Breath Of Fire - Retroview

Making Of The Legend


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 6
   Interface 7
   Music/Sound 8
   Originality 8
   Plot 7
   Localization 7
   Replay Value 3
   Visuals 6
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

25-50 hours


Title Screen

   Everyone makes a huge mistake at some point in their life. It so happens that Capcom made theirs in 1995 by selling the distributing rights of Breath of Fire to SquareSoft. It is for this one reason that Capcom may have permanently lost the ability to make well-known RPGs afterward.

   The ATB combat system which is used in virtually every classic RPG to date, is employed in BoF. By determining the speed of each character, you know what order they are going to perform in. After this is determined you can easily manipulate the simple battle 'toolbar' to perform the variety of skills available to each character. Magic, Fight, Auto-Battle... All these are relatively normal by today's standards, so you shouldn't have any trouble getting used to them another time.

   As the game progresses, each character gets more powerful and can perform their own special skills. Examples include:
Ryu's Dragon Transformation
Nina's Bird Transformation
Karn's Splice
Gobi's Water Weirding

To Save..? Or Not To Save?
To Save..? Or Not To Save? 

   Much like the wide array of RPGs that came out around the same time, levels and HP are gained by defeating monsters and gaining EXP. You gain a larger amount of EXP if there are fewer characters in your party at the end of battle. This is because the amout of actual EXP you gain from combat is naturally divided among the number of characters present to receive it.

   Possibly the greatest innovation in the area of battling (which you really don't notice unless you're careful and even then, only much later on in the game) is the option to swap out characters. That is to say, in the middle of combat you can replace an unconscious character with one of the back-ups. This ability dramatically decreases the difficulty of some of the more major boss battles of the game.

   Sound-wise, BoF is as good a game for the SNES that Capcom ever laid hands on. Several of the tracks made me really get 'into' the game while parts of the story repelled me. Sound effects are simple and realistic. They're not over done and - unless you're 'cheating' by morphing into Agni - don't get that annoying.


   Come one, come all to the original game of the year! Granted, it's not exactly award worthy, but the addition of the ability for characters to morph (essentially a controlled summon spell) was just about the coolest thing I'd ever seen. The more advanced morph skills (e.g. Rudra, Agni, etc....) are what make the games' final boss defeatable.

   BoF is relatively easy... Up until the final two stages. At that point, the difficulty sky rockets through the roof. Comprised of several boss battles (almost simultaneously) with each creature nearly able to inflict instant death, you can be sure that you'll have your money's worth. Sadly, defeating the final boss doesn't make the ending all that impressive, seeing as how it involves so much effort to get that far. Essentially, the difficulty pattern follows that of Xenogears, a moderately easy first half followed by a virtually impossible - and daunting - task later on. Good luck!

   The story is pretty typical, except for the way in which it is demonstrated. A young hero must defeat the dark empire and come to grips with his own inherent powers. The plot is carried out in large chapter like sections, at the end of which, you begin another. The primary villain has a number of assistants, all of which involve a large sum of time to defeat. For the most part, the game is essentially a world-wide wandering game. If you get lost, it can be difficult to pick back up where you left off. (TIP: Always save somewhere that the next course of the adventure is obvious!)

   I can't recall any major textual errors from the game, but that doesn't mean that they aren't there. Punctuation seemed to be the games' primary flaw but for the most part, that's easy enough to read around. The plot is clear throughout the game - confusing though it might seem at times - as are most of your characters thoughts.

   BoF has an incredibly low replay value for one reason. The time it takes to purchase incredibly expensive items in the game (and let me tell you, there are some doozies!) is horrific! Money is hard enough to come by in most RPGs but BoF - like Dragon Warrior - makes it undually difficult. The worst part of all is, the most expensive thing in the game must be bought not just once, but twice (if you don't find it in the cave)! And it costs the unGodly sum of 100,000GP!

Can We Say, "Prophecy Much?!"
Can We Say, "Prophecy Much?!" 

   Visually, Breath of Fire is not that spectacular. It has nicely done battle grounds, character art, and battle sprites, but the overworld and dungeon maps, as well as the character's basic sprites are pretty dull. Many locations throughout the world are bland and can obviously be seen as the small square tiles that make them up. All in all, the graphics are more mediocre than anything special.

   The game is relatively narrow and linear. There aren't a whole lot of things to keep you playing for a long time (except maybe finding Agni...). Just keep your nose to the grind-stone and you'll come through with flying colors.

   There are better graphics to be seen, music to be heard, stories to be read, and characters to behold, but BoF is so much a classic piece of gaming that it's hard not to like it. Just remember this; the story of the Dragon Clan is not yet finished but is only beginning!

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