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File:NiNoKuni 6455.jpg

Ni No Kuni is an RPG developed by Level-5 Studios. After all the comments calling both the animation and art style of the Professor Layton games "Ghibliesque", Level-5 decided to one-up the peanut gallery by actually teaming up with Studio Ghibli on the game. While the gameplay is designed by Level-5, all the character designs, lushly animated cutscenes, and even the soundtrack (composed by the legendary Joe Hisaishi) are all pure Ghibli. Needless to say, this has made a lot of people very excited about it from the get-go. Its Nintendo DS version was released in Japan on December 2010, with the Play Station 3 version released in 2011 in Japan (plus a cell-phone prequel). The American and European release is in early 2013.

Oliver is a young boy living a tiny, picturesque, slightly European-looking town. He lives with his mother Allie. He and his best friend have been working on making the best racing kart ever--it's already looking pretty snazzy. To try it out, Oliver sneaks out in the middle of the night for a test drive--unfortunately, he plunges straight into the river. His mother leaps in to save him and pulls him to the shore. The physical exertion is sadly too much for her, and she swiftly dies of a heart attack.

The next morning, Oliver (not surprisingly) holes up in his room and begins to cry. His tears fall on a crude yet lovable doll his mother gave him, and set the spirit inside free! The spirit, named Shizuku, reveals to Oliver that he's from the "Another World"--a place closely linked to Oliver's town. There, an evil sorcerer has taken a sage named Alyssa hostage. Alyssa and Allie are linked, and if Alyssa is saved, then there's a chance Allie will be, too. Shizuku gives Oliver a magic book, and Oliver sets out into the world of Ni no Kuni in order to save his mother.

Oh, and did we mention? By giving Oliver a spellbook, we mean giving the player a spellbook. As in, an actual 392-page spellbook that comes with the game. Level-Ghibli aren't cutting any corners.

This game provides examples of:

  • Accidental Hero: Even before Oliver starts trying to be a hero, he ends up bringing Drippy back to life.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Tombstone Trail. It's filled with undead enemies. Though strangely enough not all of its residents are hostile to the player.
  • Boss Subtitles
  • Copy Protection: A rather old-school variation, via the included feely. To do certain things in the game, you need to refer to the book included with the game and see the corresponding page for the current situation. Without it, you can't proceed normally, and if you try to use Oliver's book, it says that you need to see the physical book instead. This is not the case in the remake.
  • Dark World: Ni no Kuni is one for Earth, or at least, Oliver's town. Affecting one will affect another--early demos describe an angry cat-king, who gets less grumpy when a similarly-patterned cat in town gets taken care of.
  • Exposition Fairy: Shizuku/Drippy. Understandable, of course, since he is Oliver's only speaking companion in the original Ni no Kuni.
  • Feelies: An epic version: The game comes with a 390-or-so page spellbook called The Magic Master, which contains in-game spells, Imagine stats, potions recipes, and lots more. Some people have naysayed Ni no Kuni's chances of an oversees release due to the difficulty of translating this book, but Level-5 is opening a North American branch (perfect for tackling a big localization) and Level-5 themselves have stated that they hope to bring this game (along with several of their other offerings) to foreign soil.
  • Final Boss Preview: Well, technically he's not the final boss. But Oliver's first encounter with Shadar gives the player a taste of the boss battle to come.
  • Ghibli Hills: What did you honestly expect?
  • Ill Girl: Mari, in her Real World form, is one of these. (In Ni no Kuni, she's the plucky sidekick lass.)
  • Kid Hero
  • Lethal Lava Land: Old Smoky. It has a variety of fire familiars.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans, Oh My!: Ni no Kuni, naturally. The standout is probably the cat king.
  • Meaningful Name: "Shizuku" is Japanese for "drop", as in the teardrop that brought him to life.
    • Not to mention his general shape is reminiscent of a teardrop.
  • Missing Mom: Ripped right out from under our noses! Ouch.
  • Mons: The Imagines.
  • No Export for You: The original DS version with the spellbook is only available in Japan with no announcements for localization in other countries, possibly due to the complex spellbook included with the game. On the bright side, the PlayStation 3 version is slated for North American and European release in 2013 with all the DLC from the Japanese version.
  • One Game for the Price of Two: According to the developers, the PlayStation 3 and DS versions will be different enough that playing both might be necessary to get the "whole" story. There's also a cell phone prequel.
  • Pet Interface: The Imagines can be taken care of in a special screen which allows you to feed, pet, and play with them.
  • Pig Man: There's a whole army of them.
  • Scenery Porn: This is the PS3 trailer. Note especially at around 0:45. There are two frames: the upper one shows the pre-rendered form, and the lower one shows the real time form. They are practically the same. In other words, you will be walking through a Ghibli movie. Not that the DS version is any slouch--the DS does cell-shading well, and it features the same sort of hand-painted look for its maps.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The South Summerlands. This is where Al Mamoon is located.
  • Swiss Army Tears: They bring Drippy the doll back to life.
  • Warmup Boss: The Guardian Of The Woods. He's rather slow and weak to Oliver's fireballs. He can hit Oliver with his Deadfall attack and stun him with his Bellow attack, but he's still easy. He IS stronger than the enemies in Deep Dark Wood though.
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