Ni No Kuni MCM Expo Presentation

Ni No Kuni is a Japanese role playing game (JRPG) from game developers Level 5 and critically aclaimed Anime creators Studio Ghibli. The game’s title translates as “a second world.” It is the first Studio Ghibli video game and was shown off in English this past weekend at the MCM Expo in London.

During a presentation, guests were shown an English trailer for the game in which we learn that the story is about a thirteen year old boy called Oliver, whose mother dies suddenly after saving him from drowning. His tears over his mother’s death bring a doll she made him to life, revealing him to be a magical creature named Drippy.

Using a magic book given to him by Drippy, Oliver travels to the world of Ni No Kuni, a world that runs parallel to his own, in the hopes of being able to bring his mother back to life.

We were then treated to two ten minute sections of the game being shown. The first initially focused on battle, before showing off some NPC interactions in a town setting. The first thing to note is how beautiful the game looks in motion. The art design is 100% classic Studio Ghibli style, with its beautifully diverse colour palette and simple yet creative character designs.

The battle system allows you to have up to three party members, each of whom can summon up to two creatures called Cooties. You can switch between which party members you want to directly control and whether you want to fight as them or one of their Cooties at any time in battle, allowing for a huge amount of diversity in play styles. This decision was apparently made so that players could make the combat system as simple or as complex and deep as they like.

Once we got into the town type area, we got our first taste of the voice acting and a good chance to see some of the visual effects at a slightly slower pace. The voice acting looks like it will be fantastic. With regional British voice actors and using children to voice the younger characters, the voices will feel very natural and authentic to most of the people who attend the MCM Expo in London. The localised script is also very clever, but I will explain that shortly when we cover the second gameplay section.

When you slow down in the towns and villages the quality of the lighting and shading effects at play becomes much more apparent. It’s sometimes the simple things that make a big difference, but things like the way that Oliver‘s cape moves as he walks or runs, and the way that the shadows on his cape flow show just how much of a labour of love this game is for those that worked on it.

We were told that the entire Studio Ghibli team were transferred to the title. Everyone from the top producers to the animation team worked on the game, and it really shows.

The second section of the game shown was set in the town of Hamlet, which is inhabited by humanoid pigs in helmets which cover most of their heads. This section showed off both a boss battle and a good few minutes of the game’s Anime cut scenes. The cutscenes look beautiful. They are as crisp and beautifully crafted as anything Ghibli has ever done and definitely lives up to their usual pedigree.

This second section we were shown also demonstrated the fantastic localisation job the team is doing with the Japanese text. Not only did the dialogue come off naturally, but it was full of both English play on words and references to other Ghibli properties. In the short section of this pig populated city we saw the town being called HAMlet, soldiers refered to as BOARriors and a mechanical pig boss called PORCO gROSSO (a reference both to pigs, and the classic Ghibli film) with a powerful attack called the GAMMON cannon. You can see that the localisation team has clearly taken the time to not just do a straight translation, but to really put the effort into making the writing as clever as possible.

As the presentation drew to a close they confirmed that the title, which is a PS3 exclusive, is due to come to Europe in 2013.

What do you think of Ni No Kuni? Are you excited to play the game? Will you be playing in Japanese or English? Are you a fan of Studio Ghibli films? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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