Gamers who played 2010’s phenomenal Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch when it was first released will remember it for the heartfelt tale of Oliver, its addictive Pokémon-inspired battle system, and most of all, the eye-catching Studio Ghibli character designs. Nearly a decade on, I’m happy to report that the game is back in remastered form to introduce a whole new generation of gamers to this incredible adventure. Unfortunately, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find this remastering job is marred by your newborn son’s near-constant screaming for food.
While this distraction never made Level-5’s classic JRPG unplayable per se, I want to stress to any potential buyers that my 3-week-old son’s continual wailing for sustenance did wrench me out of the game several times and spoil what would otherwise be a beautiful and immersive experience.
Here’s why: Ni no Kuni has always been defined by its pitch-perfect presentation. The original score by celebrated Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi and the voice-acting bringing characters like Drippy and Swaine to life truly made you feel like you were playing through an interactive anime. Yet, I could barely hear any of this over the agonized wailing and coughing of my red-faced infant as he grew increasingly frantic in his demands for milk.
Now, there are some fixes for these nagging issues. Personally, I was able to rush over and throw a blanket over my son to muffle his howls while I had some in-game familiars cover Oliver’s back in combat. During some of the game’s many ridiculously gorgeous cutscenes, I even moved his crib into the other room. Sadly, though, this did nothing to address related problems such as the smell of unchanged diapers that kept distracting me from the quest to stop the White Witch before she could destroy the world.
One recommendation I will give any gamer who experiences these frustrating problems is simple: Unplug your phone. You’re going to be getting a lot of calls from concerned neighbors and eventually child services, and that’s only going to make it harder to focus on grinding out some of the side quests and bounties to level up later in the game before you take on the Zodiarchy.
With all of this said, the gameplay experience does take a clear uptick about 40 hours into its playtime. That’s when my son’s crying tapered off, and I didn’t really hear the shrill, annoying shrieks again. From then on out, this was the Ni no Kuni I know and love. With nothing but silence in my apartment, I was fully engrossed in the gripping journey to help Oliver and his friends defeat Cassiopeia.
Once those beautiful moments of the game’s closing arc kicked in, not even the police banging on my front door was enough to drag down my awe at this truly legendary gaming experience. For this, I’m giving Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch a qualified but enthusiastic 8.5 out of 10.