Editorial: From Norende to the Moon

Did someone drop their Nokia phone?
The game did have some plot holes, but I can forgive that.

I have returned, though still in recovery mode. Up until the beginning on this week, my hand was inundated with enough pain to not only deter me from holding any sort of game controller properly, but the torment rasped its way up my nerves to my very brain, as is its way, and put a swift stop to the formation of any coherent thoughts. Yes, at least then I had an excuse for my disjointed mutterings. Without presenting the gory details, it is sufficient to say that I was going slightly mad over an injury in the LusipurrCorp Orichalcum Mines standing between me and the final credits of Bravely Default. When the Storm of Agony abated just enough for me to actually hold my 3DS, I savagely snatched it from my desk and drove the Evil One from some version of Luxendarc with aplomb after having a fevered dream in which it dawned on my twonky little head that the only reason the game was taking so damned long was due to my own twisted belligerence. Well, then. I present my thoughts on the closing of Bravely Default and a fleeting peek at what is coming down the pipe in the sequel, Bravely Second: End Layer.

Bravely Default

Yes, everyone else loves his performer/Elvis clothes. Shut up.
Really, the hair makes the outfit.

Even during the throes of misery, I managed to remember that I could one-hand Norende’s healing process. I only mention this because I was rewarded with alternate costumes that rid my eyes of the ones I had grown sick of or never liked in the first place. Having my Tiz look like a dandy flower was infinitely better than watching my most consistent offense look like the prom king at a furry convention. Agnès’ Knight’s Tunic was classier than the ridiculously over-sized (and oddly vaginal) headgear worn as the primary healer. While the cost of this wardrobe seems high, my methods of using the convenient dungeon in Grandship as a grinding zone kept my bank account ready to make it rain a veritable torrent of “peeg” at the drop of a big, silly hat.

I successfully avoided forums for the entire game, save for one tricky Nemesis whose weakness seemed obvious as soon as I looked it up. As a result, combined with my incessant job switching, I settled on some odd asterisk combinations that would likely set the forum denizens clawing at the walls. I am not really going to sit and analyze what I did wrong, but eventually I fell into a rhythm with Edea as my chivalrous tank, while Ringabel directed attacks at her with one hand and launched lightning from the fingertips of the other. This ended up being so satisfactory that I did not even bother trying out the vampire or conjurer asterisks.

This is about where anyone worried about spoilers should really stop reading and skip down to the short section on Bravely Second: End Layer, because I am about to discuss one of my greatest pleasures in the game; finding out that I get to beat the piss out of Airy. Fairies are not friendly things and that many assume them to be as such rivals the Devil convincing the world he does not exist, in terms of greatest tricks ever played. In video games, they are often portrayed as annoying blowflies, and Airy pulls no punches in that department either. They are supposed to be hated, so seeing them in vinyl form adorning the rear windows of a vehicle makes me want to perform an emergency stop to inform the driver that they have been deceived. Figuring out that I get to fight Airy made putting up with her demanding little mouth completely worth it.

Because I am not surprised, for within me the flames of hatred are fed by each breath, my lungs serving as their bellows, my blood serving as their fuel, and when this inferno roils beyond the point where I am able to contain it, the world will leap up in a scalded scream and open a fissure to swallow what's left of your treacherous ashes.
Do you? Do you, really?

Yet, as one who calls out others for being deceived, I must include myself among their ranks. It took me a shameful amount of time to realize that I could have probably ended the game a world or two ago, where instead I was doing the same actions over and over again while expecting different results. Perhaps this was due to the revisiting of old foes in each new world I entered, or even the countdown on Airy’s wings subconsciously leading me to believe the game’s designers intended for me to reach the “last” world, at which point something different would happen. This may speak to the idea that so many games have lead their players by the nose, ultimately dishing out instructions each step of the way until the final boss is reached. Bravely Default, on the other hand, drops hints that perhaps there is another decision to be made should one be so bold. Where I took the Sage Yulyana’s advice about being strong enough to disobey once in awhile as a general adage about real life, other more perceptive players may have immediately recognized it for what it was. Yulyana was basically saying “Tell the fairy to piss off, dummy.” The game’s subtitle literally tells me not to trust Airy, however I only laid eyes upon it a few times due to multiple things encouraging me to leave the game running while I was not playing. That I missed this message makes me say bravo, Bravely Default, I have been got.

I have heard some dissatisfied rumbles with the end of the game, though not nearly on the scale of the Mass Effect story. Personally, I am having trouble finding fault with the complaints while simultaneously being satisfied with the finale, rushed as it did seem. Ringabel’s resolution was akin to what I expected, with a little salt for taste. Getting to see alternate histories for each of the characters was an unexpected treat, although that left me interested in exploring the choices of each character regarding which world they would return to, which the game does not appear to allow for. All in all, I think it was an adequate ending, considering a sequel will be rocking Japan very shortly, and in the spirit of continuity, some things must be left for the next chapter.

Bravely Second: End Layer

I am not going to spend much screen space talking about this since there is only a Japanese release date, and better information will likely filter out on to the Internet tubes once people over there get their hands on it. As it stands, if what I am reading is accurate, there are a few notable notes that I can not help but find myself excited for, the first being how one will be acquiring asterisks. Players seem to be in store for a choice-driven job system, which should lay solid ground for more long term strategy. Presented with two NPCs wielding different asterisks, the player selects who to side with, and fights the other to win their job title. The chosen ally, however, counts as a pass, and whether or not this can be recovered later in the game is unclear.

She's from the Moon. Neat!
Bravely Second brings some sass named Magnolia.

It looks like Tiz, Edea and Agnès will be returning, though Agnès will be in an Airy capacity, replacing that wretched fairy as informational support and game guidance. Edea is mentioned to be older, so I have to assume that she will be the same incarnation as the one in Bravely Default, continuing her promise to uphold her father’s ideals, but the writers might have something else up their sleeve to explain her and Tiz. The sudden inclusion of a Moon Base over Luxendarc, home of new character Magnolia and source of Norende-like mini-games, makes me entertain the doubt that these will be a Tiz and Edea from other worlds come to complete the next step in the story so the “originals” can rest…much the same way I should have sent my clone to type this so I did not have to peck it out with one hand.

So, ready readers, as I look down the calendar at multiple weeks of recovery before I can be useful again in the mines, I am confronted with an array of choices as to what I should plug into my 3DS next. Given how much I enjoyed Bravely Default, what say you? Suggestions new and old are welcome, or if you just want to talk more about Bravely Default, we can do that, too.

5 comments

  1. If you’re looking for 3DS recommendations I’m afraid I can only be of limited service. But I will list the games I own as as they number but a few.

    Starfox 3D
    Ocarina of Time 3D
    Mario Kart 7
    Zelda 2 on VC
    Fire Emblem Awakening

    I also never had a DS or GBA so I also got Bowser’s Inside Story and a borrowed copy of FF Tactics Advance.

  2. @Mel: MH4 was proving to be a decent game, but my own issues with a temporarily awkward grip on my 3DS, and the game’s offering of a touch screen camera control sucked most of the enjoyment out of it for me. I can see it being great on the New 3DS and uninjured hands, though.

    @Lusipurr: just being pragmatic.

  3. @Mel: also, Bowser’s Inside Story was a great little game. I have one eye on Fire Emblem, but I’m trying out Persona Q right now. Curious to see if I come out of that one with the same mixed feelings as the comments I’ve read, given that I am only briefly familiar with the Persona series. So far, I do not hate it.

  4. @Java: What is “pragmatism”? We don’t have that here.

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