This is the Japanese RPG you've all been waiting for. At Namco Bandai's Global Gamers Day, we were treated to a preview of Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is about a young boy named Oliver. His mother dies and he embarks on a journey to bring his dead mother back from the parallel world of Ni no Kuni. He is accompanied by his toy that he cried on and brought to life — at least, that's my understanding of it.
Not being the biggest JRPG guy around, I didn't know much about Ni no Kuni going into the presentation. However, after watching how the game plays, how the combat works, and how charming the anime visuals are, I'm quickly becoming a fan.
Akihiro Hino, CEO and President of developer Level-5, spoke about the game, which features animation from Studio Ghibli. Let me rephrase that; the game bleeds Studio Ghibli. I wasn't able to get any hands-on time with the game, but from watching the presentation, talking in the Q&A, and watching other people play, this isn't your typical JRPG. It is an RPG with action elements. During the battles, you issue directives and commands while you move around the field, acting as a general. There's a lot of strategy involved, and fans of JRPGs are sure to feel right at home while experiencing something unique.
If you're worried about the voice-overs, the game will be fully localized. The game includes Welsh and British accents which is a nice touch, but if you're a purist, you can use the original Japanese voice acting with English subtitles. Akihiro Hino wanted to stress the authenticity and tone of the non-Japanese voice work.
For fans of the DS version however, there are no plans to bring it over to the US, which means fans who wanted to get their hands on the physical copy of the magic book will be disappointed.
Other details dropped were about DLC. Hino said that, free or paid, all of the DLC will be eventually coming to the North American version. They are also planning additional enhancements to the game, and it will be more than they provided in the Japanese version. One of those probable enhancements will be additional creatures. Other announcements about the enhancements are soon to come, most likely at E3, so keep a lookout.
For fans of Level-5, Hino did say that they have a good relationship with Namco Bandai, so other collaborations are possible between Namco Bandai and Level-5 for other IP's, but no plans are in the works at this time.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is slated for a Q1 2013 release date for North America on PlayStation 3.