grown adults instead of hipsters with fanbases of teenagers.

BikerSaint
BikerSaint
8 years ago

Congrats, good article!

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

Nice!

Ben, I'd really love to see more if these user recognition events as time goes on. I like the download code option as it wouldn't be restricted to the us.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
8 years ago

Well, we did a lot of the user review contests (and I'll do more when I have more to give away). Codes will probably be more common in the future, too, especially when it comes to handing out review copies to critics.

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

Yeah those were all good too. I don't have time to participate often, but I still like reading the best user reviews and editorials. Showcases the awesome community. I know you do them every chance you get, though. Mostly said it to let you know it's appreciated, just in case you ever wonder if people like it.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
8 years ago

The 90's were the best times all around.

Underdog15
Underdog15
8 years ago

For music, too. (minus the boy and girl bands)

tlpn99
tlpn99
8 years ago

Congrats Grant good article, well written 🙂

daus26
daus26
8 years ago

Well deserved! Good choice Ben.

tes37
tes37
8 years ago

Congratulations Grant.