Bravely Default: Plump And Jiggly

Florem

Bravely Default: Day Three

As I progress through this game, something that is becoming abundantly clear is that Bravely Default is a good bit more adult than other installments in the Final Fantasy series, be this a “spiritual” Final Fantasy game or not. There’s usually a light aspect of sexuality that will on rare occasions show up in the Final Fantasy series, such as the “dirty magazine” references in Final Fantasy VIII or Tifa making comments about the other characters staring at her chest in Dissidia 012, but there isn’t normally any outright sexual references. In this game though, Ringabel has mentioned looking up girls skirts, commented on the shapeliness of female characters, and even asked a perverted old hermit for a detailed description in writing of a woman’s measurements and body shape. I’m definitely not complaining, but it’s certainly interesting to see this aspect of characters finally being touched on, and it’s perhaps for this reason that the Western release of the game, Square Enix decided to change the ages of the main characters by making them all a few years older (Edea for instance, is really fifteen) than they really are in the Japanese release. But really, you know they’re all teenagers.

So, as our quest continues, Agnes and her party travel to the Temple of Wind, and find it completely destroyed, with blood splattered on the floors and tatterred habits lying among the ruins, with not a living soul to be found. The wind crystal itself is shrouded in darkness, but even though Agnes has the ability to purify the crystal, she can’t do it without her ceremonial garb, which channels her energy. The party travels to a dense forest where the Yulyana Sage, a perverted old man living alone in the forest, crafts her new vestments. There’s a lot of funny chitchat and the old man not only refers to Agnes as “plump and jiggly,” but also talks about how “taut and lovely” her teacher had been on her visit to acquire the ceremonial vestments, and even offers to share his bed with the two women in the party. Naturally, he and Ringabel become fast, perverted friends. Agnes begins to question herself, noticing that the spirituality of crystalism has declined, and the faith the people have in the vestals is waning, but the kind Sage gives her words of encouragement, and tells her to be a light for the people of the world.

The party returns to the temple of wind, and after defeating a legendary beast that appears from within the crystal, Agnes uses her spiritual power to dispel the darkness, purify the crystal, and restore it’s energies, releasing the prayers of thousands of years worth of vestals in doing so, and restoring the winds to the world. When she returns to Ancheim, the clockwork city in the desert, the king is still attempting to take advantage of his people to make more money, but the return of the winds, coupled with a heartfelt speech from Agnes, turns the people to her side, and the city offers her their love and support as she sets out to see that the other people of the world are saved from losing the power of the crystals as well. Meanwhile the king slinks off to sulk, and at night, the party enters the clock tower and finds their way through a back entrance into the king’s chambers, where he and the Spell Fencer who battled the party twice for pay are discussing ways to turn the people against the vestal and further take advantage of them. Agnes and her party confront the two and kill them both, acquiring the Time Mage and Spell Fencer asterisks, and the king’s adviser becomes the de facto ruler, opting for a new democratic system to take the place of the monarchy, and Agnes leaves the city to search for the water vestal, her closest friend, Olivia.

This is where things start to get a little weird. When the party returns to the airship, Ringabel suddenly feels sick and excuses himself to the inner chambers of the ship, and just at the moment he leaves, a Dark Knight serving Edea’s father in Eternia shows up and demands that Edea apprehend the vestal. His name is Alternis Dim, and if it weren’t obvious that he has the exact same voice as Ringabel already, it’s made even more so by the fact that Ringabel had just been talking seconds before Dim shows up. Also, his name is Dim, which begins with a D, the same as Ringabel’s mysterious future-telling D’s Journal, and his first name is Alternis, meaning “another.” Final Fantasy has a tendency to do this thing with their plot where they establish a world, reveal a bit of it’s backstory (like the crystals sustaining all life and the vestals protecting them), give you a likeable hero (Tiz, for example), send you on a few quests (saving two cities and purifying the first crystal, for instance), and then all the sudden start flipping things on their head. Usually it starts with one thing that kind of makes you go “Wait, what?” and then it turns into an avalanche of plot twists that completely turn the world upside-down. This mysterious Dark Knight who sounds like Ringabel is the first of those weird moments, and I can only assume it’s going to get crazier from here. Frankly, I’m excited.

At any rate, Alternis Dim destroys the skystone that allows the airship to fly, and jumps off the side of the ship. MOMENTS after, Ringabel walks back on deck and says he feels a lot better having been down on the ground. And everyone collectively ellipses.

Chapter Two!

The party travels through a forest covered with a poisonous miasma to the city of Florem, land of radiant flowers, which just happens to be inherited entirely by women. Ringabel, of course, is beside himself. The city’s ruler, the Matriarch, explains to Agnes that the city of Florem, once a land of chaste women wholly devoted to cultivating the earth and celebrating it’s natural life, has become a neon-lined pleasure city, with shallow people fighting over who is the most beautiful, and caring nothing for what lies within. Since Olivia is nowhere to be found, Agnes agrees to enter into a beauty contest to try and get Olivia’s attention and hopefully find her. Meanwhile, a shopkeeper asks the party if they would go and find two little girls who she sent off into the wilderness to find coveted rare accessories called spirit hairpins. When she told the girls where to find them, she had meant to scare them away, but they’d actually traveled off into the wilderness on their own anyway, and Agnes and the party set out to find them.

When they do find them, the girls are scared and lost in the forest, but refuse to give up looking for the spirit hairpins, and so when the party finally chases them down again, the girls are about to receive a spirit hairpin from the fairies in the forest, but an extremely over-sexualized and batshit crazy Summoner shows up and kills the fairies. Edea recognizes her, and the summoner starts laughing at Edea for having some moral fiber and going on about how the world is filled with death and it’s so beautiful and she loves watching people kill each other and other such blather, while squealing in ecstasy while she laughs like she has an orgasm every time she breathes. Thankfully, the party fights and defeats her, but before she dies, she makes a comment about having seen something far more beautiful before dying, Tiz, and she says that he has two souls inside of him. She also points to the girls, who are now fighting over the only spirit hairpin, and says that the hairpins actually secrete a chemical that makes people become gluttonous, violent and self-absorbed, and that the girls’ fight will end in blood. When the party turns again to see the two girls, they have, quite surprisingly, ACTUALLY KILLED EACH OTHER.

Yep, two little girls KILLED each other over a hairpin, in a Square Enix game. Shit is getting real.

After that, I did another sidequest to acquire the Ranger asterisk from a hunter named Artermia (get it? Artemis, goddess of the hunt?), which is similar to the Beserker job of previous Final Fantasies, and headed back to the sage of Yulyana to find some great clothes for Agnes to wear in the beauty pageant, leading to a hilarious scene in which Ringabel suggests that she wear something “hotter,” and she tries on a dress so revealing that she screams in horror and fears she’ll catch a cold, and asks if the Sage if certain that it’s even clothing. Ringabel, desperate to get her to wear it, keeps making desperate attempts to appeal to her, citing her renewed resolve as vestal to overcome any obstacle, and even outright lying and saying that his journal states, “Agnes wore sexy clothes and it was awesome.” The sexy clothes in question are actually the very same clothes that were censored in the US version of the game, the Bravo Bikini.

I also finally figured out, after days, how to reorganize my party. I know that seems silly but there’s not a “formation” option on the main menu, and the sort option, along with the game configuration, is under an option called Tactics, which I mostly avoided because I didn’t think it would have anything useful in it. But useful things it did have, such as the status screen and an option in the configuration that actually allows to change the frequency of random encounters. COMPLETELY. So that means you can actually turn OFF random encounters, which is a first for the Final Fantasy series. Diablos has the Enc-None ability in Final Fantasy VIII, and there was an Enemy Away materia in Final Fantasy VII, but those weren’t things that were offered to you from the very beginning, and they were also abilities or items that had to be equipped. In this game you can turn random battles completely off, lower their frequency, or raise and even double their frequency. This makes exploring dungeons a million times easier, and when you’re ready to get back to grinding, you can just turn random encounters back on and crank up the percentage.

And with that, I’m off to enjoy the game some more!

Florem Garden

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Bravely Default: You Can Ring My Beh-eh-ell, Ring My Bell

Ringabel

Bravely Default: Day Two

That’s right ladies and gentleponies, what you see above is the very first example in history of Square Enix delivering some fanservice that involves a scantily-clad MAN, and in the same game with all the art of Agnes rolling around frolicking in flowerbeds with her ass in the air, no less. This is one of Ringabel’s special downloadable outfits from the Japanese version of the game, Wakoku Warrior. It’s not like I think Ringabel is the sexiest video game character I’ve ever seen or something, but it just makes me so happy to see some equality here in the fanservice. Games like DMC: Devil May Cry and others feature some great moments of deliciously naked men, but those games are still targeted at the straight male audience in such a way that I feel like they’re making a joke out of it, and it’s only unintentional fanservice. Ringabel is deliberately scantily clad and holding a rose, playing on his rakish personality, and this is Ringabel’s fourth costume in the vein of Agnes sexy bunny costume that was censored in the US, so it looks like the designers were making a point to make him sexy.

Honestly this could have been the unsexiest male in the series (like say… hey wait a minute, are there no unsexy male characters in Final Fantasy? Oh yeah… Barthandelus… I shudder) and I’d still be just as happy about it. It may not seem like a big deal, but I’ve had to see characters like Yuna and Lightning whip off their clothes for years when it’s completely out of character just to give their target audience a raging pixel boner, and I’m happy to see them doing the same thing for those of us interested in the boys, and at very least, doing it with a character for whom it actually makes sense because he has a sexual personality. Unfortunately, though Agnes sexy bunny outfit received a little treatment to make it less revealing in the states, Ringabel’s Wakoku Warrior costume was entirely censored, replacing it with his freelancer outfit when the player summons a friend who wears this outfit. America fails me once again.

One more note about special outfits and DLC: every character has four DLC costumes each in Japan, but in the US version, the first three for each character are unlockable in-game, and the fourth (such as Wakoku Warrior or sexy bunny Agnes) are unavailable. Despite the ridiculous censorship, it does make me happy that Square Enix isn’t trying to milk us for money by making the costumes DLC that has to be purchased, but making it available within the game. I am personally not a fan of DLC, I think a game should come with all it’s contents intact, and DLC should only be something added after the fact. Special costumes and such are good downloadable content, but I feel that they should only be something you have to pay for and download after the release of the game if they are costumes that were created after the release of the game.

In other news, my journey has continued! The heroes defeated a pyromaniac black mage and added Edea to their roster, whose allegiance quickly shifted once she saw what a band of thugs her country’s military has become, as well as the black mage asterisk. Edea has an extremely strong sense of justice and gets angry any time she sees someone being taken advantage of, which seems to happen quite often so far. Upon returning to Caldisla, the innkeeper’s son, captain of the Caldislan military, is slain by the invading army, and the king taken prisoner. Edea helps the party sneak into the villa where her military was stationed, but is found out to be a traitor soon thereafter. The heroes beat the crap out of the murdering bastard who killed the innkeeper’s son and kidnapped the king, steals their airhsip, and obtains the knight asterisk. Once the king was returned to Caldisla the journey continues. There’s a really cute scene on the way out of the city when the party members examine the lunches the innkeeper packed for them, and Agnes’ has a special note attached that says “for the girl who doesn’t eat meat,” and he packs her a delicious vegetarian meal, which I just think is the sweetest thing. That innkeeper’s a sweetheart.

Once the party sets sail in the airship and arrives on Agnes’ home continent, bound for the Temple of Wind where the wind crystal resides, the introductory chapter is concluded and Chapter One: “Sit And Stay Are Tricks For Dogs,” begins. The party travels through a desert to find a massive steampunk city that runs on wind-turbines, but because the wind has stopped, the city is losing it’s business, and the king is working the citizens harder than they’re capable, making them turn the turbines by hand. Meanwhile a shifty merchant is making the poor workers go thirsty by charging outrageous amounts for water, which is not at all a free commodity in a desert city. The party is given the option to undertake a sidequest involving the oasis, where water is free, and a thief is mugging all the poor citizens trying to quench their thirst. Chasing the thief to his hideout reveals a treasure trove of stolen goods, and after the thief spouts some crap about his childhood abandonment issues, he brings in a hired mystic knight to help him fight the party, but they of course win, obtaining the thief asterisk, and the mystic knight runs off before he can be defeated. Ringabel finds a letter from the merchant in the city ordering the thief to steal from the people who travel to the oasis, so that they are forced to stay in the city and pay for water.

The party heads back to the city, where the merchant is trying to weasel a man out of all of his money by demanding payment for lost goods after they were stolen at the oasis by the thief he hired, when Edea and the gang reveal him for a fraud, and the mystic knight shows up again to help battle. He runs off once again, and once the party defeats the merchant they acquire his asterisk. Ringabel finds an unsigned document that mentions meeting up somewhere at night, and the party decides to investigate. So far I haven’t been able to figure out where I need to go next to continue the sidequest, but that’s where I’ve made it up to!

Also I’d like to mention now for the record that ever since I first met the adventurer (the guy who allows you to save in dungeons and who also sells you merchandise from the hometown Tiz is rebuilding), I’ve kind of had this feeling that he’s really Tiz’s “dead” brother in disguise. One of my friends was saying that he had something about Bravely Default spoiled for him before he had a chance to play, and that the surprise was right in front of your face all along. I’m not sure if this was the spoiler he mentioned because frankly I don’t want to know, this is one of the first games I’ve played in years where I don’t know the ending or the story before it happens and I’m thoroughly enjoying it, but if that is in fact the big reveal, I’d like to just say I called it from the moment I met him.

And so, on we go! Will I get the red mage asterisk soon? I hope so, because apart from the fact that I quite like the red mage job, everyone looks so cool in the new rose-covered outfits!

Wakoku Warrior

Bravely Default: First Impressions

Agnes

 

Bravely Default: Day One

Holy mozzarella! My boyfriend came home from work on his break and surprised me with OH MY GOD IT’S BRAVELY DEFAULT I’M SO GLAD I MARRIED YOU. But seriously, what a wonderful surprise. I’ve been debating about whether to get this game or Lightning Returns this month, but yesterday we found out our finances really wouldn’t allow for either, so I quietly sighed and went back to playing Dissidia 012 (which I still love, by the way). But one thing led to another and he surprises me with this! And what a great surprise it is. I’ve played a bit of the demo of this game and I’ve seen the fantastic artwork (done by artist Akihiko Yushida, known for his work in Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy XII, and Final Fantasy III for the Nintendo DS, and also incidentally one of my favorite artists) and heard the rave reviews, but even still, classic Final Fantasy format tends to sometimes throw me for a loop. For instance, I’ve played Final Fantasy III for DS and while I didn’t hate it I also wasn’t in love with it. I grew up playing the 3D Final Fantasy titles, and the older games have taken some getting used to for me, but I’ve always really loved the job system since I discovered it in Final Fantasy Tactics. As Bravely Default is more or less it’s own Final Fantasy series, I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed the demo, and surprised again when I started the game today to find I really, really enjoy it.

There are four main characters: Agnes, a kind of priestess who protects the worlds four crystals; Tiz, a shepherd who loses his village and his family to a giant chasm that opens up beneath it; Ringabel, an overly romantic traveler suffering from amnesia but carrying a mysterious journal that tells the future; and Edea, a kind of samurai who seems to be on a mission to find Agnes. I haven’t gotten too far yet, Ringabel just joined my party (side note: I consider myself to be an intelligent person, but oftentimes it’s really obvious things that get by me. Puns are one of them. After knowing his name for month, it only just occurred to me today that his name is Ringabel because he lost his memory, and he’s looking for something that might “ring a bell.” I know, it’s delicious, don’t be ashamed to love it), but I am having tons of fun with it.

In comparison to the Final Fantasy titles, this game seems to do a few things a little differently and a lot better. For one thing, you get new jobs after you defeat an enemy who has the “asterisk” needed to obtain that job, rather than being blessed by the four crystals and gaining four jobs at a time like in previous titles. Also, it seems like you can still equip any weapon to any character after assigning them a job, but keeping their weapons and armor within the recommended equipment for their class serves you best. Then you have the new combat system from which the game derives it name, brave and default. As with any Square Enix title, it actually feels a little confusing the first time the game explains it to you, but it’s extremely easy to pick up on. Basically, you can “default” (similar to defending), which will protect you from receiving full damage while sacrificing your turn, to store up an extra turn. You can do this a certain number of times and then use “brave,” which will allow you to attack three or four times in a row, depending on how many times you defaulted and stored up DP (default points). Even more interesting though, is that you can kind of overdraft your DP like a bank account, and go ahead and use DP that you don’t have, and just pay for it afterward by waiting that many extra turns that you used. This makes random battles with easy monsters go a lot faster, because you can take them all down in one turn, since DP is reset after battle, and if you have a party of four, you can essentially attack sixteen times in one turn if everyone uses “brave” three times. You can also speed up and pause battles, making grinding, and any battle really, go a lot faster.

You can also use an ability called “bravely second,” where you press the start button in the middle of an attack by an enemy or ally to freeze time and use one attack of your choice. This is rarer though, because it uses SP, which you can only get by keeping your game in sleep mode for a certain number of hours or buying it on the online store with real money. Yeah, I’m not crazy about the using real money to make the game easier thing either, I don’t believe you should have to pay for a game once you’ve already bought it (looking at you, Final Fantasy XI), but at least giving yourself extra SP doesn’t give you the ability to cheat in the game, you can just use that SP for one extra move at a time, ultimately not giving you an extreme edge over other players or anything.

One of the first things I noticed about the game is the voice acting, which is fantastic, and I’m pretty sure I’ve already spotted some of my favorite actors from various anime and Final Fantasy titles, my favorite so far being a white mage who sounds like she’s voiced by the same woman who did Fang’s voice in the Final Fantasy XIII sub-series. I’ve also spotted characters who sound an awful lot like Lightning from the aforementioned Final Fantasy XIII, Riku and Xemnas from Kingdom Hearts, and Tiz definitely sounds like someone from an anime, I’m thinking one of the Elric brothers from Fullmetal Alchemist, but I haven’t figured it out yet. And yes I could just look all of this up on the internet right now, but I’m too lazy to stop writing this post and go looking, it’s more fun for me to speculate.

In summary, so far I’m loving this game. I hope it keeps getting better.