This morning in what would have been an unexpected surprise if it didn't leak prior, a remaster of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was announced by Bandai Namco for PlayStation 4 and PC, with a port of the original coming to Nintendo Switch too. Today I went hands-on with the beloved Level-5 and Studio Ghibli collaboration, and I can proudly assure you: it's just as delightful as ever. In fact, it may be even better than I remember.
The demo is set very early in the game in the lush autumnal forest of the Golden Grove, facing off against the boss Gladiataur. Once, Gladiataur was the Guardian of the Golden Grove, but now he's turned evil after a run-in with the big bad of the game. For the uninitiated: in Ni No Kuni, you mainly control the young boy Oliver, who's most powerful ability is magic; but you also have creatures called familiars that you can take control of in battle. Each has their own abilities and a limited time to use them, encouraging you to rotate constantly between your three familiars and Oliver himself.
When people talk about Ni No Kuni, the first thing usually mentioned is how the combat isn't great. Admittedly, I agree with this criticism; but somehow, diving back in with this demo, it actually wasn't as bad as I remembered. Before I knew it, it was like lapsing back into a routine. I hopped between the critters and Oliver with ease; rotating like clockwork to chain up strong moves against the boss, with the occasional guarding.
Ni No Kuni still looks good too. It helps that its Studio Ghibli stamped art style and Joe Hisaishi scored music easily shift into the modern generation. In the remaster, Oliver and Drippy's outlines are more defined, and even the music sounds a bit clearer than its PlayStation 3 origins. Like Jet Set Radio, Borderlands, and other cel-shaded games, Ni No Kuni at a higher resolution looks as good as I remember it being. And for a light remaster, that's really the best you can ask for.
If you follow my work at all, you know that I love the original Ni No Kuni. Soon not only will I get to experience one of the best grief-themed JRPGs again, everyone will! Because it's out on September 20, 2019.