Studio Ghibli is the most well known anime feature film studio in the world. For over 26 years, their films have represented the peak of mainstream anime, and since Disney began distributing their films in America back in 1997, they've become a household name here in the States—not just in Japan. In 2001, they even bested Disney and Pixar, taking home a Best Animated Feature Film Academy Award for Spirited Away. Eight years later, Ghibli and Fukuoka-based developer Level-5 announced that they were collaborating on Studio Ghibli's first ever video game project, an RPG called Ni No Kuni (generally translated as The Another World).
Over the ensuing years, the project has expanded into two separately developed games, one for Nintendo DS and the other for PlayStation 3. Both look stunning. The gameplay is a well made JRPG fare wrapped in beautiful art and storytelling from Ghilbi with some creative additions, like an included real-world book necessary to play the game. The DS version has been out for nearly a year and drawn rave reviews in Japan, but it hasn't seen a U.S. release yet. The PS3 version is coming out in November. To make those gamers who can't get a hold of their games yet even more jealous then they already are, Sony released photos this week of a special edition PS3 console that will come bundled with the game, decked out in gorgeous fake gold:
I don't think I've ever seen a better looking game console. Sure it's audacious. But compared to the monstrosity that was the first PlayStation 3 body style, this is a work of art. It's not going to be cheap, costing 33,780 yen (about $440), but that's the same amount that the game and a PS3 console would cost separately. For those of you not familiar with Japanese game pricing, that means that the PS3 version of Ni No Kuni itself will cost a staggering 8,800 yen, or about $115!
That is obviously a ripoff, but not unprecedented in the Japanese game market. Ni No Kuni looks worth it, at least I would pay that much to get the game translated into English and get a gold PS3. I only wish enough people felt the same for Sony and Level-5 to release the dang things here in North America.