Over the weekend, I finally jumped into the world of Ni No Kuni, Level 5 and Studio Ghibli’s collaborative take on JRPGs. As has been reported from pretty much the whole world, the game is charming as all hell, from the story down to the monster design. With a great big world to explore and tons of sidequests, the experience is certainly reminiscent of the RPGs I used to play during my summers off of school.
But one of the more surprising reasons for my nostalgia happens to be the game’s cut scenes. Back in the day, one of my favorite parts of a new game was getting to a CG cut scene. These fully animated sequences served as a bit of a reward after a particularly harrowing part of the game, and always kept me on the edge of my seat. The fact that they looked so much better than the game made it all the more rewarding.
But over the years, game graphics have gradually caught up with these sequences, making that type of cut scene less prominent. Sure, we have plenty of in-game cut scenes, complete with our own characters that we see every moment of gameplay, rendered with the game’s engine.
Some would say that in addition to saving disc space, this also helps keep the player in the game. And while that’s all well and good, and perfectly reasonable, that nostalgic, silly part of me just loves those cut scenes of old. Ni No Kuni brings them back with their own special bit of magic, in that each of these story pieces is animated by Studio Ghibli. This gives each one the appearance of one of their famous movies like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke or Howl’s Moving Castle. It’s easily one of the bright spots in recent gaming memory for me, and I set down the controller and watch each one unfold with joy. I’d certainly love to see more games doing this in the near future.
What do you guys think? Am I just being curmudgeonly about this? Are video game cut scenes a lost art? Or are they just fine the way companies tend to handle them now? Who here has played Ni No Kuni? Go!