Courageously fail to fulfill an obligation

I finally had a chance last night to take the Bravely Default demo for a spin. I played the game when it first came out in Japan, but that was 15 months ago and a lot has happened since then. I’d forgotten just how good it is — and tough! The demo didn’t waste much time stomping my party into a mud hole, though I had the foresight to invest in Poisona right at the outset, which minimized the brutality of all the poison-dealing foes early on in the demo.

I’d also forgotten just how much of a sequel to The 4 Heroes of Light. Not just a tangential follow-up, but a direct successor in terms of aesthetics, design, and the general world view. For instance, the two games’ take on orcs isn’t similar; it’s identical. And their appearance is far too specific to be a coincidence:


Bravely Default does make some tweaks to the mechanics of 4 Heroes, the biggest probably being the ability to make much more granular choices in combat. For my part, I never had trouble with 4 Heroes‘ approach, which wasn’t too different from the way you deal with monster groups in Dragon Quest (the AI selects your specific target for you, determining which precise enemy you will attack based on your holistic choices and which outcome will work best for you). It’s an odd approach, but it works, though I can understand why some people wouldn’t cotton to it.

Tweak a game, make it prettier, give it a fakeout out a name and it’s amazing how differently it can be received. Bravely Default is being regarded with as much adulation as 4 Heroes was treated with apathy. Not that I’m complaining — Nintendo took a chance bringing over a sequel to someone else’s poorly received RPG, and it looks likely to pay off for them. It probably doesn’t hurt that we’re all a little starved for quality RPGs these days, unlike when 4 Heroes arrived. You don’t love what you got and all that.

6 thoughts on “Courageously fail to fulfill an obligation

  1. I will say I was never really a fan of Square-Enix’s art style on 4HoL (or any of their similarly-arted DS titles like FF3 & FF4), but here it looks better. I think the higher resolution really helps. That might at least tangentially help in making the game seem more appealing to people.

  2. While it’s true that 4 Heroes came out in the tail end of an awesome DS RPG library, I wouldn’t say the 3DS is really starved for RPGs. I can’t even keep up with them all these days.

    • RPGs in the style of what people think of as Final Fantasy, then. Like, not Persona or Etrian Odyssey or an SRPG.

  3. The save point (pointy red hat adventurer man) is also identical to 4HoL’s. And – minor spoilers? maybe? – at points in the game your 4 characters are referred to as the, uh, the four heroes of light. So, there’s that.

    Never did play 4HoL but it seems like a pretty open and shut case? Yet I hear a lot of “oh no they’re made by different directors” or something. Shrug.

  4. The auto-target on enemies never bothered me in 4HoL, but the auto-target for curing your own guys sure did. No preemptively setting up cures because someone *has* to stay alive if someone else had a slightly lower HP and the AI chose them instead.

  5. I really wanted to like 4 Heroes of Light, but the combination of lackluster dungeon design, the awkward way chapters are split up, the level scaling bosses, and flat out recycling all the dungeons for a second run after the group gets back together with no major changes is what ultimately turned me off the game.

    Really, it’s the poorly designed dungeons and the recycling of them that disappointed me most about 4HoL. They got the retro music, retro combat, and retro brevity of events right, but the dungeons were just so terrible. They have the Okage/PS2 Castlevania problem of coming off as random dungeons but having a few crappy puzzles put in that makes it clear that it’s not the case.

    Hell, as much as the whole party splitting/reuniting thing is obviously padding, I wouldn’t have minded doing the dungeons again if they were less shit.

    Oh well, if there’s one thing Bravely Default already has going for it, it’s that the dungeons at least look nicer. I should really try the demo out when I can pull myself away from Skyrim long enough to do so.

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