Bottom line: This rereleased classic is a delightful adventure for any Switch owner. It showcases beautiful cut scenes from Studio Ghibli and has you exploring an imaginative fairy tale world. It's a heartwarming tale about loss, love, and friendship.
- Charming story and artwork
- Relaxing play style
- Familiar capturing feels like Pokémon
- Decent fighting mechanics
- Frequent errors
- Too much handholding
Lovers of fairy tales and Studio Ghibli fans rejoice! The beloved classic, Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch, has just made its way onto the Nintendo Switch. It's a heartwarming tale that follows a young lad named Oliver who finds his way into a magical world that parallels his own. An evil wizard named Shadar has been corrupting the hearts of individuals and it's up to Ollie and his friends to make things right again.
Though this game isn't that old, it has quite a release history. Way back in 2010 a DS game called Ni No Kuni: Dominion of the Dark Djinn released in Japan. A year later in 2011, the game was basically remade in Japan for PS3 under the title Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. This PS3 version later found it's way to America in January 2013. This year the game has been remastered for PC and PS4, but the Nintendo Switch version is really just a rerelease of the 2010 game. Considering how simple the graphics are and that the Switch can't handle really high resolution, the 2010 version is ideal for the Switch, though the actual game Switch version does have some issues.
A playful tale that feels like a Studio Ghibli movie
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch What I like
Lighthearted gaming Studio Ghibli charm
Anyone who's ever seen a Studio Ghibli production will instantly recognize the art style of this game. The beautifully animated cinematic cut scenes were created by the Japanese animation studio, as is evident by the familiar look of the characters. As with just about every Ghibli movie, this game explores the wonders of childhood as well as some serious issues. I absolutely love watching the animated bits; it really does feel like you're watching a movie in parts.
Part of me finds the plot to be oversimplified and cheesy, but the earnest voice acting, innocent-looking characters, and gorgeous landscapes all come together to make Ni No Kuni work the way the creators intended. Going along with the childlike simplicity of the artwork, the play style of this game is very simple. Anyone looking for an intense JRPG won't find it here. However, this is a fun laid back game for anyone looking for something upbeat and relaxing.
Fighting and Familiar collecting Feels a bit like Pokémon
Near the beginning of the game, Oliver discovers he's a wizard who can control Familiars in battle. You'll issue commands to your Familiars, but this is not a turn-based RPG. You can run around freely or cancel a command if you want during a fight, which is a mechanic I like.
Players will come across wild Familiars as they travel between cities. Sometimes when you're fighting one of these beasts, the creature takes a liking to you, which allows you to serenade it and attempt to win it over to your side. If you're successful, this beast becomes a partner that one of your companions can fight with. I personally love this part of the game. Collecting Familiars feels a lot like catching Pokémon and there are several different looking creatures to collect.
Each Familiar has its own abilities and fighting styles. You can also equip these creatures with weapons, shields, cloaks, and amulets to increase their stats. They earn experience points in battle and can level up. When they're leveled up enough, they can even undergo a metamorphose to change their look and become stronger. It's a lot like when a Pokemon evolves. The big difference is that metamorphosed Familiars are sent back to level one and must be leveled up again.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch What I don't like
As with any game, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch isn't perfect. Some of its imperfections are due to the mechanics of the game itself, but others are due to the way it runs on the Nintendo Switch console.
Receiving errors Closing the game
Before testing Ni No Kuni myself, I read that the game had a tendency to crash while people were playing it. This made me very wary of the game at first and had me saving every chance I got. But after playing for a few hours without incident, I let my guard down. The game eventually did crash on me and it was pretty upsetting considering that I had been an idiot and hadn't saved for roughly 30 minutes. When I was finally able to get the game running again, I had to run around and redo some of the things I'd already done.
After that, I was much more dutiful in saving every chance I got. The game crashed on me four times in the first 12 hours of play. I'm not sure what causes it, but it's definitely annoying. For me the game never froze during a cut scene, it was always while I wandered about a town or the large world map that the game had an error and closed. This is truly frustrating and is a huge downside to playing the game on the Switch. With any luck, Bandai Namco will release a patch to solve this issue.
Slow plot progression Holds your hand too much
The other big thing that I disliked about this game was how slowly the plot progressed. The game can be frustrating for experienced gamers who know how RPGs work since it elaborately explains common game elements with long-winded dialogue and cut scenes. Considering that it looks like the game was meant for little children, it kind of makes sense that the game would hold your hand like this. However, it's still frustrating for anyone who's ever played a game before.
Oliver, in particular, is especially slow at catching on to where the plot is going and needs to have his companions explain everything to him. It would be a lot better of a game if the main character didn't slow the momentum of every new discovery. It leaves for some fun dialogue between the spunky characters, but it also leaves you twiddling your thumbs or spamming the A button to skip through to the next part.
You also have to do things in the order that the game wants you to. For example, I learned a spell early in the game that allowed me to spring open locks. Right after learning it, I tried using it on a locked door, but the spell didn't respond. Literally just a few minutes later after completing a cut scene, I was directed back to that same locked door and this time the spell worked.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Bottom Line
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a delightful fantasy romp through the eyes of a child. Parts of the game can be a bit drawn out, but overall the heart of this game is what draws so many people to it. It's upbeat, relaxing, and just downright charming. Much of this is due to the earnest voice acting and also due to the gorgeous art style provided by Studio Ghibli. As long as you aren't expecting a challenging JRPG, you'll enjoy the simple characters and gameplay of this adventure. Just be sure to save frequently on your Switch since the game has a tendency to freeze and close.
This lighthearted journey brings back the feeling of awe I felt in my childhood. It's got its flaws and definitely holds your hand a little too much, but it's an enjoyable game overall.
Pure of heart
Master magic in a fairy tale world
This beautifully animated classic has you following a young boy named Oliver who finds himself in a magical world. It's up to you to defeat the evil Shadar and bring peace back to this world and your own in this beloved JRPG with plenty of heart.
Rebecca Spear is the dedicated gaming editor for iMore who loves playing games on Switch and iOS. She is a Zelda nut through and through and can also talk for hours about her favorite Pokémon games. She’s written hundreds of guides and reviews over the last six years to the point that if you get stuck in a game somewhere, she can help you out. On any given day, you’ll find her following the latest tech, digitally drawing with her iPad Air and Apple Pencil, reading a good book, or - you guessed it - playing video games. Follow her on Twitter @rrspear (opens in new tab) to see her post about her corgi, foster kitties, art, and favorite video game characters.
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