Ni No Kuni II’s boss battles are surprisingly epic
We had the chance to go hands on with Ni No Kuni II’s boss battles and came away both victorious and impressed.
Ni No Kuni is gorgeous. A Japanese RPG dressed as a Studio Ghibli film, its whimsical charm is hard to resist. The polished, gloriously colourful visuals and fantasy-inspired world grab at your imagination, pulling it to the front of your mind and refusing to let go. One look at the sequel and it’s easy to believe that Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom will be a fun place to hang out for a couple of hours, if not days. Developed by Level-5 (of Professor Layton fame) and published by Bandai Namco, it's a highly anticipated game, especially given the cult following earned by its 2013 predecessor, Wrath of the White Witch.
Befitting its charming aesthetic, the game centres on the town of Ding Dong Dell. Here the Cat and Mouse tribes have been at each other Tom and Jerry style, with the Mouse tribe in control as the action begins. You play the young Cat king out to reclaim his throne. The game’s overworld is a throwback to the genre’s origins, albeit far far prettier. From an isometric view, the king and his collected party members explore, visit villages, raid dungeons and take on quests.
However, when the action heats up, the perspective goes to the ground with the kind of third-person perspective you might expect in God of War. Here, deep in combat, the game feels like anything but an old-school RPG. I recently got the chance to put the fast-paced combat to test as I took on two big boss battles. I wasn’t expecting such explosive, fast-paced combat in a game that otherwise feels measured and story-driven.
In the first boss battle, my party members and I found ourselves trapped on a little island, facing off against a titan lunging at us from the water beyond. Taking a fixed camera perspective, this boss battle initially feels like something from a classic Mario platformer. However, as the fighting begins in earnest, it becomes far deeper.
Jumping, light and charged attacks, dodge rolls and a magic hat full of spells are on offer. These can be linked together as required, depending on the positioning of the boss. You also have Higgledies. These little Pikmin-like critters will do your bidding in combat, adding the weight of their numbers to the carnage.
Magic attacks include health buffs, ranged and melee attacks and area-of-effect spells. I often found myself firing ranged magic attacks at the boss while dodging his fire bombs and projectiles, then hacking at him with traditional melee moves when he got close enough. Strategic health buffs in between kept me alive long enough to repeat the routine, adapting to his pattern on the way to whittling down his long energy bar.
What caught me off guard was just how fluid it all feels, despite the sheer amount of action occurring on screen. Alongside the boss going loco with his own attacks – often involving environmental changes like falling boulders and fire geysers - were my own party members and Higgledies giving their all and my own activities. The screen was jammed with activity, yet linking together my evasive moves with various attack and defence strategies was seamless and fun.
The second boss battle unfolded in an arena, much like a Plaza de Toros. My enemy was far more mobile, swiftly leaping over my head or turning on me in an instant if I sought to attack from a blind spot. While the core combat was essentially the same, this battle proved that it could all unfold in a 3D environment as well as it did in the more 2D, locked-style of the first battle.
I was unable to test how combat might evolve throughout the game and how rewarding it would be to learn new tricks, upgrade abilities and unlock/loot/buy new gear, but at a base level, Ni No Kuni II impressed me to no end with its fast-paced, fluid, action-filled combat. As if I wasn’t already won over by the stunning visuals and whimsical charm.
If there is one negative, it’s that the release of Ni No Kuni II has just been delayed in Australia. Look for it on PlayStation 4 and PC on 19 January 2018.
Pre-Order Ni No Kuni II Revenant Kingdom from ozgameshop.com
Ni No Kuni II releases 23rd March 2018. Secure your copy today and get pre-order bonus!View details