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I'm not gonna complain, nor have I complained, but truth be told, that's pretty much the reason.
It's great and appealing to the younger audience it's targeting, but I'd much rather have more menacing looking creatures.
That's honestly the problem with many RPGs, why in the hell am I fighting cute little critters that are about as menacing as a toddler dressed like a vampire for Halloween. Monsters are supposed to be dangerous and intimidating, not cute and harmless. It's like I'm going outside and beating up on harmless woodland creatures that are just hanging out doing their thing, not bothering anyone.
"Cute" is a kiddy euphemism for "Sexy". Online is the worst thing to happen to gaming.
I love the monster design. People will inevitably compare the game to Pokemon, which admittedly does have some well designed monsters (along with some very plain and boring ones) - but comparing the games in this respect is apples and oranges. Ni No Kuni does have a simpler aesthetic so its creatures shouldn't be rife with detail.
That said, I, like many others, wish the third metamorphosis of a familiar was more distinct from the basic form, apart from a palette swap and a few extra bells and whistles. It's called a metamorphosis, after all, while Pokemon calls it an evolution. I think it should be reversed. In Pokemon, animals really go through metamorphosis. In this game, their transformations are much more subtle.