If you guys were following the Nintendo Downloads post recently, then you would have caught the demo for Bravely Default for the 3DS eShop. If you missed it, no big deal, but the demo is still available.
I consider myself to be a pretty reasonable RPG fan, and through NintendoFuse, I’ve been broadening my horizons for new RPG games. I only played the Final Fantasy games that were on the Super Nintendo, and the majority of the Dragon Warrior/Quest games prior to joining NintendoFuse. Last year, I took on the awesome game that is Etrian Odyssey IV and gave it a nod towards Game of the Year. I also took a major jump into Fire Emblem (and did give the Game of the Year to it for the 3DS) as well. I’ve mentioned in the podcast that with my backlog I was considering skipping Bravely Default. However, now after playing the demo, this game just jumped from “eh, I don’t know” to already pre-ordering it.
I’ve only played about two hours of the game and I just can’t get enough of it. You start out as a party of four characters and you get some basic tips for rebuilding the town. Each task is timed for completion and with street passes (yes the DEMO supports them) you can gain extra workers to help reduce those times. Unfortunately the clock does not run when the game is not loaded, but that is about all you are tasked with and know about. From talking to residents you find out where some dungeons are and which one is recommended. You also come across the weapon/armor shop and a magic shop. At first I was surprised to see my party consist of just four of a single type of character since I did not have the ability to name and class my characters. After winning my first battle I realized that within the party controls that they can be changed on the fly. I immediately acquired a white mage and black mage since I found that in my first battle, I was nearly defeated and the default class is unable to heal the party. I purchased some damage and healing spells and all was well. I gained a few levels and began the grind of RPG games.
During the battles, I used the new mechanic for “Brave” and “Default”. Default is basically a defend command, and you also get to store this turn for the future. “Brave” allows you to cash in the extra turn and take that turn at this moment in time. However, you don’t always need to cash in turns to use it, the game does allow you to go negative. Initially (not sure if it changes later in the game, or in the actual version) you can take three future turns off the bat without having stored any turns. Basically it means that for three turns your character will not have a single action until it goes back to zero. So while it’s fun defeating the initial monsters without giving them a turn, I think you could jeopardize the life of your characters if you allow all characters to take their future turns giving the monsters 3-4 full rounds of open attacks. Overall the general battle mechanic was familiar, but with the new “Brave” and “Default” modes definitely add something new and fresh.
New to this game, the ability to pick what spells you learn. The spells you learn are taken from Final Fantasy, so they should be easy enough to decipher what they do assuming you are familiar with Final Fantasy. If you never played any Final Fantasy game, the game does give a brief description of the spell and how it affects the monsters or your party. You have to buy each spell, but only once and any mages you have can learn it. While yes you can buy some stronger spells assuming you spend your hard earned currency (pg), but your character’s ‘job’ needs to level up to use said spell. Each character has two level meters. One for XP and one for a job. The job is essentially the class you pick (white mage, black mage, red mage, knight, freelancer, Ninja and whatever they renamed the “Dragoon” from Final Fantasy IV – a knight that uses a spear and can jump). You win “job points” after each battle along with XP.
Another aspect of the characters is that they allow a secondary customization. I mentioned having a white and black mage, but as a secondary skill I gave my White Mage black magic and the Black Mage white magic. So they basically have the same spells at this point, but also allow for 2 healers or 2 to deal damage. All of the available classes allow a secondary skill, so I look forward to developing my party further. Lastly, the player has the freedom to customize difficulty and encounter rates on the fly. Difficulty can range just between a few different main levels, or you can take away winning currency from your random encounters. The encounter rate starts in the middle, and if you want more random battles you can turn it up a notch, or if you basically do not want to fight anything you can turn it essentially off.
The graphics are pretty top notch, and I love the design of the main (starting?) town. While I have not used the 3D effect yet, you can see the way they positioned the staircases that you can move ‘out’ of the screen and more ‘inside’ the screen for movement within the town. While the demo file is not really converted to the actual game, you can win up to seven items to start your quest off to a good start on the purchased version of the game. The levels and jobs you advanced will unfortunately have to be re-done. Since the demo is all about trying out the game, it lets you see what combinations and skills work best and best of all a good feel for the combat system.