The JRPG, fans of the genre have been waiting for
This game is, literally, old-school jrpg at it's finest. Now, I'm not a big pokemon fan. In fact, I don't think I've ever played a single one. But, I get the concept of putting out creatures to do battle and it works well with the style of combat here. At first I thought, "Man, 400 familiars! That's a little overwhelming." Rest assured, you will probably choose a handful that you're comfortable with and play using just those familiars. I'm still curious to try others, though.
The combat it a mix between real time and turn based. You play creature or yourself and you can move freely in between commands. Once you choose a command, the character or familiar being played is on his/her own until the action is complete. The only drawback, that I saw, was that you only have control over one character and his/her familiars at a time while the others controlled by AI. This makes it possible to play through the whole game without ever switching characters if you want. You can, however change AI tactics for your characters. This is a small drawback because oftentimes you may find yourself needing to switch in order to save characters from death.
Now, the best part! The story is phenomenal. It's emotional with a nice comedic tone to certain portions of the game. You will find yourself thinking about your characters and what they're going through even when your not playing. The music sets a nice mood for basic travel and during cut scenes, which adds emotion to the overall theme and plot. You can Joe Hisaishi for a job well done, which if you've scene 'Spirited Away' or 'Princess Mononoke', you recognize a similarity since he was responsible for both, along with other studio ghible productions.
There a side quests a plenty and tons of exploration. The world is beautiful with wonderful animations and cut scenes thanks to the talents of animation studio ghibli. Overall, a wonderful game, worth trying out. If you don't have the money, borrow it from a friend. It's a gem that will remembered even into the next generation of consoles.