JRPGs used to feel like a daunting hill to climb for me, but the original release of Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom gave me the confidence to play other games in the genre. As such, I was excited to revisit such an impactful game on Nintendo Switch. Although this version has some noticeable issues, especially with frame rate, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom Prince’s Edition on Nintendo Switch is a worthwhile investment in review for those looking for an accessible, Studio Ghibli-inspired adventure.
Despite being a sequel to the endearing Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, the sequel is largely a standalone adventure that newcomers can equally enjoy, though there are some callbacks to the first that fans will probably appreciate. This time around, we follow the story of Evan, a young boy who has unfortunately been usurped from his throne. Many JRPGs involve convoluted plot threads that are hard to follow, but you won’t have much trouble keeping up with important events in this game. Some may say that Ni no Kuni II has a weaker narrative compared to that of its predecessor, but there’s no denying how likable the game’s main characters are.
Most of the adventure will be spent in Ni no Kuni II‘s vast open world, where you will fight monsters, explore unique environments, collect treasure, and much more. There is an interesting change of art style during exploratory moments, as the party transforms into chibi-like versions of themselves. However, the Nintendo Switch version has noticeable frame rate issues. They don’t make the game unplayable, but it can be frustrating at times.
Once you encounter an enemy, Evan and company enter the battle phase, shifting back to the Studio Ghibli-inspired visuals that we know and love. Ni no Kuni II ditches the turn-based combat structure of the previous game, replacing it with action RPG elements. This too actually contributes to the game’s extreme accessibility.
Fights in Ni no Kuni II are nothing too demanding while playing on Normal mode. Each character has their preferred weapons and skills; for instance, Evan likes to use swords and magic-themed attacks. Just like with other action RPGs, you will spend a lot of time hacking away at enemies until you’re victorious. However, some encounters may require you to be a little more strategic, especially towards the end of the adventure. If you’re finding combat too easy, the Nintendo Switch release includes all previously released updates and DLC, allowing you to play the game on the brutal Expert difficulty from the very beginning. Just like with the open world, the frame rate can be inconsistent at times in battle, especially if there’s a lot going on, but the game is still very much playable.
Then there are the Higgledies, Revenant Kingdom‘s version of the previous game’s Familiars. Throughout Evan’s adventure, you will be able to find one hundred of these lovable creatures, each with their own cutesy names, such as Bumblebizz the Blowy. Some of these creatures can be obtained by finding Higgledy Stones, where you are required to give up a specific item or by crafting them. They come in different types, similar to Pokémon, including the likes of normal, water, fire, wind, light, and dark. Higgledies help out in combat, activating various skills that may benefit you in different situations.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom Prince’s Edition also features a robust Kingdom Builder mode, which makes sense as the game has “Kingdom” in the title. This mode is particularly addicting, as back in 2018 I spent the majority of my playtime recruiting new citizens for my civilization. Most of the game’s sidequests unlock various features for this mode, which only adds to the completionist fire burning in my heart. You can also build and upgrade facilities, research new projects, and assign tasks to your citizens. Honestly, this formula is perfect for Switch, as I can now spend an absurd amount of time ranking up my Explorer’s Guild on the go.
It doesn’t end there either, as there is an RTS-like mode called Skirmishes where Evan leads an army of soldiers into battle. Battles have a rock-paper-scissors aspect with swords, hammers, and spears, but there are also bows and options to buff your forces. Personally, I found Skirmishes to be annoying, especially when the game decides to force them upon you towards the end. Although the majority of these sections are optional, skipping too many Skirmishes is a terrible idea because it will result in a perilous grind later to match the recommended level requirements forced upon you.
Whenever someone mentions the Ni no Kuni series, everyone points towards the Studio Ghibli-inspired art style. The previous game’s animated scenes were handled directly by the beloved animation studio, and while developer Level-5 did not collaborate with Ghibli for Revenant Kingdom, it did collaborate with former Ghibli artist Yoshiyuki Momose for character designs and Ghibli composer Joe Hisaishi for a wonderful soundtrack that embodies the idea of adventure. The game retains beautiful visuals regardless, though with a bit less quality on Nintendo Switch. I’d say that playing in handheld mode is the definitive way to experience the game on Switch, as the resolution in docked mode isn’t as pretty to look at.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is filled with charm, offering an accessible JRPG that is perfect for newcomers to the genre. Although the Nintendo Switch version has a few issues, the gameplay more than makes up for it, alongside its heartwarming narrative and addictive side activities. If you’ve never played it, then this might be the time to jump in. Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom Princes Edition is now available for Nintendo Switch, featuring all previously released updates and downloadable content.
A Nintendo Switch review code for Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom Prince’s Edition was provided by the publisher.