The Ni no Kuni franchise is experiencing a golden age. After the success of the remastered edition of the first episode, which only two years ago landed on most platforms at the time in circulation, and from the mobile title that last June made its debut in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, Bandai Namco has finally decided to bring the second title of the saga to Nintendo Switch, offering the owners of the hybrid machine the opportunity to throw themselves headlong into the events featuring Evan and Roland. Eager to return to that fantastic realm inspired by the works of Studio Ghibli, which we remember was not involved in the making of Ni no Kuni 2: The Destiny of a Kingdom, we have therefore placed the so-called Prince’s Edition for Nintendo Switch on the test bench. and we tell you our impressions.
There is a parallel world to the human one, whose past has been marked by bloody conflicts that led to the total annihilation of its most ancient and prolific kingdoms. This dark period culminated only with the appearance of a righteous and virtuous ruler, who according to legend created a single great kingdom, forever changing the fate of the whole world. Ni no Kuni 2: The Destiny of a Kingdom tells the story of His Majesty Evan Pettiwhisker Felix, starting however from when he was still very young and therefore unable to understand the duties and responsibilities of a true monarch.
The only son of the late King Leopold, Evan is the legitimate heir of the peaceful kingdom of Gatmandu, but he still does not know that in order to ascend the throne he will first have to overcome a long series of unexpected and unspeakable betrayals. Tired of living in the shadow of the “felinids”, the evil advisor Ratoleon and the “murinids” behind him have in fact conspired in secret to take control of the thriving kingdom, first of all poisoning its former ruler.
An equally unfortunate fate should have touched the poor and innocent Evan, but the unexpected appearance of a human from our world means that the little ruler can leave the castle that belonged to his ancestors unharmed and leave in elisio, waiting to be able to day regain the crown stolen from him. This is none other than Roland, the President-in-Office of the United States, who while he was traveling by car with the intention of participating in an important meeting with the other heads of state was involved in a mysterious explosion and woke up in the “second world”.
Despite a turbulent start, a deep and sincere friendship will arise between the crown prince and the president that will push the latter to put his experience at the service of Evan, who in fact will use his good advice to create the country of Eostaria from nothing – a utopian kingdom under whose banner all the different peoples of the world should unite – and win the trust of its ever more numerous subjects.
Although these premises could suggest the presence of an epic tale full of tribulations, the narrative fabric of Ni no Kuni 2: The Destiny of a Kingdom is anything but poignant or profound: where the first episode managed to excite the player and to make him feel empathy towards the unfortunate orphan Oliver, the second proposes instead an excessively cloying and childish storyline, where the desires of a young dreamer end up moving the souls of adults without any effort.
If Evan’s personality (and his annoying tendency to forgive even the most bitter of his enemies) is one of the main weaknesses of the story, the supporting actors certainly do not behave better, indulging in all respects the childish whims of a deluded idealist and preventing him from growing to really live up to the expectations he answers. Between predictable developments and the poor characterization of the characters, Ni no Kuni 2: The Destiny of a Kingdom is an authentic fairy tale that could entertain and satisfy an audience of very young people, but that will hardly satisfy the wishes of players looking for a solid and full of twists. On the other hand, the Nintendo Switch edition of Ni no Kuni 2: The Destiny of a Kingdom also includes the three DLCs published on the other platforms.
If the main campaign tends to motivate only partially the reasons why the President of the United States ended up in the “second world”, in the third and final DLC all the questions that have remained pending for too long find a worthy and convincing answer. With good reason, the downloadable contents represent the true ending of the adventure and moreover offer new playful solutions.
If on a playful and content level we have not noticed any difference between the new and previous editions of the product, it is on the technical and graphic side that the Nintendo Switch version differs considerably from the others. In order to shoot on the hybrid machine, the product had to make significant compromises, sacrificing first of all the level of detail: from the cities to the labyrinthine dungeons, the already not very detailed landscapes of the “second world” appear even more bare than in the past, while the polygonal models they are poorly defined and angular, due to an anti-aliasing filter unable to perform its function properly.
However, if the aforementioned imperfections have a huge impact on the yield in dock mode, the use in portability manages to mask them largely, returning a cel-shading at least delicious and enjoyable. However, frame rate is the proverbial Achilles heel of the whole production: the game generally runs in docked mode at 30 fps, but there are frequent fluctuations in the frame rate, with some drops even to 20 FPS, regardless of the number of elements on the screen or whether you are in battle or not. To pay the highest price are the vast map of the world, which occasionally accuses some shots, and the pitched battles, where the frame rate suffers more dizzying drops.
Nothing to complain, however, on the hypnotic soundtrack composed by the always inspired Joe Hisaishi (Nausica della Valle del Vento, Porco Rosso, Howl’s Moving Castle), whose notes accompany with delicacy and joy the journey taken by Evan and Roland. The tracks speak in Japanese and English are excellent and well acted, which in both cases offer the viewer vocal combinations appropriate to the age and personality of the various actors.
Ni no Kuni II is another great RPG for the Switch. It has some technical issues compared to the console variants out there, but it caters to multiple audiences of the genre and delivers a great story and world for you to explore.