Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Watch, the fantastic Level-5/Studio Ghibli produced strategy/role-playing game, is now on store shelves, courtesy of Namco Bandai. It's a spellbinding game, one that gets you wrapped up in a whirlwind adventure which lasts several hours just to get into the good stuff. The powerful hero, Oliver, is accompanied by the Scottish fairy Drippy and the helpful Esther, and he has a real talent in spellcasting and, with Esther's help, recruiting familiars.
Some people might call them "pets" and others could also see traits that are in common with Pokemon, especially when it comes to their evolution. Familiars are allies that can really help you out in a pinch with their attack styles, and with so many to choose from in the game (literally hundreds), it'll take a while to figure out which ones are right for you.
There are a few basics you should understand when it comes to familiars. You can't just have a chat with them to recruit them into your party, as some of them will be quite stubborn when it comes to teaming up. This guide will run you through the basics to get a better understanding of how you can get them to join up, what they can do for you depending on their genus, and how they grow in return.
The first thing you'll need to understand is capacity when it comes to familiars. Each member of your party with human origin can hold up to three familiars at a time, similar to Pokemon trainers having a certain amount of allies at the ready. These familiars are able to level up using experience points earned over the course of the game – they don't necessarily have to be used in battle in order to rank up. It helps, sure, but just being carried around helps them level up.
The rule of thumb is to find two familiars that you're most comfortable with and alternate with them in battle, having the third as an emergency back-up – of sorts – or keeping them around so you can level them up, then alternating your line-up. Three reserve familiars can also be carried around, in case you feel like switching things around, but just keep in mind that the reserve ones won't level up as effectively as the others. Only the three main ones you carry earn XP.
Finding the Familiar That's Right For You
In order to find a familiar that fits your certain style of battle, you'll have to tinker with the line-up a bit. As I mentioned, you'll start out with a few basics, but over the course of this grand-sized game, you'll come across various types. They're divided into fourteen different genuses, ranging from Aquatica all the way through Vermes. Each one has specific advantages depending on which characters they're paired with.
Familiars with an Aquatic Genius are most compatible with Esther, and have an appearance that resembles sea creatures. Aves, also good with Esther, look closer like birds. And so on. Over the course of the game, you'll learn which familiars are best suited for each character, and putting them in your battle party will help give you a better balance to your team. (The full listing for familiar types, and their strengths with particular characters, can be found in the full Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Prima Games guide, now available for order.)
When you first get into Ni No Kuni, you won't have to worry about wrangling up your starting familiars – they'll be given to you. However, over the course of the game, if you wish to recruit others, you'll find yourself battling them, then trying to coerce them – with Esther's help – to join your team. It's not always a success, as it's not a matter of confining them into a Pokeball and forcing them to trust you.
Here's an excerpt from the Prima Games guide that explains it a little better...
"The odds that a heart (a sign of confidence) will appear over the head of a defeated creature vary by their type, landing at around 25 percent for the most docile creatures and going down to four percent for rarer and more powerful creatures."
In other words, if you want more powerful allies, you'll need to chip away at them until you eventually convert them into your party. Some will be a hard catch, but they'll be worthwhile in the heat of battle, especially when it comes to their special abilities.
Getting Started With the Mite
There are too many familiars within Ni No Kuni to list in this article, so we'll start with some of the most basic characters, giving you an idea of what you're in for.
One of your first familiars is an adorable warrior that goes by the name of Mite. Looking like an orange Muppet with suspenders, horns, and a sword and shield, he's a very capable familiar, stemming from the Milites genus. He brings a fearless approach into battle, capable of hitting enemies with a variety of attacks, such as Cut Loose, Sand Blast, and Smash Hit, among others.
Over the course of his evolution, you'll notice changes in his appearance. His horns get longer, his shield and sword become bigger, and he eventually becomes darker in color, turning violet. His evolution takes a bit of time, starting with a transformation into a Mighty mite, then a Dynamite, and finally a Mermite. As he changes, so do the nature of his attacks, becoming much more powerful with the introduction of such techniques as the War Cry, Fling Flame, Slash n' Burn, Whiligig, and, finally, the Snowblower, Splish Slash and Soulshield. The stronger he becomes, the better an ally he becomes for your party.
Other familiars to watch out for at first include the Clubber Cub, a martial arts fighter who can eventually change into a powerful Elegantiger; the electrical Drongo, who becomes more powerful as they get angrier, eventually turning into an Electrongo; and the encouraging Thumbelemur, a dancing creature that's good at keeping others in high spirit, eventually evolving into an Aye-Aye Catcher.
Remember, Have Fun With It
As we mentioned, no two familiars are really created alike, so tinkering with different ones in your party and seeing how they grow will really make a difference. Don't be afraid to experiment, and also don't be discouraged when it comes to chasing after the tougher ones. That just makes them more of a dependable ally when they do finally join your party.
Ni No Kuni isn't just always about following the straight and narrow. Level-5 made it a huge, exploration-worthy universe for a reason. There are literally hundreds of familiars you'll run across, each with something new in their arsenal, and part of the fun is finding something that works right for you, then trying something else to see what startling new effects they bring. Experiment, fight, and remember to have fun. Because there really is no game out there like Ni No Kuni.
If you want a better breakdown of the familiars and genuses within the game, be sure to check out the Prima Games print guide, which also comes with an exclusive gold Hurly familiar as add-on DLC. It's the best way to go if you're serious about the game.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is available now for PlayStation 3.