Game Bytes: Bravely Default: Flying Fairy

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Developer: Silicon Studio

Publisher: Nintendo, Square Enix

Platforms: 3DS

It’s been a while since I last sunk my teeth into a good old JRPG. The last one I had played up until Bravely Default was Final Fantasy XIII, and although I liked it’s world and story (even though it was super confusing at times in the end) the gameplay was rather lackluster. I didn’t actually care so much about the endless hallways that funneled you through the game, but more so the battles which seemed to just play themselves out. For me, a good rpg needs both a great story and engaging gameplay in order to keep me invested through the full thing, so Final Fantasy XIII didn’t really hold my interest very well. Bravely Default on the other hand has me coming back day after day to grind through enemies on my quest to restore the elemental crystals and bring peace back to the world.

As I said above, a good JRPG needs both a good story and gameplay to keep me invested. The story of Bravely Default is rather simple and generic on its exterior, as the world has been plunged into chaos after a darkness has engulfed the elemental crystals that keep the worlds elements in check. With the crystals corrupted, the seas have become corrosive, the winds have stopped, and a giant sinkhole engulfed an entire village. Of coarse, it is up to our four heroes to save the day and restore the crystals to their original state. It ticks every box in the “generic JRPG storyline” that countless games have used in the past. Once you get a bit deeper into the game though, themes of corruption in the ruling class and breaking away from religious backgrounds arise. As it turns out, the crystals and their vassal’s have been worshiped for generations in order to keep the balance of nature in check. It is the goal of the Eternian Sky Knights to break away from this “crystal orthodoxy”. So far the story is passable, with the aforementioned themes spicing up the otherwise generic JRPG story featured in Bravely Default.

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The gameplay of Bravely Default is like the story in the fact that at first it seems like a rather generic JRPG battle system, but a few changes to the tired and true formula help make it interesting. It uses a classic turn-based battle system where each character takes a turn attacking, defending, using items or spells and abilities. The main difference is the fact that blocking (called a “default” in the game) doesn’t only reduce damage dealt to your character, it also gains you an addition battle point to spend in a future turn. Basically, defaulting lets you take extra turns later on in the battle by using a “brave” allowing for explosive turns for damage or a turn to buff everyone and heal up all in one go. You can store up to 3 battle points, so it is up to you on how you want to make your moves.

This battle system proves to be incredibly interesting in battles, as figuring out when it is safe to move on your opponent and what you should do with your moves is different for each enemy. If its a weaker enemy, you can brave past the battle points you currently have available (making your character do nothing on turns afterwards until their battle points return to 0) in order to try and close out an early victory. Against bosses, it is usually smart to have everyone heal up and default until you have an opening to attack. Some classes even benefit from storing up battle points for big turns. The monk for instance has an ability called invigorate which boosts attack by 25% for only 2 turns, meaning if you use it with a full meter of battle points, you can start dishing out serious damage. The knight has an ability called ironclad, maxing out his defense for a single turn, making it a useful ability when facing an enemy that deals a lot of physical damage and you need to heal up your other characters or deal a little bit of damage to chip away at them. There are countless strategies to take in any given fight depending on your character classes and how well you stack up against your enemy.

A great feature included in the North American release of the game was the inclusion of the original Japanese voice acting. I have nothing against dubs in general, but in this case I just couldn’t stand the voice of one of the main characters, Agnes, so I just had to switch it over. The voice acting on the Japanese side has been great so far, so for those of you who are purists and love to play your games in Japanese, Bravely Default has you covered. I wish I could tell you guys how well the English cast stacks up to the Japanese, but I didn’t get to hear much of the English dub before switching over.

Bravely Default is the game that totally scratched the JRPG itch I have been having lately. It is some good fun, and should be something super easy for any JRPG fan to get into. It doesn’t really bring much new to the table, but sometimes you just want to play a classic JRPG that sticks to its roots. Bravely Default is totally that game, so for those wanting something to sink your teeth into while you wait for the awesome looking Final Fantasy XIV, then give Bravely Default a try. Bravely Second is actually coming out rather soon, so now is a great time to jump in and try it out.

First Impression: Prison School (Manga – Volume 1)

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Published By: Yen Press

Story and Art By: Akira Hiramoto

Prison School is not a manga you should be reading outside the comfort of your own home. One glance over your shoulder from a curious passerby and suddenly you will be known as the creep who reads porn in public. Seriously, Prison School takes ecchi to it’s outer most limits where it almost reaches full on hentai without ever crossing the line. Just so we are clear there is no nudity (at least not in the first volume) but there are plenty of panty-shots, large breasts, bdsm references and sexual situations.

Prison School takes place in Hachimitsu Private Academy, where five horny guys find themselves in a school of 1000 girls. The guys aren’t really that great at interacting with the girls of the academy, so they have to resort to peeping at them in the bathrooms and glancing at their chests and rear-ends as they pass by in order to satisfy their sexual lust. They are seriously creepy, and their designs reflect that for the most part. Andre (Reiji Andou), the big guy with the small face seems to really be into bdsm. Gackt (Takehito Morokuzu), is a small creepy looking guy who fits the stereotype of the big otaku that likes to say things like he is an old English gentleman. Joe (Jouji Nezu) honestly just looks like a drug dealer. He always has his hood up and is spitting blood everywhere because of his mouth ulcers. The only normal looking guys in this school are Kiyoshi (Kiyoshi Fujino) and Shingo (Shingo Wakamoto), and for the most part they act rather normal. Maybe not completely normal, but compared to the other guys they are pretty normal, in both appearance and how they act.

Since there are so many girls in Hachimitsu and just the five guys, it doesn’t tkae them long to get themselves into trouble. After being caught trying to peep at some girls while they were in the change room, a “shadow student counsel” declares that the boys will have to serve a “prison sentence” at the school or risk being expelled. For some reason this school has its own private prison on campus, and the boys are faced to stay there for a month while they work hard labor after classes. The school also seems fine with this, as it is apparently a tradition at the school as a student rehabilitation program. The guys go along with it since they cannot risk their parents finding out that they were expelled for peeping on the girls change room, so their month in hell begins there.

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The guys punishment is set up and dished out by the three members of the shadow student council. The president Mari Kurihara is a bit of a cold hearted witch who really has it out for the guys. Her hatred doesn’t stop at the guys though, as throughout the first volume we get plenty of hints that she really just hates guys in general. She sees them as perverted pigs, which probably stems from the fact that her father, who happens to be the schools chairman. He is a huge pervert himself and is constantly caught looking at porn at work by Mari. Hana Midorikawa is the secretary, and she comes off as a sweet little girl at first. That is until she shows her true face as a ruthless and brutal karate master who doesn’t put up with any bull crap from the guys. A yandere through and through, she doesn’t even come off as overly sexual like some of the other characters, and opts to wear pants while she is kicking the guys butts (something they take offense to). The last member and arguably the poster child for the series is Meiko Shiraki. There is nothing subtle about her appearance, as she is always sporting a skirt that barely covers anything and an un-buttoned blazer that lets her massive cleavage hang out. Almost every panel featuring Meiko gives you a shot of her boobs or her panties.

Prison schools main hook is it raunchy humor and fanservice found throughout. Its a series that will give you a few chuckles here and there as situations get misinterpreted as overly sexual by some characters while peeking your interest with some of its more lewd scenes. It isn’t odd to find Meiko sitting on someones face while she slaps someone else’s behind with her whip, something that sounds more like a scene from a porno than one from a manga.

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Behind it’s dirty exterior lies a story of escape. Even though some of the guys like being abused by the girls every day, Kiyoshi had made plans for his first ever date before their prison sentence started and is determined to make it. Gackt joins in to help Kiyoshi in order for him to get a limited edition figure. The story honestly had me interested in finding out what happened next, even though it started off rather slow. In the beginning the dirty humor and fanservice just wasn’t doing it for me, but once the story started rolling I couldn’t help but keep reading to find out what happened next. Kiyoshi and Gackt end up in some pretty wild situations while planning their escape that kept me coming back for more. I found myself laughing more in these later parts of the story, as the situations they find themselves in can be downright hilarious sometimes. Just be warned that the jokes don’t get any cleaner later on, and in fact might be even worse then the sweat, blood and snot filled scenes found earlier on.

If you have ever seen the anime Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt then you should know what you are getting into with this series. The same crass humor and fanservice is found throughout the entire first volume with no signs of letting up. The first few chapters were rather slow for me and I had a hard time getting through them, especially since I wasn’t finding anything particularly hilarious nor was I into the fanservice. Once the main story started to unravel though, I found myself getting into the story a bit more and the jokes started to hit homes a bit better. I would be lying to say I was completely hooked on the series, but I was interested enough to keep reading through it to see what happened next. Prison School is not a series for everybody, but those who do enjoy it seem to love it, making it an easy recommendation to at least try it. Worst comes to worst you end up discovering your kinky side for wanting busty babes to smack you butt and sit on your face.

Recommendation: Try It