Clash of Heroes: Might and Magic (iOS)
A quick PSA from The FAT Website: My pick for Best Video Game of 2011, Capybara’s excellent Clash of Heroes: Might and Magic is now out on iOS for the princely sum of $5. If you haven’t played this game before, now’s the perfect time to jump in. It’s a strategy game that’s easy to learn, has plenty of charm, offers up about 30 hours of gameplay and is perfectly suited to a touch screen interface. My recommendation is if you can play it on the iPad over an iPhone, that’d probably be a better experience but either way…give it a go. This game is a ton of fun.
My original review for the Xbox Live Arcade version of this game can be found here.
There’s no real difference with the iOS version. My only advice is that if you ever find the frame rate dropping, just make sure you exit out of the game entirely, close the app then reload it and you’ll be good to go.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (Playstation3)
I’m currently playing the long awaited Western version of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. The game was co-produced by developers Level 5 (creators of the Professor Layton series) and the famous Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli. It is the latter’s first attempt at dabbling with video games.
The game has taken 3 years to make it to Western shores but it has been well worth the wait. Don’t bother playing it in Japanese audio with subtitles. It is absolutely worth experiencing the English translation as the voice acting and screenplay has been handled remarkably well. The dialogue is filled to the brim with clever puns and the wordplay reminded me of the Asterix comic book series with its playful prose and subtle nods to adult humour. There isn’t a trace of the awkward or obtuse dialogue that is commonly associated with many other Japanese RPGs.
The voice acting is terrific too. They’ve opted to go with unknown newcomers that have got most of their experience from stage acting. The highlight is the lantern-nosed sidekick Mr Drippy who speaks with a highly distinctive Welsh accent. When was the last time anyone made a video game with a Welsh accent? Apparently, it’s not entirely unexpected of Studio Ghibli. Reportedly, studio head Hayao Miyazaki is very taken with the Welsh countryside and dialect. So much so that he based the visual design of his film Castle in the Sky on a visit to the country in 1984.
The best part of the dialogue is that is so self assured and confidently handled that the game creates its own catchphrases and trademark one liners. Mr Drippy’s infectious exclamation ‘tidy!’ soon began to permeate my own speech outside of the game. This sort of influence I commonly associate with film and television but rarely with video games.
The game itself is a tried and true J-RPG, the kind that they rarely make anymore. There is a gigantic fantasy world to be explored, plenty of distinct towns and villages, airships, creatures, spells and quests. It’s what millions of gamers have been wanting from Squaresoft for a near fruitless ten years. All of this is presented in a beautifully lush cell shaded art style that perfectly captures the Studio Ghibli design aesthetic.
I’m not even halfway through the game but I hope this game serves as a template for other animation studios that might be considering another entry in the video game market. Both Pixar and Disney have had video game adaptations of their films with pretty mixed results. Kingdom Hearts is the most famous big budget attempt at fusing the Disney license with video games but unfortunately, the games feel much more like a Final Fantasy game with Disney characters awkwardly shoe-horned in. Ni No Kuni on the other hand, feels like it has the soul of a Studio Ghibli production.
I would love to Disney, Pixar or Dreamworks have a go at doing their own RPG with a capable Western studio. Potentially, this might be what we’re getting with Obsidian’s collaboration with the South Park guys for their game The Stick of Truth. We shall see.
In the meantime, I am having an absolute blast with this game. A full review will be in a few weeks when I finish the game.