Originally announced for the Nintendo DS back in 2008, Ni no Kuni: Another World is now coming to Sony's PlayStation 3 as well. The game is a collaboration between renowned developer Level 5 (Professor Layton, Dragon Quest 9), animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli (My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Ponyo), and Ghibli's award winning composer, Joe Hisaishi.
The first trailer and screens for the PS3 iteration of the game have just been released. Perfectly capturing Studio Ghibli's signature art style, Ni no Kuni's debut trailer makes one thing abundantly clear: this is a beautiful game. You just have to see it for yourself.
The gameplay on display seems to stick fairly closely to the action-RPG formula Level 5 has polished throughout its career, though there may be some interesting additions.
For the DS version of the game, due to be released this fall in Japan, Level 5 will be including a 352 page book called the Magic Master. Ni no Kuni's protagonist, Oliver, will need to "refer to the book while going through his adventure." The Magic Master functions as a "magical instruction guide," and players may need to consult their physical copy of the book during the course of the game.
Whether that mechanic will come to the PS3 version of Ni no Kuni has not been revealed, though the game is expected to be -- from a gameplay standpoint -- the same on both platforms.
The importance of Studio Ghibli's involvement with Ni no Kuni simply cannot be overstated. Arguably the most respected animation house in the world, and home to Hayao Miyazaki, widely considered the greatest animation director of all time, Ghibli's films routinely top the Japanese box office. Ni no Kuni marks Studio Ghibli's first involvement with videogames.
Of course, Level 5 is an equally important part of the project. Beginning with the Dark Cloud games and culminating with their involvement in the Dragon Quest series, Level 5 has grown into one of Japan's most important game development studios. Dragon Quest 9 has, so far, sold over 4.26 million copies in Japan alone.
With the combined talents of Studio Ghibli and Level 5, Ni no Kuni has to be considered among the most important games on the horizon. Its success is virtually guaranteed in Japan. Given the worldwide appeal of Studio Ghibli's films, the game may reach a much wider audience.
Personally, I'm absolutely floored by the PS3 trailer. I'll admit that when the game was limited to the DS, I had not given it much notice. But on the PS3, Ghibli's tremendous visual artistry really springs to life, creating a game world that I truly can't wait to experience.
What do you think about Ni no Kuni? Are you a fan of Studio Ghibli's films? How about Level 5's games?
No release date has been set for Ni no Kuni on PlayStation 3.