I vividly remember watching the Nintendo press conference right before the Tokyo Game Show in 2011 where they announced Bravely Default: Flying Fairy. I remember because I could not stop laughing for a good ten minutes after I saw the nonsensical title pop across my screen. I dismissed the game based on its name alone and categorized it in my own mind as nothing but a derivative, throw-away Square Enix RPG. That was foolish of me because over the course of my time with Bravely Default: Flying Fairy, I have come to see it is not only the latest of Square Enix's insanely named titles but also the spiritual successor to the Final Fantasy games of the 16 and 32-bit eras.
Good — A Throwback to the Old School
Much of BD:FF is comprised of gameplay and features from the classic Final Fantasy games. The battle system is your standard turn-based battle system where you choose your party's attacks before each turn and then the order which they—and the enemies—go is based on their individual speed ratings.
To level up, the game uses a job system much like in Final Fantasies III and V. All the classic jobs are available as well as a few you might not have seen before.
The visual style of the characters is a throwback as well. The entire cast of the game is rendered in a "super deformed" or "chibi" art style resembling the character style of the 16-bit era—though now made with polygons instead of sprites.
Good — Fantastic Art Style
The characters for BD:FF have all been designed by Akihiko Yoshida, character designer for Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light.
The character models manage to capture his designs perfectly; but even these characters, while great looking, don't hold a candle to the painted watercolor backgrounds of the game.
The backgrounds in the game are beautiful, whether they be dungeons, towns, or castles. Moreover, the 3D effects do a great job of making you feel as if you are moving through a watercolor painting. It's the art as much as the story that keeps you wanting to progress through the game.
Good — Little Additions to the Game Experience
While BD:FF is indeed a call back, it is not a retro-designed game. There are many little features that really add to the game. The first, and most obvious of these, is the voice acting. Main story conversations are always voiced and the Japanese voice actors really carry the story. If you're one of those people who wants to dive into the world in more detail, BD:FF also comes with Tales-series optional four-box conversations interspersed between the main events.
The game also dabbles in augmented reality to fairly good effect—especially in the games opening sequence where you get a "help me Obi-Wan Kenobi" speech from one of the game's protagonists before your own room is torn apart by dimensional magics trying to get her back.
The best little additions, though, are in the gameplay. I've already detailed the "brave" and "default" system—which basically allows you to save turns for later use—but perhaps the best thing in the game is being able to fast forward (at double normal speed) during battles. This feature was desperately needed, because in BD:FF…