Ni no Kuni (Another World) Trailer for PS3



As Ghibli Freaks everywhere are well aware, Studio Ghibli is working in tandem with videogame studio Level 5 to create the adventure/RPG title, Ni no Kuni, or Another World.  The game first emerged in Japan for the Nintendo DS, and now is being ported to the Playstation 3.  I'm sure you'll agree that this is the better platform, as we'll be able to enjoy the vivid artwork and skillful animation on our television screens.

To be honest, I haven't really spent any time on Ni no Kuni because it doesn't appear very inspiring.  Yes, it's always great to see something new from Ghibli, and it's especially nice to see the younger staff involved in side projects.  But there's something rather predictable in the character designs and art direction.  It feels a bit formulaic, almost stereotypically "Miyazaki-esque."  I'm reminded of the Disney movies that followed after Walt Disney's death: competent, skilled, yes, but uninspiring and lacking that creative gusto that made the original classics, well...classics.  Fantasia was an act of courage, a work of mad genius.  Direct-to-DVD sequels are just cynical cash-ins.

I feel the same way towards Ni no Kuni.  Richly colored fantasy worlds, tending towards the surreal, cutesy animal sidekick, elements that could have been swept off the cutting room floor from Howl's Moving Castle.  But Howl was a great movie by a great artist, one who knows how to transcend the banalities of children's fantasy.  Miyazaki is a deeply personal storyteller with a strong Kurosawa and Fellini bent, and he is willing to take creative risks when necessary.  And he honestly doesn't care if he alienates everybody in the process; he's lost money on movies before, he's survived.

Ni no Kuni is a work-for-hire, one that deliberately cashes in on the Ghibli name, without really adding to its legacy in any meaningful way.  It's an interesting experiment, and perhaps a template for future video game projects; I can see the studio expanding its output considerably in the post-Miyazaki era.  At this point, anything is possible, so this is a valuable learning experience, if nothing else.

Anyway, these are only my fleeting opinions on the matter.  If you enjoy this video game, by all means,  buy it for the DS or PS3 and have fun.  If Level 5 releases a Sega Saturn or Dreamcast version, I would be interested.  Hey, stranger things have happened, kids.

11 comments:

I Make Comments said...

I would have to say that I disagree about the visuals. I don't view it as a contrived cash-in. Yes, some of the non-Miyazaki Ghibli films have been quite weak. But that was because of the story, not the visuals. And, at least the weaker Ghibli films weren't sell outs. (at least as far as I can see)

Anyway, I think the graphics look awesome, and I can't wait to play this game. I hope the PS3 version gets an English release.

Jacob said...

I'm a little sad that you're open to the world of Miyazaki, which, is of course completely understandable for movie connoisseurs, but for the everyday person, I still experience quite the stigma against Miyazaki movies, because they are cartoons.

And yet you manage to be so short sighted against games. Games and cartoons share a lot of the same disrespect, despite deserving far more.

In this way, you fail to realize, that this is not some trampy cash-ins, but are actually well crafted works of play and art. Level 5 is talented studio, that deserves respect, for making sure that they're games are well-made and enjoyable.

Japan is a tough market in regards to games. Very conservative, and harsh in their punishment, if a traditional japanese RPG falls too far from expectations.

Both adults and children spend many hours on video games today, most of that is spent on low-quality games, with little regard for the effect that their creations have on their users. So it's good to see that Studio Ghibli (although probably not Miyazaki himself) recognizes that they can do good in this industry, by teaming up with a team of artists who care.

Everything about Ni no Kuni could challenge the medium more. But so could Laputu and Howl's.

My biggest wish, is that Level 5 gained a lot by working with Studio Ghibli, and that they now wish to take the auteur concept with them back to Level 5.

And by the way, games are not about the visuals. They are about the play. The Nintendo DS reaches more children, so it was a most excellent choice for Studio Ghibli to spread they're influence on.

You have one of the few (and good) Ghibli websites. I really wish you would be more open minded in this case.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

@Jacob: Thanks for the comments. Do I sound short-sighted on videogames? Hah hah. That is kind of amusing. Perhaps I'm just getting older and turning into Grampa Simpson. Don't worry, it happens to the best of us.

I actually have a second blog, which is largely devoted to videogames, Daniel Thomas Vol 4. I wrote for Gamepro and one or two other magazines back in the 1990s, published my own fanzine, attended a few Consumer Electronics Shows, yadda yadda.

On a related note, I'm sadly mourning the loss of Bill Kinkel, who died Sunday from a heart attack at age 61. Who was he? Bill Kunkel, Arnie Katz and Joyce Worley invented videogame journalism. Seriously. And we're talking REAL journalism, not the boot-licking industry stooges that define most gaming magazines. Bill was a great guy, friendly and armed with a vicious wit. He will be very sorely missed.

Oh, and yes, I know I'm an old crank for saying so, but videogames (not "games," please) really were better 20 years ago. For the price of a single $60 retail game today (usually some warmed-over leftovers from a decade ago), you can buy a Sega Genesis, some extra controllers, and a stack of fantastic videogames. That is a deal, my friends.

Emma Heuchert said...

DO you know if there are any plans at all for an English release? ever?

I Make Comments said...

Daniel, are videogames really that much worse than they were 20 years ago? Yes, I do think you are becoming Grandpa Simpson. While there were some wonderful classics from the late 80s, early 90s, there are some great games now too. And there's a lot of content out there pushing what the medium can express. Braid, for example. Developers are discovering the potential of interactive storytelling more now than they ever did. Even in mainstream titles like Bioshock.

Sure, there's a lot of garbage now adays, but there were bad games back in the good 'ol days too.

Shinigami said...

I have to say that I am very happy with Ghibli not being sell-outs. Yes, I hated Gedo Senki and am not very certain about the quality of the latest projects, but they are definitely not a sell-out as they continue making things the way they do. naturally, not everyone is a Miyazaki and even his son is still a child of this generation and not Hayao's ...

You should check out the news about Ghibli being redustributed in NA: http://wp.me/p1Ooje-3W

8thchild said...

Well, even if you're a bit syndical about the game, at least be happy about the soundtrack; that's Hisaishi Joe you're hearing! I have the soundtrack, and it's pretty fantastic. Then again, when I hear a new Miyazaki movie be announced I usually get as excited for the new Hisaishi soundtrack as I do for the actual film, so...

Brady Nash said...

"Ni no Kuni is a work-for-hire, one that deliberately cashes in on the Ghibli name, without really adding to its legacy in any meaningful way."

Just wondering...have you played the DS game yet? At least as far as the PS3 version is concerned, this statement seems overly confident for something yet to be released. You may be right, but I'd support giving it a chance before such strong conclusions. If you are wrong, you may wind up missing out on a fantastic peice of art.

---
Brady
artmediagames.com

Elixe_Idej said...

Level 5 had a vote on their Facebook page a month or two ago about which of their japanese releases american consumers would like to see on their shop shelves. Last time I looked the Ni No Kuni titles were easily winning (especially the PS3 version) so things look good for an american release, and hopefully a UK release as well. Probably won't get the big book with the DS version though...

DarthLocke said...

I personally think it's good thing that Studio Ghibli branched out in this way...It will allow the world to know them better, with out the stigma of fear previously presented against modernism, as Miyazaki I think needs to take que to some of Ghibli's works, which is to not completely fear what they don't like or understand (in this case moden technology)...

I personally love the titles of each version and the differences that accompany them, as Jet Black Mage and Sacred White Ash appear as opposites, but might also suggest there is more than one reason and/or alternate reality that can happen to Oliver.

For me the game would be like taking Howl's Moving Castle (Magicians), Spirited Away (another world) and/or Princess Mononake (a spiritual connection between nature and man) put together, ever emphiszing Shintoism within the construct of Ghibli's folklore...

I look forward to the game...that mushroom village, snow city, and resturant in the forest are just so remenicent of one of the reasons why I love Ghibli...

nusilver said...

@Elixe_ldej yeah, I asked Daniel to post about the poll on his blog, but he's been dismissive about it since the first footage was revealed. Without having played it, of course.

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