A Change to Tradition: Bravely Default / by Benjamin Sawyer

I have to make a few confessions before I start this review. I never played Final Fantasy 7 or 8. I Loved Final Fantasy 9, 12 and 13 and absolutely hated Final Fantasy 10. I never finished Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy 6 (though I really want to). One of my favorite RPG's is Xenoblade Chronicles (only 2 years old) on the Nintendo Wii. Seeing this you might scoff at my thoughts about Square-Enix's new RPG, but stay with me for a minute (or two). I've played JRPGs more than enough to realize when one is worth clamoring for and Bravely Default for the Nintendo 3DS is just that JRPG.

 

No matter how you look at it, Bravely Default is classic Final Fantasy in all but its name. The title has been out for a little over two weeks, so I won't bore you with the game system specifics and story details. I want to use this 60-70 hour long game as an opportunity to look at the state of RPGS. We are far from the golden era of JRPGS. The last console generation was not kind to JRPG's or Japanese development in general, though we did get some gems here and there. But when you compare those games to games in the past it has been slim pickings for fans of that genre.

 

I liked Square-Enix's vision for the future, at first, with Final Fantasy 13. As linear as it was, it serviced the story well enough while giving some interesting new gameplay mechanics. Where they took the series after that I can't say I personally liked, but I also don't think that Final Fantasy games should go back to style and gameplay present in Bravely Default.

 

That isn't to say Bravely Default is bad, it's quite wonderful and charming. It's nice to have a very classic tradition RPG in this day and age, especially one that has some forward thinking ideas to keep things from being to stale. I just don't think that would translate well to these powerhouse 8th generation consoles. It doesn't break all the bad habits JRPGs hold but Bravely Default works as well as it does because it's on a handheld, and I'm ok with that! There is a place for tradition and a place for change, but I think that console gamers have changed too much to be that place for tradition.

-Devan Robinson