So, as I said I'm gonna rant a little.
This will be a little spoiler-y (I won't spoil the ending or deep plot twists tho), so stay away if you haven't finished the game yet and don't want to know some story related things before having seem them yourself (I won't talk much about anything post-Hamelin, so if you've reached that part you're pretty much save anyway.)
As I mentioned before, I found the pacing of the storytelling odd at times. It took quite a while to find Esther's father, solve her quest, get to know her and then the story started to move on and implemented her nicely. Shortly afterwards Swayne gets introduced to the story. Barely anything of his introduction is voiced at all and you quickly fight his shadow and after some backtracking he suddenly joins you out of nowhere, while being a total ass and giving the children no real reason why they should have him tag along. He's just annoying for no real reason, while he's actually a nice dude later on and I like his sarcastic comments at the later parts of the games. The game doesn't even bother explaining why he became such an annoying person, I mean, he went out to find his purpose, to become strong and what not.. and then THAT's what he became? WHY? o_O
I didn't get it. Even the death of a certain someone in the past didn't explain it to me. And why did he never bother going back to his home before... seriously, just what did that dude do the past 10+ years? XD
And Marcassin... dude, I was like super hyped to have a Ghibli bishi in my party, then after it took AGES to finally get him in, I realised he is just a weaker Oliver with less spells and crappy familiar compabilities. I was raising familiars for him the whole time and then he never once made it into my party. You can't have Oliver out of your party and leaving Esther out would mean no familiar taming, while leaving Swayne out would mean no stealing from foes, which is especially important in the end game if you intend to do all the alchemy recipes. orz
And taming familiars is annoying.. all you can do is fight the ones you want over and over again until it finally falls in love with you. Or doesn't. I was lucky so far and got every familiar I wanted to have, but some of them took me quite a while to get. But it feels kinda great to finally get the familiar you want after trying for so long.... orz
Here's a selection of my favourite end game 3rd evolution familiars:
Clinketyclank DX / Dualynx / Wispula
Clinketyclank DX & Flash Fry are actually part of a quest, so you have to evolve these 3rd forms at some point if you intend to finish it. I found Clinketyclank already charming the moment I first saw it strolling around Hamelin and caught one right away. I also got Wispula's first form, a Wisp, at The Tombstone Trail next to Hamelin, when I had to go there to advance the story. try getting these two and equip them to Swayne, as he's naturally compatible with them. I found both of them quite well balanced and cute enough to fight through til the end with me.
I only got Dualynx because she is pretty, but she's also a good healer. Since she's of the Arcana race, she's not compatible with anyone, but damn, she's a cool cat, so it's good to have her around. 8)
Paleolith / Tokotocold / Docotoko
I got a Monolith as soon as I was on my way to Castaway Cove, because I heard he had high defense and he's an Automata, compatible with Swayne. And boy, he's a defensive beast! He's also resistant to physical attacks... sure, he might not deal much damage, but he learns a few nifty tricks and that defense saved my ass a couple of time. 8)
Tokotocold & Docotoco were a must for me. As soon as I heard about the adorable Toko family, that looks so charmingly Ghibli, I had to catch 'em all!
I started with trying to get a Toko on a small island to the North of the summer lands, reachable via ship or dragon. I fought quite a couple of them (and significantly raised the levels of my party members, Tokos give a whooping 2000+ exp, and their big brothers, their 2nd evolution Tokotoko gives 9000+) but I had no luck. So as soon as I was able to reach Perdida & Billy Goat's Bluff, I tried my luck on Tokotokos and succeeded! I went through leveling it all the way up to it's max level (6) so it would learn it's last 2nd evo trick and evolved it to a Docotoko after I caught a Tokotocold in the Ivory Tower while I was trying to gain the last bit of experience for my Tokotoko. Docotoko might not have that many useful attack spells, but it's damn cute and only obtainable via evolution. And these two have an amazing magic defense and evasion if you raise Toko and/or Tokotoko to their max level befor evolving. 8)
Acee / Puss In Boats / Wildwood
Puss in Boats is the obvious choice for Oliver. He's got a good defense and good attack, he's not as strong as Griffy, or some of the other catchable familiars, but he's a purrate cat, damn it!
Wildwood has awesome defense and is compatible with Esther as well, my favourite team for Esther consisted of Wildwood, Griffy & Acee. You can only catch him in one tiny wood area on an island called No Longer Mine right North of Teeheeti (where the Fairy Ground is!) - you can get there by boat or by dragon later on. I didn't try catching one until I got the dragon, so I'm not too sure which level you should be before attempting to go to the island to catch a Lumberwood. He spawns rarely and it takes a while before he respawns. But if you see him, you can just save the game, fight him and if he doesn't crush on you, just reload. Took me 3 tries until he fell for me. :) If you've got trouble locating him on the island, I've marked his location on this map.
Do you see the tiny little island in the South with a wood on it? You should check it out after you get the dragon. 8)
A familiar you should also consider catching early on is Small Fry, because you'll need his 3rd form:
He's the third
Pokemon familiar you have to evolve for aformentioned quest, you can find Small Frys all around Old Smokey, so you better try and catch one while you're there for the story anyway and keep him in your party in a spare slot and level him so you have a Flash Fry ready when it's needed. :)
All in all I don't really want to rant too much about the game. I really loved it in the end and there's much worse games I could be ranting about... like The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, that has the most annoying controls ever (while otherwise being pretty cool so far..), it's actually the first game I'm getting motion-sickness from in years, because it has such an awful camera. Ugh.
Ahem. Anyway, is there anything that irks you guys about Ni no Kuni or any other games you've been playing lately?