When I first started playing Ni No Kuni, I’m pretty sure I heard the song that Doug Funny hears every time he sees Patty Mayonnaise. I became enthralled. The music, the animation sequences, the otherworld story, the characters; all of it is up my alley. It didn’t take long for me to get addicted, but along the way, I found several issues with the game. Some are things I wish they’d expand upon, some are things I wish they’d cut. Any game, no matter how great will strike the wrong nerve from time to time. Like an addict, I take these strikes in stride as I continue enjoy the finer things in the game.
Almost a year ago now, the CEO of Level 5 stated that they would love to continue the series, and are basing it off of how Wrath of the White Witch does overseas. It’s sold over 500,000 copies so far and has received plenty of positive feedback. A sequel, prequel or spin-off isn’t out of the question. One question I have is, what can be done to make it better? Thinking this over, I came with a list of what could be done to improve at least my experience with any subsequent game Level 5 decides to cook up, and put them in order of least important to most important.
Needs A Bigger Casino Or More Places Like It
It’s a rather small thing to add in the grand scheme of the game, but I’ve been wanting to see a full-blown casino for years now. Black Jack and Slots are alright, but adding Craps, Roulette and Texas Hold’Em would be awesome. I can’t see it taking too long. It’s not as if they would have to create a whole new concept. Criss Cross and Platoon are fun and a little challenging (more so Criss Cross for me). If they were to create some more mini-games of their own, that would be even better. Maybe they could make something like Final Fantasy VII’s Gold Saucer; a hub for a plethora of great mini-games. Or maybe they could do something like Triple Triad from Final Fantasy VIII. It doesn’t have to be a card game, but something you could play with other characters at your leisure.
Improved Party Member Changing
This can be annoying when trying to change from one characters familiar to another’s. I only had to do this when another character has a familiar with abilities I need (certain element, poison, etc.) You have to change your party leader first, then you can pick one of their familiars. It becomes a two-step process when it really shouldn’t be. Changing your party leader should be something that the game reads automatically when you pick another character’s familiar. Now, this isn’t a huge problem. It only takes another couple of sections to switch over again, but it can, in some cases, give the opponent more time to throw in another attack or give you less time to defend yourself against a big attack. Again, this isn’t a huge problem, but an easily fixable problem that shouldn’t have been overlooked.
Not So Much Early Game Travelling
This really bothered me early on in the game. It’s something that I am used to from playing many RPGs. But, I feel gaming has evolved to a point where it doesn’t have to resort to forcing to go back and forth between towns to accomplish side-quests and further the story. There were quite a few times where I zoned out during the long, long trek from Ding Dong Dell to Al Mamoon. These are the first two towns of the game and they take the longest to travel between. Then, to find out I didn’t gather someone’s enthusiasm and have to go all the way back…sigh. There is some salvation for this. That would be the fact that it feels so great once you get the ship, then the Travel spell, then the dragon. Also, the Field music is easy on the ears.
Over-Explained Story and Gameplay Elements Need to Go
I know this game is supposed to be something that anyone of any age group could pick up and play with no problems, but is it really necessary to jam things down your throat? There are some points where Oliver sounds like he couldn’t tie his own shoe with how many times Drippy has to remind him (the player) of what’s going on in the story. I assume anyone playing this game can tie their shoes. I found myself skipping a lot of dialogue during these scenes. They could at least let you skip the tutorial stuff. Some of it is needed, but simple RPG features don’t need to be regurgitated to longtime players. There is also some unneeded dialogue sequences that pop up at random, where there will be a couple sentences exchanged between Oliver and Drippy essentially amounting to “keep going.”
Knowledge-Based Expanded Alchemy
Back to the positive with this one. I really liked the alchemy function. I just wish it gets expanded. There’s plenty of options already, but every weapon, armor and accessory should be able to be used somehow. Whether they are used to create new weapons or given upgrades, either would be fine by me. Upgrades would be something they could do wonders with. For example, you could take a primary weapon that you want your new weapon to inherit stats from and a secondary weapon used to inherit attributes from. My only issue with alchemy is having to refer to Wizard’s Companion constantly. The Wizard’s Companion is really neat and all, but it doesn’t exactly load instantly, and the interface leaves more to be desired. This could be remedied by adding anything you’ve already created to your formula list.
Use Items Similar to Tents, Cottages, etc.
It can get pretty rough out in the wild, and healing provisions don’t come cheap. At least not cheap enough where your party can eat away like some brokenhearted sap in need of restraint. You can resort to using Oliver’s Healing Touch in between some tougher battles, but you’ll find your MP slipping after a few battles. Speaking of MP, restoring that is even more of a pain, not to mention way more expensive ($2oo for 10 MP?! Thanks for letting me do one more low-end spell). You can heal your entire party by staying at an Inn or reaching a Save Point, but sometimes you need healing and you need it now. Especially, when you’re out in the middle of the sea of field. This could be fixed by adding a tent-like item or some sort of item that casts an anti-monster aura when you rest.
New Way to Get Familiars
This thought was inspired by my three hour journey to get a Tin-Man. I took out 92 of those big bastards before one of them gave me the gooey eyes. I honestly thought I was doing something wrong. Maybe I was and am too stupid to figure it out, but I rather blame them. Perhaps, they could add the ability to give monsters treats during battle. The catch could be that you have to give them what they’d like if they were your familiar. Maybe Esther could serenade them with another song that catches their attention and ups the chances of them joining you. I personally like the first idea better, but either would suffice. I just don’t want to spend two more hours trying to impress another monster.
Intelligent Artificial Intelligence
This is the big kahuna, the mother of all problems. If a games battle system is going to based of off AI, it should still give you a generous amount of control. It should at least have AI that can distinguish weaker enemies and attributes. For instance, if I’m fighting an aquatic enemy, I don’t want my party members blasting away with a bubble bath. If I’m fighting an enemy twenty levels below, my party members should know not to waste their MP on it when regular attacks will take it out almost instantly. As I mentioned before, MP ain’t easy to restore, so when I see that after one battle, Esther’s MP is down to 20%, I get a little ticked. In the next installment, it would be nice if Level 5 included some more customization for tactics, and give the ability to change tactics when you are battling as one of your familiars. The only feature I found useful when it comes to AI is the All-Out-Defense. Maybe they could make an All-Out-Use-Less-MP.
In spite of all these flaws, it is still an amazing game and a worthy addition to any RPG collector or casual gamer. If they produce a sequel and fix these issues, I would say it could turn out damn near perfect. I’m sure there are some other issues I haven’t thought of yet. If you’re interested in venting, please feel free. It’s a healthy process. I feel much better.