It is difficult not to be wow-ed by what the trusted Studio Ghibli has in store for us in Ni No Kuni. Take for example, just playing 5 minutes into the game, players would be greeted with the nostalgic cartoon cutscenes that they find so enjoyable in Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and other Studi Ghibli’s productions.
After completing the game and spending more than 60+ hours savoring every moment of it, it is as difficult not to rave about Ni No Kuni’s game as a whole. The graphics are amazing, the music lingers in your head in the shower, and the combat system challenging and strategic. That is however, not the point of this post. But before I continue, there are spoilers ahead. You are warned.
Looking back on how I could have arranged my dream team of Familiars back when Swaine joins the party at first at Castaway Cove, I wished there was a guide or something that could tell me which familiars to keep and which to be condemned in the dark dungeons of the so-called Familiars Retreat. There is a pathetic amount of guides regarding this area (there’s another link from IGN on this http://www.ign.com/wikis/ni-no-kuni-wrath-of-the-white-witch/Handy_Starter_Familiars), and the forums you go to would be touting Dinoceros like no-one’s business (which by the way, is only available for capture late game. It is very difficult to tame, but powerful as hell)
(Looks bad-ass? You bet)
The main point for having this post is this: it takes time for a familiar to get strong and evolved to match the story bosses’ you have to face. The longer they stay in the party, the higher their level and the greater tendency for them to be showered with treats that can make any human diabetic. Therefore, here are my recommendations for Oliver, Esther and Swaine for a good Familiar selection in the early part of the game:
Oliver: Hurly, Little Bighorn, Plessie/Naja (All compatible with Oliver)
Oliver is primary a spellcaster (duh!) and waving his wand to attack is only really applicable in the tutorial portion. That being said, his MP is very precious for spamming out spells and healing teammates. A Oliver without any MP is as good as a well…good-for-nothing. Therefore, it is crucial to choose familiars that do not consume too much MP in dealing damage, but rather, rely on their attack to dish out damage.
(Note that I didn’t include Mitey inside)
Don’t get me wrong. Mitey as a starter is great, but only at first. Once it evolves to its third form, the increases to its stats in both forms are dismal, and other wild familars and bosses can soon overtake it. You would then sigh in disappointment that unlike Ash in Pokemon, the “Pikachu” equivalent you are given with for Oliver actually start to suck later.
Hurly (Swaine’s Starting Familiar)
Hurly is a Milite, which is compatible with Oliver, not Swaine, even though Hurly is given when you get Swaine early in the game. I know a lot of complaints about this familiar: that it looks too ugly, it misses all the time, it is too slow. But the third form of Hurly is a powerhouse in attack later (Hurlabaloo at 377 max attack stats later and Hurlcules at 357 max attack stats later). For hardcore players, keep pumping in pies for his growth in accuracy and equip him with a Hammer instead of an Axe, and you can see his attacks connecting in big numbers later on.
Little Bighorn (Old Smoky)
Little Bighorn could be found along the path towards Old Smoky as well as at Old Smoky itself. This is the tank in the assemble. If you take a look at the Wizards’ Companion, you see that it has no weakness, and is resistant to physical attacks! This is thus perfect for boss battles when you need All-Out Defense to block against special attacks. In additional, little Bighorn uses a shield that boosts physical defense pretty well. Stats-wise, Little Bighorn and its evolved forms have average stats and serves mostly as a damage sink for your repetoire.
Plessie/Naja (Waters/Ding Dong Dell Sewers)
The last choice could either be Plessie or Naja. Plessie could be found in the waters once you get the ship to sail while Naja could be found in Ding Dong Dell Sewers. Both are excellent choices for attack stats in their final forms (Najapatra at 350 attack and Mahanaja at 343 attack, while Stressy Pressie at 365 attack and Blessy Plessie at 343 attack). While Plessie is more superior in terms of stats, Naja is more superior in attack speed. The weak point of Naja for people who are interested is in its defence; so keep putting in lots of flans and you will have a pretty good striker as Oliver’s backup.
Esther: Drongo, Napcap, Green Buncher (All compatible with Esther)
Esther is pretty weak, and the only reason why you might really want to use her is to help in support (through her songs) or to Serenade to tame a wild familiar. Therefore, you will be relying a lot more on Familiars for her, and you definitely want a good mix in her team.
Drongo (Esther’s starting familiar)
Drongo, like Mitey, is pretty good early on, but it doesn’t mean that you have to scratch it off later. It has pretty good area attacks of water and lightning later on, and proves to be a decent healer too. Pump it lots of cakes to boost its magical attack and ignore the rest of the stats.
Napcap (Golden Grove)
Yes, I can hear some exclamations there. Napcap…NAPCAP?? Are you frigging kidding me? Don’t worry, my friends, Napcap is the real deal. In terms of the highest stats gained for all the familiars, Nightcap gets 1988 stats in total, more than any other familiar. The other form, Madcap, gets 1972 stats in total, placing it second in place. Stats-wise, it is very well distributed across all of them, making Napcap a Jack of all trades. It doesn’t deal really powerful damage, but neither does it have overwhelming defense. The best for its use, is the fact it gets a pretty powerful Second Wind spell that heals all allies for quite a huge amount. That is pretty handy in a pinch. To add to its usefulness, it also has Mighty Light to support deal Light damage other than Oliver’s Arrow of Light spell. And its very fast (you should try catching it and you will know what I mean). That means you should throw it out, run around to collect glibs (not Drongo, that slowpoke) and cast spells to heal and support your characters.
Green Buncher (Found in Shimmering Sands)
Green Buncher is pretty common in Shimmering Sands, and is a tough customer when you first roam around the desert from Golden Grove. What you might notice is this: Green Buncher hits really hard and casts Stalagmitts, which then immediately knocks out one of your teammates due to its high attack stats. Like Hurly, this guy is a powerhouse (Overripe Buncher has 328 max attack and 238 defense). You would want him with Esther to balance out the MP draining peeps like Drongo and Napcap, and not to get stuck with another spell-intensive familiar to dish out damage when her MP is going to zero. Alternatively, you would want him to use Belly Buster to deal massive Damage to a boss. For people using Green Buncher, the only few qualms about it is its weakness to fire and it’s slow speed. Later in the game, use Hot-Blooded Badge (increases movement speed) together with Fire Seal to mitigate its weaknesses, and feed it lots of pies to boost its accuracy and you will see this guy shining more and more in Esther’s team.
Swaine: Thumbelemur, Monolith, Clubber Cub/Sore Boar (All compatible with Swaine)
Swaine is primarily a rogue/thief character (that almost every JRPG must have: Rikku, Zidane etc) that excels in using Mugshot to steal items from enemies. Other than that, his shots are pretty useless as most bosses are immune to status effects anyway. His use is again to support Oliver primarily as a healer/tank using his familiars.
Thumbelemur (Given to party)
Thumbelemur is given to you pretty early in the game by Little Tommy Stout and is perfect with Swaine. It is very good with evasion, and with the mantle given to it, it becomes the God of dodging. This makes attacks to it miss most of the time and makes it a decent fighter in the early parts of the game. The main draw of keeping this little fella around is to morph it to Aye-Aye Catcher, which let you learn the trick Upsy Daisy to revive fallen allies in battle without using any items (trust me, you will be casting this pretty often, especially in the Solomon Trials).
(Don’t you wish that you have Upsy-Daisy now?)
Monolith (Found near Castaway Cove)
I love this guy. I really do. This guy has saved the entire team in a boss fight more than once. Boasting a whooping 402 defense stats as a Neolith or Paleolith later, this guy is a walking Great Wall of China. But it doesn’t just hop about in the battlefield hoping for the boss to notice it. At an early stage, it learns the Yoo-Hoo trick that calls enemies to itself (think of it as Taunt). Bosses, wild familiars, whoopee-doo Bounty Hunt monsters would drop everything they have to start whacking your Monolith, only to find the damage shown as 1. 1….Yes you read it right. It perfectly complements the rest of the team because Oliver would act as the main damage-disher, with Esther spamming it with spells from her familiars while the boss focuses on your little Monolith. To make good use of it, give it cakes to boost its magical attack and you can see it as a secondary spellcaster. Additionally, equip it with items that boosts its stamina so that it can stay in the battlefield longer (The AI tends to let it stay in the battlefield till its stamina runs out).
Clubber Cub/Sore Boar (Shimmering Sands/Golden Grove)
There is a time when you have to give an All-Out Attack command and you wish that Swaine has a powerful attacker on his side. There you have it, Clubber Cub and Sore Boar are decent attackers ready to dish out powerful damage to the crowd. Clubber Cub eventually evolves to Elegantiger, a Wolverine-like familiar that is very fast in moving and attacks very quickly too. Like Naja above, the weakness is in its defense. Switching to Clubber Cub usually results in a huge HP drop when it gets hit, making Clubber Cub more of a guerille hit-and-run kind of play. To let it survive better, later in the game, it might be good to equip two Ironclad Badges to it, boosting its defense and magical defense by 60 each. For Sore Boar, its stats are a lot better but the danger lies in its inaccuracy. Therefore, feed pies to it and rely more on its Belly Buster to hit hard on boss fights. A Full Boar/Hyperboar is pretty deadly with its physical damage and is something that you definitely not want to mess with.
So there you have it. A dream team if I must say for early game captures that can last you the entire game. Got a better team that works for you? Feel free to comment below!