Today is the day that we have been fighting for. It was fourteen months ago when Bravely Default producer Tomoya Asano stated that there were no plans to localise the game and I received permission from WiiUAndMii’s owner to use the website as a hub for Operation Brave – a campaign to be brave, to not accept the default and to persuade Square Enix to localise and release the game in the western world. Annoyingly, the one Nintendo Direct that I could not watch live was back in April, due to me being at work in a job I absolutely despised (I was basically a full time manual chore boy in an office for £2.80 an hour under the guise of an “apprenticeship”). However, I had my Mum watching live at home and texting me the announcements. When I read the text that said “BRAVELY DEFAULT!”, I had to quietly lock the computer at my desk, unlock the door and make my way to the staff toilets to shed a few joyous tears. While the impact Operation Brave had is certainly debatable and I am in no way saying that we were solely responsible for the localisation, our goal had been achieved – Bravely Default was flying out of Japan.
One question I was asked back then, that I still even get asked today, is “How can you care so much for a game you haven’t played yet?”. It’s a perfectly valid question – I mean, I could have campaigned for months for a game that turned out to be utter garbage, or that I personally disliked. Honestly, you could say it was intuition.
Back in the early days of the Nintendo 3DS, there were two games that caught my attention in particular – Konami’s Beyond the Labyrinth and Square Enix’s Bravely Default. Unfortunately, the former game was never released outside of Japan (which did disappoint me), but there was something very special about the latter. The first time I saw the game was when a recording of the augmented reality demo was released online and well, it was certainly a good way to get my attention – Agnés character model was easily the best on Nintendo 3DS then and still is now. There was also a more, sentimental reason.
My first introduction to the world of RPGS outside of Pokémon was when a childhood friend of mine introduced me and my older brother to Final Fantasy IX on the PlayStation. Since then, I have obviously went back and played the earlier titles in the franchise, but IX has always had a special place in my heart. Despite me loving that game and all those before it though, I felt my interest beginning to wane after the tenth instalment and as time went on, it became clear that the old Final Fantasy was gone. With Bravely Default though, I was captivated – it really made me think back to the way RPGs used to be. Also, Agnés Oblige looks a bit like Princess Garnet (pictured above). As we drew closer to the original Japanese release, more and more information about the title started to come out. Naotaka Hayashi (Steins;Gate) being responsible for writing the scenario was a huge draw for me, as it was around that time that the Steins;Gate anime was airing (and it was a damn good anime). Without spoiling Steins;Gate too much, Hayashi’s clear knack for pulling off phenomenal twists and developing such three dimensional and memorable characters gave me a lot of confidence in the game. Were they petty reason to get so interested in a game? Probably, but isn’t that how we get attracted to partners in the first place, then as we get to know more about them, the more we like? Well, that’s what happened (just, not in a romantic way). However, I was captivated and I knew that I wanted to play another classic role-playing game once more. I had no idea if the game was going to turn out to be great or a pile of garbage, but I didn’t even need to have faith – I could tell that this game would be one to remember the moment I saw it.
That’s why when Tomoya Asano said that there were no plans to localise the game, I had to jump into action. In the west, many people consider the Final Fantasy franchise and even JRPGs as a whole as a dead genre. The 3DS was also still going through “the troubles” at the time, but to quote Agent Phil Coulson from Marvel’s The Avengers: “With everything that’s happening, the things that are about to come to light, people might just need a little old-fashioned“. Of course, starting such a campaign by yourself is scary – that’s why I was fortunate to partner up with another group, called Bring Bravely Default Flying Fairy To The West, who had managed to gain the attention of the now-legendary Operation Rainfall, who would provide irreplaceable support for helping to raise awareness of the game. Of course, we had other valuable partners as well, such as Operation Hotblood (who are still fighting their battle). Even if Operation Brave had little to do with the decision to localise the game (we did only have around 2,600 signatures – about 10% of my current petition to end region locking), the experience was an amazing one and it really opened my eyes to just how supporting the video game community can be. So to everyone who signed our petition and supported us is any way – THANK YOU! We were Brave, we did not accept the Default and we bought Bravely Default to the west! Which is why, just like Operation Rainfall, between the announcement of the localisation and the build up to the European release, Operation Brave has tried to help support as many groups that approach us as possible – to give back to the kindness we received back then.
Which is why the overwhelming praise the game has received in the media in the last two weeks has touched me even more than it probably should. Since the first reviews first broke, I have been gathering up the various scores and put this together:
The above image is just a collection of some of the game’s review scores, but all I’ve seen have been overwhelmingly positive. Here are just a few extracts:
“Bravely Default is a reminder of why the Nintendo 3DS was so strong this year. Various gameplay elements have never been this balanced before, and the story will keep you interested for many hours to come. The same goes for the presentation, which shows how lush and endearing games can truly be on the system. As a farewell to 2013, Nintendo of Europe couldn’t have picked a better title. Not only because of quality, but also because it will last you for the remainder of December.” – NintendoWorldReport
“Bravely Default stands as an absolute triumph of both game design and the reinvigoration of old concepts, claiming its rightful place as a giant in the JRPG genre that will surely be remembered as a classic in years to come.” – Nintendo Life
“Bravely Default is a fantastic achievement and an exciting new direction for the JPRG genre.” – Official Nintendo Magazine
“This is an outstanding game in every aspect, that also adds very interesting ideas. If you’ve ever enjoyed an Japanese RPG, this is a title you cannot miss.” – Vandal Online (Translation courtesy of Metacritic).
Did you purchase Bravely Default? And if so, are you enjoying it? Be sure to tune in next week for our very own review of the game!
If you would like to read previous entries in our Brave Friday series, then here are the links you need: