I'm not a JRPG fan (should I say "fan", though?). But, I'm a lover of RPG's! I'm not saying that I specifically don't like them Japanese ones. For whatever reason, none of them ever interest me enough to make me think "Yes. This is a game I'm going to pick up." and I'm not usually incredibly hard to impress. Perhaps once I got them going I would enjoy them, eh? A friend of mine is really into Persona, and he's inspired me to mark Golden on my to-get list, but beyond that, before now, the last JRPG I played, naturally, was a Pokemon game. And before that... probably more Pokemon!
But, now I'm currently looking into Ni No Kuni. Because, well, it really stuck out. The graphics, the hype surrounding it and then the demo I played which opened me up to the awesome combat. This would be my first seriously super duper hardcore JRPG in a long time. I couldn't wait!
Sadly, if things keep up this way, it seems I might wanna start treading even more carefully from now on within the JRPG space.
Alright. Yes. The game looks awesome. There's no denying that. How the heck could you say it's not visually inspired? It is!
But, what I'm talking about is it's presentation. It's the worst I've seen in quite some time. A mighty long list of tutorials, a dialogue piece/cutscene literally every 3-25 seconds (oh but at least it loosens up a bit after about 30-45 minutes!), it's just overall sloppy and sporadic. Consider especially that there's 4 different ways they go about delivering story/dialogue:
1.) Anime cutscenes
2.) In-game cutscenes
3.) Still camera jump shots w/ voice over
4.) Still camera jump shots w/o voice over
What is this honestly doing for the story? It's arbitrary as hell. They hardly ever come up whenever you'd expect them to, rather the anime scenes (for example) will just come up when the hell ever. Take out maybe one of those and it'd feel all that much better for it. More is not always more!
To make matters worse, the game starts off rather uninterestingly. Quite frankly, it's downright predictable and boring at times. The acting is mixed, the dialogue isn't much outside 1 or 2 innocent chuckles, I could easily recite some moments/entire scenes in my head just before they happened. Not just a teensy predictable. Painfully.
So, when something half-interesting FINALLY occurs, they expect me to feel sad and it just didn't phase me at all. I can honestly say I didn't care in the slightest, and I still don't. They spent far too much time setting up what seemed to be a run of the mill tale with hardly any extra attention given to it that by the time I was surely supposed to be invested I was just simply ready for the actual game to start up. When was that going to happen, HEH? This particular moment seemed to go by so fast that even if I was invested I would've raised an eyebrow. Nothing much in the way of proper pacing for what they were trying to go for. I could think up tons of ways they could've presented such an important story development better.
A couple solidly-acted roles aside, it just didn't hold much weight until the lovable Mr. Drippy came into the picture.
Now this little guy is a piece of work. I get happy everytime he speaks. He's got a lot of energy, a chip on his shoulder and one awesome accent. "Youer" in for a treat once he shows up and starts wrecking face (he doesn't actually wreck any face). He immediately brings some much needed spice to the story and gets me excited to venture to his parallel universe. Which is apparently a thing with this game.
BUT, even after he shows up it takes a while before they decide to fully stop wasting your time and excite your stimuli. So we're off to another world!
This is where the game FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINALLY starts to feel like the game I was waiting for. Awesome combat! A beautiful, sprawling open world! All these wonderfully crafted mechanics and such! Sweeeeeet!
Annnnnnnd then I'm treated to an even larger barrage of tutorials than before. Great. Some of which legitimately insulted my intelligence. YOU'VE TAUGHT ME HOW TO LOOK AT MY CREATURES AND CHECK THEIR STATS SO I'VE ALREADY SEEN THAT THEY LEARN NEW ATTACKS AT CERTAIN LEVELS YEAH YEAH IT'S LIKE POKEMON I GEEEEEEEEEEET IIIIIIIITTTTTTTT!
Granted, the combat system is as good, if not better than what I experienced before (surprisingly challenging too) and I love my little Familiar (the Pokemon, basically), who I've aptly named "OP". I gave him some cake and ice cream once. And I've made sure to call him back whenever he gets tired. Plus, more of those sorely needed interesting characters have shown up like the Deku Tr- er... I mean the Old Father Oak, a cat race that often speaks in "purr" puns and I've had the opportunity to take on some extra quests. I also love this Wizard's Companion, which is an honest-to-goodness, true-to-life length textbook on wizardry. We're suddenly Harry Potter up in this mowfuka.
It's just such a shame that I'm still being interrupted and hand-held far more often than I'd care to see.
Oliver, the main character, on multiple occasions, has said something along the lines of "Gee-willickers! That's a lot of information to take in!". Drippy will then respond with something like "Don't worry youer wee boy head 'bot et, eh? You'll get used to et!" as if the game is trying to resonate with the player. They really do think I'm stupid, don't they?
Will this game end up being as awesome as so many claim it is by the end? I hope so. The only way I see that happening in the slightest is when they take off these damned training wheels and give me some breathing room. I know this will happen eventually, but I just hope it's really fucking soon. And when it does happen, I hope it redeems itself.