Ni no Kuni (“The another world“) is the upcoming Nintendo DS games developed by Level-5 (developer of Professor Layton and Dragon Quest series) and Studio Ghibli. It is being touted as the first game by Studio Ghibli where they will have heavy involvement in the game’s development as is already clear from the images that have been released. The animation is definitely in the Ghibli style and we can expect to story to also be also crafted by the experts at Studio Ghibli. It will be interesting how they will adapt their storytelling techniques to a video game and how well the cut scenes integrate will general gameplay.
What we know about the story: The main character is Oliver, a 13 year old boy, whose mother has recently died. A faerie, named Shizuku, appears from a doll given to him by his mother and gives him a magic book which allows him to travel to a parallel world, ni no kuni. The city he lives in Hotroit, loosely based on some aspects of Detroit, is an industrial city famous for automobile manufacturing. IGN did a write up in 2009 on the characters of Ni no Kuni:
“When Oliver and Shizuku enter Ni no Kuni, they first come to Goronel Kingdom, which is ruled by Nyandal the 14th, a lazy cat. The people of Goronel are apparently troubled by their leader’s laziness, as Oliver learns by speaking with the citizens. As previously detailed, the people Oliver encounters in the Ni no Kuni world are all variations of people from the real world. Oliver himself takes on the clothes of an adventurer when in Ni no Kuni, although it appears that his name remains the same. Layla, a lady who sells milk in the real world, becomes Kaula, the Queen of Vavalencia who has an insatiable appetite. Nyandal the 14th is, in the real world, a neighborhood cat named Frank. Those characters were all previously announced. The latest Famitsu report offers a look at Marl, a fearless girl who loves to sing and ends up adventuring alongside Oliver. In the real world, Marl is Shelly, a girl who’s sick and cannot go outside. Oliver also meets a talking rat named Magooru. In the real world, Magooru is Mark, Oliver’s buddy. As with the characters, you’ll end up finding some parallels between the city of Hotroit and the world of Ni no Kuni.” (May 2009 IGN)
The game is an adventure/RPG and battles involve Oliver’s magic book where you cast spells by drawing them with the stylus. Ni no Kuni is also going to be released on an unannounced console where it was said that it will be a different experience not just a port. When announced in 2008 it was set to be released in 2009, but has been delayed. By the recent screenshots in Famitsu it’s release could come by the end of the year.