Namco Bandai made the unwelcome announcement at the Global Gamer’s Day last week that the upcoming Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch had hit a speed bump with the US release having now been pushed back to 2013. This means that it will now launch simultaneously alongside the PAL regions, rather than following in the footsteps of Demon’s Souls and Tales of Graces F and leaving us in the Euro zones pining for these games for months. At the time, the only information given for this delay was that it was to ensure that the localisation standards that fans of Studio Ghibli films expect. The exact scope of this has now been revealed, and perhaps puts into perspective the length of the process.
A Famitsu.com interview with Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino (via Andriasang) has revealed that they are seeking to make a “proper translation”. Given some of the efforts that we’ve seen in recent times, I’m glad to hear this, but the really interesting piece of information is that there are over a million texts words that need to be translated. Considering that many novels fail to reach even half that number, I’d consider eighteen months to be a reasonable wait, particularly with the necessity of redoing the voice overs as well. Another morsel of information is that Ni No Kuni will also be the first Level-5 project for the localisation director, though he has long experience in the field.
With the game still possibly over a year away, it may be inconsiderate to tease the possibility of a sequel, but Hino has done just that. He’s expressed an interest in returning to this world, but this really hinges on the commercial reception of the international release. Given the migration of the industry away from JRPGs, this could be worrying, but it is important to remember that several of Level-5’s previous releases have fared better outside the mother country, with Dark Cloud being a particular success selling roughly eight times as many copies internationally as in Japan alone.
In another interview, this one with Eurogamer, Hino mentioned that the team isn’t trying to preserve the traditional Japanese RPG formula with this game, saying:
“… we never really intended to kind of protect in a sense the JRPG genre that’s been known to [the] Western audience. It’s very Japanese and that’s what we’re keeping – but in terms of the game system, it doesn’t necessarily follow the formula of past JRPGs. In that sense, it keeps a Japanese feel but it’s still a new type of RPG – or a new type of game.“
Hmm… seems like our senior editor Dave Nelson was wrong when he called it “the last, best hope for the JRPG”. Nevertheless, the singular charm of the genre appears to be very much in place, with its watercolour aesthetic and pure escapist charm. The mere fact that it is a collaborative effort between two of the more recognisable names in Japanese entertainment, Level-5 and Studio Ghibli, should be more than enough to convince any admirer of these types of works to look into it. It wouldn’t do to wax lyrical about the merits of the game here, but let us know what you think of this incredibly promising PS3 exclusive.