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The only thing I prefer Ni No Kuni over DQVIII is the fact that you see the enemies in the open map and you "decide" who to fight and when especially when you are overleveled. I'm not a big fan of DQVIII random battles, also the fact that you can "auto-grind" if you have a turbo controller makes the game ridiculously exploitable, that is for me a big discouragement.
Yes. As a huge fan of DQ8, I was delighted to find that Ni no Kuni is basically the second coming of DQ8. It is very similar in overall game design, and it's even better in certain ways. If you're a fan of DQ8, get excited and get Ni no Kuni.