I was able to finish Ni No Kuni yesterday. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the game is a more modern take on the traditional JRPG. I can honestly say I haven’t had that much fun playing one since Final Fantasy X in 2001. I played FFX from start to finish at least 20 times since I bought it and I think Ni No Kuni is going to be in that list for a long time too.
There are 2 items that defined a JRPG – the leveling aspect (or need to grind I guess) and the crazy stories. If you follow all the side quests in NNK, you’re still going to be under-leveled for the rest of the content. If you actively hunt to find more familiars (of which there are over 400) to fill out your party, then ya, you would have a better chance. Having 1-3 more levels makes a world of difference, where the stats of a character have a major impact. Or, you can hunt Tokos, who give piles of experience, are rare and run away as soon as you see them. The hardest of them all gave my team 2 levels per kill, even at level 70.
The story part of JRPGs is the stuff of legend. Final Fantasy usually sets the bar on linear for 75%, then the last 25% is over the top. FFX made sense until you fought Sin, for example. Well NNK isn’t a whole lot different. The boss you thought was the end was only 80% of the game. You get to fight the “god” of the world and that’s a heck of a fight. The final boss was a real challenge and when it was all over, you really feel like the book is complete.
For the other items that make the game, balance is great, tons of side quests, lots of charm, amazing music and a fairly open world after the first 20%. The art though, that’s the kicker. Amazing. This is a must play.