Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is something special. Every frame of it feels suffused with magic, to the point where it overcomes any resistance you might have to its old-fashioned game play.

The tale, roughly translated as "Second Country" from the Japanese, begins in dark territory: A boy named Oliver is heartbroken when his mother dies of a heart attack. When Oliver's tears soak his favorite toy, Mr. Drippy, it springs to life. Turns out, he's a fairy from an alternate world, where Oliver's mom is a powerful sage. If Oliver can stop a dark conspiracy that threatens Drippy's world, he might be able to save Mom as well.

Oliver's journey takes him through a succession of lushly drawn towns, including the bucolic Ding Dong Dell, the sandy Al Mamoon and the industrial Hamelin.

Younger players are likely to be attracted to the colorful graphics and cute monsters, but beware: On the normal difficulty setting, some of these battles are quite challenging, and kids may find them frustrating. Within its dungeons and castles, save locations are sparse, so you run the risk of losing an hour or so of progress if you bump into the wrong creature.

RATING E10, everyone 10 and older

PLOT A boy travels a parallel world to save his mother

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DETAILS PlayStation 3, $60

BOTTOM LINE Epic, charming adventure