Today, I’m starting a new series of posts where I take a look at games that are similar to the Pokemon series of games. I’ll be taking a look at the monster collecting, battling and what these games bring to the monster catching/battling genre. Kicking off the series, we are taking a look at Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.
What’s It About?
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a fantasy JRPG that was developed by Level-5. It follows a young boy, Oliver, as he embarks on a journey in a magical world in order to save it and his mother. Along the way, he meets new friends and is guided by Mr. Drippy, Lord High Lord of the Fairies. During his adventure, Oliver must help the people who have been tormented by evil, by restoring their hearts and defeating the monsters that roam the land. Already, we can see some similarities with the Pokemon games, a young child embarking on a journey in a some what dangerous world. I will say Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch does put more emphasis on its story and characters, which does make the journey aspect have more impact. Oliver also has a more traditional hero role, as he is journeying to help others and not just to achieve his own goals.
In Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, the monsters that you tame are known as familiars. There are over three hundred familiars to try and collect- like with Pokemon, these familiars vary in appearnace and can only be found in certain locations or being evolved from another familiar. Yes, like with Pokemon, familiars once they reach a certain level, can evolve into a new form. Where Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch differs from the Pokemon games is that each basic familiar has two stages of evolution and once it evolves, its level goes back to level one. This does give the evolutionary process more weight; as you must decide whether or not to evolve your familiar who would in the short term be weaker but long term become much stronger. Furthermore, you can’t just simply level up your familiar and it immediately evolves. First, you must raise it the right level and then feed it a particular item. With the familiar’s final evolutionary stage, you will also get a choice of what form that familiar will evolve into.
In order to acquire new familiars, you must encounter them in battle. Occassionally, when you defeat them, you will be given the option to serenade them. If you do this, the familiar will join you on your adventure. Now, this sounds great in principal but in reality this is one of the most frustrating parts of the game. You have no control over when the option to serenade a familiar will appear. This means you could spend a long time battling a particular familiar in the hopes you will eventually get the option to serenade it; Its a shame, as this is a rather unique concept that unfortunately didn’t work as well in the game.
Like with later Pokemon games, there is an emphasis on bonding with your familiars. Over the course of the game, you will pick up various food items; by feeding these items to your familiar, you will increase one of their stats: attack, defense, magic attack, magic defense, accuracy or evasion. If you feed your familiar familiar with their favourite type of food, it will also give them a better stat boost. This whole mechanic actually helps you build your ideal team of familiars that you want to take into battle.
The world of Ni No Kuni is filled with wild creatures and ferocious monsters that want nothing more than to snack on your party of heroes. Fortunately, with your familairs by your side, you can fend them off. The battles in the game a re rather unusual, as not only can you call your familairs into battle but you can also use your human heroes as well. This is rather important as your familairs can only be summoned for as long as their stamina allows. Once their stamina is gone you must either switch to another familiar or use Oliver and friends, until you familiar recovers their stamina. This means you can’t just simply have one big strong familiar and use that but rather ensure your whole party is capable of taking part in any fight.
So, how do familairs fight? Well, they have their standard attack and defned, as well as a number of special moves. These moves range from attacks to support moves. Each familair has a number of moves they can remember, which is based off of their level and the familiarity level you have developed by feeding them. As the familiar levels up they will learn new moves and you can also teach them new moves by feeding them special gems. What I like about this system is that the familiars do not forget a move when they have exceeded the number of move slots, instead you can select the moves they can use from the party menu. This allows you to play around with your party and see what strategies work well for you. Overall, I find that the battles in NI No Kuni are a little more action packed and require the player to focus more on what is going on.
What Does Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Bring To The Genre?
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch‘s focus on story and characters demonstartes that you can have the monster catching and battling mechanics, without sacrifiing a good story. The battling system proves that these games do not have to be restricted to the turn based system that the Pokemon games use and, at least for me, I do prefer Nin No Kuni‘s system as I felt more engaged with its battles compared to the ones in a Pokemongames. The one thing I do dislike is the lack of control when trying to catch the familiars- with the Pokemon games as long as you have reduced the Pokemon’s HP enough, you know you have a fair chance of catching it, whereas with Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White, it based on almost entirely luck. I spent many hours trying to complete the side missions, where you have to catch certain familiars, all because the familiar would not allow me to serenade it.
Despite this, I think Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a fantastic addition to the monster hunting/battling genre. You can see the influence Pokemon had on it but you can also see where the developers’ decided to implement new and different game mechanics. All in all, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the Witch is a unique JRPG that definitely deserves its reputation as a classic.