It's a pretty bad ass game. I don't understand why a lot of people are so self conscious about wanting to try this game because of the graphics and the fact you play as a kid.
I'm pretty sure the majority of JRPG's you play as a kid and the graphics are like Ni No Kuni.
The game is quite challenging in some areas, I've had trouble just trying to match up the right familiars for my partners, I know they each have their own favourite genus, but I don't have a lot of the species from specific genera. I've just gotten to a boss that owned me pretty quickly. It takes out the rest of my team pretty quickly. I've got one that is meant to heal us all, the other has some pretty strong melee species and I work on magical and a bit of melee with elemental weapons. I'm just leveling them up a bit more now and getting a few more abilities.
Just because a game doesn't display a mature looking art style, doesn't mean it's not a great game. It's the only game I am playing now and I play all sorts of games, FPS, RPG, Racing, Hack n Slash, Action, Adventure, etc. I like a variety regardless of the art style. I've been looking forward to this game for quite some time now and I'm glad I bought it.
And yes, there are tons of "badass" familiars in the game (one of my favorites being Puss in Boats...a cat-pirate). The Guardians you fight are pretty awesome as well. http://tinyurl.com/by3hafz Believe me, I'm not at all a fan of "Pokemon-esque" games or overly childish Console RPGs but I can say, with confidence, that NNK is a f****** good game.
Ni No Kuni, Vanquish, DmC, Sound Shapes, Disgaea 4, Valkyria Chronicles, Need For Speed: MW 2012, Far Cry 3, Monster Hunter FU PSN: DocDelicious