The big new MacGuffin in Final Fantasy XIII-2 is Serah's ability to punch a creature until it turns into a crystal, then use that crystal to bring it back to life and murder more monsters. It's a beautiful cycle of death, and this monster collection, levelling up, and skill manipulation is one of the most satisfying aspects of the game.
But it's also where you can go wrong, and waste time - so here's a tour around our monster army, and what we've learned from them. Don't think of it as a guide, firstly for boring legal reasons, and secondly (and more importantly) because it isn't. If you live and die by it you'll do more dying than living. And fair warning - this article does assume some knowledge of the Paradigm Shift system. FFXIII virgins might want to read the review, first.
MEDIC - CAIT SITH
Your very first capture is one that can follow you throughout the game. Cait Sith is a Potcat - a description that's less cryptic than it sounds. It's a cat in a pot. It's just how Cait Siths get around, when they're not getting a piggyback from a stuffed toy.
How come he's still with us, endgame? Well, tamed creatures can be one of five levels, with a Crystarium to fill in for each level. Many creatures you'll find will have strict level caps - some won't even progress to level two. These monsters, you're supposed to feed to each other. The game sanitises this process with the fluffy term "Infusion". We prefer the image of jamming a Cait Sith into a Chocobo's face and screaming "why won't you be STRONG".
Cait Sith starts at Level 1, and we've still got him half-way through his grindy, expensive fourth Crystarium. He's described in his adjective list as a "late bloomer", and they're not kidding - he's a fraction of the strength of his Synergist Potcat sister, Mewmao. We very nearly used the phrase "evolved form", there.
Medics are few and far between, and the triple-medic paradigm Salvation is a quick way to pull back from the brink, so we still find ourselves using Cait Sith. We're not giving up on this guy that we're not giving him up until we find a Medic with a strong area healing spell like Curaja. When that happens, this Potcat parasite is going to get eaten alive.
RAVAGER - APOTAMKIN
This guy is from the same family as the dancing, summoning, gremlins from XIII. They hop from foot to foot, arms outstretched, like a gang of happy flashers. He's called an Apotamkin, a name lifted from Native American vampire mythology, which probably explains how he survived to roam the plains of 700 years in the future. It's good to know they'll have Twilight movies in the year 2712, even if pubescent girls might find it harder to get all pretentious and sexual over these stumpy dancers.
He's got massive strength for a a magic-using Ravager, but remember the "strike" abilities are physical ones, we've ended up with his strength stat being higher than his magic (depending on the materials used to level up, your Apotamkin will vary). But that's fine - remember that Ravagers do have a range of elemental physical attacks. Ravager abilities like Flamestrike and Galestrike, all use the Strength stat in determining damage.
Apotamkin's got a cheeky secret at the end of his Crystarium, too - he can help you grub out rare items. This But he's doesn't appear until the penultimate act. Who'll you use in the meantime? Well, Garchimacera and Notsugo are early variants, but they've only got Fire spells. You'll just have to Infuse them to build up their battle abilities.