hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Level 5

Review: BUGS vs. TANKS!

Jun 24 // Chris Carter
BUGS vs. Tanks! (3DS)Developer: ComceptPublisher: Level-5Released: June 20, 2013MSRP: $7.99 Given how easily the World War II time period could have overstayed its welcome, I'm glad Inafune opted for a quick setup and very little story. Simply put, you're a soldier in a shrunken German panzer squad, and the local insects are looking at you for their next meal. Your battlefield isn't a famous war-torn European city but a completely foreign jungle of grass and dirt, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids style. You'll defend yourself with a battalion of tanks with fairly straightforward controls -- your only real abilities are moving, pivoting, firing, and a "once per level" artillery power. By default, your tank will utilize an automatic fire mode to constantly shoot enemies in range; you're going to want to go ahead and turn that off and jack up the difficulty (you can always switch back), because this game is best experienced when its insects are genuinely terrifying. Though the fundamentals and the animations are pretty basic, the game's realistic-looking bugs can get pretty nerve-wracking, especially in swarms. They're extremely relentless and most won't stop until your dead, even if you're backed into a corner begging for breathing room, unable to get a clear shot. The game's brutal difficulty, although frustrating at times due to some occasionally cheap AI, is one of my favorite aspects. Once you're off the battlefield and hitting the game's menus, you'll learn that BUGS vs. Tanks! has a surprising amount of depth. For each tank, you can customize the rate of fire, chassis, and more. The actual tanks themselves are modeled after real vehicles in history, which helps give the game a bit more character. Along with changing in difficulty setting or automatic/manual fire, you can make it feel like a completely different game, which is pretty remarkable. But what you can actually do with these tanks is extremely limited. Missions are pretty standard -- base defense, item collection, kill quests, and things like that. To be blunt, there's really not anything that you haven't seen a million times before, lending itself to something best played in short spurts. Thankfully, no one mission overstays its welcome too often, as these levels are extremely short, and each of the 29 (with 10 bonus) stages feel different enough from one another to justify themselves. There's also a local multiplayer function that allows you to play with three other friends, as well as a fun little StreetPass mechanic that lets you call in extra artillery fire. In terms of visuals, while I never really had any issues telling enemies and areas apart, BUGS vs. TANKS! is extremely unimpressive without the 3D effect on. It looks similar to a low-budget PS1 game, with jagged edges, plain backgrounds, and generally stale models. While I don't have a problem with a low graphical output, given the high quality in the other Guild games, it looks odd when juxtaposed with the total body of work and will disappoint anyone expecting a little more. Like a few of the other Guild offerings, BUGS vs. TANKS! isn't remarkable, but it's a great way to pass the time over the course of a few days. Whether you want to casually roll through and blow up some insects on the easy setting, or wrack your brain to test your mettle with manual shooting and an insanely difficult campaign, BUGS vs. TANKS! offers a little something for everyone.
BUGS vs. TANKS! review photo
Honey, we shrunk the soldiers
The idea of shrinking objects and placing them into ridiculous situations is not new. But in the case of Comcept and Keiji Inafune's BUGS vs. TANKS!, it's somehow fitting to pit a tiny World War II German tank battalion again...

Level-5 mobile RPGs photo
Level-5 mobile RPGs

Level-5 announces a trio of mobile role-playing games


Projects feature Final Fantasy composer, Fire Emblem artist
May 30
// Kyle MacGregor
Ni no Kuni studio Level-5 is developing a set of three role-playing games for mobile platforms, Weekly Famitsu reports. Part of the company's 15th anniversary celebrations, the trio of titles features a few high profile names...
Fantasy Life photo
Fantasy Life

Fantasy Life will be getting an expansion in Japan


The 'Link' add-on enhances online play
May 23
// Chris Carter
Readers know that I've been clamoring for an international release of Fantasy Life for quite some time. As a roaring success in Japan, Level-5 has already seen fit to update the game, calling the enhancement Fantasy Life Link...

Review: The Starship Damrey

May 18 // Tony Ponce
The Starship Damrey (3DS eShop)Developer: Level-5Publisher: Level-5Release: May 16, 2013 (US / EU)MSRP: $7.99 You wake up trapped in a cryogenic sleep capsule with no memory of who you are or how you got there. You discover you are on board the Damrey, a research vessel floating in the far reaches of space, but something has happened to the ship and its crew. Since you are unable to exit your pod, you must remotely operate one of the ship's AR Series robots. They can only turn 90 degrees, which makes navigating around fallen debris quite cumbersome. Furthermore, they can only carry one item at a time, essentially limiting the complexity of any of the "puzzles." The game's biggest problem isn't that you aren't given any instruction on what to do or where to go -- that's the hook, after all. Rather, the solutions are so simple and telegraphed that the game might as well be feeding the answers. Considering that you typically can't drop an item once in your possession, you can safely assume that your next task will involve that very item. [embed]253991:48697:0[/embed] If you had dreams of managing multiple inventory slots, weeding out red herrings, and discovering alternate puzzle solutions, allow me to stamp them out right now. There is only ever one right way. It's akin to locking a person in an empty room save for a key in the corner, then telling the person to "figure it out" without any further clues. Okay, maybe not that simple, but close enough. The most difficult part is probably the opening scene in which you have to figure out how to reboot the corrupted computer console -- an admittedly clever sequence that is never trumped. Afterward, the bulk of your time is spent rolling through darkened hallways, looking for tools, corpses, and notes lying about. But ignoring the core gameplay, you'll find that The Starship Damrey does succeed in being a tense, moody experience. When I say the ship's halls are dark, I mean pitch black. Equipped with a low-power flashlight, your robot typically can only see a few feet in front or glowing signs and panels in the distance. And dogging your search is the ghostly specter of a young girl in a sun hat, fueling the mystery of the crew's fate. There's even a humorous interlude that parodies the famous "Blue Danube" scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sure, it completely breaks the tone of the game, but it's nonetheless entertaining as a one-off. Figuring time spent wandering around aimlessly in search of objects hidden in the shadows, the game will last you no more than three to four hours. However, if you happen to own any of the three Guild01 titles -- Liberation Maiden, Aero Porter, or Crimson Shroud -- you'll unlock a bonus scene upon completion. There's also an additional bonus should you accomplish an optional late-game task. Sadly, both are text-only prologue chapters that don't add anything substantial to the narrative. Despite being entertaining in its own way, The Starship Damrey ultimately fails to provide a hardcore, old-school adventure as promised. There's potential for an even more expansive campaign, which I hope Level-5 explores one day -- if Liberation Maiden can get a sequel, so can this! For now, rein in your expectations.
Starship Damrey review photo
Lost in space
"This game contains no tutorials or explanations. Part of the experience is to discover things for yourself." Thus reads the disclaimer when you fire up a new game of The Starship Damrey, Level-5's atmospheric sci-fi adventur...

The Starship Damrey photo
The Starship Damrey

Launch trailer for Guild02's The Starship Damrey


The sci-fi eShop adventure is on sale right now
May 16
// Tony Ponce
The first in Level-5's Guild02 triple pack, The Starship Damrey, arrived on the 3DS eShop earlier today for $7.99. A new trailer for the moody sci-fi adventure game has surfaced, featuring choice words from game designer Kaz...
Guild03? photo
Guild03?

Is Level-5 about to announce Guild03?


Trio of Level-5 trademarks have suddenly appeared
May 04
// Tony Ponce
With the three Guild02 games already out in Japan and the first in the set, Starship Damrey, scheduled for release in the States on May 16, it's time to look towards he future. It's never too soon to start thinking "sequel"! ...
Guild02 photo
Guild02

Starship Damrey flies to Nintendo 3DS on May 16


First Guild02 title lands on eShop in a couple weeks
May 04
// Kyle MacGregor
The Starship Damrey is set to touch down on the Nintendo 3DS eShop in North America on May 16. A survival horror title designed by Kazuya Asano and Takemaru Abiko, it will be the first title from Level-5's Guild02 c...
Liberation Maiden sequel photo
Liberation Maiden sequel

Report: Liberation Maiden to get sequel on PlayStation 3


We fight for our people!
Apr 17
// Kyle MacGregor
Liberation Maiden is getting a sequel! Well, sort of. It seems like Grasshopper Manufacture has decided to eschew Shoko's roots, following up last year's 3DS shooter with a visual novel for PlayStation 3. According to Si...
Professor Layton photo
Professor Layton

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy to hit 3DS in 2014


Prostitute D is a dog
Apr 17
// Kyle MacGregor
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is set to arrive on North American shores in 2014. After arriving in Japan back in late February, the sixth entry in Level-5's series of puzzlers is slated to arrive in Europe someti...
Guild02 photo
Guild02

Nintendo Direct: All three Guild02 games coming to US


Yes, even Attack of the Friday Monsters!
Apr 17
// Tony Ponce
It was previously announced that two of the three games in Level-5's Guild02 compilation, Bugs vs. Tanks! and The Starship Damrey, would be localized for the US eShop. Missing from that news was any indication that ...
Level-5 photo
Level-5

Level-5 discounting Guild01 titles starting this week


And the mysterious black box returns
Apr 15
// Jordan Devore
Three distinct games released under the Guild01 banner on the 3DS eShop are going on sale soon. From Thursday, April 18 through May 30, shmup Liberation Maiden ($4.99), airport sim Aero Porter ($2.99), and role-play...
Ni No Kuni DS photo
Ni No Kuni DS

There may be hope yet for a Ni No Kuni DS localization


A Namco Bandai executive reportedly isn't opposed to the idea on 3DS
Apr 11
// Chris Carter
For months now, fans, or prospective fans who don't own a PS3, have been clamoring for a localization of the DS version of Ni No Kuni, which Namco Bandai shut down to due "translation issues and costs regarding the Wizard's C...
Level-5 PS4 photo
Level-5 PS4

Ni no Kuni developer Level-5 working on PS4 game


Hopefully it's Dragon Quest VIII-2
Apr 09
// Kyle MacGregor
What's next for the team behind Ni no Kuni? A mysterious new PlayStation 4 project, apparently. Level-5 boss Akihiro Hino confirmed as much in a recent interview with Nikkei Trendy. Currently in the planning stages, Hino...
Ni no Kuni photo
Ni no Kuni

Amazon and Target have Ni no Kuni for $40


Do it for Mr. Drippy
Apr 08
// Jordan Devore
This is the day I've been waiting for. Level 5's Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch started the year off right all the way back in January and some of us who missed out on the well-received role-playing game have been ...
Fantasy Life photo
Fantasy Life

Fantasy Life may be coming to the US


One can hope, due to a US trademark
Apr 03
// Chris Carter
Following news of the game being sold out in Japan, it seems as if 3DS hit Fantasy Life has been trademarked in the States (and previously, Europe), according to Siliconera. If Level-5's history is anything to go by, trademar...
White Knight Chronicles photo
White Knight Chronicles

White Knight Chronicles servers to go offline this June


The Georama system to be no more
Mar 25
// Harry Monogenis
Some sad news for fans of Level 5's White Knight Chronicles has come from Sony Computer Entertainment America: the game's online servers will cease operation on June 18, 2013. White Knight Chronicles' online mode, known ...
Guild02 photo
Guild02

Feast on vids for Guild02's Monsters Come Out on Friday


It's like a Studio Ghibli take on kaiju movies
Mar 17
// Tony Ponce
Of the three games announced as part of Level-5's Guild02 lineup, Kaiju ga Deru Kinyoubi ("Monsters Come Out on Friday) sounded the most fascinating. A game in which you play as a boy in a small town turned upside-down by a ...
Guild02 photo
Guild02

Level-5 files trademark for Guild02 3DS games in USA


North American release for Bugs vs. Tanks! and The Starship Damrey looks likely
Mar 08
// Kyle MacGregor
It looks like Level-5's Guild02 compilation might be headed for western shores. Siliconera has reportedly uncovered US trademarks for Bugs vs. Tanks! and The Starship Damrey, indicating a po...
Liberation Maiden photo
Liberation Maiden

Suda 51's Liberation Maiden soaring to iOS (Update)


Shooter now available on App Store in New Zealand
Mar 06
// Kyle MacGregor
[Update: Liberation Maiden is now available worldwide via the App Store for $4.99 / €4.49 / ₤2.99.] Well, this is unexpected. Liberation Maiden has arrived on the iTunes App Store in New Zealand. One...
Last Layton game photo
Last Layton game

Send off Professor Layton in Azran Legacies


Watch the full trailer
Feb 25
// Chris Carter
The newest full trailer for Professor Layton and the Azran Legacies, the last game to star Professor Layton has dropped, and it's definitely worth watching -- whether you're fan or not. I have to admit, I got a little nostal...
Guild02 photo
Guild02

These are the three games in Level-5's Guild02


Will be broken apart as eShop releases throughout March
Feb 21
// Tony Ponce
Three of the four titles from Level-5's 3DS game jam Guild01 made it to the eShop out West. Liberation Maiden, Aero Porter, and Crimson Shroud were all bizarre but solid experiences, and I'm extremely grateful that they were...
Ni No Kuni free DLC photo
Ni No Kuni free DLC

Ni No Kuni is offering a free Draggle familiar DLC today


Free party member
Feb 12
// Chris Carter
It's a free DLC-fest for the PlayStation Network today, as Draggle, the adorable guy pictured above, is dropping for free on the PSN. If you aren't familiar with how Ni No Kuni works, it's basically like Pokémon. Aroun...
Professor Layton photo
Professor Layton

Professor Layton's final journey gets translated trailers


Professor Layton and the Azran Legacies arrives February 28 in Japan
Feb 11
// Tony Ponce
We haven't been doing a good job of keeping you cool cats abreast of the final chapter in the Layton series, Professor Layton and the Azran Legeacies. That is a shame, considering the 3DS puzzle-venture is set ready to take ...

Ni No Kuni guide: 20+ essential tips to get you started

Feb 06 // Chris Carter
Tame non-story spoilers incoming. I’d recommend saving this article if you get stuck, and need a quick reference: General: While you're wandering the world map, press X in peculiar spots (like patches of forest) to look for hidden items. If you need to locate the areas you've already found secret items in, go to the "Regions of the World" section of your Wizard's Companion. Specifically in regards to forests, if you see a patch of them, always explore it to find a potential hidden hamlet. Speaking of items on the world map, always grab the twinkling stars whenever you can. The sparkles are items, and like pots in towns, they'll reappear every 10-60 minutes. Do not be afraid to grind. Grind near a town and fight enemies as much as you can. Try to pick up health and mana orbs in combat, and if you need it, head into town to use the inn to restore all of your stats, then go back to grinding. You shouldn't need to grind in the first 15 hours or so, but it's an option. Speaking of Inns, always stay at least once to gain extra story in your Wizard's Companion book. When enemies start to run away from you on sight, you'll know you've saturated all the EXP you can from an area. If you die in combat, you'll lose 10% of your total cash after continuing. Although you can lower this rate to 5% later in the game, don't be afraid to spend some of your money before you go into a dungeon -- in case you die. Of course, you could just reload a recent save to avoid any loss of money. Like any JRPG, you should save a lot. Save before entering an area you haven't been before. Save near a town on the world map. When a story character asks you to "prepare yourself" before entering an area, save it. Always, always do errands and bounty hunts as soon as they become available in every town. Doing them as soon as they become available rewards tenfold with items that will be relevant as soon as they're acquired, rather than waiting to finish them and getting inadequate gear. The stamp rewards from finishing errands are invaluable, and hoarding stamp cards early is a great way to get amazing perks like extra experience later in the game. It's important to note that errands are often incredibly easy, and you'll almost always happen upon a bounty location while roaming to your next story location anyway. If you're put off by all the walking, you'll gain the ability to fast travel around 20 hours in, and flight capabilities on the world map after that. For the first 20 hours, focus on completing errands in local areas so you don't have to do much backtracking. You can always do errands at a later date if you really need to, and always view their status on the journal portion of the main menu. About four hours into the game, the game teaches you how to "take pieces of heart" from NPCs who show up with a green dot on your map, which help you solve errands and story quests. In every town, always press R1 to open the map, and survey the area for flashing green and blue dots. Familiars: Once Oliver gains a familiar, he should never engage in direct combat with his wand. Ever. Always use your creatures in combat whenever possible or Oliver's spells. You can't beat every fight with just one familiar, however, as there is a limited amount of time that it can fight at once. A common strategy is to switch back to Oliver when your pet's stamina is in the red zone, and run around the outside of the map, circle strafing until they can fight again. But this doesn't mean Oliver is useless -- quite the opposite in fact. Oliver can heal your party with Healing Touch, and use powerful magic while circle strafing and avoiding damage. Against boss characters, try spamming his ice and fire spell when you have some free mana -- just keep some available in case you need to use Healing Touch. The first familiar you get, Mitey, is not only incredibly cute, but he's also the clear-cut best familiar for quite a while. If you feed him his favorite food consistently (chocolate), he'll have enough power to take down pretty much everyone in the first 10 hours almost single-handedly. Use him to level up the first few story related familiars you get. You'll earn Mitey almost immediately after you leave Motorville, your next one in the first few hours in the first town, and you'll net another two (and your first human party member) in the first ten hours or so. Speaking of food, keep those familiars full. Every fight will drop their fullness rating by one, which is almost a grind in a grind, when you level them up and lower their fullness to boost their stats. Always wait to metamorph familiars if you can. If you morph them into their next form immediately, they'll lose a lot of their potential. For instance, a level 20 Mitey will carry over less stats than a level 40 Mitey when he morphs into his next form at level 1. Combat: Take a look at your familiars on the status screen, and notice their symbols -- the red and orange colored sun, the yellow and blue moon, and the white and blue star. In terms of combat, sun beats moon, moon beats star, and star beats sun. You'll do extra damage to enemies who are weak to your symbol. Use this to your advantage by surveying your enemy before you send your familiars out to battle. In most fights on the world map in the first 10 hours of the game or so, this doesn't really matter that much. Use L2 and R2 to switch between menus -- don't bother with the d-pad initially. It's much easier and more accurate to switch between combat abilities this way. Resist the urge to run around in combat, early in the game. Although it may seem cool, taking a more direct approach to combat and just mashing the X button to attack is often the best strategy before you start gaining party members. If you run around too much enemies will just beat on you. However, like an MMO, free-running does play a critical role in pretty much every fight in the game past a certain point. You can use it to avoid dangerous hazards (like a pit of poison), and attacks that enemies make from the front (like a flame breath). In boss fights, always remain aware of your surroundings and keep moving. The circle button cancels commands in combat. This is crucial when the game requires you to make a split second defensive stance to avoid a powerful boss attack. If you're in the middle of doing something, press circle, press L2 or R2 to switch to defend, and press X. You can cancel enemy tricks (abilities) and counter their attacks with the correct timing. When an enemy is using a trick, try pummeling them to stun and stop the trick -- just keep in mind this isn't a guaranteed stop. Alternatively, you can quickly cancel and defend to stay on the safe side. To counter, choose an enemy, target them, choose attack, and wait until a bubble appears near your character to press the X button and initiate the counter.
Tips for Ni No Kuni photo
A beginner guide for the first 10-20 hours
The world of Ni No Kuni is whimsical, beautiful, and sometimes scary. The mere fact that the game features a number of old school JRPG tropes is enough to frighten even some of the hardiest of gamers, who are used to modern c...

Review: Aero Porter

Feb 04 // Jonathan Holmes
Aero Porter (3DS eShop)Developer: VivariumPublisher: Level-5Release: November 29, 2012MSRP: $4.99 Yoot Saito is most famous for creating the Dreamcast classic Seaman, arguably the strangest game ever made. It is a game where you take care of a fish man. That's it. Do a marginally good job, and you may have a few interesting conversations with it about existentialism and the possibility that The Beatles weren't real. Then he'll leave. Game Over.  Knowing this about Yoot Saito, I went into Aero Porter expecting something surreal. Shame on me for thinking I know what to expect from Yoot Saito. While Aero Porter does delve into a few playfully strange moments, it's a fairly straightforward game about sorting luggage. What's strange about the game is that it's compelling. Sorting luggage sounds boring as hell. You'd have to pay me to do it in real life. In videogame form, it's something that I'm paying Yoot Saito and Level-5 for the permission to do.  [embed]243771:46669[/embed] Part of that comes from how the game starts off so deceptively simple, and how Yoot (or as he's known in the game, Bob) treats you as an employee. He makes is all sound so easy, and is so disappointed with you when you screw up. That kind of management makes you really want to do better, which leads you to keep playing even when things get tough.  Make no mistake about it, this game gets really tough. You start with three conveyor belts and three different types of colored bags. The bags continually spin on the conveyor belts until you flip a switch to send the bags onto their corresponding flights. By lowering or raising connecting bridges between the belts, you can send different  bags to different belts. Get all the yellow bags on the yellow belt, flip the switch to get the bags on the flight, and you're doing your job right. Get too many of the wrong colored bags on the wrong flights or fail to get all the bags on the plane before take off, and you're going to have some very disappointed customers (and Yoot/Bob Saito) on your hands. The catch is, if you activate the bridge to raise or lower a bag from one belt to another, you activate all the raising or lowering bridges in the whole baggage department, which could cause you to raise/lower a bag onto another belt that you didn't intend to move. This forces you to simultaneously focus on all the belts in the department at once, while assessing where each bag is and where you want to move them. As your airport continues to expand (thanks to your super profitably baggage handling skills), you'll eventually end up managing seven conveyor belts at once. That's more than twice as much work as you started with. Anyone who's ever been "that guy" at a job who's willing to go the extra mile for the same pay knows how typical this workplace scenario can be. On top of all that, you'll also have to manage your fuel levels. Run out of fuel and your belts will start running at a snails pace, making it almost impossible to get anything done. You'll have to buy more fuel and get it lowered all the way down to the bottom of the screen into the engine room (but don't accidentally lower any bags into the engine room too, you moron!) There are a few ways to make your job easier though. Score enough combos and you'll gain better equipment that'll allow you to shut the lights down (to save fuel), stop incoming baggage from unloading for a few seconds, adjust the speed of your belts, and to make your belt bridges raise/lower at a faster pace. The may sound like small details, but they can mean the difference between a flight full of happy customers and a plane filled with the incorrect, sometimes deadly baggage.  This deadly baggage comes into play during Aero Porter's "specialty" situations. These events can happen at any time, and do well to simulate the kinds of unforeseeable problems that can happen in even the most serene work environments. Terrorists will occasionally throw explosive luggage into the mix. You'll have to be sure to get the bomb sorted onto the disposal truck (and not a plane, you idiot!) if you want to keep your airport's reputation (and passengers) alive. You'll also get ball shaped VIP luggage that needs to be rolled (via motion controls) around the belts to get it onto the right flight, and bags that belong to high powered politicians that are intentionally mis-colored in order to keep their owners' identity a secret. You'll have to take a close look at these bags to to see what colored tags they carry. Their tags aren't visible from every angle, which forces you to narrow your focus to just these bags for at least a few seconds. In a game that's all about taking in information from both 3DS screen simultaneously at all times, it's cruel task indeed, but necessary if you want to keep the president of some random nation (and Yoot/Bob) happy.  The beauty of Aero Porter is in how it forces the player to make these kinds of on-the-fly judgement calls while simultaneously tending to the craft of baggage handling. When those bombs or VIP bags show up, you have to make them top priority, which may mean ignoring other flights and bags for a while, or even intentionally putting the wrong baggage on the wrong flight just to get the plane out of the port. If you try to play Aero Porter like it's only a puzzle game by sticking strictly to the goal of doing everything perfectly, you will never truly master it. Only those who are willing to make tough, potentially damaging management decisions while simultaneously keeping track of every belt and every flight time and your fuel gauge will become a master baggage handlers.  Aero Porter is a brilliant amalgamation of the puzzle game and the business management simulator, though it's not for the faint of heart. The amount of information the game asks you to juggle at once will be too much for a lot of people. It took me a long time to get past the third day of work, though that level of tough-but-fair challenge only worked to enhance my level of excitement about pushing forward.  My only real issue with the game is that it runs out of new rewards fairly quickly. After you've maxed out your airport to "Space port" size and gained all the new equipment available, your only in-game motivator for continued play is the opportunity to unlock a variety of new customizable planes for your personal hanger. I'm sure that aviation enthusiasts will find that compelling. The rest of you may drop out. That deficiency aside, Aero Porter is a definitely worth the time of anyone looking to have both their decision making skills and color sorting technique pushed to their limits. 
Aero Porter photo
A game where you sort luggage. Really.
A videogame is a thing that asks you to do a series of tasks in order to meet arbitrary goals that were established by someone else. Videogames are things that most of us partake in for "fun," regardless of how difficult the ...

Ni no Kuni photo
Ni no Kuni

Ni no Kuni is #1 in the UK, sold out in many shops


Three cheers for color and whimsy!
Feb 04
// Tony Ponce
I guess a lot of grown-up "mature" gamers, who complained that Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was too "kiddy," were blowing smoke out their asses and bought the Level-5 RPG anyway. According to GfK Chart-Track's UK Top ...
 photo

Namco Bandai responds to Ni no Kuni LE order issues


Affected fans to get 400-page guide book
Jan 25
// Dale North
Namco Bandai handed Destructoid an official statement on the Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Wizard's Edition order issue we've been following these past few days. It is as follows: Namco Bandai Games America ...
 photo

Ni no Kuni Wizard's Edition orders issues abound [update]


Sound off if you've had issues with your order
Jan 25
// Dale North
[Update: As you can see from our comments section below, this has been a messy issue. It got nasty when word got out that one buyer got over 200 copies and is now selling them on eBay. Disgusting. Thanks to our readers for in...
Ni no Kuni pee-pee photo
Ni no Kuni pee-pee

I helped a girl take a piss in Ni No Kuni


Sympathy for the NPC
Jan 23
// Niero Desu
It wouldn't be fair to say that Ni No Kuni has a specific urination quest. It's more of a side story or side effect of a larger task, if you will.  Nevertheless, when I came upon this girl who needed to whiz, I immediate...

C'mon, Level-5! Localize Ni no Kuni DS already!

Jan 21 // Tony Ponce
[embed]242714:46443[/embed] The original Ni no Kuni was announced way back in 2008. It would be nearly two years, mere months before the DS game's release, before any mention was made of a PS3 version. Wrath of the White Witch is no mere update of the DS version, subtitled The Jet-Black Mage. From what I've gathered, both games were developed separately and feature several elements that differ in significant ways, even though the general framework is the same. Even if Mage and Witch were identical save for the graphics, I still believe there would be strong interest in the former. The large library of quality RPGs on the DS and PSP indicates that the genre has found a cozy home on handheld devices. It's ironic that a genre infamous for demanding massive time investments would adapt so well to the style of bite-sized gameplay fostered by portable hardware. Level-5 envisioned Ni no Kuni as a franchise, thus there is no reason why anyone ought to picture Mage and Witch as anything but complementary experiences. I understand that the big draw of Witch is how closely the in-game assets resemble the original artwork, but it's not like Mage is a slouch in the art department either. [embed]242714:46442:0[/embed] It doesn't end there! In order for Ghibli composer Joe Hisaishi's score to sound as crystal clear as possible, Level-5 opted to use a 512 MB game card, the largest of any DS game. "Compromised," The Jet-Black Mage is not. More important than graphics and card space is the fact that Ni no Kuni is a major milestone for an animation studio that has historically avoided getting involved with videogames. Ni no Kuni is technically not the first time Ghibli had a hand in a game's art direction -- Magic Pengel on the PS2 holds that distinction -- but the level of involvement here is unprecedented. Why would you not want to experience such an event firsthand? But Wrath of the White Witch was announced for the West, while The Jet-Black Mage wasn't. Localization for Mage was definitely considered, but according to Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino, the big spanner in those plans was the book bundled with every copy of the game. For those unaware, the 352-page Magic Master book is a companion guide that details in-game lore, creatures, and magic runes that can be drawn on the touchscreen to cast spells. This book is a crucial element of the game, and its existence as a physical object was intended to add an extra layer of immersion. Apparently it was too expensive to translate, and even if it were translated, there would be the issue of printing enough copies for each game and expecting consumers to pay a premium for the bundle. I'm sure Level-5 could have found a decent workaround, but I do understand the cost concerns. Disappointing news, but that's the way the world turns, right? By the way, Witch also requires the use of the Magic Master book, but instead of being a physical object, it's an in-game item accessible from the menu. And oh yeah, US publisher Namco Bandai is selling a limited "Wizard's Edition" bundle that includes a physical version of the book, now called the Wizard's Companion. WHAT. THE. FUCK. So all that talk about expense and translation hurdles was just bullshit? I'm trying to be as rational as I can, but the only conclusion I can draw is that neither Namco nor Level-5 thought Ni no Kuni would have been able to sell on the DS. I don't see how it wouldn't unless Namco wasn't planning on advertising the game at all. Look, I'm glad that Ni no Kuni is coming out for PS3, but we are still being robbed of delicious Ghibli goodness! There has got to be a way for the DS game to make it out here somehow. Here's what to do The DS is a lame duck. There might be a studio or two still releasing new DS software, but most have moved on to its successor. Therefore Level-5 should port Ni no Kuni: The Jet-Black Mage directly to the 3DS. The team won't really need to touch it up too much -- as you saw in the footage above, its a very beautiful game, I would say even by 3DS standards. With this platform transition, Mage would benefit from the larger game card capacity -- cards at the 3DS' launch could already hold 2 GB, four times the size of the DS' largest. I'm going to take an educated guess and assume that Mage's card was fairly packed, thereby preventing Level-5 from -- oh, I don't know -- including a digital version of the Wizard's Companion. Because 3DS game cards are much roomier, the already translated book ought to fit in nice and neatly. There you have it! Players now have in-game access to the book, just as PS3 players do, and they won't be prevented from casting spells be drawing the runes. And for those who desire the original experience as intended, there could be a 3DS version of the "Wizard's Edition" as well. [DS version unboxing by Espelancer] But what of the argument that a currently two-year-old game from a previous generation platform would be a hard sell no matter the pedigree of the parties behind it? If Namco doesn't want to play ball, Level-5 should take its business to a progressive company like XSEED, which has recently shown great willingness in taking chances on niche but highly demanded RPGs on Nintendo consoles. XSEED has already been rewarded for localizing The Last Story, and even Xenoblade Chronicles, which Nintendo of America itself published two years after its Japanese release, has done "quite well" by the company's expectations. If Wrath of the White Witch performs to Namco's satisfaction, there ought to be no reason to hold off on localizing The Jet-Black Mage any longer. But if Witch does not meet its goal, Mage should nonetheless be given a shot for the sake of sharing one of the most beautiful-looking games in recent memory with the rest of the world. We have evidence that low-print software runs can pay off handsomely, just as long as the parties involved keep modest expectations. I just want some Level-5 / Studio Ghibli magic on the go. Is that so much to ask? Am I asking for the sun and the moon? Am I being naive in regards to the nature of big business?
Ni no Kuni DS, please! photo
And here's how to do it
Tomorrow, January 22, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch finally arrives on US shelves. The PlayStation 3 role-playing game is a collaboration between developer Level-5, and animation house Studio Ghibli -- two companies th...


Auto-loading more stories ... un momento, corazón ...