The Top Ten Witch Movies

The Top Ten Witch Movies

Recently, a lil’ horror movie called The Witch was released and caused quite a ruckus. Deservingly so, too. Rob Eggers’ film was one of the most striking horror debuts in recent memory. Combining art house drama with visceral thrills, the film is both intelligent and terrifying. It already feels like a contemporary classic and it’s nice to hear people saying such things about horror flicks once more.

To celebrate the success of The Witch, we thought we’d serve up a handy-dandy viewing guide to the top 10 best witch movies in movie history, mostly because we didn’t have time for 100 movies. Oddly enough, the Halloween costume staple doesn’t have as many endearing big screen treatments as you’d think. Sure, there’s that pretty successful film series with the school of witchcraft and wizardry, but other than that there aren’t too many great films out there that dabble in witchcraft and do it well. If The Witch left you hankering for more cinematic treats featuring witches, these ten flicks should help scratch that itch.

*Note The Craft is not included because I never loved that film. Sorry 90s teens. Please forgive me.

10) I Married A Witch (1942)

The Top Ten Witch Movies 13First up, a frothy romp. This mind-bogglingly delightful 40s comedy stars that goddess that was Veronica Lake as an ancient witch brought back to life in modern day (well, the 40s) to seduce one of the descendants of the family who burned her at the stake. Unfortunately, her target is too much of a Dudley Do-Right to fall for her witchly charms, so a love potion must be concocted. As we all know, love potions never work out as planned and lots of 40s wackiness entails (in the best possible sense). Certainly those sad folks who immediately balk at the idea of a black and white movie will run from I Married A Witch as fast as their legs can carry them. But for those wise souls who understand just how magically entertaining old Hollywood magic can be, this thing is an utter delight. It’s the greatest episode of Bewitched ever conceived, only better.

9) The Witches Of Eastwick (1987)

Decades before delivering the most greatest action movie ever made that doubles as a feminist parable, director George Miller combined sexual politics and genre thrills in this underrated gem. Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer star as a trio of repressed, small town women who accidentally form a coven and invite Satan into their lives while dreaming of the perfect man. Jack Nicholson plays the horny little devil in question, a casting decision that should sum up the goofball satirical tone of The Witches Of Eastwick rather succinctly. The title is primarily a clever, dark comedy, but when Nicholson’s devil goes on his inevitable rampage against the coven of heroines, George Miller and the ILM wizards serve up a spectacular light show. Another delightful witchy romp, only this time painfully dated to 80s cheese rather than 40s classicism.

8) The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

The Top Ten Witch Movies 3Look, you can’t have a movies list of great cinematic witches without including Margaret Hamilton’s green-skinned cackler who has inspired decades of childhood nightmares and countless Halloween costumes. If there’s a single greatest witch in the history of cinema, it’s The Wicked Witch Of The West. ‘nuff said.

7) Drag Me To Hell (2009)

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When Sam Raimi left the Spider-Man franchise after making approximately a gazillion dollars and kicking off the Marvel movie revolution, the director could have made anything that he wanted. Thankfully for genre fans, he decided to dust off an old script from his horror heyday about a gypsy witch cursing a well-meaning young lady. Easily one of the finest horror flicks of the 2000s, Drag Me To Hell recaptures Raimi’s Evil Dead masterful mixture of slapstick comedy and jump scare horror to perfection. It’s a giddy sugar rush of witchy entertainment that never quite got the glowing reputation it deserves. It did fine in theatres and is well liked, but is considered a cult hit at best. It should be considered a classic, especially in the underserved genre of witch horror. Watch it again immediately. You’ll be surprised just how well the title holds up as a work of pure genre entertainment.

6) Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

The Top Ten Witch Movies 5Along with the concurrently released Night Of The Living Dead, Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby kicked off the modern horror era. No longer was the genre limited to dusty castles and period settings. Suddenly, horror was contemporary and real. This quietly creepy title is more psychological than visceral, but there’s a reason it’s endured for so long: the shivers are still there. In particular, the movie brilliantly reinvented witches as creepy eccentric Manhattan neighbours (perfectly embodied in Ruth Gordon’s secretly sinister kook). The coven in the movie was terrifying because they could be all around you and you’d never know it until it was too late. Given that most of the horror in the flick is centred on the demon seed in Mia Farrow’s belly, the witches are typically forgotten. However, they are spectacular and should be remembered for the mundanely terrifying tone that Polanski found with his exquisite cast. (Note: if you prefer your witches to be of the cackling variety, check out Polanski’s version of MacBeth which features some of the most terrifying hag-ish witches to ever stink up the big screen).

5) Black Sunday (1960)

The Top Ten Witch Movies 6If nothing else, Black Sunday is the favourite film of every Hot Topic employee that they’ve never seen. The breakout film by the original Italian horror maestro Mario Bava, it’s a gothic masterpiece about a witch rising from the grave to exact revenge for the sins of the past. The incomparable Barbara Steele stars as that vengeful witch, delivering an otherworldly performance that instantly made her a horror icon and helped usher a generation of lost souls into puberty. The film has the bad dubbing and lapses in logic that are a staple of the Italian horror genre, but what Black Sunday lacks in its screenplay it more than makes up for it’s dankly beautiful atmosphere and terrifying lead. A masterpiece of cinematic gothic horror (one of those movies that lead to Tim Burton existence) that deserves even wider acceptance.

4) The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Yeah…I know…you never see the witch (unless you count the inexplicable Todd MacFarlane action figure), but still. The Blair Witch Project is one of the most important horror films ever made and the fear, panic, and dread packed in the film are all the result of an off-screen witch that deserves to rank amongst the great horror movie icons even though she’s never seen. After all, the title is basically a POV experience of being teased and tortured by the Blair Witch. She’s crucial to every frame of the film, even if she never appears on them. Plus, the movie remains just plain terrifying all these years later for viewers who love a good tease. The sequel isn’t bad either, although it’s tough to find Book Of Shadows supporters, even amongst those who made the movie.

3) Haxan (1922)

The Top Ten Witch Movies 8Speaking of mockumentaries about witches, here’s a special blast of horror from the silent era that deserves a bigger reputation. A fictionalized history of witchcraft filled with incredible effects, genuine scares, and imagery that will burn into your brain forever, Haxan is silent horror masterpiece that deserves to be remembered alongside Nosferatu. If you ever want to give yourself the willies, pick out a soundtrack of your favourite frightening music, turn off the lights, play it loud, and sync it up to Haxon. Good luck getting to sleep.

2) The Witches (1990)

If you were a child in the 90s, then chances are The Witches was one of the first films to truly terrify you. Based on a novel by the incomparable Roald Dahl (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, duh), this tale of a little boy discovering a secret witch convention is a dark comedy for children that never holds back the horror when needed. Directed by the brilliant Nicolas Roeg (Don’t Look Now), the title is visually stunning and perversely funny, but when it gets to witch time, Roeg and the puppet wizards at Jim Henson’s company deliver images ripped from every child’s nightmares. Toss in some delightful performances by the likes of Angelica Huston as the queen witch and Rowan Mr. Bean Atkinson and you’ve got a kiddie picture that actually holds up remarkably well to adult eyes. Right up until the unfortunately softened ending, The Witches captures the twisted humour of Roald Dahl better than any other adaptation and should be remembered more fondly as one of the few family horror films that can creep out viewers of all ages.

1) Suspiria (1977)

The Top Ten Witch Movies 10Finally, we come to quite possibly the most beautifully crafted horror title ever made. Italian master Dario Argento took dated Technicolor cameras out of retirement to deliver a psychedelic nightmare about a ballet school run by witches that still packs of punch and offers a feast for the eyes unlike anything else. Sure, it’s dated and the dialogue can be pretty dire. Yet, whenever Argento crafts a horror set piece backed by Goblin’s astounding prog rock soundtrack (inarguably one of the best ever recorded for a horror flick), it’s impossible not to be impressed. It’s a visual masterpiece that feels like a nightmare caught on film and teases the eyes and ears like few movies ever made (of any genre). If you somehow haven’t seen Suspiria by now, but enjoy witchy horror films…well…then…I’m quite jealous. You are in for one hell of a wild ride. The sequel Inferno is also very much worth seeking out. It would likely be considered a classic were it not for the fact that it came after Suspiria and that’s pretty much an impossible act to follow.

The Last Witch Hunter (Movie) Review

The Last Witch Hunter (Movie) Review

Aside from the accidental idiotic brilliance of the Fast And Furious series, Vin Diesel isn’t exactly the mark of quality in any movie. Yet, even by Vin’s lowball standards, The Last Witch Hunter is an absolutely abysmal attempt to launch a blockbuster franchise. Confusingly written, indifferently performed, and shot in a manner that makes it difficult to even see what’s happening, this thing is an absolute disaster. The best thing that can really be said about the movie is that it looks expensive. Clearly a lot of money was spent; it’s just a shame that not a lot of care or effort went into making the movie anything more than expensive.

Things kick off in medieval times with Diesel sporting an absolutely absurd beard n’ hair combo that’s almost worth the price of admission for sheer absurdity. He kills an evil witch queen, but is cursed with immortality in the process. A few centuries later, good ol’ Vin is still up to his witch hunting ways in the current day. In this world, witches exist in secret, thanks to ancient deals made between the magic and religious communities. However, if any witch gets out of line, Vin will hunt them down and send them to super-secret witch jail. Diesel is super brilliant because he’s got hundreds of years worth of knowledge and experience behind him. Even though he’s partnered up with Michael Caine’s priest, he calls him kid. Because that’s a super funny thing to do, apparently.

last_witch_hunter_insert4Unfortunately, Caine drops dead almost instantly and good ol’ Vin knows immediately that black magic is the culprit. Along with his new priest buddy Elijah Wood, Vin unlocks a conspiracy that just might involve the resurrection of that old witch queen or something. To learn more, he’s going to have to partner up with a witch and finds the perfect one in Rose Leslie. She runs a bar and can walk into people’s dreams as well as unlock living memories. That’s good, because it helps Vin and co. jump through huge exposition scenes with a little hallucinatory action. It doesn’t make much sense though, but at least that’s consistent with the rest of this idiocy.

The most frustrating aspect of The Last Witch Hunter is that this thing was so clearly written to be the first chapter of a new franchise rather than anything that can hope to stand on it’s own. That’s just how the blockbuster business works these days, and leaving a little mystery open for future instalments is fine when those answers exist somewhere. In The Last Witch Hunter, it’s embarrassingly obvious that the filmmakers were just making things up as they went along and left huge gaps in the narrative and mythology assuming they would be other people’s problems come sequel time. What’s supposed to come off as enigmatically mysterious more often than not just feels confusing and irritating. It’s hard to work out what exactly the rules are in this world, beyond what’s been stolen from Harry Potter, The Matrix, Blade, and countless other successful movies.

Here’s a shocker: the acting isn’t great either! Vin Diesel coasts by on a particularly lazy performance, growling out every word in the same monotone and offering audiences only two expressions: a scowl or a flirtatious smile. Granted, Vin’s wooden ways are part of his charm, but his performances only work when the movie around him is goofy enough to contain it. Everything in The Last Witch Hunter is pitched so seriously that you can’t help but notice how limited Vin’s range is, not unlike whenever Arnold Schwarzenegger struggled through a serious-ish role like End Of Days. Caine and Wood are clearly onboard for little more than a paycheck, delivering their bare minimum effort that only feels like acting next to whatever the hell it is that Vin Diesel thinks he’s doing. Game Of Thrones veteran Leslie does her best as the good witch, but given that her role doesn’t have any depth beyond those two words, it’s all for naught.

Now, you might think that a crappy script and lazy action wouldn’t really matter in this sort of movie, since it’s all about the massive Vin v Witch action. Well, hold your horses there, young scallywag. That might be true if you could ever see the action scenes, but unfortunately, director Breck Eisner’s commitment to barely-visible, shadowy lighting, shaky cam action, and unrelenting ADD-editing means that viewers won’t even be able to tell what’s happening in any of the fight or action scenes until they’re all over and a victor is declared (usually Vin, naturally). So what we have here is a blockbuster that’s lazily conceived, nonsensically plotted, horribly acted, and incompetently staged. It has exactly zero things going for it, unless you’re a silk shirt fetishist, in which case there is plenty to love. Simply put, The Last Witch Hunter is a garbage movie. Don’t poison your eyeballs, even if you’re a Vin Diesel completist or his parents.

The Witch And The Hundred Knight (PS3) Review

The Witch And The Hundred Knight (PS3) Review

Diablo Done Wrong

Action RPGs are tricky things. They need to walk a fine line between having substantial systems for character advancement and loot, but at the same time need to satisfy the urge to press a button and kill lots of things without putting too much thought into it. Diablo on its better days does this. As does the Borderlands series. Nippon Ichi Software got a little taste of that magic when they published Vanillaware’s Dragon’s Crown in Europe, which was an ode to multiplayer dungeon crawling madness. This time they tried it themselves with the single player experience of The Witch And The Hundred Knight, but it only just barely manages to pull off the trick.

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Many Elements, No Coherence

Metallia is a swamp witch in exile trying to expand her empire by blossoming pillars scattered around the land which make the terrain swampy and allow her to leave her region. In order to do this, she’s summoned up a mythical warrior known as the Hundred Knights, which turns out to be one small, dopey knight that’s not too bright. Undeterred by this, Metallia sends Hundred Knight out to kill the other witches of the land and extend her dominion. What follows is a tale in the comedic, random, nonsensical Japanese vein, but not in the good way of something like Kill La Kill. Poor writing and the occasional rape joke, combined with a cast of unlikable, undeveloped characters make for a tedious story.

It doesn’t help that this story, however unappealing, is not backed up by good gameplay, something that Diablo III for example, makes up for. This is a game that is half Japanese role-playing game and half Diablo, taking some of the worst conventions of both inspirations and combining them into an unwieldy whole. The top down action and loot of Diablo meets head on with elaborate—often unnecessary—menu mechanics of a JRPG. Unfortunately this mess of systems is just that; a mess.

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In addition to poor graphics that look like they’re straight out of the PS2/Xbox era, basic conveniences such as characters being outlined, or objects going transparent when characters are obscured are left out. Combat is slow paced, with a complicated system of damage types for different enemies and no easy way to switch out weapons to deal the most appropriate damage to the enemy at hand. Levels are long and repetitive with no real character or appeal, and the game demands a grind fast and early. It is impossible to win without grinding, as opposed to a lot of contemporary JRPGs that allow players to breeze through the main story and only grind if they’re serious about the optional side-quests. Even the loot fails to excite as you never even get to see it, merely the stats, without any readily visible improvements in gameplay once you start using new equipment.

And finally, there are all those systems. There’s a system for raiding houses for treasure, which, in and of itself has no apparent connection to the rest of the game. Systems for collecting different minions for different purposes which is far more developed than needed for what amounts to a Zelda/Metroidvania-esque  mechanic of accessing previously locked off levels with new tools, and even a system for changing classes that doesn’t make an appearance until several hours into the game, when most fundamental mechanics should have already been implemented. It’s almost as if a few different teams at Nippon Ichi came up with a bunch of interesting design concepts, but didn’t have the budget to expand them into their own games, so threw them all into this one and hoped for the best. It’s not a gamble that panned out.

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If you’re absolutely starved for some kind of JRPG content with a bit of Japanese narrative whackiness, then Hundred Knight might be for you. Most other people are probably better off waiting for a stronger title to come out, or, simply replaying FFX HD since that was also recently released to market and is a JRPG done right. The Witch And The Hundred Knight is not an absolutely broken game, but it’s not one that works particularly well either.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (Movie) Review

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (Movie) Review

It’s hard to believe we’re now five movies into a franchise based on a locked off camera, a bedroom, and things that go bump in the night. When Oren Peli’s shot-in-my-bedroom indie got a major release from Paramount, it was a big ol’ shock. Here was a return not just to no-budget indie horror from a major studio, but also a film that pulled the genre from the torture porn era into the found footage era. Bringing in almost $200 million worldwide on a $15 thousand dollar budget, the movie was a big fat success story and thus began the inevitable Hollywood practice of repeating the trick to death. Sure, the Paranormal Activity 3 proved to be an enjoyable mix of 80s kitsch and high-fi/low-fi scares, but by part four the format had grown so nauseatingly sale that the profits dropped by half. However, money was still being made and so Paranormal Activity 5 was going to happen no matter what. Thankfully, the folks behind the series decided it was time to change things up and actually delivered a movie quite different from what came before. By borrowing (aka stealing) from a variety of different found footage horror franchises (mostly Chronicle), the Paranormal Activity franchise has somehow reinvented itself. Whether or not this new direction will lead to more sequels worth seeing remains to be seen, but the good news is that against all odds Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is one of the best entries in the series to date.

APphoto_Film Review-Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

The first change is geographical, with this PA romp shifting locals to sunny Me-he-co (Mexico). The first 20 minutes or so settle into the standard found footage routine of watching a group of teens play pranks and connect over a camera. You sit around waiting for them to notice a ghost in their apartment or set up a little hidden camera night recording, but it never happens. Instead, two buddies, Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and Hector (Jorge Diaz) start investigating a murder that occurred in their apartment block. The victim is a mildly creepy old lady, and the major suspect is weirdly the squeaky clean valedictorian from their school. Then as the digging continues, things keep getting weirder. They find all sorts of strange cultish, coven-ish artifacts hidden in the apartment and then one morning Jesse wakes up with mysterious marks on his arm. Shortly after that, he starts to develop floating and super-strength powers a la Chronicle. Then a memory game he owns starts acting like an Ouija board, he pulls gross hair like strands from his eyeballs, and other creepy stuff is afoot. Essentially the film turns into a possession/coven horror yarn, which eventually (and rather cleverly) folds back into the ever-expanding Paranormal Activity universe.

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If you want to be cynical about it, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones reinvents the franchise by mixing in other popular found footage horror tropes of recent years and shifting the focus from middle class WASPS to a working class Latino market that the Paramount marketing department determined was a strong fanbase for the series. That’s all undeniably true and yet regardless of the reasons for changes in the series, those changes still work surprisingly well. Writer/director Christopher Landon (who has been scripting the series since the first sequel before earning the directorial promotion) clearly knows the franchise well enough to understand what to change and what to keep the same. There’s some shotgun action this time, the camera is constantly mobile rather than locked off, and there are even a couple gross out gags amidst the jump scares. Yet despite all that and the heaping doses of Latino stereotypes (Tequila? Check. Fireworks? Check. Gangbangers? Check. It’s all an ill-placed sombrero away from being offensive), the film still feels like a successful entry in the most tasteful horror franchise in decades. Sure, the found footage horror clichés pile up fast and furiously, but Landon has at least wallowed in that world long enough to know how to pull them off effectively and delivers a film with a few decent jolts and without the tiresome repetition that dogged Paranormal 2 and 4.

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Against all odds Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones actually deserves to exist and be a hit

Perhaps the Paranormal Activity series is settling into a pattern similar to the Star Trek movies except here all of the odd numbered entries in the franchise are decent and the even numbered entries are disposable. PA5 is as probably about as good as PA1 or PA3, which is to say that it’s a perfectly acceptable jump scare timewaster with more good will than innovation. The performances are fine, the effects are decent, the scares work (even if about 70% were given away in the trailer… sigh, when will marketing departments learn?), and it all wraps up quickly before boredom can set in. The movie is hardly a classic, but not even the original Paranormal Activity deserves that status. It’s just an acceptable genre romp and one that suggests that a little franchise reinvention might go a long way to keep these sequels coming. After Paranormal Activity 4, I felt like the series was already dead and should be shot in the head. After The Marked Ones, I’d actually be willing to give part six a chance. That’s really all the five-quel could have hoped to accomplish, so it has to be deemed a minor success at the very least. And let’s not forget the success of this franchise has allowed the production company Blumhouse to produce some actually decent original horror movies like Sinister and Lords Of Salem. So as long as these sequels are decent enough to keep bringing in cash, the folks collecting the money will funnel it back into more interesting genre films. In other words, against all odds Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones actually deserves to exist and be a hit. Now there’s a box quote for ya.

 

Japanese Developers Still All About The PS3

Japanese Developers Still All About The PS3

Last night, yet another Japanese game was announced. Tales of Zestiria, the next release in the ever-popular Tales franchise, will be coming exclusively to the PlayStation 3.

This title joins the likes of Persona 5, Tales of Symphonia: Chronicles, The Witch and the Hundred Knights, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD and more as Japanese exclusives on Sony’s aging console. Coincidentally, the PlayStation 4 won’t be releasing to Japan till February 22, 2014, a few months after pretty much every other country. Could this be an act of defiance from Japanese developers? Probably not. But it is interesting how many of these titles are last-gen exclusives. 

It’s also easy to forget that the PS2 had life beyond its generation, with both Persona 3 and 4 coming out on it after the PS3 had already released. This is yet another reason that holding onto your old hardware makes sense. Oh backwards compatibility, how we miss thee.

Tales of Zestiria features a dragon logo, and a plot that revolves around two warring empires. You can check out the reveal trailer here.

 

Update:

Tales of Zestiria has been announced as a worldwide title, and will come to both North America and Europe.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Review

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Review

The JRPG We Always Imagined

When we first arrived at this current console generation way back in 2006, expectations from JRPG fans were high. There’d been a flood of quality games, both from expected sources like Square-Enix, and surprise upstarts like Atlus that gave fans of the genre a reliable, regular source of quality gaming. The bold experimentation of the Persona series, the grandiose efforts of Final Fantasy and even the flawed but stunningly ambitious space epic of Xenosaga all set a new high watermark for JRPGs that fans expected would be continued on the PS3 and Xbox 360 with the same frequency. That didn’t happen. But every once in a while, a game comes out that brings that promise back to the genre and shows what happens when people who care really take advantage of the power of today’s consoles. Ni no Kuni is one of those games.

 

A Tale Of Sadness & Charm

Ni no Kuni is a collaboration between developer Level-5 and famed animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli, which means that the story is both simple and emotional. Young Oliver lives an idyllic life in a small American town when disaster strikes and he loses his mother in an accident. Unable to cope with his grief, his tears fall on a doll his mother supposedly made for him. The tears bring the doll to life and it reveals itself to be a cursed Lord of Fairies, entreating Oliver to return with him to his parallel world to fight the oppression there and help that world’s equivalent to his mother, possibly bringing his own mother back in the real world. With that, Oliver is off on a quest of the purest—and saddest—intentions, to bring his dead mother back to life. The story is strongly reminiscent of the timeless, fairy tale material that the best RPGs and Studio Ghibli itself have always featured, espousing old fashioned JRPG values like friendship and perseverance. It’s all played straight, without irony or self-conscious winks at the quaintness of these values, which is a refreshing change from the usual dark, gritty narratives that have seemingly given up all hope on simple human decency and the power of kindness. Ni no Kuni sincerely believes in the inherent power of helping other people and it doesn’t need an angst-ridden quest for vengeance to justify it.

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A Love Letter To JRPGs Of The Past

If you’re the sort of person that misses overworlds, simple tales of good versus evil, a more innocent gaming experience filled with wonder and even delight, then stop reading right now and run off to the store to buy Ni no Kuni. If you’re the sort of person that believes all good games have the word “angst,” “dark,” or “gritty” somewhere in their description then this is something you’ll want to beat your children with to ensure they have a joyless, self-pitying, navel gazing life.

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Level-5 generated a lot of skepticism about this game after the surprisingly mediocre White Knight Chronicles series, which was even more uneven than their previous effort, the PS2 Rogue Galaxy. But this is the same company that gave us Dragon Quest VIII, arguably one of the best instalments of the franchise, and it seems like they’ve returned to that previous form for Ni no Kuni. This is, in many ways, an old school JRPG of the sort that hasn’t really been seen since the 90s, or at least, Level-5’s own Dragon Quest VIII in 2005. It brings back many of the mechanics and concepts of the JRPG that have been ignored for so long they actually feel new again. Rather than a series of confined dungeons separated by fast travel mechanisms, the traditional overworld makes a return, revealing massive landscapes that might hide forests, towns, dungeons and other secrets for the player willing to explore. Turn based battles also return, but now they have a little bit of Namco’s own Tales series flavour, mixed in with some Pokemon. And of course, the usual JRPG tropes of grinding, escalating difficulty and an emphasis on The Power Of Friendship™ are all back in full force. All of this has been coated with the innocent, heart-felt glow of Studio Ghibli’s sense of wonder.

Having said that, Ni no Kuni might not be the type of game that every gamer—particularly FPS fans—can easily play, but it is a game that the entire family can enjoy. The struggle of Oliver is both accessible and by turns both genuinely heartwarming and positive in its themes. It’s a substantial game that will take dozens of hours to complete, and for fans of the genre, it does what Square-Enix JRPGs have thus far failed to do this generation; it gives the gamers what they’ve actually been asking for, rather than what the marketing department feels will sell in the West. The combat can be a bit tricky sometimes, even for veterans, and the story doesn’t tread any new ground, but these are small quibbles in what is undoubtedly the best JRPG of 2013. The only real downside to this game is that the same in-depth mechanics that make it such a joy to genre fans also limits its accessibility to younger gamers, or those new to the genre.

This is just half of what Wayne had to say about Ni No Kuni! Read Wayne’s full review of the magical Ni No Kuni in the next issue of Comics and Gaming Magazine – out Feb. 20.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (Movie) Review

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (Movie) Review

Trust me, I am the last person in the world who ever thought I would say this, but damn Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is pretty entertaining. Don’t get me wrong it’s completely moronic and tonally inconsistent mess, but also never ever boring, surprisingly funny, unbelievably violent. This feels like the movie that Van Helsing was supposed to be: a gothic monster hunting yarn filled with buckets of gore, manic bursts humor, unrelenting action, and it’s all over in less than 90 minutes.

Read moreHansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (Movie) Review