Bravely Default: 45 hours in, sh*t got real

I’m still playing Bravely Default on the 3DS. Way back in May I reported hitting 19 hours. I’m at 45 hours now. It’s my ‘before bed’ game so I only play a bit each night, but I do play it almost every night.

So I’ve been tooling along, grinding a little. I was feeling pretty OP. Early on there were some tough boss fights but I used the “Summon a Friend” system to call in the character of some Nintendo-Friendo who was much further along than I was. That usually was enough to 1-shot the boss.

Difficulty spike!

Last night, things changed. I came up against a boss that just wipes the floor with me. My friends are no longer so high level (I assume they stopped playing LONG ago) that I can lean on them. I gotta figure this one out on my own.

Not going to lie, first thing I did was look online thinking I was missing something. I assumed there was a ‘trick’ to it since nothing had been remotely hard up until this point. Nope. I did read lots of discussions about how different people beat this boss, and those gave me ideas, so I’m glad I looked them up.

FINALLY the job system makes sense. Bravely Default has 24 jobs (basically, classes) and characters can switch between them at will. I still don’t have them all unlocked, but I have to figure out, based on what I have available and how far I’ve leveled them, how to combine jobs & characters to defeat this boss. Up to now I’ve been using whatever seemed cool (Pirate? YES! Salve-Maker? NO!).

Think, think, think….

So I have to *gasp* think about what I’m going to do. I may have to grind to level up some jobs I’ve ignored. That’s fine, I could use the gold that comes along with grinding anyway. Honestly I’m pretty excited that I finally have to come off auto-pilot and figure this out.

Of course the job that, according to the Internet, makes this fight pretty easy is, you guessed it, Salve-Maker.

19 Hours into Bravely Default & Still Lost

A few weeks back I got it into my head to have another go at Bravely Default on the Nintendo 3DS (the release of a demo for Bravely Default 2 on Switch had a lot to do with this). I’d played the game at launch and had put 19 hours or so into it before drifting away. With no clue what I was doing, I decided to start over.

Now, as it so happens, I’m back at 19 hours and I still have no clue what I’m doing. The game has a huge ‘job’ system. So far I’ve unlocked nine of the twenty-four jobs. Why so many? No idea. I only have four characters, but they can swap jobs at any time. Question is, should they?

The Right Way to Play?

I’m not sure what the “right” way to play is. Should I pick one or two jobs for each character and just level those, or should each character take on (eventually) six different jobs so I have each one maxed? Are there jobs that every character should learn? Does any of this even matter? Is it just preference? At any time a character can be leveling one job and using the abilities of a second job, so at the least each character should know two jobs for maximum performance. Beyond that…just not sure.

So far I barely use the “Abilities” of melee-focused jobs like Knight or Monk. My characters seem to do more damage with basic attacks than they do with abilities. Magic-focused jobs (White/Black Mage) are different of course. I need someone to act as Healer and someone to be able to do elemental/magic damage against monsters resistant to physical attacks. Should that be one person (that’s how I have it now… a Black Mage with White Mage support abilities) or two?

Geez this all sounds like I’m griping but the thing is, I’m not. I’m really enjoying trying to figure this all out. My first instinct was to go online and look up optimal strategies or what not. I started doing a little of that but took someone’s advice to just play the way I wanted to and see how things work out. Turns out actually playing the game myself is more fun than following some expert’s instructions. Go figure!

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

Of course talk is cheap when you have as much backup as I do. Bravely Default has an asymmetric multiplayer system where you can “Summon” the character of a friend to help out in battle. Since the game is so old I have plenty of friends who are much higher level than me and for now they act as a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card when a fight gets tricky.

There’s also a system where you rebuild a town after which the town’s denizens will gift you items. Town building takes real-time, but I’m playing the game so slowly that my town is already maxed out and I get gifted items that are way over-powered for the baddies I’m fighting.

Eventually I’ll presumably ‘catch up’ with both these systems and have to earn my progress the old-fashioned way. Hopefully by then I will have figured out a system.

It’s been a long time since I really got hooked on a turn-based JRPG like this one. I’m really enjoying myself. I just wish I was playing on a slightly larger screen. I really have to peer at the 3DS screen and I can only play for 30-40 minutes before it becomes uncomfortable. Of course the sequel will be on the Switch so I’ll play that on the TV.

Fire Emblem: Alas, poor Ricken

I was really looking forward to the release of Fire Emblem: Awakening and so far I haven’t been the least bit disappointed. I’m loving it!

This time out Fire Emblem has two modes: Classic and Casual. In Classic mode, any unit that is killed in battle is gone for good (unless it’s one of the main two characters in which case it’s Game Over). In Casual mode, they’re just out for the battle and bounce back up after you win. I first started playing in Classic mode but got to a point where I couldn’t get through a fight without losing a ‘major’ character. I thought I’d spread my experience around too thin and that I didn’t have a powerful enough party to get through the next fight, so I decided to start over.

And in so doing, I decided to go with Casual Mode. I knew if I picked Classic mode and got in the same jam and had to start over a third time, I probably wouldn’t. So I restarted, got to the same point as in my Classic game and beat the battle I was stuck on, even though my characters were about the same level.

So then I went back to my Classic game, tried one more time, and got through the battle without losing anyone. So now I have 2 games running concurrently, which makes me feel a bit more brave about my Classic game. I decided I’m going to move forward with it and if a character dies, he or she dies. No more bailing out on a game because a soldier has fallen.

But I can’t just let them die without commemorating them in some way…but that’s what my blog is for!

He shouldn’t have been with us. Chrom had ordered him to stay back at Headquarters to guard it, but young Ricken had other plans. When we accompanied the Exalt to confront the King of Plegia, Ricken secretly followed us, and it was a good thing he did. It was Ricken who rescued Mirabelle, though in truth we nearly lost them both, cut off as they were. But our forces prevailed, the Plegians routed, and we headed home.

Had we only stayed true to our path.

Instead we wandered the countryside a bit, visiting shops in an attempt to restock our gear. It was while doing this that we came upon a Merchant Caravan being attacked by Barbarians. We rushed in to help. It was a chaotic battle, with some of our troops headed to the entrance of a nearby village to help a lone defender and others picking off straggler Barbarians in preparation for confronting their boss. In all the confusion, Ricken paused for a rest within range of several enemy archers. They skirted past our armored defenders and peppered him with arrows. Tragically, Ricken fell. The archers paid the ultimate price but alas, that won’t bring Ricken back. His youthful enthusiasm will be missed.

At least the village, and the mysterious woman who was defending it, were both saved. Ricken would be pleased to know that much, at least.

Your sacrifice will be remembered, Ricken! You were the first of us to fall but I fear you will not be the last. We have a long and bloody war ahead of us.

3DS XL & Harvest Moon: A New Beginning

harvestmoonFor Christmas I got myself a 3DS XL and the first game I bought for it was Harvest Moon: A New Beginning. I’ve been playing it off and on since Christmas and figured it was time to talk a bit about it and about the 3DS itself.

Generally speaking I’m pleased with my new gaming hardware. The 3DS XL is “fun” in a way that few game consoles are. I mean even without loading a game into it there’s stuff to do, like put your Street Pass friends to work clearing a dungeon. Luckily I got Angela her own 3DS XL so we can be each other’s Street Pass friend. You can put the thing in your pocket and take a walk and earn “Coins” that you can use in the same game. You can send goofy notes to your friends. It’s a nice system. That said, the 3D aspect feels like a gimmick and neither of the screens can hold a candle to the one on the Playstation Vita.

My only real gripe with the 3DS so far is that even in it’s XL format it feels a little small when it comes to the controls. My right thumb, in particular, cramps up a lot from hitting the face buttons; it’s not a system I could spend hours using. But since it’s a handheld I probably wouldn’t anyway.

Now, on to Harvest Moon. If you’ve ever played a Harvest Moon game you’ll feel comfortable here. Same old basic game: you have to re-build a farm, planting and harvesting crops and raising animals. In the meantime you have to befriend villagers and help the town grow and ideally, find yourself a spouse. If you haven’t played a Harvest Moon game this likely seems really boring. It’s a quirky genre, for sure. Kind of a mix of virtual world and survival game (though you can’t actually die as far as I know) and I guess dating simulator.

This particular Harvest Moon changes things up by starting you with an intact though small farm and an almost empty town. You need to liven things up in order to get people to move in. So you have both a farm and a town to rebuild. That’s the good news. The bad news is that for the first 25 or so “days” of gameplay you’ll probably be bored stiff. Most of the other Harvest Moon games I’ve played have made you clear out debris from your fields as a first step while trying not to exhaust yourself. A New Beginning gives you a pristine farm and very few chores to do.

You get up at 7 am (I think?) and head out to tend your crops. You’ll have that done by 9 am or so, after which the only thing to do is walk through the woods collecting bugs, logs, rocks, flowers and herbs that you’ll later need to build things or to use as gifts. This is fun the first few times but then it starts to feel like a chore. Generally for the first few days I was going to bed (and thus ending the game day) by 1:30 in the afternoon.

After a week or so you get a cow and that actually makes things worse since you have to push the cow out of the barn in the morning and push him back in at dusk. Cows are happier when they get to graze outside. It’s nice to have one more thing to do but once you have a cow you can’t go to bed super early because you have to leave the cow outside until near dark (I assume that the longer they are outside the happier they’ll become). There were times when I’d put the 3DS down and read a book while I waited for time to pass!

To make a long story short, the game is pretty dang slow until the 25th day of Spring in your first year. That’s when an architect moves into town and then you can start buying blueprints and building new features, and the game becomes much more enjoyable at that point. But wow, what a slog to get there!

In fact I’ve just gotten there and I’ve been trying to scrounge up the Mint I need to build a Chicken Coop so I can buy a few chickens to raise. Don’t ask me why I need mint to build a chicken coop but it’s nice to have things to do other than tend the handful of crop patches I started out with. I can also now edit the farm to move things around, which means there’s a reason to chop down trees and so forth. And I really want to craft a Bell so I don’t have to push the cows all over the place.

I guess this post isn’t going to sell you on Harvest Moon: A New Beginning but I just wanted to share the fact that the 25th of Spring is the date you have to drive through the boredom towards, in case you happen to be playing and gave up before then. I would’ve given up had I not been warned in many reviews that the game is super slow at the start.