Warning: This post contains spoilers from Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.
Before everyone starts defecating themselves in their rabid, knee-jerk attempt to prove me wrong, I would like to clarify that I liked Ni no Kuni. It was a pretty solid and unique JRPG, but that didn’t stop it from being ‘roll-your-eyes-out-of-your-skull’ lame and this is why:
1Every enemy in the entire game
There are tickle-me-Elmos out there that are more threatening than the enemies in Ni no Kuni – bosses included. I understand better than most that Ni no Kuni was primarily about innocence before anything else, however, I find it hard to truly appreciate battle when one of my opponents looks like the love-child of a duck and a trumpet. Adorable? Unquestionably. A worthy foe? Hell no.
Before the point is raised that Ni no Kuni is a kids game and so on and so forth, I want you Gen Y and Xers (and Boomers, if someone has taught you how to use the interwebs) to think back to the kind of thing that used to frighten you when televisions were still boxes. Remember Disney’s take on the headless horseman? To this day, the whole chase scene takes me back to a dark, primal place in my human conscious that only knows fear and the struggle to escape.
The worst thing I can say about the poorly thought out monster design in Ni No Kuni is that it’s on par with the most recent generation of Pokemon.
2All villains were redeemed
I once watched an episode of Dr. Who where the only way to defeat the ‘Cyber Men’ (not gangs of male youths looking to have online sex, as the name suggests) was to say ‘you used to be a person and now you’re a robot.’ This would inevitably cause some kind of existential malfunctioning crisis within the Cyber Men where they would blow up, causing me to exhale loudly at how profoundly lame it was.
Ni No Kuni commits this same sin, making sure that no matter how badly anyone treated Oliver, what their intentions were, what role they played, or what evil they caused, they were redeemed in a way that was borderline Christian (read: creepy and without real consequence). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need a Snidely Whiplash rubbing his moustache and cursing till the bitter end, but I do need some kind of depth and sense of moral responsibility. Maybe some residual resentment of the person who had only just been trying to kill you forty-five seconds ago.
Without this, Oliver was merely a handyman called out to defeat and forgive anyone intent on killing him.
3Nobody acknowledged how disturbing Oliver’s quest was
I hit on this in my review of the game, but I’d really like to hammer down exactly what I mean by this. The rules of the games universe goes as follows:
- Individuals have soul mates in their alternate universes
- Whatever affects one is likely (and due to all instances in the game, inevitably) going to affect the other
- Necromancy is not advisable
Yet, Drippy and every starry-eyed brain-dead cohort in Ni no Kuni is super excited to help Oliver find his mother’s soul mate in order to ‘bring her back’. How do you explain that back in Motorville, i.e. the real world, that the corpse of the woman you’re attending to is just going to spring back into life?
“This isn’t lame, this is just you nit-picking!” Take if for granted that one of my hobbies is nit-picking, and that when I actually did have nits I had the best month of my life. Unfortunately in this case it is lame, because it directly subscribes to indulging infantile fantasy without bringing down the judgemental boot of reality. It’s breaking its own rules for the sake of feeling good, and you know what? That’s a cop-out, essentially fabricating circumstance in order to control emotional reactions rather than letting them occur naturally.
And quite frankly I am opposed to it.
4Oliver didn’t suffer
Yeah, I guess I am a bastard for wanting to see a child suffer, but seriously, did anyone ever doubt for a second that Oliver would be fine by the end of the game? Besides the loss of his mother in the first ten minutes of the game, did he truly lose anything? Not really. Sure, he couldn’t get back his mother like he wanted (because Australia says ‘NO’ to necromancy), but other than that he had a series of chores to do in order to feel better about himself.
This is all great for Oliver, but it’s not so great for me, the person trying to empathise with the kid who has every doe-eyed, fawning, faux-matriarchal figure in the game cheering him on. A stupid amount of the characters declare that they ‘just know’ that Oliver will be able to achieve his goals, to which I say, ‘why should I give a crap then?’
Without suffering, all you’re left with is the mental masturbation commonly associated with the ‘feel-good’ genre, a genre whose core is lamer than a horse with four broken legs and a fractured face.
To reiterate on this point, I liked Ni no Kuni, I really did. For me, however, lame is like tomato sauce on a burger – when applied in the right proportions, it improves the entire experience tenfold. But if it’s slathered on with reckless abandon, then you might as well deep-throat some sugar.
Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below!