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First off,  I have to admit that Ni No Kuni flew in completely under my radar.  I really didn’t know or hear much about it until I saw a demo pop up on the PlayStation Store for it.  After playing that demo and talking to a few friends about the game,  I was instantly hooked.  I haven’t played an RPG in years and I wasn’t sure if my patience would last,  but I decided to give it a go and it was the best thing to happen to me since Final Fantasy VII.  Knowing this game would take up a lot of my gaming free time,  I was hoping it would be an adventure I wouldn’t soon forget.  Here is my story (or review) of the game that put me on an emotional roller coaster.

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Gameplay:

When starting up Ni No Kuni you are introduced to one of the most adorable and kind hearted characters in a video game I have seen in a long time.  His name is Oliver.  Oliver is one of the main characters that made this such a heart wrenching and touching story.  You are introduced to Phillip when you start your game,  Oliver’s friend,  who is building a race car (something Oliver and Phillip have been dreaming about for a while now).  The first night in the game after you meet Phillip was the night for its first test drive.  What ensues will either turn the toughest man into a wailing baby or you just have no soul!  Now I don’t want to ruin much more because I had it ruined myself,  but if you go into this not knowing much more than this you will thank me.

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Oliver begins his quest with Mr. Drippy in a world where everyone shares a soul with Oliver’s world.  You are sent on a quest to get a better wand and improve upon your wizardry abilities.  Your first quest is to visit a Kingdom called Ding Dong Dell and see if the great King Tom can help you.  As you journey forth and in order for you to get into the kingdom,  you must help someone who is broken hearted.  A “broken hearted” person is someone who cursed by the great Shadar;  one of the games main protagonists.  This is where a lot of charm comes into Ni No Kuni.  Throughout the game you will be helping townsfolk by finding different pieces of heart from people whom have too much courage,  belief,  love,  etc.  and giving it to the ones who don’t have enough and break their broken hearted curse.  There are many side quests like this along with running errands for towns folk.  When you finish an errand or task you will get merit stamps that you can trade in to get abilities that can help you in the world.  A few to mention are getting more experience points after battles,  or even helping charm familiars more easily.  Merit stamps are not something to shy away from in this game and you will want to work on these tasks.

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Combat is very interesting in Ni No Kuni and is something that keeps you on your toes to keep it fresh and fun.  You will gain familiars,  those are what the creatures you fight as are called,  throughout the game.  There are a lot of different types of familiars and you can evolve them into creatures that are more powerful as you progress through the game.  You can still fight as your main character if you want,  so Oliver can use his magic in a fight which becomes very helpful towards the end of the game.  I will also recommend right now to make sure you have the spell Astra as soon as you can get it,  it will make the last battle 10 times easier.  The creatures make the game fun and I kept my Mite named “Bert” throughout the whole game.  I just couldn’t give him up because he was so cute and I started to get an emotional attachment to him.  You can also see the enemies on screen and if you can sneak up on them you get a jump in battle which is always helpful!

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The characters are what bring this world to life;  Esther and Swaine keep you laughing or on your toes and their comments kept cracking me up.  I felt the story was very well written and I can’t believe how emotionally attached I got to the game.  All of the funny,  sweet and caring characters in it really made me “feel”.  You could almost even feel the life in this world and you want to jump into your T.V. just to join them!  The only thing I wish they did a little bit more of was voice acting.  I felt like they should have had a lot more of the dialogue voice acted instead of just text because where they cut the voice acting and went to text got kind of annoying and seemed lazy.

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Obviously the game is not perfect as with any RPG.  I had some issues with the rate in which your partners ripped through their MP and when I needed them to heal,  they were out of MP because they were too busy blasting enemies!  That got on my nerves a few times and I suffered useless deaths because of it.  You also couldn’t tell on your main screen where they were at with MP.  My other issue was the rate at which you could charm enemies on the battlefield after a battle (yes that is how you get new familiars) and you have to hope they become able to charm after a battle.  This could take over 30 battles to get a familiar you may want,  or it could be much fewer if you are the lucky type.  I for one am not one of those lucky people.

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As with most RPG’s,  I seem to have an issue that half way through I start to get tired and bored with the same old stuff.  This almost started happening with Ni No Kuni,  but I pressed on and I’m glad I never stopped and put it down.  A 40 hour completion time can take a while.  Yes that’s right boys and girls Ni No Kuni will be about a 40-45 hour game for you depending on how much you get into the side quests,  and if you stop to level a new familiar which I did quite a few times.  Obviously for full completion I can see someone spending double or even triple this time but for a simple completion to beat the game you will get your monies worth.

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Graphics:

The game is absolutely gorgeous!  The cartoon graphics and the few hand drawn cinematic sequences they had were unbelievable and I loved every second of it!  I wish there was more of it for me to drool over.  The areas in which you explore were like eye candy,  from the colorful villages to the dark and dreary castles,  it was all something great to look at!  There were a few areas where I stopped to just admire the detail and color they used to fill that particular area.  You will not get bored with areas being used over and over again because each place you explore is different,  along with different backdrops.  I didn’t notice any graphical errors or screen tearing and the game ran as smooth as silk.

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Sound/Audio:

All I can say is WOW!  The soundtrack in this game is amazing and I will be buying it once I have a few extra bucks!  I loved every part of the sound track and it just added more life to the world.  I did get annoyed with the same sayings by your teammates or Oliver after every battle making me wish they either said nothing at all or gave them a bit of variety.  That’s something easily overlooked because once you get out of battle you are worried about seeing how much EXP you received and any items you collected.  The music in the game is ear candy and I promise you,  you will love every second of it.

Multi-player:

Sorry no multiplayer in Ni No Kuni,  but I think it would be awesome if they added a battleground where you can fight your friends!

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Final Thoughts:

Well what more can I say? I loved Ni No Kuni!  I loved every second of my time with it and I wish it never ended.  I was almost sad and felt empty once I finished the game.  I can see myself playing through it again in the future just to re live the story and world.  I can’t recommend this game enough to anyone who loves RPG’s.  It was a very touching story that brought tears to my eyes and involved me in more ways than one.  It almost teaches a life lesson,  also showing you that being kind hearted has its rewards and being “broken hearted”  just hurts the ones around you.  At least that is what I took away from it.  If you were on the fence about this game I hope this review helped you,  and if you do buy it let me know what you thought of it in the comments below once you finish it yourself.

Score: An amazing 9.5/10

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Overview:

Publisher:  Namco Bandai
Developer:  Level-5 and Studio Ghibli
Release Date: January 22, 2013 (US)  February 2, 2013 (EU)
Price: $59.99 (US)  £59.99 (EU)
ESRB Rating:  E10+
PEGI:  12
Players:  1
Platforms:  PlayStation 3 Exclusive
Digital:  Yes