With towns, forests, castles and dungeons to visit, stuff to acquire (in your bottomless bag), clothes to upgrade, environmental puzzles to conquer, spells to perfect and kings to rescue, it’s an all-encompassing challenge, requiring a serious time commitment.
Specifically, tasks can involve collecting gold gilders to buy items, taking on a variety of side missions, and bounty hunts to eliminate specific monsters, collecting stamps on merit cards to retrieve awards, staying overnight at an the chain of Cat’s Cradle Inns for a needed rest, conversing with spirits, concocting spells with a cauldron by finding the right combination of items and munching on a loaf of bread to restore health.
In one mission, to get into the Cat King’s town Ding Dong Dell, I had to borrow enthusiasm from another guard by casting the Take Heart spell and liberating some of the consenting subject’s essence. Then, use a locket and the Give Heart spell to restore balance to a broken-hearted guard.
The game is big on compassion and helping further referenced by such spells as the Healing Touch, used to heal wounds with, as described in the game, “a warm touch of kindness.”
Additionally, a player will gleefully enjoy the reading required from not just the onscreen character dialogue but also a fully illustrated virtual reference manual loaded with timeless wisdom called the Wizard’s Companion.
The massive tome, more than 300 pages, presents hours of details tied to all parts of the universe with easy navigation, bunches of classic illustrations, a creature compendium, stories and enough multisyllabic words to get parents involved in the fun.
Topping off the traditional cartoon visuals and exceptionally fun interactive package is a musical score by Joe Hisaishi fueled by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra that not only greatly adds to the action but also rivals any fantasy movie soundtrack I’ve heard.
Of course, the payoff is a family-friendly game with a lead character any youngster can relate to, one that learns to conquer fear, minds his manners and works on becoming the best boy wizard possible.
Parents won’t mind that he’s also on a chronic mission to do good in the parallel universes, a refreshing change of pace from some of the much less noble video games available.
It’s hard not to imagine that any 10-year-old would not immediately fall in love Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. An epic that liberally plucks the heart strings as it taps into some of the best elements from “The Wizard of Oz,” “Alice in Wonderland” and a pinch of “Harry Potter.”
It’s an imaginative role-playing journey worth investing in and one of the best games available for the PlayStation 3 in a long time.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in communications, Joseph Szadkowski has written about popular culture for The Washington Times for the past 17 years. He covers video games, comic books, new media and technology.
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