LA Noire: The Mona Lisa made from Lego

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LA Noire is truly something special. Certain games have been branded as works of flawed genius, but none elevate that concept to the same lofty heights that LA Noire does. It’s like the Mona Lisa if it were made from Lego blocks, Beethoven’s 5th with an accordion solo or Citizen Kane filmed with an iPhone; the underlying concept is so beautiful that it can be appreciated even though the execution borders on being farcical at times. Though I rate the game as one of my favorite this year, I find it difficult to give it a wholehearted and unconditional recommendation. For those who have yet to play the game, all I can say is that this is a game that, for better or worse, you should experience. This is also your cue to skip the rest of the article. There aren’t any spoilers, but you should have your mind free of my judgments as you experience the game. Enjoy the mental gymnastics you’ll undoubtedly be doing as you struggle to decide whether you love it or hate it. For now I simply need to vent about a game which I love, riddled with aspects which I despise. Like dating a stunning French girl who has an inexplicable aversion to shaving her armpits.

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Speaking of gymnastics, one thing that the Grand Theft Auto engine has consistently failed to do is give you a comfortable feeling when controlling your character. Niko, John and now Cole all suffer from apparently the same genetic condition which results in them staggering around like a drunken bandy-legged sailor on shore leave. I’ve seen yachts with a better turning circle than these guys. Yet the other games manage to compensate for mud-wrestling controls. Niko is a man who is always either sprinting at top speed or belting away in a car, as half of the crime syndicates and police officers in the city are hot on his heels. This constant, slightly haphazard charging movement almost makes sense given the fact that he is on the run. As for John Marston, when playing Red Dead any time not spent on horseback is time wasted. With the added sense of separation, you are controlling a character that is controlling an animal; the movement comes off as feeling surprisingly natural.

Cole though has no excuses. Walking feels painfully slow, jogging looks a little ridiculous when investigating a crime scene, and flat-out sprinting involves praying that the character you are chasing doesn’t take a sudden turn. It just never feels right, and cheerfully hurdling over the corpse of brutally murdered naked lady just because the movement is a little awkward does somewhat ruin the immersive nature of the experience.

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Another rather large disconnect between Cole and the player is that is it sadly difficult for him to know what you are thinking. When interrogating someone the game is very clear on something; it knows what the right answer is. If you fail to follow the same internal logic that the game has mapped out, you are wrong. Whilst it’s satisfying to hit upon the sometimes esoteric thought process of Cole, it’s a massive source of frustration when you feel that you have presented evidence which contradicts a witnesses’ statement only for Cole to completely fluff his lines and throw out wild accusations. At points like this the game manages to come off as incredibly patronizing; the loud musical sting provides the soundtrack to your inadequacy, Cole babbles out apologies like Hugh Grant hitting on a woman, and all the while the smug son of a bitch across the table from you grins like a cat who has found the keys to a Dairy Queen.

Both of these issues though pale in comparison with the most damning issue. The real problem is that, well, nothing really matters. It’s something truly horrible which slowly dawns on you after a couple of hours. And once you have come to that realization you can’t get it out of your mind. The action sequences, as clunky and awkward as they were, became meaningless once I discovered that they are skippable without any consequence whatsoever. I understand the reasoning behind this choice; the action sequences are merely ways in which to convey aspects of the story and to allow the player to get a greater sense of the danger in which Cole has found himself by providing a challenge to the player. As such a lack of skill shouldn’t be an impediment to being able to experience the story, clearly the main focus of the game. But this utter disregard for any weight to whether you succeed or fail to complete an action sequence renders them, and with it a decent chunk of the game, hollow.

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What really bothered me though was the fact that the interrogations have little to no bearing on how the game unfolds. I really cared at the beginning of the game. I absolutely agonized over each and every decision. I thought things through and my heart was in my mouth every time I made a decision. Then I began to notice that whatever I happened to choose the story would continue to unfold in much the same manner. This lack of consequences to what are, within the context of the game, incredibly important decisions over whether an innocent man could go to prison and a guilty man could walk free, greatly weakened my sense of responsibility towards the character of Cole Phelps, and of those upon whom he was casting judgment. It may just have been my personal response, but for me much of the appeal of the game lay in wanting to put the right man behind bars. Barring the flimsy points deduction in your star rating in a case, there are no consequences to your actions. Whether you embrace it, or try to deny it, LA Noire is a roller coaster of a game. There are thrills to be had, but the sense of danger relies on your ability to suspend disbelief.

But to leave the topic of LA Noire on a more positive note, the characters in the game are impressively realized in a manner which I have never seen in a game before. The voice acting is superb, the mannerisms, though at times exaggerating in the interrogation scenes, feel organic, and the facial expressions are some of the most lifelike digital representations to date. At least they were until this...

Eye on Japan: Eguchi Aimi

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Yes, I know this is old news by now, but in case you hadn't heard I couldn't resist the temptation to give a little nod to the omnipresent and omniscient force in Japan that is AKB48. Besides being role models to the youth of Japan, and giving many a man over the age of 25 distinctly uncomfortable sensations of guilt, AKB48 has recently been at the forefront of humanity's dream to create fake people so we don't have to hang out with real ones any more. Eguchi Aimi shot to fame after appearing as the face of the 'ice no mi' AKB48 advertizing campaign from obscurity. Seeing as AKB48 is more efficiently organized than most democracies (AKB have their elections every year) this was seen as highly suspicious. Then, finally on June 20th the truth was revealed through a series of posters. It was as everyone had suspected, Eguchi Aimi was a fake; a composition of some of the most popular members of the band.

Long story short? Rejoice people! Thanks to some gifted people who evidently have watched Weird Science one time too many, Skynet is closer than you thought. And a lot cuter.

Well, it's been a very long time since I last blogged so I hope I'm not too rusty. Feel free to rip me a new one though!

An update from the end of the world

It has been quite a while since I last blogged and the time since then has not been uneventful. When last I wrote it was soon after the earthquake struck Japan and finally, two weeks on, I have gathered enough composure to write a report from Fallout: New Tokyo. Asides from cowering under my mattress and drinking more heavily than usual I have spent the majority of the time thinking about what kind of superhero I want to be when Japan goes completely radioactive. I have to decide which animal I should be carrying with me at all times in order to absorb its powers when the waves of radiation hit. A spider would be too cliché, a tiger, no matter how cool it would be, is far too impractical, and though pretty, I’m unsure what positive improvements obtaining the powers of a butterfly would be. I’ve come to the unfortunate realization that perhaps always having a cockroach on my person would be the best option given the circumstances, but a little awkward to explain on a date.

For those who have been watching the news I don’t think I need to go into any great depth on the current situation, so instead I’ll give you my own perspective on how things are in Tokyo and how things have changed. So let’s start with the important stuff shall we?

Toilet paper is worth its weight in gold

If you had asked me a month ago what the most vital commodities were in the event of a crisis I can’t imagine that toilet paper would have made the list. How naive I was. I guess it makes sense that at a time when everyone is sh***ing themselves toilet paper would be in high demand. But it really is ridiculous. I haven’t seen a roll of toilet paper in the wild since the earthquake struck. I can barely even remember the packaging it comes in. Are pictures of puppies on toilet paper? Or is that nappies? Let me know as I doubt I’ll see either of those products for a while. Thankfully, unlike most of the consequences of the earthquake, I have experienced this hardship before. Sharing an apartment with five other guys in university where everyone was too stubborn or lazy to go out and buy toilet paper meant that I have a wealth of experience in how to improvise in such a crisis. Ollie, Maz, Macca, Doz and Mark, thank you for teaching me how to survive without one of the most basic of amenities.

We need Evian, stat!

Whilst it had been scarce last week, this week bottled water has simply vanished. On Wednesday it was announced that the levels of radiation in tap water in Tokyo was unsafe for infants under the age of 12 months to consume. Cue the madness. Now not only are shops devoid of 2 liter bottles of water, but any water whatsoever. All the vending machines have been emptied out. The very next day the tap water had been deemed safe for consumption by everyone, but the damage had already been done. For me the obvious solution was to switch to hard liquor to provide sustenance. Unfortunately I have come to realize that I need water to wash my now vomit stained clothes so I am considering alternatives. Bottled green tea seems to be the best alternative at this point but I have heard that beer is meant to be a good way to wash your hair. If anyone could confirm this I would be grateful before I totally embrace my new hobo perfume.

Stop it. I’m serious. It’s over.

I’ll tell you one thing for free; earthquakes are very persistent. Like an ex who just won’t accept the fact that the relationship is over, the aftershocks just keep on coming, threatening destruction but proving to be little more than an irritant. And they could come at any time but they keep on calling in the middle of the night. Since the 9.0 magnitude quake there have been well over 200 aftershocks registering at around the 5.0 mark. And after experiencing The Big One, even the rattle of a passing train makes me jump. So let me assure you that when a 5.0 aftershock hits at 3am, no matter how deep a sleeper you are you are going to be woken up. And then not be able to get back to sleep. So for the last couple of weeks I have been living on the short amounts of sleep I can snatch when mother nature isn’t trying to give me a booty call and train rides where its harder to tell if the carriages are rocking any differently to usual. The crow’s feet I currently sport are doing a decent impression of the Tokyo subway map.

The iPhone is the greatest gaming device of all time

What with all the potential power cuts and the additional travel time added on to my commute by the now infrequent nature of the trains, I have turned to the iPhone to feed my gaming addiction. I don’t know whether it is because of the limited nature of my gaming options but it really has become a great source of entertainment and comfort. I have been stocking up on gaming applications (seeing as everyone else already has all the toilet paper and bottled water) and I can honestly say I’ve found some of the most rewarding gaming experiences in years. For those who have an iPhone and don’t yet own Game Dev Story, hang your heads in shame. The most recent game by the same studio, Kairosoft, is a Japanese hot springs management game, and though for many the subject matter won’t be as much of a draw as their previous title, it is much deeper and more involving than its predecessor. I highly recommend it. As I do Sword and Poker II which has already consumed many precious hours of my final days on earth. I may write a bit more on iPhone games at a later date as the comforting glow of that little screen has done more to sooth my mind in these troubled times than anything beyond smoking and drinking.

So that’s all for now, but expect more sooner rather than later. Looking back over this blog I suppose I’ve painted quite a picture of my current state. An alcoholic, vomit stained, sleep deprived, toilet paperless man cackling with glee as he stares at a small screen. Lovely stuff. But obviously, despite the hardships the country is coping well. I have so much admiration and respect for the calm and orderly manner in which everyone has dealt with the situation and in trying to bring about a sense of normality. If you have the means to do so, please donate something to the cause. The break-dancing robots need fuel to live.

Experiencing the Earthquake

It has been quite a while since I last wrote a blog, but hey, if the 5th strongest earthquake in recorded history can't motivate you to bash out a few sentences then I suppose nothing will. You will have to forgive my selfishness, but to be honest , this blog isn't going to have a whole lot to do with video games. I will try to mention them when appropriate. You have been warned.

Yesterday, when the earthquake struck at quarter to three in the afternoon I was, naturally, lying in bed at home. I've been carrying a cold for the last week or so and my work sent me home early. So it happened that I was there when the 8.9 magnitude earthquake occurred.

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It's hard to put into words the sensations that I felt at the time. Earthquakes are pretty common in Japan and usually serve only as a minor inconvenience, along the lines of jaywalking or breaking wind in an elevator. Therefore when I first felt the tremors my natural reaction was to ignore them and to try to get back to sleep. Most earthquakes usually die down as quickly as they start and last less than a minute in total, but this one didn't. It just kept growing and growing. I then started to realize that it might be something serious and sat up, but pretty much as soon as I realized it was serious, I realized that it was, well, really really serious. In a panic I grabbed my wallet, keys and bizarrely I spent a few vital seconds hunting for a packet of cigarettes and a lighter, all whilst the shaking was getting worse and worse. Then I ran out of my small apartment on the 4th floor and, again bizarrely, took the time to lock the door. Even though the world around me was literally being shaken to it's core there was still a part of me that was convinced that it would end as suddenly as it had begun. I also have a minor case of OCD when it comes to locking my apartment, which as many of my friends would testify, is incredibly irritating. Even in a perilous situation I'm somewhat unsurprised that my need to make sure my apartment was definitely locked overrode my survival instinct.

It's easy to exaggerate or for your memory to play tricks on you but, whether because of the panic or the relatively flimsy nature of my apartment block, it felt as if the floors and walls of the building were warping slightly, like at a carnival hall of mirrors as I ran and jumped down the stairs.

When I got out onto the street I initially felt relieved but at that point the earthquake had still not finished. There were people lining the narrow street with no one knowing what to do. Many were just sitting in the middle of the street or shouting at one another. Honestly the best way I can describe that experience was of being drunk. Not tipsy drunk, or boisterous drunk, but the kind of state you are in about 2 minutes before you throw up where your world starts spinning, you feel like your legs are made of rubber and only momentum is propelling you forwards. The ground was shifting as I ran aimlessly around and the reactions of the people around me were extremely disorientating. I then noticed that, even in my little suburb of Tokyo, there are no bloody places that aren't surrounded by several story buildings. Seriously. I was charging around like a headless chicken looking for somewhere where a building wouldn't come crashing down on my head and I couldn't find a place. It's ridiculous. Only by throwing myself into the middle of the road would I have been safe from collapsing buildings, but seeing as I was hit by a car last year I can't recommend that experience to anyone. Then it was over. And I didn't really know what to do. No one did. I just sat down on the corner of the street. And then I had a cigarette. And that was it.

But hey, seeing as its me, here's a Top 5 list for you.

Top 5: Reasons I am still freaking out


1. The aftershocks haven't stopped

As I write this at around 3 in the afternoon on Saturday, almost a day has passed and I can still feel occasional aftershocks. They are little more than tiny tremors now, but following the earthquake there was an aftershock that was so long and protracted that again I, and everyone else, ran outside. It was a hell of a stressful evening, and watching the news anchors all wearing hardhats on TV wasn't exactly a comforting sight I'd imagine. Going to bed that night as aftershocks were going on should have been tough stuff. Thankfully due to the powerful combination of my stupidity, laziness and the cold which has been devastating my body for the past week I actually fell asleep pretty easily around 10 o'clock. I only found out that last night the newscasters all looked like extremely well dressed miners thanks to a friend telling me just how terrifying it was.

2. Miyagi and Fukushima

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I'm living in Tokyo, so whilst we got hit by the earthquake, considering the magnitude of the earthquake the city got off pretty lightly. People further to the north east of Tokyo in Miyagi and Fukushima got the worst of it. I was shocked when I turned on the news to see the images that many of you have seen. The tsunami that crashed through the costal cities carrying waves of cars, people, trains and even buildings away was horrifying. Today, life in Tokyo is pretty normal so it's weird to see that just a couple of hundred kilometers away there is such massive devastation. I'm sure everyones thoughts are with the people affected the most by the earthquake.

3. Oh yeah, an (expletive expletive expletive) nuclear power plant was hit!

So yeah, a nuclear power plant in Fukushima was hit. And according to the Prime Minister Naoto Kan, a small amount of radioactive material has been released into the air to relieve the pressure. Officials insist that there is no risk, but yeah. I mean seriously, who would not be a little freaked out to hear that. Expletive indeed.

4. Stockpiling

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I went to the local 7/11 last night after dinner to pick up some snacks only to find it packed to bursting point with people emptying the shelves. There is nothing quite like seeing a man carrying two baskets full of cup ramen to freak you the hell out. Especially when his wife is holding armfuls of 2 liter water bottles. Having decided I didn't want to wait half an hour to get a Snickers, I went home. Just a couple of hours ago I went back to the 7/11. Whilst there is a lot of stuff there, the fact that the shelves are still stripped of instant food is telling. People are still freaked out.

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5. I need a drink

Considering where I lived, it wasn't a life threatening experience. It wasn't a life flash before your eyes moment, but everyone was pretty shaken up. And surely in such a situation, getting drunk is an acceptable method of dealing with the stress. And hey, if you were so inclined to do so, I'm sure that it wouldn't be too difficult to hook up with someone after a shared experience like that. There obviously wouldn't be a problem with finding something to talk about with a stranger, and if the old 'We both nearly died today, isn't life such a fragile thing, it really makes you want to live every day to the fullest and seize every opportunity hey do you want to come back to my place for a coffee?' line doesn't work in a time like this, it never will.

But I have a cold. So, instead of spending last night in a debauched night of hedonistic pleasures having rediscovered my lust for life, I stayed at home and played Dead Space 2. See, I told you I'd mention video games at some point.

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May contain suggestive themes; Censorship in Japan

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Censorship and the video games have always shared an uneasy relationship but, by and large, the industry has been successful with its policy of self-regulation. With a few notable exceptions, Manhunt being perhaps the most obvious example, any controversy related to graphic violence or sexually explicit content has been generated by fabricated moral outrage from the media. Japan on the other hand still suffers from a more stringent policy of censorship relating to games, something that might surprise those who are familiar with the graphic depictions of sex and violence that can be found in adult manga and anime.

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In 2006 there was an overhaul of the rating system which led to the current CERO rating system of A, B, C, D and Z. An A rating means that the game is acceptable to any age, B is roughly equivalent to 12 and up, C to 15 and up, D to 17 and up and the Z rating, the only rating regulated by law, is only for those over the age of 18. While the ratings system itself seems quite similar to that of other countries, the differences between the ratings of individual games between different countries can be surprising. Persona 3 and 4 both received only B ratings, making them suitable for ages 12 and up whilst in Europe and America the rating was for 16 and 17 years old respectively. This is likely due to cultural sensitivities over the use of firearms and the perceived image of suicide, especially in America, but this is a rare case. Japan’s rating certification organization is more often than not more stringent than its Western counterparts. Infamous is a particularly curious example of a Z rating, putting it alongside games such as MadWorld and Gears of War.

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It isn’t so much the rating system which is curious but rather the censorship of certain titles. In an effort to keep away from a Z rating, games often either have the blood removed or altered in some manner. Uncharted and No More Heroes are two examples of games that are oddly bloodless in their Japanese iterations. And for those who savored the rather macabre sight of Chris or Sheva being decapitated by a chainsaw wielding maniac in Resident Evil 5, be grateful that you didn’t pick up a Japanese copy of the game. Just before the deed is about to be done the camera tastefully pans down to focus on the lower back and legs of the character as their body goes limp. Because of cuts and censorship, all three games avoided the dreaded Z rating.

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As did Heavy Rain which had its already tasteful and tame sex scene rendered ridiculously tasteful and incredibly tame. Due to the amount it was cut it was very much a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene which left me slightly confused as to whether it had actually occurred, or whether the two characters had simply brushed their bare shoulders together as they lay on the bed. In Japan suggestion rather than depiction of sex seems to be the key. This is often reflected in the games which are misleading labeled as ‘erotic’ by Western audiences. Three such examples were evident at the Tokyo Game Show this year, and if you had kept yourself informed about the games on display, you may have heard of The Idolm@ster 2, Dream Club Zero and GalGun. They differ greatly in the extent of the suggestive content in the game, but none feature anything more graphic than a flash of exposed underwear.

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That isn’t to say that there isn’t content that many would baulk at. Of the three, The Idolm@aster 2 is certainly the most famous. The game revolves around managing a Japanese all girls pop group, although it will also feature a male group, and is essentially a rhythm action game with a strong emphasis on choosing costumes, venues and camera angles in order to create your own concerts. Your character, an unnamed rookie producer, chats to the group members and members of the production company. What will make some pause for thought is that your dialogue options range from very sweet and caring to openly perverted. As the girls are as young as 12, this suggestive dialogue is rather inappropriate. The Idolm@aster is rated C.

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Dream Club Zero, the sequel to Dream Club, is a love simulation game in which the protagonist is a patron of a maid themed hostess club. Money can be earned through part time jobs and can be spent at titular hostess club to buy drinks, food, and presents for the maids. By answering and asking questions, giving gifts, completing mini games and ordering food, you attempt to win favor with the staff and eventually to form a romantic relationship. This relationship is never depicted in a graphic manner and the game is surprisingly tame in that respect, but there are still enough suggestive elements to ensure that it would likely get a higher rating than the C which it is classified as in Japan. Even leaving aside the already infamous first person perspective of feeding the girl a banana scene, the fact that an important way to curry favor is by consuming alcohol and getting the girl drunk would likely boost the age rating to something closer to the legal age of the country.

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Galgun is the game which really garnered the most foreign interest at the show. A new intellectual property, the game is essentially an on-rails shooter. As you go around a school, dozens of female students run at you trying to give you love letters. By shooting them you seem to make them fall more deeply in love with you and their reaction is, to put it rather indelicately, clearly orgasmic. There was also a mini game sequence in which you had to rotate the camera around a girl and shoot her in erogenous areas in order to progress. The demo finished with a boss battle against a tentacle monster that had captured a girl. The game is obviously very tongue-in-cheek about its subject matter and is an effective parody of the erotic anime genre, but that doesn’t really stop it from being slightly disturbing to those unaware of this particular subculture. Though it has yet to be released I would suspect that, barring the inclusion of anything significantly more explicit than was in the demo I played, it will be classified as a C or D.

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My point isn’t to make fun of Japanese culture at all, but instead to highlight some of the cultural differences Japanese and Western games and how the perceptions of what is appropriate differ. It isn’t simply that Western games aren’t suggestive rather than explicit in their content. Leisure Suit Larry is a classic example of a game which is suggestive rather than explicitly erotic, but even in that game whilst the content isn’t explicit, the suggestiveness is. It is about a character who wants to have sex. None of the three games mentioned above fall into the same category and, barring games made specifically as erotic games, this is true of most Japanese games.

The rating system in every country stems from the culture of the country itself. Through either censorship or design, games in Japan tend to suggest rather than depict, whether it be a decapitation or oral sex.

Ni No Kuni will finally bring JRPGs to PS3

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One of the glaring problems of this generation of consoles has been its failure to produce truly great traditional Japanese RPGs. Certainly there have been plenty of solid efforts, and the likes of Lost Odyssey, Eternal Sonata, Resonance of Fate, and Final Fantasy XIII all have their charms. We have even had excellent deviations from the standard style of Japanese RPGs with the strategy focused Valkyria Chronicles. But looking back at the 128, 32 and 16 bit eras it is hard not to get the impression that when it comes to memorable, high quality traditional Japanese RPGs, we have been left wanting by the HD consoles. Ni No Kuni could be the game that finally overturns that preconception.

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The cell-shaded look of the game is simple yet undeniably beautiful. Much of this owes to the excellent art direction which in turns owes to the influence of Studio Ghibli. Ni No Kuni replicates the distinctive character designs of Japan’s most celebrated animation studio and transitions them smoothly from 2D into 3D. The effect is breathtaking. There have been many benchmarks set in the utilization of cell-shaded graphics such as Jet Grind Radio and Viewtiful Joe, and Ni No Kuni seems set to join them as examples of the style executed in a way which truly enhances the experience. What sets it apart from its peers is that whilst cell-shaded games tend to be a little stiff, the animation in Ni No Kuni has some wonderfully smooth touches. The sight of protagonist Oliver’s cape fluttering as he nimbly hops across gaps is impressive. Even the manner in which his walking animation subtly changes as he walks up or trots down steps is mesmerizing. It is these smaller touches that help to breathe life into the world.

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This attention to detail has seemingly extended to other parts of the game. In the town sequence for example, Oliver is tasked with talking to some inhabitants and to get a fish in order to bribe the feline guards and gain access to the castle. Rather than having an obtrusive arrow to follow, or a map displayed in the corner to determine where you have to go, you can simply look at your fairy guide Shizuku. He trots out into front of you to indicate the direction you should be going in order to reach your next objective. Shizuku behaves as if he and Oliver are magnets of the same polarity, so when you follow him he pushes on at pretty much the same distance. You are free to ignore him if you please, in which case he tags along behind you still showing the way to progress. This way of traversing towns without the need to clutter the screen is just another small touch, but is indicative of the importance of the immersive nature of the world to developer Level 5.

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Unlike its DS counterpart the combat in the PS3 version isn’t turn based. Rather it is a curious combination of direct control and issued commands. The player has direct control of Oliver and can control his movement and melee attacks via button presses, and as the primary spell caster of the party you are able to select magical attacks and support spells through a rotating selection wheel in the bottom left of the screen. This wheel is also used as the method for issuing commands to the monsters in your party and you can order them to attack certain targets, cast spells themselves, and make combined attacks, though they still operate independently without prompting. The battle system seems promising, but the brief time imposed by the demo means that I can’t say more than it has the potential to be interesting.

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That is what is really the crux of the matter when it comes to Ni No Kuni; the potential. The demo at the Tokyo Game Show merely showed the audience what it had already expected, that it was going to be a very beautiful game with the quality of animation, music, and storytelling that Studio Ghibli and Level 5 are famous for. But it revealed little about the full scope of the game. The DS demo displayed far more of the scale of the game and the impressive variety of styles of gameplay, and their depth, that were going to be a part of Ni No Kuni. It does seem that, like the DS version, there will be an element of collecting and training monsters to fight alongside you, but whether the console version will include the Nintendogs style of maintenance which the DS version contains is as yet unclear. There are already so many differences between the two versions that there is no reason to consider the PS3 game as a prettier form of the same game. And even though the two games share similar story elements, the narratives are going to be quite different, but just how Level 5 plan to take advantage of a console as opposed to a handheld format is intriguing. The DS version is full of elements which suit the nature of the medium, such as using the touch screen to write out runes, as well as the unique spell book required to play the game. Whether as much effort is made to cater the experience to the console could go some way to determining just how good the game is. As its development started far later than the DS version there could even be concerns as to whether the PS3 game has the same aspiration to have such a full experience, beyond the scope of a traditional Japanese RPG, that is evident in the portable game. But if it has the depth, ambition, and variety of Level 5’s PS2 classic Dark Cloud 2 we could be in for a real treat.

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When it is released next year we will find out just how much of the staggering potential this game has can be fulfilled. With many more years of this console generation left to run, we might be about to witness the first indisputably great Japanese RPG of the HD era. It has been a long wait.
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thedogbarks

Author:thedogbarks
A blog dedicated to video games, akihabara, and everything otaku. Please leave comments to keep me motivated!

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