Ni No Kuni PS3 Review

Ni No Kuni Cover

I don’t even know where to start with this review of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, because I haven’t written one for some time and I have a deep, profound love for this game, its artistry, and its story. One of the first RPGs I played was Final Fantasy IX, and I was really fond of the way you could travel on the world and find little easter eggs scattered throughout. And, as you know, I am a huge fan of Miyazaki’s storytelling because it’s often challenging (From Up on Poppy Hill) without being dumbed down. Not to mention, the more traditional style of animation is something I prefer given the feel of painted landscapes, etc.

The story is about Oliver, a young boy who’s lost his mother. To rescue her, he travels to another world with the guidance of a fairy named Drippy, to battle alongside his wizard’s familiars. The game mechanics are easy enough to learn and there’s an incentive for leveling, for your familiars grow in power and might alongside you.

NNK Battle

Since you have the option of switching out familiars, you can alter how challenging the game is when you explore the world and change your battle style on-the-fly. Learning spells and alchemical formulas, finishing sidequests, and advancing the story is evenly spaced so you don’t “forget” where you are in the story. The animation and world exploration is, by far, one of my favorite parts of this game because playing it is like being immersed into a Studio Ghibli film that lingers on…and it’s quite delicious.

I don’t want to give too many spoilers on this, partly because I’m only a third of the way in, but if you like Studio Ghibli, Kingdom Hearts, or Final Fantasy IX and older games in that franchise I really think you’ll dig this game and enjoy the experience. It just hit a “Greatest Hits” status, too, so the price has dropped considerably.

Level thee well!

This Week’s Folded Squees

Fizgig Avatar

What’s not to love about Fall? Before I get to today’s list, I want to say “Thank You” to those of you who’ve commented and enjoyed my Letter to Humans Regarding Halloween that I wound up writing and cross-posting. I had a blast writing it!

Okay, on to this week’s squees!

1) Seriously, Pinterest. How many cool things are on this corkboard? WOW!

2) I’m trying to learn origami. The book of papers I picked up is for beginner’s, so it’s stiffer and holds its shape differently. Ah well, gotta start somewhere!

3) Kind of cheating here, but because origami is my New Thing To Learn, I found out that toilet paper origami is a “thing.” Amazing!

4) Discovered Room on the Broom via Hulu.com. Turns out it’s a book, game, app, and has loads of activities for kids. Neat-o!

5) Sephora.com has a photo gallery and they’ve started to upload pictures of Halloween-inspired makeup and nails. This Halloween manicure is pretty cool!

6) Assembled (hopefully) the last of our replacement furniture. We’ll probably have to get another bookshelf though. Joy of joys… Still? It did NOT sit in the box and for a few hours I was an expert mechanical engineer!

7) And last but not least? Elsa and Anna have made their way into the land of Storybrooke on Once Upon a Time. I have to say, character-wise? Anna is a breathe of fresh, heroic air!

37/365 through 43/365

    Mood: I will conquer Monday.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: I deny nothing!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Darkness fell and I went to bed early.
    In My Ears: A lawnmower. (This is a good thing.)
    Game Last Played: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
    Book Last Read: Some book about the fall harvest and corn kings.
    Movie Last Viewed: Merlin
    Latest Artistic Project: I made an origami heart-shaped bookmark.
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing.
    Latest Game Release: Echoes of War: Thrillin’ Heroics
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work, original comics, and novels.


Dear Humans…

As we understand it, you humans have now changed your Julian calendars to mark the tenth month in your year. Though it is apparent you eagerly anticipate the end of your annual cycle by buying gifts, flocking to mercantile centers, and hanging confusing decorations to acknowledge this passage (e.g. we have yet to understand the point of adorning plastic shrubbery with glass baubles), we do appreciate the fact that you still acknowledge October 31st as All Hallows’ Eve and attempt to celebrate the holiday to varying degrees.

However…

We would now like to take this opportunity to speak about our contemporary involvement in your society and address our concerns for this date. After which, we will be making a small request we hope you will consider fulfilling.

First, please understand that we do acknowledge that some of you are more superstitious than others–and for this we are grateful. Our initial intent when we emerged from our millennia-old hiding places in the natural world was not to eradicate your magical thinking completely, but we see now that we were a little too effective in our efforts to convince you that either we did not exist or we did and we were simply not as scary as you first thought. To us, the great pendulum of belief, as it were, has swung too far in the other direction. Instead of hunting us, the undersigned creatures of the supernatural kingdom, the vast majority of you are either no longer afraid of the dark or you accuse other humans of taking our guise and committing the acts we traditionally do. This is, in a word, disappointing.

In our defense, we felt we had no choice but to rethink our relationship with you humans and our role with respect to this holiday in the modern era. You see, as humans continued to rely on technology to advance your cityscapes we–the undersigned Creatures of the Supernatural–realized that our very lives, eggs, and broods were threatened on a global scale. No longer could we hide in the shadows or creep under the stairs; your inventions (namely the “street lamp”, “gunpowder”, and the “telephone”) allowed you to peek into the darkness and coordinate your efforts to hunt us more effectively than ever before. While torches and pitchforks were, in fact, understandable given that you obviously also wished to keep your children safe, we felt that modern inventions that harness the power of lightning (e.g. what you call “electricity”), earth-blood (“gasoline” and “oil”), and the atom (“nuclear energy”) have taken monster-hunting a bit too far. Do you not know that there is no end to this madness? The more terrible the weapons you make, the more frightening we, the undersigned, can and shall become.

Truthfully, however, it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that we creatures began to organize and form a strategy for the future. We became anxious, you see, for the atrocities you committed against one another concerned us, the undersigned. If you were so willing to murder your own kind–for power, land, yellow metal, and bits of paper, mostly–what would you do when you found out a litter of werewolves made their home nearby in a forest? Or that the mayor’s wife in your small town was a vampire? Thus, we opted to take the matters of survival into our own hands by hiding among you so we might act on our own behalf when the time was right.

We felt that violence was not the best option in an age where communication is more effective than ever before. Instead, we chose to slowly immerse ourselves in your human world both politically and legally by acting on your behalf so that we might sneak in a few (what you might recognize to be ambitious or problematic) laws that benefited our true aims. This tactic was engineered so that you might trust our representatives as they attempted to blend in. To date, not one of our agents has been identified and we did achieve some moderate levels of success in the twentieth century, namely through the protection of historic places and national parks. Sadly, our overall mission failed due to one key area: human rights.

The modern era has given us the opportunity to study you like never before with shocking results. Our attempts to procure legal protections for various members of your species were either laughed off or viciously thwarted. It seems, much to our collective surprise, that you humans cannot agree on anything–not even where the treatment of other humans are concerned. Mind you, we do have our differences within the supernatural community, but we are less concerned about the color of our scales or how long our fangs are than you are about certain innate biological traits you humans possess. Baffling though this dichotomy may be, you must understand that it never once occurred to us–not since the dawn of human civilization–that our food source would care about such pithy and insignificant attributes. And, while we always suspected you humans were illogical beings, we learned this hard lesson at great cost during your World Wars. Thus, we shifted the bulk of our efforts to a different field to exercise our pro-monster goals in a more direct way: through advertising.

The fascinating world of advertising has allowed our agents to create, share, and distribute pro-monster propaganda. Some of our attempts to focus solely on human-centric products have proven to be misguided, like Exhibit A. In our defense, however, the minotaur assigned to create this advertisement did not understand the cycle of hair growth for your young males.

Baby With a Razor

Thankfully, Halloween proved not only to be a way of sharing our pro-monster propaganda, we were also able to encourage some of your humans to join our ranks as well. Exhibit B is a shining example of what our community members have accomplished while working alongside you. Not only did we attract more of your females to our ranks, primarily around the area of Brooklyn, this advertisement is also the origin of the phrase “truth in advertising.”

Drink Blood and Be a Vampire

Admittedly, not all of our campaigns were deemed a success. We did get some pushback from your authority figures, which we have come to understand are primarily middle-aged, moderately-wealthy, white males who answer to later-aged, extremely-wealthy, white males. (It should be noted that we do perform monster-to-human outreach by educating some of these males on the subject of empathy for others through a rehabilitation program designed by the fae.) Exhibit C is the result of a failed attempt to recruit more demon-worshippers. Instead of cultist robes, our minions were forced to re-draw the headpieces and alter them to resemble scholarly caps instead. The addition of a jack-o-lantern is also a last minute change, for originally the women were holding the blood-filled skulls necessary to summon the appropriate demon at the proper moment—which, in short, was the entire point of the ad in the first place.

Lady Graduates with Pumpkins

We are confident that history will show Halloween became a more popular holiday in the United States due to advertising. Everything that can be produced has been promoted for the holiday, even your mind-altering substances like Budweiser beer. (Many of us still imbibe this delightful fizzy beverage and would like to note we are thrilled with the addition of lime.) See Exhibit D.

Budweiser Halloween Ad

Eventually, we entrusted the holiday to you and assumed you’d take it over with gusto—which you did do for a time—for a pro-monster stance helps us all. For you humans, fear is an ancient mechanism that not only keeps you safe but also reminds you of your mortality. (Which is often where we come in.) The truth of the matter is that when you forget how precious life is, that is when you take it for granted and commit atrocious acts against yourselves and others. Halloween not only allows you to feel fear in a much safer way than centuries past, but it is also a holiday about this truth: it is perfectly natural that everyone (that is, every mortal) dies. (We shall spare you the specifics regarding this day’s history, but we do encourage you to learn more about it in a factual, non-superstitious manner.)

As we stated in the above paragraph, we did experience a slight reprieve from our own fears about our future. The marketing onslaught of everyday household items to be consumed or used for Halloween, combined with several of your moving pictures from the 1970s and 80s (namely “Gremlins”, “The Exorcist”, and “Puff the Magic Dragon”) allowed us to breathe a sigh of relief and not worry about your ever-expanding foothold into our homes. For a short time, we were able to withdraw back into the shadows and feel safer than we ever had before. But, as they say, all savory morsels must eventually be swallowed.

Fast forward to today. What happened, humans? Have our pro-monster campaigns worked a little too well? Now, you are obscuring the meaning of Halloween by turning a specific portion of your females into… Well, not even our mummies can figure that one out. But, more to the point: since when did Halloween become a holiday to promote mating rituals as opposed to recognizing that this night is the only time during the year when the veil between worlds is the thinnest? Why are you no longer honoring the dead or fearing–to be perfectly blunt–us? See Exhibit E.

Bert Ernie and WTF

Worse, it seems your obsession with a specific female body type has now begun to impact us on a grander scale, too. You have subverted the one, last holiday where we, the undersigned Creatures of the Supernatural, have traditionally had the license to chase, frighten, warn, prophesy, and prey upon you. It fascinates us that the costumes you once wore were meant to scare others, but now? They seem to be less about fear and more about the right to get drunk and take the costume off. (Several of us would like to know the point of buying a garment if you plan to remove it quickly.) Worse, we’ve even heard that some of you humans have taken our pro-monster propaganda into the bedroom, for you now wish to “fall in love” and “get married” to our various species, thus producing cross-bred offspring in unprecedented and shameful numbers. This is not only ludicrous it is also dangerous—for our species are not compatible and these relationships typically end in the human’s untimely demise.

At this point in our letter we must now pause, ask you to reflect upon all that we have said, and whisper our request in your ear. For all the aforementioned reasons, put an end to your insatiable lust and debauchery for this one October night. Honor us by acknowledging the symbiotic relationship we’ve had for thousands of years. Bring back the spirit of Halloween, undo this extreme and unnatural form of pro-monsterism, and help us restore the natural cycle of death, life, and rebirth.

Or else.

Signed,

The Creatures of the Supernatural
Planet Earth

(Please see attached list of signatures. Each signature, scrawl, claw/bite mark, blood stain, and paw print reflects a representative of one of our 20,000+ species. Of the 67,566 who did not sign, approximately 999 are unaccounted for.)

7 Squees of Why

Big Giant Sword Fighting Avatar

This week’s squees are concentrated into a bullet-point list. Right now, I don’t want to leave my desk, so this is hard. Besides my e-mail and word count, the temperature is dropping rapidly and darkness is always a good place to be in order to write, write, write. However? Life, the universe, and everythingTM is calling me to ensure that yep, there are groceries in the fridge and yes, I should probably do something more strenuous than rolling my chair back today. Before I do, however, I want to get this done. It is often harder in this doom-doom-doom-terror-squared-BE-AFRAID-TO-LEAVE-YOUR-HOUSE age to find something to be happy about, because being happy is not the “popular” thing to do.

So here are seven squees. The reason why? I don’t want to flood my blog every day with a new one, because it’s apparent that a list seems more appropriate unless I have Something To SayTM.

1.) Netflix’s First Original Movie is the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon! Should be out late 2015 or 2016, but I’m curious to see where this goes. It did make me squee!

2.) I love how random conversations can be serendipitous. I was talking about putting together a gothabilly outfit, when someone suggested a fabric site. Spoonflower is an awesome site that features indie fabric print designers. And they have LOADS of skull prints. LOADS!

3.) This Gorey-inspired print from Weregeek. Now framed and on my wall. The poster-sized 11 x 17 frames work perfectly!

4.) I figured out how to do a flat Kumihimo braid using a square disk all by myself. Huzzah! Not finished with the design quite yet, because I think I’m going to go a little crazy with it. I have an idea, though. WOO!

5.) Pre-ordered The Edge of Tomorrow. GREAT movie!

6.) The Tower of Orthanc in Legos. With an Ent! AND A LEGO PALANTIR!

7.) Bat for Lashes and “The Haunted Man.” LOVE this collection. LOVE.

And that’s it for this week’s squees. Same time… Same bat channel…

29/365 through 36/365

    Mood: Oh, to be wealthy enough to have someone else take care of all the housework and sh*t. (Yeah, that’ll never happen.)
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Just the one. There will likely be more.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Um…
    In My Ears: Surprisingly? Nothing.
    Game Last Played: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
    Book Last Read: I’m a bad writer because I can’t remember the title at the moment. TERRIBLE EVEN.
    Movie Last Viewed: Fellowship of the Ring
    Latest Artistic Project: Kumihimo plate using ghostly colors/
    Latest Fiction/Comic Release: Last Man Zombie Standing.
    Latest Game Release: Echoes of War: Thrillin’ Heroics
    What I’m Working On: Primarily tie-in games work, original comics, and novels.


Back from Context 27

I owe you two or three posts today, but you’re only going to get the one. The first one was a bit more on the pre-order for Things Don’t Go Smooth and the second was this week’s list of squees. (A third was going to be on how I write long form works, but hey… there’s only so much time in the day.) Instead, I turn to my summary on what happened at Context 27–because it’s fresh in my mind.

Having been to more science fiction and fantasy conventions now, I feel that there’s a marked difference between shows and what you can expect from them depending upon what you want to get out of the convention. I talked about this before, but I feel it’s important to note that yes, I do have a touch of social anxiety when it comes to meeting new people. I am terrible with first impressions, partly because I have a very big personality that I realize can/has steamrolled over others, but also because I’m sensitive to the mood of the room or I’m trying to be respectful of what the person I’m talking to is there to do. As I told one of my friends, I see the threads connecting folk, and I never want to feel like I’m imposing. This changes with time, yes, because as I get to make more friends who are comfortable around me it gets easier. (Which I think is true of anyone, really.) BUT, it’s also equally important that I have something to “do.” A media or gaming convention? No problem. But SF&F cons tend to have a slower pace due to their focus, which means I have to get “creative” with my time and make the most out of it while I’m there. Yes, absolutely, I can write or read, but that’s something I can do at home.

Context fits into my sweet spot because (though the hotel was probably designed by Loki) there were definitely Things To Do and it had a tight focus. I went in a day early to decompress and not be rushed; meandered over to this lovely place called Pies and Pints where I stamped “approved” on their pulled pork nachos and blueberry cider. Everyone in the general area was extremely friendly and happy to divulge their life’s story, from the Nigerian shuttle driver to the local pottery artist to the budding songwriter. It was lovely. For Day Two, registration began, I got to meet guests-of-honor Jonathan Maberry and Betsy Mitchell who were both fabulous. Then, I had a fun panel about the future of magazines with Brady Allen, crashed my friend Maurice Broaddus‘s workshop on Building Your Brand, had dinner with the amazingly talented Lucy Snyder and a heap of others, and started to get excited. As folks trickled in, I knew the guitars would too–courtesy of Lawrence Connolly, John Hornor Jacobs, and Geoffrey Girard. So we spent later Friday night in an impromptu jam, and it was a-w-e-s-o-m-e. I hope that this’ll become a regular thing, as there are loads of great musicians floating around!

Saturday was The Big Day with more panels, a signing, a reading with Janet Harriett, my Build-a-World game show, and parties. The most feedback I received about my panels was for the Writing for Media Tie-Ins with Tim Waggoner and Laura Resnick and the Build-a-World gameshow–which was a total hit! Congrats to John Hornor Jacobs, Ferrett Steinmetz, and Addie J King (e.g. Team Things Could Get Ugly) for their hair-raising six-point win over Team Responsible and Sober! Huzzah! Also on Saturday were shenanigans at the various parties. But, since what happens at Context stays at Context…

Sunday I slept in a touch, got to make my good-byes, and scrambled for the way home. Now, I am SURE I am missing something. Positive, even. (I’m also certain I am missing more someones, too… DARN IT ALL and HUGE apologies in advance!) But here’s the thing: the reason why I feel that this show is a good one to attend, is simply that there’s a strong emphasis on craft. If that’s the type of convention you want to attend? Then mark your calendar for next year’s show!

Thanks again to Steven Saus for inviting me!

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