There are plenty of things out there that are worth revisiting; I think I read The Name of the Wind about four times at this point and Battlestar Galactica never gets old. Now, my list of old games worth a replay is far more expansive and, if you look at Nintendo’s release schedule, I’m clearly not the only one with old games on the brain. Between Diablo II, Xevious, and the various Castlevania reissues, there is one other place to revisit, from the glorious golden days of 2018. Of course, I am referring to Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom Prince’s Edition, the long awaited switch port of Level-5’s adorable, three-year old action RPG.
If you are like me, and you have never played Ni No Kuni 2 upon its initial PS4 release, then this is an excellent time to rectify that glaring oversight. Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom Prince’s Edition is a surprisingly strange and earnest action-RPG with an easy to pick up combat system and an engaging story.
Now, I’ve never been fond of the practice of labelling Japanese games as weird solely as a quirk of their country of origin. There are plenty of bizarre things from North America, and plenty of banal, ordinary things from the land of the rising sun. That being said, Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom Prince’s Edition begins in a very, very strange way. You have been warned.
“Ni No Kuni 2 is a surprisingly strange and earnest action-RPG with an easy to pick up combat system and an engaging story.”
The President of the United States of America is sitting in a motorcade approaching a city. Suddenly, missiles appear and descend upon the city, destroying both the oncoming metropolis and the motorcade. The president comes to as a younger man in the room of Evan Pettiwhisker, cat-boy prince of Ding-Dong Dell. Before either can comprehend what is going on, it becomes clear that a coup by the local population of mice is going on and Roland, the once American President, must lead young Evan away from the castle with various mouse wizards and an unholy dark mouse knight nipping at their heels. Luckily, Roland brought a gun.
In nearly any other instance, that sort of opening would have given me some issues, but somehow it works here. Jumping from grounded realism to the whimsical fantasy of Ding-Dong Dell, with its very real political upheavals, could have led to some real tone problems and felt off-putting. Even though Studio Ghibli was not involved in Ni No Kuni 2, its influence from the first game remains throughout this sequel, and the feelings of adventure and wonder, so common in films like Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle are what really elevated the world of Ni No Kuni 2.
“Even though Studio Ghibli was not involved in Ni No Kuni 2, its influence from the first game remains throughout this sequel.”
As I said previously, the gameplay here is fairly simple. Combat only involves a few buttons with a few spells that charge up over time. Additionally, the Pikmin-like Higgledies provide help in battles and can be fed to level up. Later in the game, as Evan once again has a kingdom to rule, there is a whole kingdom management simulation with shops, research trees, an economy, and much more. Personally, I’m a big fan of this sort of thing, and its implementation into an already charming game is nothing short of delightful.
As much as I enjoy this game, there are a few snags here and there. For one thing, the simple combat system can get boring and same-y when doing the standard RPG act of grinding. Luckily, I never felt too much of a need to resort to that sort of gameplay too often. Additionally, the Switch does not provide quite as high visual fidelity as the PS4 gave, even three years on. It’s really only a slight downgrade that you may notice if you have already played the game on the beefier console. It is very unlikely that new players will have many issues with the lovely cartoony visuals here.
I had never played either of the Ni No Kuni games before this port, and I enjoyed it very much. Not just the game, but also the ability to take it with me wherever I liked on the Switch. Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom Prince’s Edition is a delight from the beginning to end. Additionally, this version includes previously released DLC and a host of other helpful items to get you questing smoothly without much delay.