Bravely Default

Bravely Default, a Nintendo 3DS exclusive game, brings a quality Japanese role-playing game (RPG) to North America. A character foursome seeks special crystals to save their land of Luxendarc. Along the way, players can experience several special side quests, augmented reality functionality, extensive job/ability system, unique brave (unleash)/default (store) combat and amazing collaborative capabilities using online and StreetPass networking.

Originally released in Japan in 2012, Bravely Default centers on the basic actions of the brave option, which unleashes multiple attacks in one turn, and the default option where players stock up and store brave points (BP) for later use. For example, choosing default lets players defend and build up 1 battle point, but using brave lets players borrow as many as three turns, which adds some exciting risk that might leave them defensiveness later.

This game definitely wants to own your Nintendo 3DS. This game rewards you for your time and efforts in several ways, which produces a greater connection to the game’s characters, scenarios and overall narrative.

The action continues even with the 3DS in sleep mode with citizens building while players are away. Communication using StreetPass with other 3DS consoles yield even more workers for these tasks. Players can earn more items with StreetPass.

Players can even earn one SP point for every eight hours of real-time that the 3DS is in sleep mode. Don’t want to wait? Use actually money to purchase a drink for three SP points any time if they don’t want to wait. The choices are very convenient and open. Players will wonder what’s going on when they are not playing this memorable RPG game.

The turn based fighting lets players summon a friend’s character to fight together cooperatively or just borrow their powers for a while through the abilink mechanic. This foursome of heroes seek to activate special crystals before their world ends. Players keep leveling up as you explore with a large character visual that covers ground quickly on the overall map.

The main hero Tiz, wants to rebuild his hometown of Norende and encounters Ringabel, Agnes (a mystic who is a bit whiny), the spunky, young Edea and Airy the Fairy who is a helpful companion for all. The cutscenes are well voiced (Tiz sounds like Elijah Wood, but is actually Bryce Papenbrook) and the dialogue is mostly solid with some minor squabbling and confusing scenarios. Characters can converse through the party chat function, which really helps players experience a rich experience among themselves.

The augmented reality cards expand the character experience even more with additional background information. Players can get the cards or download PDF files.

The settings offer flexibility. Too many random battles? No problem, just the turn them off or double them when you’re feeling more confident. This unique adjustable ‘slider’ feature lets players focus more on the story. Enemy battles too hard? Adjust the difficulty. Players can also turn off navigation markers for a more authentic exploration experience. The autoplay option is also convenient so players can fast forward through regular battles and let the four-member team (once assembled) take care of the baddies. Unlocking fast travel and automatic item pick-up is also very convenient.

The job system has over 20 main jobs/professions, which can be changed any time. Players just level up in the jobs to receive over 100 total abilities. This variety really deepens the experiences, especially for frequent RPG gamers.

The control scheme is smooth thanks to the 3DS circle pad, which provides fluid movements through the environments. Frustration levels are low thanks to considerate touches throughout the environments, For example, a visit to the castle when the ruler is gone isn’t a complete waste since the guards leaves a hint.

The clean interface gives players a simple approach, so they can easily focus on strategy regardless of their skill level. More touch screen options would have been nice. The tutorials throughout the game are positioned as optional quests and do not interrupt gameplay at all.

The excellent store/equip system has five weapon groups – weapons, shields, head armor, torso armor, accessories. Players can gear up quickly with instant recommendations for each area then can sell anything leftover or duplicates. Developers add even more variety by linking the special moves with each weapon type. Navigation through this system using the directional pad seems like a bad additional at first (cannot use the circle pad), but actually makes the choices more deliberate.

The hand-drawn watercolor visuals utilize the 3DS’ 3D functionality. Highlights include the shadows from clouds and explosion animations. Effective special effects include screen cracks and wipes when encountering heightened/boss battles. Japanese composer Revo creates a great musical score while Japanese or English voice tracks are also available.

Bravely Default has been described as the spiritual successor to 2012 Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Lightgame on the classic Nintendo DS. BravelySecond (a.k.a Bravely Default: For the Sequel) is on the way and was released in Japan in December 2013. Bravely Default: Praying Brage, a planned browser game that takes place 200 years later, will also be available.

Also available in a collector’s edition (sold through Square Enix’s online store) that includes artwork, poster, AR cards and music soundtrack, which included abilities and costumes.

The highly recommended Bravely Default is the most fun I have had playing an RPG since Golden Sun on the GameBoy Advance.

Note: Wireless broadband Internet access required for online play.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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