Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch PlayStation 3 Review

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch has been on my “to play” list for quite some time now and while this is an effective spoiler for the rest of the review, I’m annoyed at myself for leaving it for so long! Hailing from the masterful developers at Level-5; who have created a phenomenal collection of games over the last 16 years, including the legendary Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, White Knight Chronicles and the Professor Layton series. Then we have the added support of Studio Ghibli; the legendary animation studio behind many of our times greatest animated masterpieces, with too many to mention. Finally the mix is complete by the publisher Namco Bandai, who have long been at the front line when it comes to Eastern influenced games. Combined, the companies have a considerable war chest to create something magical, and Ni No Kuni is the end result of such a collaboration.

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a real mixture of influence, with the obvious J-RPG elements that each team involved can bring. With that, the game features a very unique range of settings and make-up that have as much in common with a western RPG as it does with a J-RPG.

Before we continue, I want to make sure that you know the following paragraph includes plot spoilers!

Set in the town of Motorville, young Oliver is your typical adventurous young boy, keen for excitement, but forever cautious of being caught by his mother while sneaking around town with his friend. A series of events lead up to a tragic loss for Oliver when events unfold and his mother passes away. It is at this point that the game really takes off, as Oliver is met by the King of the Fairies, also known as Drippy, who may in fact be the greatest sidekick in RPG history. With a thick Welsh accent that you really wouldn’t expect in a J-RPG style game, Drippy takes you on a journey to defeat Shadar, (effectively this games “Voldemort”) as you go out into the world to become a wizard, defeat Shadar and save your mother’s soul mate in the other world, which you hope will in turn save your mother’s life.

The games story is full of fantasy, mystery and a massive amount of fun. Despite the games story of despair and impending doom, the characters high spirits persevere and keep you smiling with their quick wit, jokes and puns aplenty throughout. The game focuses heavily on cooperation and friendship with the people you meet and it doesn’t take more than a few moments to feel like you’re playing around in a Ghibli universe. Characters are imaginative and unique. Young Oliver (your lead character) gets to explore a beautifully designed world full of towns, people, beasts and a whole lot more as you seek out the help you need to become a more powerful wizard, but always happy to help those in need as you quest to save your mother’s life.

It’s full of interesting twists on the typical boy saves the world formula that most RPG’s follow, especially since you’re able to freely open up a portal and travel between the human world of Motorville; a lovely American town full of happy citizens and people going about their business and the fantasy realm where you’ll find wizards, witches, and fairies with broad Welsh accents roaming around. It’s the travelling between worlds that is important, and the notion that everyone has their soul mate on the other side, and how one good deed, or wrongdoing can influence the lives of their soul mate.

The game is packed full of features that keep things fresh throughout the 60 hours or so story line,. You can play through like most any other RPG and blast through it to a certain extent, but as with most RPG’s you’ll struggle a fair bit unless you focus on side quests, which can earn you rewards, exploration and grinding a few battles, but most importantly capturing creatures to fight alongside you. It’s these “familiars” who do most of the fighting for you and think Pokemon/Final Fantasy summons to get a rough idea of how this works. Each familiar in your creature cage can be deployed in battle, be equipped with weapons and armour, level up, and even grow into new creatures and with hundred of them out there, you’ll find a lot of fun and time can be put into this.

There is a lot to love about this game, from the amount of emotions that the characters take your through, to the games gorgeous world and people who you’ll easily fall in love with. You can spend plenty of time just walking around the towns and enjoying the scenery and sounds, with Drippy providing an amusing backing track as you create your own path in this very interactive Ghibli movie/game. This is further enhanced by a “nothing short of stunning” orchestral soundtrack, but I wouldn’t have expected anything less from the team that developed the best Dragon Quest games (IMO).

This is one of the finest RPG’s to come out in a very long time and while it does have a few minor issues that stick out, they’re easily brushed over thanks to the most enjoyable characters and settings. The battle mechanics are great, offering a mixture of run-around combat like you would find in Zelda, with turn based commands of a more classic Final Fantasy title and a considerable amount of challenge to them to test seasoned RPG fans. Random encounters are a little too frequent at times, but you can see enemies in the world and avoid them some of the time.

Tutorials come thick and fast in Ni No Kuni, even 30 hours in your still being taught game mechanics and it can be hard to keep on track of them at times, but once all the major stuff is out-of-the-way, amazingly around the 12 hours mark,  the games pace really picks up, combat becomes more dynamic and you can really dive into the familiar capturing system that the game offers. Even once you’ve done with that you’ll find no end of imaginative side quests and monster hunts to keep you from heading for the end credits.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/WrCJQJcZ_bM[/youtube]

Pros

  • Stunning art design throughout
  • Ghibli Studios animated cut-scenes are beautiful
  • Voice overs are superb and full of spirit
  • Lots of great characters
  • Deep and involving battles system
  • Creature capture / levelling system
  • 60+ hours of gameplay and beyond for those willing to explore everything

Cons

  • Too many tutorials at times
  • Main battle mechanics don’t really take off until after around 10 hours of gameplay
  • More of those gorgeous cut-scenes would have been nice
  • Voice acting is a little more broken up with sub-titles only sections than I would have liked

“Easily one of my top ten RPG’s of all time and one I’m keen to revisit in the future if only to enjoy the magical characters and world that Ghibli and Level-5 have created. It may be a little complicated at time for newcomers to the genre, but the story alone will be enough to keep you playing through regardless.”

Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch PlayStation 3 Review

Dark Souls II Limited And Collectors Edition Get Early Access Black Armour Weapons Pack

Namco Bandai have announced this week that pre-ordres for both Dark Souls II Black Armour Edition and the Dark Souls II Collector’s Edition, will receive an exclusive voucher allowing players to unlock early use of weapons contained in the Black Armour Weapons Pack . These inventory items will help players as they begin their journey to the sequel of what many critics and gamers call one of the most challenging experiences in video game history. If you’ve played the first game in the series, you’ll be well aware than anything that can give you even a slight advantage is a very welcome bonus.

The Dark Souls II Collector’s Edition will feature a premium quality Warrior Knight figurine, an exclusive hardbound art-book filled with stunning images coming out of the talented artists’ minds at FromSoftware and a sizable full-colour fabric map of the Dark Souls II game world. This Pre-Order offer contains a metal case, the game disc and the official game soundtrack.

To reward fans who pre-order the Dark Souls II Black Armour Edition and Dark Souls II, FromSoftware has made 5 weapon packs available for early access at the beginning of the game. Discover the five set of items of the early access Weapons Pack:
Black Flamestone Dagger and Black Flamestone Parma – A dagger and shield encrusted in Black Flamestone both found in the Gutter at Black Gulch. Even though they are heavier than a normal dagger and shield, the Flamestone crystal’s unique properties make the dagger extremely sharp and give the shield high resistance to damage.

Yellow Quartz Long Sword and Yellow Quartz Shield – A straight sword and small shield hardened with yellow quartz both uncovered at the bottom of the Iron Keep. Even though these items can break easily due to their high level of corrosion, they are exceptionally light and their power to inflict damage has not declined.

Bound Hand Axe and Bound Wooden Shield – A brutal hand axe and shield found in the Undead Purgatory. Both items are wrapped in chains and thorns to cause additional bleeding on enemies. Both the axe and shield have diminished in overall slashing power but their ability to deliver pain has been deliberately increased.

Homunculus Mace and Homunculus Wooden Shield – A mace and shield with spherical protrusions found in Aldia’s Keep. Although heavier than normal maces and shields, the hard protrusions greatly increase the striking power of the mace as well as the shield’s defensive capabilities.

Transgressor’s Staff and Transgressor’s Leather Shield – A staff and leather shield entwined with an unknown and seemingly lackluster element; these items are found in the Dark Chasm of Old. They have become a catalyst for sorcery and hex and cause an effect known as Darkness.

The Black Armour Edition and its rewards are also included in the very exclusive Collector’s Edition! In order to guarantee one of these versions, customers will need to pre-order as they are limited!

“DARK SOULS II will offer hardcore fans and all gamers a new challenge to overcome. The word “challenge” will reach a whole new level with this new opus!” said Hiroaki Ochiai, Senior Vice President of IP Strategy at NAMCO BANDAI Games Europe. “With this Black Armour Weapons pack offering an early in-game access to five sets of weapons and shields, adventurers will most certainly welcome a little help to survive the dark world surrounding!”

Coming in Europe and Australasia on March 14, 2014 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, with the PC release following shortly afterwards.

Thank you Dark Souls II for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Dark Souls II.

Nightmare, Pyrrha & Astaroth To Be Playable In Free-To-Play Soul Calibur: Lost Swords

Namco Bandai has confirmed that fan favorite characters from their Soul series will be playable in the upcoming Soul Calibur: Lost Swords. The latest chapter in the hit Soul Calibur franchise will be a free-to-play single player experience and will feature numerous famous fighters including Siegfried, Mitsurugi and Sophitia. As Nightmare, Pyrrha and Astaroth will also be playable in the game, watch the new gameplay videos featuring these beloved characters!

Nightmare – is the main antagonist of the Soul series. He is the living incarnation of the cursed sword, Soul Edge, the objective of most other characters in the story. Under the sword’s control, he perpetually hunts souls in an attempt to satisfy its evil hunger. He possesses an intense power and performs tough and instantaneous attacks.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/85_6qz-zk74[/youtube]

Pyrrha – is a young nomadic girl who was abducted as a child by minions of Soul Edge. Though she dislikes fighting, she exhibits surprising strength and defense when the odds are against her. Unbeknownst to her, she holds the innate ability to be the next vessel for the evil sword. Her excellent skills with a shield provide her with standout defense and her counter-attack stance proves useful while dodging an opponent’s attacks.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/FpAuSz1KhQU[/youtube]

Astaroth – is a golem warrior created by the High Priest Kunpaetku of the cult Fygul Cestemus for the purpose of seizing the evil sword, Soul Edge. His existence comprises solely of instinctual destruction and slaughter. He is specialized in long-range attacks with his broad axe. He also possesses a tremendous ramming attack, as well as throws that maintain his superiority in battle.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/8rVBJG8dgVk[/youtube]

Soul Calibur: Lost Swords will be coming to Europe in 2014 exclusively on the PlayStation Network for PlayStation 3. I can’t wait to find out how this game plays given that it’s a fighting game franchise that has spawned a single player experience, it also remains to be seen what level of microtransactions the game implements.

Thank you Namco Bandai for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Namco Bandai.

Soul Calibur II HD Online Out Now On Xbox 360 And PlayStation 3

Namco Bandai have announced today that Soul Calibur II HD Online is now available as an Arcade game on the Xbox Live marketplace, as well as the PlayStation Network for PlayStation 3.

Developed by Project Soul, the elite development team at Namco Bandai Studios, Soul Calibur II HD Online reimagines the beloved title by adding online multiplayer support to the title as well as vibrant updated graphics to take advantage of modern high definition TVs. Heralded as one of the best fighting games of all-time and a genre reference, Soul Calibur II is back on consoles with crisp new high definition graphics and all-new online modes in celebration for its 10 year anniversary. Fans can now fight back with their legendary heroes, Spawn and Heihachi, for the first time ever playable on both platforms, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Soul Calibur II is easily one of the best in the series and to see it brought back to life again is a great thank you to the highly supportive Soul Calibur community.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/5vq7R8nTtz8[/youtube]

Soul Calibur is the ultimate weapons based fighter and has long since been my favourite since it started its life as Soul Edge in Arcades and on the PlayStation 1. Anyone else going to be downloading this today?

Thank you Namcobandai for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Namcobandai.

Gadget Show Create Worlds Largest Game Of Pac-Man

We all love playing on the big screen from time to time, but for Namco Bandai and Channel 5’s The Gadget Show, that simply isn’t enough. The shows team worked together with Namco Bandai to create the worlds largest even game of Pac-man by using projectors and the side of the Victoria Dock building in London.

Measuring a staggering 2,219 metres squared there is no doubt that this is some seriously huge gaming real estate and while we do not have video of the game being played, the show has leaked out a photo in advance of the TV premier on December 9th.

The stunt was performed as part of the shows 250th episode, but also as a promo for the upcoming Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures video game that is due for release in March next year.

One thing is for certain, this looks really cool and I bet it was a pretty awesome sight for any passers by on the day of filming.

Thank you Pocket Lint for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Pocket Lint.

Soul Calibur II HD Online Given November 20th Release Date

Namco Bandai Games today announced that Soul Calibur II HD Online will be available worldwide on November 20th 2013, as an Arcade game on Xbox Live and  on the PlayStation Network for PlayStation 3. The game will be available for download on both Xbox Live and PSN for the suggested price of €18.99 / XBL £13.49 / PSN £14.99.

Developed by Project Soul, this new release reimagines the beloved title by adding online multiplayer support to the title as well as vibrant updated graphics to take advantage of modern high definition TVs. Heralded as one of the best fighting games of all-time, Soul Calibur II returns to consoles this year in celebration for its 10 year anniversary. Fans will also be pleased as the two legendary heroes, Spawn and Heihachi, originally exclusive guest characters for each platform, will be for the first time ever playable on both platforms, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Watch as Mitsurugi takes on Maxi in the latest teaser of the games gameplay. Unfortunately it looks like it hasn’t compressed to YouTube too well but the full game should look a lot better.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/T12SunNoM0U[/youtube]

Soul Calibur II HD Online will be available for download on November 20th 2013 on Xbox Live and via the PlayStation Network.

Thank you Namco Bandai for providing us with this information.

PlayStation 3 To Get Another Free-To-Play Game With “Soul Calibur – Lost Swords”

The free-to-play genre has been growing like wild fire in recent years, the principle of give a lot and ask for a little is one that has proven massively profitable and successful for developers and publishers, at least when they get the balance right.

The who game will be a free to play single player experience, featuring many famous fighters from the series including Siegfriend and Mitsurugi. While much else isn’t known yet, we will have more information in coming weeks and days, as this was just the initial announcement.

The Soul Calibur series has long been my favourite fighting game, its mixture of technical skill and weapons, not to mention high end graphics, have always appealed to me and it will be interesting to see just how much of that original magic can be maintained in a free edition of the game, or just how “free” the game really is. As any League of Legends player will tell you, free games can quickly become an expensive habit.

PlayStation is no stranger to free-to-play titles and it seems not a month goes by without a new one being announced, lets just hope that Soul Calibur comes out better than the free to play Tekken, which required heavy investment just to stay competitive. Personally I’m a little concerned about the single player aspect, surely all fighting games should have a local 2 player option?

Do you think this game will be a success or do you play on giving it a miss, free or not?

Thank you Namco Bandai for providing us with this information.

“Storm” Available Now On Xbox Live & PlayStation Network

It is with zen-like happiness that indiePub Entertainment and Namco Bandai Games Europe announces the official release of Storm for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. Take a deep breath and prepare for a tranquil journey through the seasons with Storm, an ambient, ethereal experience where you use natural phenomena to guide a simple seed to fertile soil so it can take root and spring to life.

The game has already received rave reviews from the gaming community and offers a mix of gaming hits such as Braid and Flower, if that’s not enough to temp your indie loving mind then nothing is!

In Storm you use the subtleties and strengths of nature to move a broken branch, fill a small pond or make snow fall to solve puzzles and create natural paths. Take your time and explore nature’s nooks or simply enjoy the ambiance as you float, blow and bounce a seed to the perfect place to take root. Relax and enjoy Adventure, Challenge or Spirit modes, each set in gorgeous environments and enhanced by soothing, nature-inspired soundscapes.

Storm will be available for Xbox Live on June 14, 2014 (worldwide) and for PlayStation Network on June 18, 2013 (US) for 80 MP/$9.99/€9.99. Storm is also available for PC (Windows) through the Storm web site at  for $9.99.

Thankyou IndiePub for providing us with this information