Ni No Kuni: Starting the Manual

Oct 09 2011

When Level 5 announced that the PS3 version of 二ノ国 (Ni No Kuni) was going to be released in the US, they conspicuously avoided mentioning the DS version. Which I have lusted after ever since it was released (Ghibli! That book!), so I figure: if I’m going to play it, I may have to play the Japanese version. And there’s a decent chance that my Japanese is now good enough to do that, and in fact that playing through the game would be actively helpful for my learning, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

The game arrived on Friday; I’ll eventually put unboxing photos on my main blog. (It turns out that the book is even more gorgeous than I expected: really, it’s almost worth it even if you can’t read any Japanese.) But I’m planning to put a diary of my experiences playing through it on this blog, in case anybody else is curious about the game. I’ll tag them all with “ni no kuni“, so you can avoid my endless Rock Band puffery should you prefer.

Rather than actually start the game this week, though, I started reading through the manual. (The regular manual of a sort that comes with any DS game, not the special book.) Partly because, well, that’s the sort of person that I am, but also partly so I could get a feel for the difficulty of the game, maybe get introduced to some of the vocabulary that I’ll need? I made it through 17 pages of the manual this weekend, which I’m actually rather proud of; though, given that the manual is 65 pages long, I would seem to have at least two weeks of manual reading ahead of me. (Nothing but the best, most vibrant blog content for you, my readers, I assure you! Though I may actually start playing the game before I finish the manual.)

It turns out that the manual is written at a level that I can deal with pretty well. There were a fair number of words that I didn’t know, but it also wasn’t a surprise for me to make it through a sentence without having to look up any words, and several of the new words were repeated multiple times. They put furigana readings over all of the kanji, so that helped when I had to look up words; though I’ve memorized enough kanji that almost all of the individual characters were familiar even in compounds that I didn’t know, so I wouldn’t have been completely at sea without the furigana. (Just as well, I assume the screen resolution won’t allow furigana in the game? Though for all I know the game will largely avoid kanji as well.)

The manual starts out by introducing the story. You play a boy named Oliver, living in a city called Hotroit. His mother died recently; and he was visited by a fairy named Shizuku who comes from 二の国. (Which means “second country”, the first country being the normal world where Hotroit is located.) That country is beset by a dark wizard named Jabo, and apparently Oliver can save the country from Jabo, and Oliver’s mother will be restored to life. So: not the best plot in the world; then again, I could describe Spirited Away in a not-too dissimilar fashion, and that’s an amazing movie, so I will remain optimistic.

You apparently will have sidekicks Maru and Gyro; Maru likes to sing, I think Gyro is a thief, but I could be wrong. (And Oliver likes machinery and cars? That makes sense with his Hotroit origins, which is labeled as “The Motor City” in one of the pictures.) There are also pictures of the rulers of some of the kingdoms in 二の国.

After that, it transitions into “how to use your DS” stuff: put the cartridge in the slot, select the appropriate place in the start menu, etc. And an introduction to all the buttons, including their use in menus, in fields, and in battles. Looks like we’ll have standard cities / dungeons / overworlds, there’s a “bag menu” referred to several times that seems like your general inventory screen, and also a separate menu for magic? And I’ll be drawing runes on the lower screen at various times, I guess. Seems like pretty standard RPG stuff; I should learn more about those menus and about the combat system next week.

One response so far

  1. […] that I am, I haven’t actually started playing the game: I’m still struggling with the manual! (The regular DS-style manual, not the book.) But I’ll get into the game proper one of these […]