Unlike with some games, where managing your inventory is a part of the strategy, in Ni no Kuni
Oliver has a bottomless bag - which doesn't mean that everything he puts into it falsl straight onto the floor. No, what it means is that he can store an almost infinite amount of stuff.
So, if you are likely to need it for later, you can hold onto it just in case, without any cost or penalty for doing so. Equally if, as the game progresses, you realise that certain items are unnecessary, you can sell them in the shops you encounter - and use the money you earn to buy other, more useful items.
As you explore the town of Ding Dong Dell, you'll meet townsfolk who have some kind of problem that is bothering them. Maybe their children have run away, or maybe they have lost some possession. You can choose to assist them in solving this problem, and if you do so successfully, you will be rewarded with Merits Stamps.
Merits are stored on cards and when a card is full, it can be traded for a reward - usually something that upgrades your abilities. You can also take on Bounty Hunts. These are side missions, which usually require you to venture out of the town, and across the world map to undertake some battle. Again you are awarded money and goodies for your efforts if you are successful.
The only downside of Ni no Kuni
is that it is quite linear. True, you can wander the countryside and keep having battles to increase your level. But after a while, the creatures in a given region know that you are way too powerful for them to stand a chance, and instead of attacking you, they will flee as soon as they see you.
This is a good way of preventing you tarrying too long in a given area, but it also limits what you can do unless you continue to follow the main storyline.
The main story is strongly broken down into chapters, with a given goal for each chapter, and a Boss Battle at the end of it.
The Boss Battles are, as you would expect, far harder than the standard battles, and it is during the Boss Battles that you have to apply the strategies you have learned during the game. It is not necessary to use these strategies during most battles, but it is a good idea to do so, just to get used to using them, so you are ready when you need to.
As you progress through the game, you'll win, be gifted or find additional spells that Oliver can use both in battle and in the general progression of the storyline. Generally, the game tends to spoon-feed the required spell to you as you need it. But as the game progresses, this tutorial narration from Mr Drippy reduces, and you are left to figure things out for yourself more.
If you are ever stuck, you can refer to the magic book. The book is huge, and very detailed, and is an enjoyable read even if you don't actually require it. But if you get stuck, there is a good chance that somewhere in the book there will be some information of assistance.
And there's not just the book for help and assistance. Oliver also keeps a journal, so you can easily refer back and see what parts of the story you have already completed, and remind yourself of any pertinent fact.
If you are really stuck, you can refer to the Telling Stone - which is a kind of online help system that tells you how things work in game, and how certain things are done - just in case you forget.
As I said at the beginning - Ni no Kuni
is a strange one. It's aimed, I think, at getting younger gamers into the RPG genre. But it's no lightweight introduction. It's as detailed as most, and more than some "adult" RPGs.
Only the child-like themes and the plentiful online assistance give it a way as a learner RPG. But its lovingly crafted game world and beautiful graphics make it one that older gamers will love to play too. This gorgeous-looking game offers a great introduction to Role Playing Games, while delivering a huge and immersive experience for lovers of the genre.
Detailed and immersive gameworld
Fully featured RPG
Great in game help and reference
Complex for the apparent target age group
Somewhat repetitive battle dialogue and music,
SPOnG Score: 9/10