Digital | ON: GAMES

Why mess with the originals?

by Brian Ashcraft

The magical world of Ghibli

When Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was released in 2011, it was acclaimed by many as one of the most beautiful games on PlayStation 3. Now it’s about to be outdone by a remastered version is coming to PS4.

Wrath of the White Witch follows the adventures of Oliver, a young boy who, grieving for his mother, sets out on a quest with a fairy named Drippy to a magical world, where he hopes success will bring his mother back.

For the 2011 version, Fukuoka-based studio Level-5 brought in Studio Ghibli to create the anime sequences and artwork, making gamers feel like they were immersing themselves in a classic Ghibli movie. Composer Joe Hisaishi, a longtime Ghibli collaborator, also composed the score, which heightened the experience even further.

This September, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered (¥6,050) brings the game to not just PS4 but also PCs. It’s essentially the same as the original, but with 1080p (Full HD) resolution and running at 60 frames per second. Gameplay hasn’t changed, but the high-def coating makes it even more anime-like than before.

The Nintendo Switch is also getting a nonremastered port, which runs at 720p and 30 frames per second and comes at the same price as the PS4 version. If you missed Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch’s original release and you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli’s movies, this re-release, remastered or not, is highly recommended.

bit.ly/ninokuni-jp (Japanese), bit.ly/ninokuni-en (English)

Link’s great reawakening

Originally for Game Boy, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, released in 1993, was the first game in the Zelda series to hit handhelds. More than 25 years later, it is being remade for the Nintendo Switch.

© NINTENDO
© NINTENDO

This isn’t the first re-release for Link’s Awakening. Originally monochrome, the game’s graphics were converted to color for a 1998 updated version, titled The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX, which included a new, exclusive dungeon. But since the Switch is both a portable and home console, this is the first time that the game will be playable on big screens.

Unlike other Zelda games, Link’s Awakening is not set in the kingdom of Hyrule. Link washes up on a mysterious island, where he must find a way to get back home. That mission leads him on a scavenger hunt. For the Switch version, Nintendo hasn’t messed with what makes Link’s Awakening so great — the gameplay, the world and the story. Instead, for the Switch version, it has simply focused on making the experience better.

The remake, priced at ¥6,578, retains the same top-down point-of-view as the original, but now the soundtrack and in-game sound effects sound stunning and it features an adorable, toy-like art style. A host of new features are included, such as Link’s health meter having a 20-heart capacity as opposed to the original 14 hearts, and it is also compatible with Amiibo, which can be used to summon special characters in-game.

The most notable addition, however, is a dungeon creation tool — this allows players to rearrange tiles to create custom dungeon maps to play through for extra rewards.

Link’s Awakening is one of the most unusual games in the Zelda series, and also one of the most highly regarded. This re-release has make it even better, but without tampering with any of its original genius and charm.

bit.ly/linkawake-jp (Japanese), bit.ly/linkawake-en (English)

The ultimate quest

© 2017, 2019 ARMOR PROJECT/BIRD STUDIO/SQUARE / ENIX ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
© 2017, 2019 ARMOR PROJECT/BIRD STUDIO/SQUARE / ENIX ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Dragon Quest series is among the most iconic Japanese role-playing games ever made. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age (¥8,778) is the definitive version of Dragon Quest XI, which was originally announced for the PlayStation 4, the Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo Switch.

In 2017, the PS4, 3DS versions appeared and the game even made it to PC. But there was no Switch version — until now.

Dragon Quest XI is a big, beautiful game and the new Switch version is no exception. Players fight monsters and explore the fantasy world of Erdrea.

This time, however, there are new storylines for the characters, offering a deeper experience than the previous versions. Also, unlike the other releases, Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age has a special 2D mode that allows players to switch between the slick modern graphics and classic, retro-style 16-bit graphics during gameplay.

For those who have already enjoyed the PS4 game, here’s a chance to play through the game in old-school graphics. Another unusual option is the ability to toggle between the synthesized and the fully orchestrated soundtracks.

It looks like the Switch version was worth the wait.

bit.ly/dragonqst-jp (Japanese), bit.ly/dragonqst-en (English)

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