Firstly, I apologize for the title, but it's been stuck in my head since I started playing and received my first "familiar" who would do battle for me against other potential "familiars". No Pokeballs this time though, you just have to wait for a familiar to like you enough that you can serenade it.
Truthfully, there might be a few similarities in gameplay to Pokemon but Ni No Kuni also shares some combat and story elements that can be likened to the Tales series, although that's not a bad thing. Battles take place on a field, have a measure of free-roaming and are fairly fast.
I'm getting ahead of myself though. Ni No Kuni follows Oliver, who's a young boy that accidentally gets his mom killed and, soon after, gets transported to a strange fantasy world where he has to gain magical powers to potentially bring his mother back to life. You see, everyone has a soulmate in the other world and everyone tells young Oliver that he saves his mother's soulmate he might be able to get her back. And of course, none of this eludes to a child's fragile mental state in the wake of a tragedy.
The characters are engaging enough, although I wanted Mr. Drippy to drop the insane Scottish accent most of the time and most dialogue isn't spoken at all. The graphics fair better, looking like a living anime cartoon.
Combat, however, is a bit shaky. First of all, I have a certain loathing for "combat mode", because combat should take place in the game world, not a bubble inside it. But the bigger problem is the hybrid RTS/TBS system, which gives you lists of options to pour through while combat is taking place in real time. It's just counter-intuitive.
The game is sizable and has plenty of content. Although some reveals you'll see coming a mile away, a few of the twists in the story will prove interesting. Ni No Kuni has a lot going for it, but falls short in important areas, which keeps the player from getting too involved in this otherwise epic RPG.
But once you complete the game, it becomes a huge grindfest trying to get the trophies. The storyline was good, but extremely predictable and there was WAY too much hand-holding, always telling you what piece of heart you need, for instance. Even kids aren't that dense to need constant repetition.