Hugh Likes Video Games:  Bravely Default
Published by Square Enix
Nintendo 3DS

Bravely Default is a Playstation One or Super Nintendo era RPG that didn’t exist before.  It’s old school in all the right ways, with suprisingly deft use of 3DS features.
Why this wasn’t released as “Final Fantasy” is a mystery to me, because it is a beautiful love letter to the series.
“Bravely Default” is a fantasy role playing game following the journey of a sheltered, yet self-composed priestess and her friends.  Their goal is to reignite the power of four elemental crystals, saving them from the machinations of an evil empire bent on using they crystals to its own ends.  Along the way, they’ll fight enemies by changing classes, transforming from anything to black mages to spear-wielding fighters capable of jumping high into the air.  Let me know when it starts feeling familiar.
With absolutely gorgeous designs by Akihiko Yoshida and an engine clearly updated from the DS ports of Final Fantasy III and IV, It certainly belongs in that venerable pantheon of titles.  But as closely as it resembles Final Fantasy, there are also touches of Enix’s beloved franchise, “Dragon Warrior.”  Much like the Super Nintendo classic “Chrono Trigger,” it is a triumph greater than the sum of its parts, if they’re the sort of thing you’re into, of course.
As old-school as “Bravely Default” is, it incorporates a lot of neat touches that take advantage of the 3DS’s standby and Streetpass functions.  At the beginning of the game, one of the main characters’ village is destroyed.  By passing other players when your 3DS is in standby, and spending money on work orders, you can rebuild the town, which serves as an investment that really pays off as the game progresses.  The shops in the town will create special items that you can buy from traders throughout the game, and will send you free samples based when you rest the game.  There are even hidden bosses that can be exchanged and fought via Streetpass.  Players can also register friends to assist in battle or give characters bonuses.
The classic style of the game isn’t all great news, though.  The game is old-school tough, with lots of grinding and collecting to be done, even with the help of friends and townsfolk.  It’s also a very long game, so be prepared to invest some serious hours if you’re hoping to see the end credits.
“Bravely Default” is a master class in classic JRPG design and construction.  If you’re a long-time fan of the genre, or you were afraid that Square Enix had lost their touch, this is the game for you.  “Bravely Default” is available for the 3DS.

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