Towards the tail end of yesterday's Nintendo Direct, fans of JRPGs received a bit of extremely welcome - and long overdue - news: Nintendo plans to publish Square Enix's Bravely Default Flying Fairy in North America and Europe.
News of an upcoming game release - let alone a 3DS game release - is hardly earth-shattering, and you may well be wondering why I've taken time away from the usual focus of this site to give it top billing today.
The reason is simple: despite its unwieldy and easily ridiculed name, Bravely Default Flying Fairy is a return to everything that made the Final Fantasy series great - and it's not even a proper Final Fantasy title.
Sure, I maybe said the same thing about Chaos Rings a few years back - but Bravely Default is more of a callback to the early days of Final Fantasy and JRPGs in general, where the focus is on story, exploration, and watching your characters grow into the role that fate's assigned to them.
Like Final Fantasy V (and III and XI...), Bravely Default features a pretty comprehensive job system that lets your characters fight as a Pirate, Swordmaster, Merchant, Chemist, and Superstar. Add to this an amazing soundtrack by Sound Horizon's Revo, hand-drawn artwork for the background layers, and a nifty use of augmented reality, and it becomes easy to fall in love with the game without ever having played it.
The only drawback - for some - is that Bravely Default Flying Fairy is a 3DS-exclusive title and won't be released until 2014 (late 2013-ish for Europe). Of course, between games like this and Fire Emblem: Awakening, there's very few acceptable reasons why you as a JRPG fan don't own and love a 3DS by now, but that's besides the point.
Finally, if you need any more reason to be excited for the release of Bravely Default, here's a live rendition of the game's final boss theme performed this past November at a concert in Tokyo.
The dude with the pennywhistle positively kills it at 4:40! Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to stock up on sleeping pills and fast forward a few months...