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Initial Impressions: Bravely Default Flying Fairy

Updated on February 8, 2014

I’ve been looking forward to this 3DS game ever since I saw its first screenshot ages ago. With its promise of unique turn-based combat, gorgeous graphics, and a Final Fantasy-esque storyline, so far Bravely Default does not disappoint…

…Once you get past the opening credits.

Ready, Set...Huh?

On starting my new copy of Bravely Default, the game immediately shows a tip screen with a bunch of information that makes absolutely no sense to me. It was easily dismissed with the press of a button, but still: it threw me. Next, the game loads in three save files for you to choose from. I clicked the first, and standard game options followed.

Difficulty? Normal sounds fine. I can always change it later.

Auto-save? Sure, why not—it’s not like I’m not a save-a-holic anyway, but it never hurts to be cautious.

Language? Er…why isn’t it asking me what language I want this in?

Your AR card?  This fairy.
Your AR card? This fairy.

See, I knew ahead of time that Bravely Default comes with the option to have English or Japanese voice acting. Being the purist snob that I am, I wanted my game in Japanese (the reasons why are a whole ‘nother article). Yet the game doesn’t give you this option up front—you have to sit through the opening in English, then dig through the menu to change the game’s language.

I sat through the opening with my volume slider on “mute.” I’m weird like that.

Even before the game opening proper, though, you’re given a prompt to read the AR card that comes in the manual. There is no picture of it in-game and it doesn’t say “AR card” on it, but it’s the fairy on the manual’s back.

The cut scene (once you can get the dang card to load) is actually kind of interesting. You have to move your DS physically to keep your eyes on Agnes as she walks around your living room. I didn’t know this, so when the scene first loaded, I was staring at Agnes’ dress wondering what on Earth was going on.

Hey, look, she's visiting the Square Enix office.
Hey, look, she's visiting the Square Enix office.

The AR movie is cute, but totally unnecessary. It could’ve been a cut scene like, I dunno, the rest of the beginning of the game. Just a thought.


Once past the beginning foibles (and with my language set to Japanese), I could get to the game proper. Boy, is it pretty. I love the way the game zooms out to show you the entire castle city as you enter it, then zooms in on you once you start moving around. The cut scenes are nice, the mini-cut scenes are nice, the party chat scenes are nice; everything is just really shiny. Even the monsters are shiny. I was a bit flummoxed when I examined one enemy and discovered it was a Cait Sith, but then I remembered: this is a Final Fantasy game in spirit. It also plays that way, though the party chats remind me of something straight out of a Tales game.

No joke, this is what it looks like IN GAME.  Just wow.
No joke, this is what it looks like IN GAME. Just wow.

The Title Totally Makes Sense Now

Everything I’ve read review-wise raves about the innovative new Brave-Default battle system, but their explanations of it always left me really confused as to how it actually works. Now that I’ve actually played the game, I realize it’s a lot simpler than they were making it out to be. Basically, “Default” means “Defend,” and if you have a character Defend for three turns, they can then attack several times in the same turn by choosing “Brave.” It’s not mind-blowing, but it is a pretty nice feature.

You also get access to a healer really early in: White Mage is one of the first three jobs you unlock. Not only that, but you can choose to heal the whole party a little or one person a lot, all with the same Cure spell. That’s 200 of the local currency well spent.

The healer.  No party is complete without one.
The healer. No party is complete without one.

How you get this job is intriguing. Since Bravely Default is Final Fantasy III’s spiritual sequel, I expected gathering jobs would occur each time I visited a crystal. Bravely Default has other ideas. You get the White Mage job by defeating this boss lady who was, you guessed it, a White Mage. It even said so in her name, which I thought was a little silly, but whatever. I’m actually totally okay with this idea—it was fun to see this Black Mage in town and think, “Oh, dude, I’ve gotta beat that guy so I can get my Black Mage job!”

Which would be really awkward if he wasn’t a bad guy, so it’s a good thing he is.

Scratching the Surface

There is so much to this game, and I’ve barely even started. There’s the town you can develop to get more items in traveling merchant’s shops, special points earned in sleep mode that you can use in battle, quests you can do for extra loot, and so much more. It looks like Bravely Default won’t disappoint.

So what do you think? Is there a copy of Bravely Default in your future?

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