There's a lot to love about Ni no Kuni, the wonderful PlayStation 3 role-playing game that came out last Tuesday.
There's also a lot to worry about. Between side quests, creature collecting, and all sorts of tricky boss battles, it can be an overwhelming game for new players. Fortunately, new players have Kotaku. Here are some helpful tips for how to maximize your Ni no Kuni experience.
The game doesn't do a very good job explaining this, but you can actually use the trigger buttons instead of the directional pad to switch through commands in combat. This is much easier than trying to finagle with both the left joystick and the d-pad on your controller, assuming you don't have two left thumbs.
It's like rock-paper-scissors. Moon > Star > Sun > Moon. So Moon-signed creatures will do more damage to Star-signed creatures, and so forth and so forth. You can overpower a lot of enemies without worrying about these signs, but for maximum effectiveness, you'll want to use familiars—the collectible creatures that do most of the work in combat for you—with superior signs.
It's tempting to pull a Pokémon and just give all your love to the guys you start with, but really, you can get much more powerful critters as you go through the game. Don't worry about conserving your treats—they're cheap, common, and easy to find—but don't get too attached to Mitey and crew either. You can do better!
If you want to know which familiars have the best stats, one dedicated GameFAQs poster has made a very helpful chart.
When you die in battle, you have two options: 1) Head back to the title screen and reload a saved game or 2) Continue from the latest save point with all of the experience and items you've gained since you saved, at the cost of 10% of your wealth. This can be annoying, as most dungeons only have two save points: one at the beginning and one at the end, right before you have to face a boss. If you die in the middle of a dungeon, you can find yourself in a tough spot—especially if you've leveled up your characters while fighting, and you don't want to lose any of that progress. So! Spend most of your money on items and equipment before you head into a dungeon, and losing 10% of your total gold won't be an issue.
If you just rush through Ni no Kuni, following the story in linear fashion, you're doing it wrong. The best way to play this game is to let yourself sink into the world. When you enter a new town, look at the map and find all of the green and blue dots, then go around talking to them. Do sidequests. Go on bounty hunts. Explore the world map and scour for alchemy ingredients and special components.
In the first few hours, you'll get your hands on a book full of helpful and interesting information. As you progress through the game, take the time to read through it. There are short stories, useful alchemy formulas, and even a decoder for the game's fictional language, which you can use to find hidden messages and easter eggs all over the tremendous world of Ni no Kuni.
In Ding Dong Dell, through one alley and behind a big fountain, you'll find a green-haired ghost wizard. Use your Spirit Medium spell and talk to him. If you answer his questions right, he'll give you a bunch of helpful spells and items, then move along to the next city. Be sure to find him in every city you visit as you fight your way through the game.
Once you have all three of your party members, you'll get the ability to give them orders: you can make everyone do an all-out attack or defend themselves just by hitting the triangle/square buttons. When you see a tough enemy or boss start to cast a spell, you'll want to hit square and make everyone defend right away. At the same time, flip through your own character's commands and make him defend too. It's tough to get the hang of, but the more you practice, the better you'll get.
Similarly, when you catch your opponent off guard, use all-out attack to make your characters bombard him/her/it with as many spells and skills as they can.
You can turn off hints and destination markers, making your Ni no Kuni experience far more old-school. Totally up to you what to leave on or turn off: just know that the options are there.
This is not a game to play on mute. The soundtrack is sweeping, lovely, and phenomenal.
I mean, come on.