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The game does unfortunately drop some features that were included in Bravely Second, or even stuff that's been here from the start. The ability to set job load outs is gone, which is a huge pain in the ass because these games are made so that you want different set-ups for grinding, farming and bosses. Now if you don't want to fight bosses with a weak farming set, or don't want to waste JP by using your maxed job set, you have to constantly swap all your equipment and abilities back and forth before and after every boss. Luckily bosses are pretty well telegraphed, but some come out of nowhere, and sometimes you'll see a save point in a dungeon and assume a boss is coming, only for it to be a half way point.
They also removed dungeon maps completely for some reason. That just makes no sense when the overworld still has one.
Some changes I do like - enemies are no longer random encounters, and each one shows up on the overworld. You now get chain battles by setting off an enemy when multiple are nearby, or when using special lure items.
Other changes I'm neutral one. Special moves have been simplified greatly, with each class having their own specific one which is charged by using that classes speciality X amount of times.
A lot of this game is similar to the last 2. You still get a colourful cast of characters for each asterisk, but the main heroes, and the final villains do feel like the ones from the first game copy and pasted in some ways.
While the graphics still kind of keep the simplified almost chibi look for characters, monsters look a lot better with the upgrade to Switch. Cities likewise still look beautiful, but admittedly they ironically suffer from not being on 3DS now as it's no longer "Wow it looks so good for the hardware!"
Music is still great with the same team behind it.
Overall this game is similar in quality to the ones before it, which is to say very good. It improves some aspects like the job system a lot. But I think straight up removing features, including those that were there from the start, made it just a tiny step down, especially as the upgrade in hardware set a higher standard.
You do feel the cut of characters and stages though. Having said that, the character roster is still solid with many inclusions you'd assume they'd cut like Chaozu or Cui. Stages are hit a lot harder, missing many staples like the Room of Spirit and Time.
Story mode, despite the bland presentation, is really comprehensive. It tackles almost every fight from the original manga from the Saiyan Saga to the Boo saga, something even many older console games didn't (I remember Budokai 3 cut all of the Ginyu Force but Recoome and Ginyu, and skipped Dr Gero and Android 19).
It makes a lot of weird decisions though starting in the Cell saga. While some fights are kind of combined before then to make use of the tag team gimmick (which isn't locked in as the game does allow 1v1 or even 2v1), like you'll fight Nappa and Saibamen together with Piccolo and any other fighter of your choice from that section, including Yamcha who died before Nappa entered the battle. But once you enter the Cell saga you get stuff like fighting Dr Gero and Android 19 together...in the city where they appeared instead of the random wasteland where the fight took place. And then after Goku fights both the androids, Vegeta comes in to fight 19 as he does in the original...but instead of Dr Gero, 19 is now teamed up with a Cell Jr? What the fuck? Piccolo gets a teammate to fight Android 17 (any of the 3 humans who were explicitly told to NOT join the fight), and yet 17 doesn't get 18 to help him. Buff Trunks is just a straight up missing character, so his fight with Perfect Cell is regular Super Saiyan Trunks, despite all the dialogue still making references to his slow speed from his power form. And Gohan fights the Cell Jrs with Android 16 - the one character there who NEVER fought a Cell Jr lol.
The Boo saga suffers the most from character and stage losses. There's no world tournament stage, so right off the bat Goten vs Trunks takes place on a random island. No Room of Spirit and Time so Gotenks vs Boo is also down on Earth. Gohan vs Dabura takes place on the Supreme Kai planet for some reason (the location they actually fight is rarely ever in games, but they tend to use the rocky areas to best match it. This game seems to use the Kaioshin planet for any "alien" world that isn't Namek). Base Gotenks and Bootenks are straight up missing. It's weird that they made sure every fight in the first 2 arcs could be replicated faithfully, but then just kind of gave up near the end. Then they go overboard and make 3 separate Goku and Vegeta vs Kid Boo fights in a row (broken up by a single Fat Boo vs Kid Boo fight), including turning the freaking Spirit Bomb moment into a full fight.
Story mode itself has you flying around a map like Tenkaichi 2, with a bunch of weak enemies scattered about (Saibamen, Cell Jrs, Freeza Soldiers). You occasionally get a mission if you visit the 3 towns you can interact with. These are all picked from the same pool of about 5, so be prepared to have to do shit like "clear every enemy on the map" over and over - and the game will not tell you how many are left or where they are, so you'll be looking for that last one for 10+ minutes. The game is spread into levels that tackle about 1-4 fights each, and each level has its own missions that are basically just doing the little side missions in the level itself. However for stages where you can pick between multiple characters (such as the Nappa fight) there are missions to do this level with ALL the choices. This can lead you to doing the same level 5 times, and it's not even just the relevant fight you need to do. Every time you beat Nappa with Yamcha, then Tien, then Chaozu, you also have to do the follow up Goku vs Nappa fight. These missions are optional of course, but it's annoying that they made this "content" at all (and there are unlocks between competing X amount of missions).
What-ifs return here, but instead of their own dedicated levels they add a new character option in the old ones. For example, select the first level after beating the story and you get the choice to play as Bardock instead of Goku, providing a little story where Bardock arrives before Raditz and bonds with Gohan, and then fights Raditz himself. Most of these are generally just going through the same fights as the level normally would, but with a new character.
Outside of story mode we don't have the series staple Tournament mode. We do get the Battle 100 mode from Tenkaichi 3 at least - 100 fights against themed teams. Of course Tenkaichi 3 had way more characters and could make teams of 5, while this game is limited to teams of 2, so as you can imagine there's a lot of forced pair-ups ("Long white hair" for Jeice and Dr Gero). They do at least add little challenges to each fight to earn extra points. Since any character can be used it does limit the kinds of tasks they can give the player, but it's still a way to try and change up your play style a bit for each fight and make it less monotonous.
This mode also highlights the issue with the tag team format. The best case scenario in this game is when you fight one AI and your partner fights the other, essentially turning the game into two 1v1's, with only the occasional crossing paths. A 2v1 in your favour is a stomp, and a 2v1 in your opponents favour is annoying at lower levels, and downright impossible at higher levels. The harder challenges in Battle 100 will have both opponents purposefully target you over your partner, and there are NO good options for fighting 2 opponents at once. The game flat-out failed to actually make mechanics to support its main gimmick. And your partner won't help you while you're being ganged up on - I genuinely have no idea what they're doing as the information given to you is so limited, just a little radar with dots representing the characters. I occasionally saw my partner just kind of flying around in the background. Sometimes he'd just be standing still mere feet away while both opponents abused me from all sides. Literally all they're good for in the high level fights is hoping one of the enemies will use them as a punching bag so you can focus on your own opponent. That will mean your punching bag partner will use up your senzu bean though, preventing you from getting your free revive.
You and your special needs partner also share a union stock (I can't remember what it was called in older games, but it's the stuff you spend to use buffs, or things like Solar Flare). So maybe you want to use a technique, or go into burst mode, but nope, your teammate keeps eating the stock points.
Survival mode is another mode, which is what it sounds like. Weirdly, I noticed that at the start of this mode when enemies are dumb and weak, my teammate was actually...good? They were very aggressive and able to dodge ultimates. Then as the enemies got harder, he got more sluggish and dumber. The game literally makes your teammate stupid to increase difficulty. That's pretty much the opposite of how it should work. When enemies are simple I can take on 2 of them at once and don't need a teammate. When they're challenging it becomes impossible to fight them alone, so I need at least a semi-competent teammate who can keep one of them away from me for a bit.
Going back to the limited information on screen thing, there's not much you get to see about your enemies in the game. Their health bars only appear over their heads rather than permanently on screen (which makes it impossible to know how your partner is doing vs their opponent), and you can't even see their ki or union stock.
As impressive as this game is to run on the PSP, it is basically just a watered down version of the console games, with a new gimmick that straight up wouldn't work on those better games without huge tweaks, let alone a more limited version. There's no shortage of content, even if a lot of 100%'ing the story mode is straight up padding. Extra modes provide the challenge, but for the wrong reasons. I know it's supposed to be "Tenkaichi on the go", but I didn't play it like that, so I guess I'm missing the point.
This review contains spoilers
So what's the problem? Well everything I've been praising isn't really a good game. It's more of a great show. The actual gameplay stuff in the game is average at best and horrible at its worst.
Firstly the combat, which is the least offensive part. It's very fluid, fast paced and satisfying. It does fall short in the sense that it's a lot more shallow than it might initially seem. Combined with the fact enemies are massive damage sponges, you just kind of repeat the same 2 or 3 combos over and over and over and over. Never having to think or focus on the fight because you do it so much it's just second nature to input the few different button commands. The only reason you even switch things up is for that little bit of variety, because there's no difference between strategies or techniques, nothing you can do to better defeat one enemy from another, it's just mindlessly mashing away at those same button sequences. When a move comes off cool down you use that to get a bit of extra damage, but the majority of special moves do just that, a bit of damage and you wait for it to cool down again. There's a couple of moves that have a little more thought put in to them, like ones that are made to counter, or ones that require you to hold the button for a little longer and release at the right time for a bit of extra power, which is still so minimal of an interaction it's barely worth mentioning. Almost none of the moves seem to synergise with each other, I can think of maybe one (the Ramuh one that spawns a ball) that directly benefits from specific other moves (in this cases ones that do multiple hits at once, like Bahamut's ultimate move). All others are just a case of "Use this one, then the next one, then the next one".
Weirdly despite summons being a key plot point here, elemental weaknesses and resistances are absent. It's like they purposefully dumbed things down to the point where no choices you make in combat or build matter at all. What's weird about this is that the game makes a point to say Eikons you equip will change your basic energy attack. But why? They all do the same power, there's no elemental matchups, and no Eikon gives status effects (which are also absent in general, mostly. Technically your ice moves can freeze, but not the basic energy one) so what's the point?? Other element stuff outside of an Eikon's moves, like charging up Clive's sword, will always result in his default fire. So why go out of your way to turn my basic blasts "icy" when using Shiva's power if it doesn't change a thing? It's such an obvious choice to make combat more immersive while specifically putting more importance on the Eikon's powers.
The only parts of the combat I can say I actually found good were the chronolith trials. These limit you to one Eikon per trial, going through waves of enemies and doing different actions give you a time bonus. After 3 waves you fight a boss with the extra time you've accumulated. I liked this because it was the only time I ever actually had to think about how and when I used my abilities, or which basic combo to use.
I’m almost certain this game resents being a game rather than a TV show. You can feel the games unwillingness to give the player actual control of a character after a 30 minute cutscene, just to walk down an empty corridor so another cutscene or dialogue can play. When fighting those damage sponge bosses, many times the game gets bored waiting for its turn and tapping its feet, so wrestles the controller away from you to show you how much better they are at this than you. But don’t worry, when boss fights turn in to cutscenes the game will occasionally have a “Press square” or “Mash square” prompt so it can say “See you ARE still playing the game!”. Calling them quick time events would be a bit of an exaggeration because I'm pretty sure you get a good 5 seconds to hit the single button that pops up.
This reaches its peak during one of the battles near the end in which the ENTIRE fight is a cutscene where you get to press square every now and then. The fact they give this battle the usual health bars is almost insulting. It's like those YouTube videos "X vs Y with health bars". If you're gonna be a cutscene just be a damn cutscene, stop trying to pretend to be a game.
The Eikon battles where you turn into Ifrit are the epitome of style over substance. Gameplay is reduced to be even more basic than before with far less things you can actually do, yet they're some of the most impressive-looking action scenes I've seen in a game.
I'm kinda mixed on voice acting. Some of it is good, some of it is fine and some characters just have these dull, monotone voices that feel like the actor is reading the script out loud to themselves for the first time. Not helped by the fact many characters in cutscenes will stand there emotionless, even ones that don't have equally dispassionate voices (this isn't the case for every scene mind you, there's some great ones).
The world is fairly uninteresting to explore. Towns are pretty barebones. They have shops and some side quests, but generally nothing to do that makes any one town unique outside of their roles in the story (which to be fair, does give them a lot of personality by itself). The open world is much larger than it really needs to be. There's these huge open areas but no real reason to explore most of them. You might find tiny amounts of gill or crafting material, but there's very rarely anything of substance hiding in there. Mostly it just seems like they're huge for the sake of letting the devs put side quests and monster hunts into more places than would otherwise feel realistic if everything was as small as it needed to be for the main story.
Dungeons are the opposite. It's literally just corridor, followed by mob fight, followed by corridor, mob fight etc. Sometimes a mini boss. Then you end with the big boss. After the mob fight it can be hard to remember which way to even go because both backwards and forwards look the exact same.
Maybe you'll find an accessory in a dungeon or in the open world though. It won't be exciting unfortunately. Almost every accessory in this game does one of two things: Boosts the power of a single move (not an Eikon, but a specific move for that Eikon) or reduce the cooldown of a specific move...by literal seconds. The funniest one to me is an accessory that reduces the charge time of your basic magic blast to its stronger version by 0.2 seconds. This isn't even a random find in a chest, this is specifically a reward for completing a certain amount of side quests that you only get relatively late in the game. 0.2 seconds!! Like I know it doesn't take that long to charge in the first place, but why in the hell would I want one of my 3 slots taken up by something that reduces the time of a charge by less than 1/4th of a SECOND.
There are a handful of more interesting accessories, like the one that gives you a mini limit break on a perfect dodge. But they're very rare.
Weapons and armour likewise lack anything outside of pure stats. Every one is just power, defence and health. The most basic and bland way to do weapon progression imaginable.
I also want to bitch about the sprinting. In order to sprint you don't press a button, you have to run for a little bit first and then Clive will sprint after a few seconds. This is annoying enough by itself, but it ONLY works in the open world sections. When in towns or dungeons you can only move at the slow pace. This gets beyond annoying when you have to constantly shuffle back and forth in any given place as part of a side quest (you will learn to hate the second hideout with the amount of times you have to 'run' around it).
Speaking of side quests, once again - good in the story sense,; bad in the gameplay sense. Every side quest falls into one of three categories: "There's a monster that needs beating - go beat it", "There's a thing I need - go get it (there's a monster there when you arrive at the destination)", "There's a thing I need to speak to - go get it (you get it without any conflict whatsoever)". Like the fact there's literal sidequests in the game that involve you just going from one character to another to go through dialogue with zero gameplay is astounding. They're less side quests and more side stories.
OK I think I'm done complaining about this. Fantastic as a story experience, horrible as a game despite the good baseline they made with smooth feeling combat that they unfortunately over simplified. There's a reason I started this game in July and only finished it now. I've never had a game that I both wanted to see through to the end, yet dreaded playing so much.