The Most Important Decision You Will Face Playing Ni No Kuni

If you like beautiful things, you're probably getting ready to sit down and play Level-5 and Studio Ghibli's Ni No Kuni. Before you fire that baby up for the first time, though, you have a very important thing to decide.

What language you'll be playing the game in.

I know Chris and especially Jason have both spoken highly of the game's English vocal track, which is one of the best ever assembled for a game, especially one of this scope. So if you simply cannot abide reading subtitles, and want to enjoy the game in a language that for readers of this site is likely their first, you'll be fine.

But just for a moment, let me try and sell you on the other option. The game lets you play in its "native" Japanese. While this is a staple for hardcore anime and foreign cinema buffs, in games, it can often be a take-it-or-leave-it thing, because when you're dealing with sci-fi worlds and characters whose mouths move like mailboxes, it doesn't make much of a difference.

It does, at least for me, with Ni No Kuni. And it's entirely to do with Studio Ghibli's involvement. I prefer watching Ghibli movies in Japanese because, well, they're Japanese movies. As good as Disney's dubs have gotten (and as amazing as the original Princess Mononoke track was), I don't think there's any substitute for enjoying a piece of work as it was originally created. That's just me.

There's also the technical considerations. Between the lavish hand-animated cutscenes and in-game sequences rendered to look like animated cutscenes, there's a lot of cinema here, and the characters mouths are moving. Moving in time with the Japanese vocal track. It's not something you'd notice all the time, as those moments are few and far between, but when you do hit them, you notice it.

Finally, there's the matter of genre. This is a JRPG. You'll be reading mountains of text anyway, your eyes permanently trained on the lower third of the screen. If you're going to reading 90 per cent of the conversations in the game, it won't kill you to read the other 10 per cent.

So! Choose, and choose wisely. Because flipping between languages isn't as easy as in other games; language "packs" have to be installed off the Blu-ray, which takes time, needs to be done from the main menu and requires a game restart, so once you make your decision, you'll likely be sticking with it, at least for large chunks of the game.


Comments

    I thought the language packs were just for the subtitles, and you could change the actual soundtrack between English / Japanese from the title screen?

    I haven't actually tried changing language, though (just played the first 2 hours last night - in English). To be honest, I can't see myself changing to the Japanese soundtrack just because the English one is fantastic. And more to the point, the use of specific dialects (especially Mr Drippy) means it probably makes a lot more sense to have the English voices on if you're reading the English subtitles. Otherwise you're going to be hearing Japanese voices but seeing this strange (is it Welsh?) dialect in the subtitles which is a disconnect that I might find a bit jarring. Unless, that is, it has a more "generic" set of English subtitles available if you're using the Japanese soundtrack?

      So.. has this broken its street date in Australia? EB are telling me I can't get it until the 31st of Jan...... !

        Not exactly... there's a shop here in Adelaide called Shin Tokyo that sell import video games. They've got the US version on the shelves, so I bought that. I figured there probably won't be much worthwhile DLC anyway, and if there is I've still got about US$20 in my US PSN account that I can use.

          Thanks man, guess I'll just have to wait until next thursday. On the plus side, I got the wizards edition so I can let my kids play with the plushie as we all sit down and interact with a studio ghibli movie!

          Although they may be slightly pissed there is no 'totori' in it :)

          Picked up mine today. That store is getting weirder and weirder. There is too much scantily clad pre-pubescent anime going on in that store and there is a slight aroma of spiced baby oil.

            Funny you mention that... I thought the exact same thing when I was round at your place for that card night :P

    Nope. Buying a PS3 just for this game. Will be playing it in Japanese with English subs... JUST LIKE I'VE FUCKING WANTED TO WITH EVERY OTHER J-RPG I'VE EVER PLAYED.

    Exciting stuff :)

    English. From what the demo offered, I already knew I would be loving Mr. Drippy's voice in the full game. There's something about Welsh accents I find absolutely delightful.

    How about... PLAY IT TWICE! I'm already planning to play in Japanese first then English second! :D

    I've heard a lot of praise for the English dub (how often do you hear someone say that?), so that'd be my choice.

    I'm probably in the minority, but I would rather play/watch something with an OK english dub than with subtitles.

    People say that watching/playing something in its original language (with subtitles) is the exact way the creators would like it to be experienced, but that only works if you can speak the original language. If creators really wanted you to experience their film/game with subtitles obscuring part of the screen they would be there no matter what language it's in. Sure watching a Japanese film in Japanese is the ideal, but I can't speak Japanese so I wouldn't be able to pick up the subtleties of the actors delivery or performance or even nods towards dialects by glancing up at them whilst reading subtitles, which can be quite blunt and obtuse at times. I'm more of a visual person, so having ugly yellow text or a black box with white text etc obscuring part of a sweeping landscape or epic battle is jarring and I would much prefer to be able to experience the visuals as they were intended.

    Of course there are always extenuating circumstances, phoned in over dubs, mismatched voices, strange interpretations of words, but for the most part I feel that watching/playing something with an OK dub is closer to the authentic experience for me, watching a foreign film/game in a language I don't speak, than subtitles.

    The PS4 had better let us install full games from the Blu-Ray like the 360 does because im sick of all these constant mandatory small installs.

    MGS4 was a nightmare if you wanted to go back and play a different chapter.

    Since I was denied Japanese language options for "Tales of Graces f", I think I'll try the native language with subs for my first run through.
    Since I watch a disturbing amount of anime, have always found no matter how well intentioned the translation is (both with dubs and subs) they tend to miss out on contexts and subtle things -especially with names and how they show relationships and the like.

    been playing with jap audio so far. brilliant voice acting. exactly what you'd expect from ghibly

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