Bravely Default's Feb. 7 launch date is fast approaching, but there's still time to get in some grinding with the Nintendo 3DS RPG's demo in order to earn some rewards for the full game. Following are a few tips and tricks to make your first adventure into this new adventure a bit more manageable.

The first time I fired up the Bravely Default demo and stepped foot outside the starting town, I found myself set upon by a trio of seemingly insignificant foes. I'm pretty-dang familiar with classic turn-based combat at this point but quickly found myself overpowered by a floating cat and a pair of snakes.

Here's the thing: While Bravely Default is basically a new Final Fantasy game in every regard save its name, that doesn't mean the game doesn't offer quite a few new twists on the familiar formula. The biggest difference is the Brave and Default abilities each character possesses. Basically, you can store or spend up to four additional actions while fighting. Use Default, and your character will save their action for a later turn. This comes with the added bonus of putting the character on guard to take less defense. Use Brave, however, and you're taking those extra turns early. In other words, you could Brave a character three times and get four attacks in on round one. The problem with that is that, for those next three turns, your character will be useless.

The trick comes in figuring out how to balance the two systems. Depending on which class you use, they may be geared better at storing up additional moves in order to help the team in a pinch. Or maybe your strongest character would be best suited to attacking three times on their first turn, ending with a defense boost to protect them while the enemies take a swing.

If you're still finding the slog to be too difficult, remember that you can go to the Tactics menu and set the difficulty to easy and even adjust the rate of random encounters. There's no shame in this, as you're going to be in for a tough ride through the first few levels no matter how well you understand the Brave and Default systems. Head to town regularly and heal up at the inn (for cheap!) and find a difficulty/encounter rate that works for you through the early goings, then try going back to normal once you've gotten the hang of things.

Also worth noting is that each character can have a second specialty, allowing them to borrow a move or two from another class. My soldier, for instance, had access to some low level black magic spells. My Valkyrie could heal folks and my white mage could use the Valkyrie's powerful Jump attack if her spells weren't needed at the time. Again, mix and match until you find a combination of classes and abilities you like. Also, if you want to use spells, don't forget to buy them in town first. Buy them once and anyone with the ability to use them can do so. But your black mage won't just learn fire, for instance, simply by leveling.

Not related to combat is the little village you can restore in the background while playing. Basically, each time you street pass a person who has been playing Bravely Default, you'll get a new villager for your collection. These villagers can be used to improve shops, which in turn give you a better selection in the adventurer shop. The more villagers you assign to a task, the quicker said task will be carried out. Even with multiple villagers working on a task, though, some of these projects can take hours to complete. Rather than exit the demo, remember to simply close your 3DS and let the game hibernate. The clock will keep running in the background, meaning the upgrade will be complete the next time you open the system rather than requiring you run around aimlessly for hours on end in real time.

All told, I spend about six and a half hours with the Bravely Default demo, enjoying content that isn't part of the main game. Completing the story (and going back in afterward for one final boss battle) will get you some small in-game rewards for the retail version. You'll also get rewards simply by playing the demo and upgrading the four town shops to level three. Finally, 20 villagers can be transported into the game proper, which should give you a nice head-start for building and upgrading in the early goings.

I'm still bummed about the whole censorship debacle from a week or so ago, but at least everything else about Bravely Default appears to be exactly what I was hoping for out of a classic-style RPG.




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