Category: Reviews

Bravely Default 2 Review (Nintendo Switch)

Genre: Adventure, RPG, Action
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Developer | Publisher: Square-Enix | Nintendo
Age Rating: PEGI 12 | ESRB Teen+
Price: UK £49.99 | US $59.99 | EU €59.99
Release Date: 26th February 2021

No review code was provided, and all opinions contained below are my own.

Story/Characters

After a small introduction within which you get to choose the difficulty setting and your characters name, you, the MC, wake up on a beach after being shipwrecked. While trying to orientate yourself, you are found by a couple of random people, a young girl and an old man. They discuss ideas that don’t quite mean a whole lot to you just yet, but they proceed to take you to the nearest town, Halcyonia, so you can rest.

The MC will introduce himself as just a sailor, and about the shipwreck to the girl, with her muttering that it might be the Crystal’s will after all. The old man is introduced as Sir Sloan, a royal man-at-arms, an older gentleman who speaks in an archaic style. Princess Gloria is then introduced as well, firstly as just Gloria of Musa, then her full title and her uncertainty of whether she still is a Princess or not, since Musa has been destroyed.

Adelle, Elvis, MC, Gloria and Sir Sloan.

The Innkeeper will show you a map as you try to figure out where you are, but the map confuses the MC even more. The kind Innkeeper still gives you the map so you don’t get lost in future. As you continue following the course laid out in front of you, you’ll acquire a ship you can send out for up to 12 hours, whilst your Switch is in sleep mode, after saving the boat’s owner.

During the fight to save the boat owner, you’ll be lent a helping hand by a new couple of people. This man and woman will join you after the man attacks the creatures with fire and a small discourse between the two. The woman introduces them as a wandering scholar and his bodyguard/babysitter, her name being Adelle and his, Elvis. Elvis insists on dragging you to the tavern in Halcyonia, but not before they show you what they call an Asterisk, a special item that the pair are searching for across the world.

As you pull the whole group together, you learn that Gloria and Sloan are trying to recover the Crystals that have been scattered across the lands, with trouble coming along wherever they seem to settle. Elvis and Adelle are quite happy to come along as it will give them more direction than they had before. And it seems wherever there’s a Crystal, there are Asterisk users flocking around the place.

Gameplay

Big fight!

Bravely Default 2 is a turn-based RPG, but with it’s own twist. You can also use Brave or Default in a battle, Default is basically defend but allows you to gain a BP each time you use it, whereas Brave lets you take extra actions in your turn, up to 4 actions can be used in one go, and each extra action will use 1 BP each. You can go down to -3 BP but that’ll mean you have to wait 3 turns to be able to use that character again, so it’s recommended to Default then Brave as you see fit.

The Asterisks are what allow you to change Jobs in BD2, for example, Elvis first appears as a Black Mage, using fire, thunder, water etc as he gains levels in it. You’ll start with Freelancer and Black Mage, but you will gain up to 23 different Asterisks throughout the game. Personally, I really like Thief and Spiritmaster jobs, they seem pretty powerful with certain moves and support spells.

The world will open up to you as needed to progress, but anywhere you’ve opened is free to explore as you can, there are plenty of side quests to get done too, so you’ll be running around exploring and gaining extra items/exp/knowledge. There are five main cities that the world will open up around, Halcyonia being the first area, and even that has 2 or 3 optional mini bosses to contend with if you wanna challenge yourself.

Difficulty

Yes, yes we do

I am one of those people that always starts on the hardest difficulty, so I can only write from the Hard difficulty point of view. Although, I’m not sure if it’s because I am happy grinding when I want an ability or if the difficulty really is a touch low, even on Hard mode, but I found it to be pretty easy still, some bosses I would need to fight a few times to figure out the strategy needed, since some bosses have so many counter abilities it can feel like you’re hitting a brick wall with a feather duster.

The only time I have felt underpowered, is when I ‘beat’ the game and got to go unlock extra Job levels, those fights were a pain in the butt, but I managed eventually. As I said before, lots of learning their patterns and changing my jobs to suit the fight I was in, rather than just hit them with everything I got. A bit of patience is all that really required for this game, other than that, it was a walk in the park unfortunately. I actually wish there was a harder difficulty once you’d beaten the game.

But, apart from Hard difficulty, there are also Casual mode and Normal mode, Casual being BD2’s Easy mode. Now, from what I’ve read myself about BD2, it seems for most people this game is classed as difficult, even when not on Hard mode. I think growing up on old JRPG’s has given me the patience to just grind out levels or abilities whenever I fancy. Most issues it seems others had with the difficulty is either the amount of thought you need to put into the strategy, or the counter mechanics. Just have some patience, learn as much as you can in your first try against something difficult and persevere! If necessary, write down what they counter, what their weaknesses are, so you can get a better look at what you need to bring to the fight.

Graphics, Sound and Performance

I wish I could have taken a video to show how well voiced all the characters are, but unfortunately, Bravely Default 2 doesn’t allow video to be taken on the Switch. But, they voice almost every character you interact with! Most simple townsfolks don’t have a voice, but anyone important in any way to the story has a unique voice. It’s nice to see such diversity in a computer world, accents changing with the country, cultures changing too.

Each place has it’s own sounds, whether you’re in a forest listening to the sounds of forest life or on the beach, listening to the waves, it’s such a delight to hear the soundtrack and background noise. It’s a very interactive world, and it helps that you can really get immersed in this world so easily, I was glued to Bravely Default 2 for hours at a time, barely noticing if other things were happening around me.

Possibly the only issue I believe to be found in the performance may be the loading times, now, I don’t mind if a game takes it’s time loading things in as long as it’s not long enough for me to make a cuppa before it’s done, but 10-20 seconds, no real issue to me. But I know that it can be a problem for other people, which is understandable. We’re in a world where we want technology to do what we want as fast as possible, but a touch of patience and hopefully it’s not that big a deal. The game itself makes up for slightly long loading times.

Conclusion

Bravely Default 2 is a great old school style RPG, if you long for old Final Fantasy style gaming, give the Bravely Default series a go. They’ve managed to incorporate new ideas with the old turn-based style and it works, I love the gimmick of Braving and Defaulting, it opens you to fun interesting fighting styles.

8/10

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury Review

  • Genre: Action, Platformer
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch
  • Developer | Publisher: Nintendo
  • Age Rating: PEGI 7 | ESRB E (Everyone)
  • Price: £49.99
  • Release Date: February 12th, 2021

As part of the Super Mario 35th celebrations. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury ends the anniversary in style showing just how influential Mario has been all these years and this very present day.

Story

The story to 3D World takes a different path than the stories we have come accustomed to with Mario. Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad all start off watching a firework display in Mushroom Kingdom. All of a sudden a glass pipe appears, Mario and Luigi fix the pipe and a distressed fairy comes flying out of the pipe, these fairies are actually know as Sprixie princesses.

This green Sprixie princess explains that the troublemaker, Bowser, has kidnapped the rest of the Sprixie princesses and locked them up in a glass jar. Shortly afterwards, Bowser appears and nabs the green Sprixie and vanishes down the glass pipe. Without any hesitation Peach jumps down into the pipe and the rest of the gang follow suit in pursuit of Bowser.

It’s a typical plot even if it does mean Peach gets a break from being kidnapped, maybe Bowser has got the memo all these years? Young children will love it and even adults will enjoy it too. If you can go back to you’re first memories of any Mario game you first played. You always felt that anger, upbeat, chest out to stop Bowser no matter the cost. Nintendo has once again captured the essence of what Mario is all about and throws you back into that seat of playing Super Mario for the very first time.

Bowsers Fury again takes us down another path and pretty much opening the book to potential other stories we could have with Mario. Bowser Jr seeks Mario’s help as Bowser is hell bent to destroy anything and everything. Obviously Mario thinks Bowser Jr is playing some game, but witnessing first hand what Bowser has become, he doesn’t hesitate to help Bowser Jr out. For the first time we get to see Mario and Bowser Jr team up to help free Bowser from whatever is consuming him or is it all what it seems?

Gameplay

Jumping on Goomba’s, hitting puzzle boxes to see which power up we get to help reach the goal is of course the staple of the Super Mario games. With the new power up of becoming a cat. This allows Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad to reach new heights than ever before. Of course other power ups return and prove to be very useful if stuck on a certain part of the level, regarding if you keep the handy power up in your inventory.

3D World takes both formulas of the platforming from Super Mario Bros and the likes of 64, Sunshine, Galaxy and of course Odyssey with the 3D levels. The blend of both really works and being able to move the camera (looking at you Mario 64…) helps massively when trying to find the green stars. Yup, Green stars replace the golden coins in comparison to the Super Mario Bros games. Collect as many as you can as these will help unlock other levels throughout the course of the game.

3D World is also the first 4 player co-op Mario adventure too. Be that couch co-op or online, it’s certainly a brilliant, fun experience to be had. Each character has their own abilities pros and cons. The good thing about this even if not playing in co-op, you can decide who you play as before you jump in. Luigi has higher jump than Mario, Peach can glide/float in the air and Toad? Toad is just Toad, small, quick and Hey!

Bowsers + Fury brings to the table what was so great from Odyssey and continues that with typical Mario style Platforming at its best. I think people will really enjoy Bowser’s Fury and probably would question Nintendo why they didn’t just do it as a standalone game, adventure than being add on. Can’t complain either, as being able to gigantamax to bigger Cat Mario against the huge, really ticked off Bowser is great! With Bowser Jr helping you out be that played by another player or just yourself. Bowser Jr proves very useful than you think.

You don’t have to keep using the cat bells and fight Bowser toe to toe. If you collect the Shines when he emerges, the shine will repel him back to the gooey, oil like Calamity he comes from.

Sound, Performance, and Graphics

Without a shadow of doubt all three in the heading of this part, 3D World executes perfectly. The sound is top notch as always. The iconic themes, sounds when going down pipes, picking up power ups, collecting coins and defeating enemies is where all the fans are familiar with.

No issue performance wise from 3D World, though Bowser’s Fury did suffer with some framerate and the game slowing down a bit when big Bowser appears.

The visuals is what you would expect with a Mario game. Colourful, vibrant and upbeat to continue playing.

Difficulty

I will have to admit. I didn’t find 3D World or Bowser’s Fury that difficult whatsoever. It made for a nice, sit back adventure and everything just rolled off the bat nicely. I 100% Bowser’s Fury in my first go whilst 3D World will take longer to do so. Some of the levels towards the endgame and once you beat 3D World will test you greatly.

Conclusion

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is probably one of the best Mario adventures Nintendo have produced. I didn’t play 3D World on the Wii U, as I didn’t keep my Wii U long enough to play it. I’m really glad 3D World has been brought to the Nintendo Switch as it was one Mario adventure I would of liked to play. With the inclusion of Bowser’s Fury and that in its own right is pretty much near to perfection, 3D World is a excellent showcase of how far Mario has come and keeps pushing the boundaries which is making Mario still relevant today.

Verdict
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is a must have game in anyone’s Switch collection. It can be played by all, it will appeal to pretty much everyone and best of all. I can play with my daughter and get to experience a whole new Mario experience witnessing her enjoyment from a game series I have grown up on.