Breath of Fire
This weekend I decided to go back and look through a list of the "best" RPG's in the Super Nintendo's library. I was looking through and thought that I had played almost all of them when I came to a game I have heard of but never even touched in my life. Breath of Fire. I started playing it and was disappointed at first but after the first few bits of story I really began to enjoy the game.
The story is actually ok especially for someone like Capcom. I did not expect much but I did not get much either. Here is how the story goes. The game starts your hero's town being attacked by an evil group of People called the Dark Dragons. Naturally you are the Light Dragons and they do not agree with each other. So there is a girl who is a strong Wizard named Sara that attacks the evil man who has come to kill all the people in the town. Sara fights a man named Jade and she does not come back after turning you all to stone for protection. When you are not stone anymore the evil men are gone and you and your friends remain. This is where the story starts and really it was pretty good. The story though is about as basic as it gets. You do not really know a whole lot and it really does not suck you in all that much though I did want to know what happened next. I enjoyed some of the things that I was introduced too in this lengthy adventure. I am sure that you would like it too.
The graphics also look really good for the SNES. The sprites are bright and vivid but I have to say that many of the back drops fall flat to me. Especially because a lot of the game takes place in very similar looking spots. The forests, the castles, the towns. They do not do much to differentiate from one another. The only really different thing is the layout of each one. I like all of the other sprite work though. Characters have faces in the menu screens and look pretty good in the actual game. I like when they get poisoned because it has a big funky mix of colors. I also like the dungeon that I like to call hell because it has fire in the background. Some attacks have special sprites for them such as lightning. They do not scream out cool really but they are neat to watch once or twice.
The music is basic at best. Boring at worst. It is classic RPG fare. Swaying songs in the towns with more up beat and tense music during battles and boss fights. The music is not that great though, which is sad because I know that if the people at Capcom would have put a little more love into the music that it would have turned out far better. I can say that you should not expect any of the tunes to stick out in your mind as catchy or something to remember.
The reason that you only see them once or twice is because in due time you will put the game on pretty much "run itself mode" see there is an option in the attack and run and move your people option called AB. The first thing I thought was what is this? (It is not explained, like the rest of the game interface, at all in the game) So I clicked on it and saw as my character went turn after turn without any of my input. I figured that I would never use it because the game was fun at first, at least the combat was, but I was wrong. I found that I was relying on that almost more than anything else. The game seemed to be mocking me that I did not actually choose my attacks, because it seems that whenever I would choose that I would do some super move and so would they. See you have one choice for the first half of the game really, and that is to just simply attack and see where that gets you. No special anything just spam your sword. So naturally it gets boring. It does not help that attacks such as slam, cntr and others are more common whilst doing the AB system. The AB system also targets the most valued targets that are on the screen at the time as well. Really it is a great invention and one of the things that led me through this game's bland sense of a combat system. I will say that it got better in the second half. Though when you start out it is a nightmare of basic RPG elements. You walk from land to land, buying better armour, putting your gold away. All really basic stuff. Straight down to when you die you loose 50% of your gold and start back from the first town. So you have to walk all the way back to where you were before. Makes it great to be on an emulator, and I will tell you why.
There is something that seems to be missing from the game. Running I know what you are thinking. They did not have running as a readily available feature in many RPG's of that decade! While this may be somewhat true, Chrono Trigger has it and it was released just two years after this game. It is still an issue in this game. It take absolutely forever to get from place to place. And considering that the world map is pretty large it is a task not worth undertaking if you die. Whenever you die click F4 and hope that you saved it pretty soon before the fact. This takes down the addictivness to almost a 1 or 2. If it was not to see for the badly translated lines and the strange story I would not say the game is addicting at all.
All in all breath of fire is, at best, a solid JRPG with a few tweaks that could have easily been added. If JRPG's are really your thing and you like the older style of them then go with this game but if they are not and you like newer additions then go with something else. I did not overly enjoy the game but I am not going to condemn it and say it is bad either. It is just a little better then middle of the road. I give it a 6 out of 10.
If you are a fan of the genre check it out. If not this is a probably going to be a pass.