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Virginia Beach, VA, United States
This blog (or 日記 if you will) is intended to chronicle my experience in Japan at the Yamasa Institute in Okazaki, Japan from July to August, 2012. I have always wanted to have a journal, though, so I will try to get into a habit of writing frequently about the things important to me in my life. Besides, I plan on returning to Yamasa to participate in the AIJP after I get out of the Navy! These are the Espelancer Chronicles. Erica is also blogging about the trip, and you should totally check it out. It is The Marvelous Misadventures of Schneewittchen link over on the sidebar.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

二ノ国DS: Sweet, sweet extravagance.

   Well, my blogging project here is already off to a rocky start, as I have not written in over 2 weeks!  I am trying to get into the habit of writing routinely -- after all, I do not want to disappoint my 18 historical pageviews!  Today I am going to talk about a Nintendo DS game that I recently imported.
Ni No Kuni DS's Packaging

   Now, I heard about this game completely by accident.  I am a fan of the JRPG, and usually games like this don't slip under my radar, but this one did.  二ノ国 (Ni No Kuni) is a game co-developed by Level 5 and Studio Ghibli.  You may be familiar with Level 5 if you have ever played Dark Cloud or White Knight Chronicles, but the real name here is Ghibli.  This is the first video game developed by the anime studio famous for cinematic masterpieces such as Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Ponyo, or any of their other 15 films, and there is just as much heart to be found here.

Furigana AND voice acting?  OMG!

   Other than Studio Ghibli being the name behind Ni No Kuni, I was also highly interested in importing this title in order to improve upon my Japanese.  As you can see to the right, the text has furigana.  For those of you not familiar with the Japanese language, furigana are the tiny hiragana (Japanese phonetic characters) written above the kanji (Chinese characters) that enable one to determine how the word is sounded out.  This enables me to be able to look up unfamiliar kanji (of which there are many I do not know) in the dictionary directly, rather than counting the strokes and trying to find the kanji in my kanji reference book.  Also, this game contains a significant amount of voice acting, which enables me to read along with the words as they are spoken.  As you can see, playing video games can be a very effective tool for learning the Japanese language!

   To say Magic Master is the most beautiful book I have ever seen packaged with a video game would be an understatement.  It even trounces Working Design's ace hardcover full-color manuals for games such as Arc the Lad Collection or Lunar: Silver Star.  It isn't just there for looks, either -- you actually need to reference it to play the game.  It contains important things such as the spells you will need to use, a comprehensive bestiary detailing every enemy in the game, an full inventory and description of every item, beautifully detailed world and local maps, local legends and character backstories that breathe life into this vast world, recipes for the cooking system, and many more things.  It has everything a player guide would have except for an actual walkthrough, and it is packaged with the game.  For someone who cares much more about the box and manual than the game itself, Ni No Kuni is a dream come true for me.

   Now, it goes without saying that such an extravagantly produced game is highly unlikely to ever be released in the United States, however that does not mean the game can't come to our shores!  You see, there is also a Playstation 3 version of this game.  It has the exact same story arc, except it was made completely from scratch with its own gameplay and beautiful HD graphics designed to imitate Ghibli's art style.  The good news for anyone who is excited about this game in North America is that Namco Bandai has confirmed that an English version will be released sometime in early 2013.

   Before you get too excited, though, you should know the most ironic thing about the PS3 version:  Magic Master is referenced in-game and does not come as a physical copy.  It is funny that the portable version gets a huge tome whereas the console version is completely digital.

  I will leave you with the DS trailer that sold me on this game, as well as the official English trailer for the PS3 localization.  I also promise to write more frequently -- after all, I really do want to have a quality Yamasa blog when I leave for Japan this summer!

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