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.

Someone tell me about the Wii U dual screen experience

I didn’t pre-order a Wii U. It didn’t feel like a system I needed to have on Day 1 so I decided to wait and see how things go.

But the other day I was playing the Need For Speed: Most Wanted demo, and more than once as I was racing around the city I glanced down at the radar in the bottom of the screen and that lapse in focus was enough to cause me to crash. I just seem to have a very narrow field of focus for whatever reason (I’m assuming this doesn’t happen to most people) so I’m really wary of having to glance all the way down at the tablet controller while playing a game. If I can’t keep track of something in the bottom corner of my TV screen, how am I going to keep track of something on a separate piece of hardware!!?

So to anyone who did snag a launch Wii U, is that at all an issue for you? Just curious.

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The other reason I’m holding back is because a lot of what early reviewers are loving about the system wouldn’t really impact me. Being able to play your game on the tablet instead of the TV because someone wants to use the TV is a family-friendly feature but we have 2 people and 2 HD TVs in this apartment so it’s not a big issue for us. Also the multiplayer aspects where one person uses the tablet to do 1 thing and 4 others use Wii Remotes to do something else sounds really fun, but I’m a solo gamer; I don’t have people over to visit to play video games and it’s just me and Angela here and she’s not much of a console gamer.

I think these ideas are neat and I think the Wii U will be an awesome console for families or people who often have company over.

I’m still sticking to my plan of purchasing a Wii U when there are 4 games we really want for it. Scribblenauts is one (for Angela), so we’re waiting for 3 more…


And yet another reason for caution, for me. I thought of this when I was watching TV today, couldn’t identify an actress, and grabbed my tablet to look her up on IMDB. I didn’t just grab my tablet, I grabbed my tablet and my reading glasses, which I have to wear in order to see my tablet clearly. That made me realize that if I was on a Wii U I’d have to, I guess, where my progressive bi-focals which I hate. I can see the TV fine without glasses but with the prog. bifocals on I have to make sure I’ watching the TV through the proper ‘band’ in the glasses.

Again, I’m a weird case. I actually have 3 pairs of glasses. Drugstore (non-prescription) reading glasses for reading books, magazines and tablets, a pair of “computer glasses” optimized for reading at arm’s length away (ie, computer screens) and then the progressive bi-focals which I basically wear while driving. I can read with those if I peer through the very bottom of them, usually having to tilt my head back in order to do so. I hate ’em though. If your optometrist every tries to sell you these things, say no. They’re stupid expensive and annoying as hell.

Uber Meta Nintendo DSi Post

So while we in NA slept, Nintendo had its press conference and announced the new Nintendo DSi.

I’m sure at this point in the day, this is No Longer News to anyone reading this blog. But in case you just woke up or something, I am now blogging that Wired’s Chris Kohler live-blogged the live-blogging of the press conference. You can read his live-blog of the live-blogging here. It feels very satisfying for me to blog about this.

For a more bullet-pointy rundown, check out DS Fanboy.

Nintendo DSi

One VGA camera in the hinge facing you for video chat (?), one facing the world. The latter takes 640×480 shots. SD slot on the right.

Also comes in matte-black.

This product is potentially interesting to me, but I don’t see myself running out to buy one on launch day. Bigger screen is nice, thinner is nice. Lack of GBA slot not so nice: I do still have some GBA games on my “To play” list (though I can’t fault Nintendo for finally leaving that format behind).

I can’t find a reason to care about the cameras, or the web browser (I don’t use the browser on my PSP…I can’t imagine I’ll use on on a DS with a still-smaller screen), and I have an iPod for listening to music. Stick a 30 gig drive in the new DSi and we can talk.

The big wild card is the downloadable programs. So far WiiWare has been pretty lackluster in terms of software. DSWare is going to have to be much more compelling to get me to upgrade my DS to take advantage of it.

When my current DS breaks, I can see spending a bit more to replace it with a DSi, but unless DSWare has some real killer apps, I don’t think I’ll be tossing aside a perfectly good DS to upgrade.

Nintendo Customer Support FTW!

Somewhere around July 23rd, our Wii Fit Balance Board started acting wonky, giving crazy readings and drawing straight diagonal ‘COB traces’. I futzed with it for a couple of days, but on Friday, July 25th we called Nintendo to request service.

Later that day we were emailed a pre-paid FedEx Ground shipping label. On Saturday we packed up the Balance Board and on Monday, July 28th I dropped it off at a Kinko’s FedEx Center. It arrived on July 29th (a bit of luck there, we’re in MA and the repair center is in NY so it didn’t have far to travel). By July 30th there was a notice in the Repair System that they would replace the board but it was currently back-ordered.

In spite of this, a new board was shipped via UPS Blue (2nd day air) on July 31st, a Thursday. Today, Monday, August 4th, the new board arrived. It works perfectly. And cost us nothing beyond some packing tape (we sent it back in the original WiiFit box, wrapping it in flattened out brown-paper shopping bags).

I’ve been “fortunate” enough to have to pay to have both an XBox 360 and a PS3 repaired. It took Microsoft almost 5 weeks to turn around the XBox ($100) repair, and it took Sony 3 weeks to turn around the ($150) PS3 repair. And in neither case was anything repaired…the old unit was just swapped out for a refurb.

So I have to rate Nintendo as easily the best of the ‘big three’ when it comes to Customer Service. The exchange was handled swiftly and with no hassles whatsoever.

And we’ve got our little friend back. Oh, how we’ve missed our Balance Board Buddy!

Wars and games and wargames

I’m often accused of being thin-skinned or overly sensitive about certain topics, and gaming past wars is definitely one of them.

So I have to give a cheer to Ross Arbour’s article over at Nukoda:
Wii Aren’t Amused: Call of Duty World at War and Nintendo’s E3 Press Conference

Mr. Arbour takes exception to that portion of the Nintendo press conference where two friends were shown gleefully waggling their remotes to simulate hosing down Japanese soldiers with a flamethrower. I remember seeing that segment and having a definite “WTF?” moment. I thank Mr. Arbour for reminding me of it and bringing broader attention to the topic.

Secret of Wii’s success revealed

Engadget has a post of NPD numbers revealing that the Nintendo Wii has overtaken the XBox 360 in US sales (NPD: Wii usurps Xbox 360 as best selling US game console, pulling away )

From the report:

NPD Group reports more than 666,000 Wii consoles were sold in June compared to 405,500 PlayStation 3s and 219,800 Xbox 360s.

666,000 Wiis, eh? An interesting number, to be sure.

No reports on whether the Wiimote actually sucks out your soul.

E3 ’08: Round 2: Nintendo

Wow, I’m already falling so far behind! By the time I got home and watched all of yesterday’s press conference recordings (via G4), there was no time left to write posts!

Luckily Nintendo announced very little for hardcore gamers, so there’s not a whole lot to say. You can’t really blame Nintendo: they’re making money hand over fist with no sign of that ending. Why rock the boat? Cammie Dunaway, who replaced Perrin Kalpan, played up the ‘soccer mom’ schtick to a point of creepiness, with a pasted on smile that rivaled The Joker’s. She even declared that no one was going to remove that smile from her face.

Lots of number and figures, lots of emphasis on the DS and how Nintendo (and 3rd parties, honestly) is pushing it beyond gaming. I guess there’s a ball park in Seattle where you can use your DS to check scores of other games, data on the game you’re currently playing and so forth. They’re trying to extent that kind of PDA/internet tablet to airports and other places. Trying to get you to carry your DS everywhere.

On the games front, they had Shaun White demo (a bit, Dunaway actually played more than White did) Shaun White Snowboarding, which uses the Balance Board. They announced Animal Crossing Wii for this holiday season, complete with a microphone which sits on the Sensor Bar and picks up everyone in the room talking, so your room full of players can talk to other rooms full of players.

They announced Wii Music which uses the WiiMote, Nunchuk and Balance Board to let you play air guitar, as well as air drums, air saxaphone, air piano, etc, etc. It was really hard to get a sense of what was going on with this, but at first glance it didn’t look very compelling. But we’ve got a while before it gets into our hands yet, so we’ll see.

The MotionPlus attachment, revealed Monday, will come with (or without) a game pack-in. Wii Sports Resort brings all the fun of a day at the beach to the Wii. Stuff like playing frisbee with your dog, jet skiing and…uh, sword fighting. Sounds like a smart way to get us all to buy one, though. Who didn’t love Wii Sports?

The only big surprise for hardcore gamers was Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, for the Nintendo DS. No gameplay was shown, just a logo. Still, that one came out of nowhere, and was another blow for Sony, who no longer will have the only handheld with a GTA game on it.

All in all, Nintendo’s Press Conference felt like it was more for the bean counters and less for the gamers. But again, they’re selling hardware as fast as they can manufacture it. Why would they mess with that? Clearly hard core gamers aren’t a big concern of theirs.

Another Wii update

The glow you see today leads down a dark and twisty path to an update that breaks the Zelda hack. Yes, it adds some trivial features but basically it looks like Nintendo is shutting down this particular back door.

Apparently if you have the Homebrew Channel already installed, it’ll still work. Haven’t tested this though. If you’re interested in this Wii Homebrew Scene, I suggest you get the Homebrew Channel up and running before applying this update. Either that, or just skip the update, though you know sooner or later some game will require it.

Nintendo updates the Wii Nintendo Channel

Why is your Wii Slot glowing blue? It’s because the Nintendo Channel has been updated and now lets you rate games, as well as check out how other people (cumulatively) have rated them. You can rate any game you’ve spent at least an hour playing (a bit eerie that my Wii remembers that I played Excite Truck for over an hour at some point!).

Typical Nintendo twists apply. You answer the following questions for each game:

Was the person who played it the most male or female?
What was their age?
Is the game for everyone or gamers?
Is it Hard Core or Casual?
Is it more fun alone or with others?

And finally a “how highly would you recommend it?” slider with no numbers showing, so you can’t fixate on a specific score. You just slide the slider to where it feels ‘right’ to you.

All in all, not a bad feature. It’s reasonably fun to “rate” games (though sadly only one person can rate a game on a given Wii, as far as I can tell) as well as to look up how well gamers are doing. And then they link data in a “People who liked this game also liked these other games” fashion, though that isn’t always particularly significant. People who liked Wii Fit also liked Super Paper Mario… ok, but really these two games are about as diverse as two games could possibly be.