WHAT THIS LIVE BLOG IS
First, let me Lamp Shade the fact that this is probably the longest of the entries. With that done:
This is a means of helping players get through Nocturne, but not with a detailed, section by section walkthrough. This goes straight for the good stuff, like how deal with That One Boss or That One Level. Also, any particularly troubling puzzles I will try to cover (like the Guide Dang It! in the obelisk[okay I forgot to cover this, the Guide Dang It! is that you must fight all three of the sisters before Kagutsuchi returns to New status, it's not hard to figure out the puzzle once you know that]). I will, however, be forgoing Game Breakers such as Masakados, deathstone fusions, or overpowered stuff like Freikugel. In fact, you can finish that game well below level 70 without such things, even on Hard Mode. You just have to know what you're doing.
I will not however, give you an abundance of details about all the demons or item locations. That information is available in tools like the Heretic Mansion which you should Google and download immediately, as it will help you to acquire a team with the skillset you need to win. And the one item you will actually need I will tell you about.
For now, I won't include anything about the Bonus Dungeon, as venturing into it is likely to overlevel the player, even if you can ignore the use of its game breakers.
Now without further ado.....
First, do not go all out on Strength. It is common for people to do this and for good reason, as knocking out threatening bosses in as few turns (er, PRESS turns) as possible is a very attractive endeavor. However there are problems with this, namely bad luck, and lots of it. Without Agility, which is usually treated as a secondary concern at best, enemies won't miss very often, but you'll be missing them a lot. In normal JRPGs this is annoying, but in Nocturne it's dismal. Nocturne punishes misses by taking away press turns, which you need to make your moves in this game. Furthermore, without Luck, which is rarely payed any mind, you'll have tons of problems.
Just what does Luck do in this game? Its effect on critical hit rates is something I can not say I've seen any correlation on. However, there are strong correlations between your luck stat and things like Back Attacks (which are deadly on Hard Mode), the enemy simply going first, drops and the quality thereof (overlooked, but helps with Makka management on Hard Mode), the rate at which Death Spells succeed, and so on. Having high Luck will also make Lucky Find more useful, as you get better stuff from it, including Bead of Life.
Granted, it helps more with the main game than with bosses, but with bosses like Daisoujou and others making use of Death magic, you'll still want it for the bosses. Besides which, if you can't survive the main game, you'll never live to see That One Boss in the first place, correct?
Also, while you can use skill slots to block Death and Expel attacks, this carries the problem of limiting the amount of skills the Demi-Fiend can have. Nullifying both will only take up 1/4 of your skill slots, but it is still much better to have them than not.
For Hard Mode, I recommend selling most of the drops. You need the Makka in order to be healed up at the Healing fountains. Beads later on will save you more through use than they'll make you through selling, but the stuff that sells for thousands of Makka is rarely worth keeping. Though there are exceptions.
Lucky Find should be exploited for all it's worth. You can get Somas starting at around 20 luck, and they get more common as it gets higher. For 6000 Makka a piece, this really helps on Hard Mode where you have to heal more often and shops charge 3X price. If you're like me and don't wanna overlevel, use the area outside Ginza to farm items from it. The monsters there won't be an overlevelling threat once you''re past Matador.
There are many options you can take here. My personal choice is to have at least one buffer, one debuffer, and one healer. I prefer also to fuse in a way that generates demons that are a nice hybrid of all 3, although this is not always possible. You may prefer to have a damage doer in there as well. This is not a bad idea, though my personal preference leans towards the other 3 types. Between buffs and debuffs, you'll need a party member which can do at least one early on, and it still helps to have it later on in the game. While not absolutely required(can be replaced with Dekunda and Dekaja), note that this guide will use them for boss strategies. If you plan to change up your party makeup, be prepared to tweak your boss strats appropriately. For healing you'll need the Media type spells as they heal the whole party. For damage, I mostly use normal physical attacks, but you can replace that with magic easily, and should still find my boss strats useful.
Fusing however, should always be done in a way which generates hybrids. It is better to have a damage dealing healer, buffer/debuffer, and Dekunda/Dekaja user than a simple Damage Dealer, Healer, and Buffer.
FOR LOW LEVEL RUNNERS
If you want to play without overlevelling, there are two ways you can go about this. The first, is to have the Demi-Fiend slightly overlevelled, but keep the rest of your party underlevelled. For your first run, this is pretty much the only option. For subsequent runs you gain a second option, recruit higher level demons, but keep the Demi-Fiend underlevelled.
The second option is recommended for subsequent runs as it allows you to keep recruited demons for longer. Since they level slower, it takes much longer until you start to need new recruits. You can still play it either way, but as the second option makes recruitment less of a chore, I would recommend it instead.
FOR MOOKS - GENERAL
Since this guide will only cover candidates for That One Level(by Nocturne's standards, not normal ones), I'll go ahead and give some general pointers.
The most important thing you need to know is that you can not walkthrough areas just using normal attacks on everything and expect to win. That works in Final Fantasy, but this is not Final Fantasy. Sure, that even works on some Mooks here, but not always. Be well prepared to use buffs, elemental weaknesses, and even heal up in the heat of battle while fighting ordinary Mooks. Mind you, you don't want to overdo it either. It costs more Makka to get your magic points (er, soul points) back than it does to get back hit points. But don't be afraid to do so when the time comes either.
FOR BOSSES - GENERAL
Likewise, as I will only give specific strategies for That One Boss candidates (again, by Nocturne's standards), here are some generalized pointers.
Tank and spank, or perhaps, whack and heal, NEVER WORKS here, if by some miracle it ever does, you either overlevelled by like, 20-30 levels or so, or got extremely lucky (and I don't mean via the Luck stat either). You must know the boss, what it does, and what it does not do. You WILL mess up and die but that is okay. Learn what you are doing wrong, and if the boss speaks to you, listen to what it has to say, as it often contains hints.
Generally buffs and debuffs are useful, but there are exceptions. Wipe and learn, and you will be okay.
That's it for my introductory post, the next post will address Matador. If you can't at least make it to Matador, you won't get through the game.