Developer: Silicon Studio
Publisher: Square Enix
Without the Final Fantasy label holding it back, Bravely Default is free to inject new life into the stagnating JRPG formula.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: Final Fantasy really needs to take a break for a while, giving Square Enix room to experiment with exciting new ideas. Bravely Default is this year's case in point, a spiritual sequel to Final Fantasy: The Four Heroes Of Light that gives us the comfortable airship-sailing, crystal-locating, power-levelling experience we know and love, yet pushes the boat out on sweeping innovations to the combat, underlying RPG systems and 3DS hardware features. Legendary artist Akihiko Yoshida has run rampant, creating a breathtaking watercolour world to explore and enjoy.
Blending the old with the new was a risky business, but the result is truly superb... and yet another reason why you probably ought to own a 3DS. Seriously. I won't stop banging on about it until I Streetpass you.
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3D Dot Game Heroes is a fun action-RPG that takes more than a little inspiration from Nintendo's Zelda franchise. In fact, it gleefully lifts everything except the graphical style... but when you're cribbing from a good place, the resultant product usually turns out pretty sweet as well. Levelling up, growing and wielding an enormous selection of swords is a lot of fun- and the retro visuals provide the experience with a unique sense of fun and playfulness.
Note that this is a US import, which makes no odds on the region-free PS3. Thanks to youareme at HotUKDeals.
Developer: Silicon Studio
Publisher: SouthPeak Games
If you’re the type of gamer that squealed with delight seeing the huge list of retro RPG game included on last years Mega-Drive compilation, this game is most definitely for you. In-jokes to the genre are the norm here along with a long list of frustrations and an almost inevitable argument between fans (and probably lawyers) about it being a homage or rip-off of some Nintendo game with a green midget.
The games unique twist is the updated retro graphical style. The story explains it in an amusing way, as the old 2D Kingdom of Dotnia is rarely visited anymore so they revamp their world into ‘3D’ to get with the times, hoping everyone will love them again. It’s not ‘put on glasses’ 3D, everything is made from cubes instead of squares. The whole story would probably fit on a beermat (evil guy stealing orbs, kingdom threatened, you hero).
Paying homage to the genre is all well and good, but some elements that were a bit annoying 15 years ago may test your patience more than ever today. The stylised updated 8-bit era music is charming for about five minutes, but after hearing the same tune for two hours in one of temples you’re ready to lose it. But hey, Final Fantasy XIII is just as guilty.
The temples are made up of a series of linked rectangular rooms that are hard to navigate as most of them look the same and once you’ve done the first temple you’ve seen them all really. You’ll spend most of your indoors time looking for keys and moving blocks to solve puzzles. Moving around the game world outside is better as you’re pretty much allowed to go anywhere once you pick up the grappling hook to swing across gaps with a wooden post on the other side. Naturally you can’t jump on or off ledges to reach a higher or lower path. The map only displays a rough layout of the maze-like world so you may have to travel in the opposite direction to your destination to try and find a way through. Just wait till you get to the desert, just a maze of dead ends and constantly pressing L1 to bring up the map, hoping desperately that you’re a little closer to the next temple.