Breath of Fire- Review  

The Goddess War
by Lucky Melchior

20-40 Hours
+ Excellent score.
+ Serviceable battle system.
+ Satisfactory story.
- Modest graphics.
- Unoriginal title brings little to the genre
- 2 endings but little replay value.
Click here for scoring definitions 

   Breath of Fire by Capcom is the first installment of the famous series of same name. It is important to note that this game is unique in the series because Squaresoft published it. However, it was still developed by Capcom like all the other installments to the series. Squaresoft published it in an attempt to better market it, as this was Capcom’s first attempt at the RPG genre.

    The plot is relatively simple and straightforward. You play as a member of the White Dragons. The Dark Dragons are trying to take over the world and revive a goddess with terrible powers. The Dark Dragons attack your village, but your sister sacrifices herself to save you and the other villagers and you promptly set out alone to save the world. You will meet many characters that will join your quest throughout the game. You and your band of comrades will battle various agents and henchman of the Empire as you try to save the world. As I said earlier the plot is rather simple and straightforward, but there are enough twists and turns to keep you interested.

   The battle system is a standard turn-based system. The choices for each character is attack, defend, magic and item. There is an auto-battle function which is useful when you are facing weak enemies. The one unique aspect of the Breath of Fire battle system is that it allows you to switch your characters during the battle. This is similar to the system that is seen in Final Fantasy X many years later. There are up to eight playable characters, but you can only have four at a time in the front active row. Each character has special powers that are unique to them. Some can cast magic and some can transform themselves into stronger beings. Also each character has unique abilities which are used if they lead the party. One character can hunt and walk through woods, while another character can knock walls down for example. That leads to one last aspect of the gameplay, Breath of Fire allows you to live off the land so to speak. You can hunt or fish to obtain useful consumable items. Some of these items, most especially meats acquired from hunting which can heal the entire party at once, are much more useful than items you can buy in stores. Overall it is an average battle system with some interesting gameplay concepts.

Your hometown is destroyed Your hometown is destroyed.

   Breath of Fire features one of the more underrated soundtracks among SNES RPGs. There are several moving themes for emotional scenes. There is also a good variety to the soundtrack, there are three different overworld themes depending on how far along in the game you are. There are also a good deal of town and dungeon themes. However, a few of these themes are generic and annoying which prevents the soundtrack from being outstanding, but it is very good nonetheless. The graphics on the otherhand are much more modest. The character sprites are not terribly detailed and all of the villagers look the same in each town. The color scheme and sprites for environments are a bit better. The sprites for monsters faced in battle are a bit better too, but there are a tremendous amount of recolors. There are also a handful of modest cutscenes peppered scarcely throughout the game. Overall, the graphics are average considering it's time and platform.

   Interface and interaction are relatively well done. Entering commands in battle is quick and easy due to the simple interface and the auto-battle command. The controls are completely customizable from the options screen in the menu. There could have been more inventory space and it would have been nice if there was an auto-sort option for your items, but the manual sort will have to do. The interaction suffers a bit from the mediocre translation as sometimes it is unclear what to do next. While hardly perfect, the interface and interaction are very good overall.

A battle on the GBA A battle on the GBA.

   Originality is not one of the highlights of the game. Being the first attempt at an RPG for Capcom it conforms to many traditional RPG conventions and features many cliche themes and gameplay. The game does have some unique concepts that plant the seeds for gameplay concepts that will be the core of the series moving forward. These include the dragon and transformation skills, the ability to swap out characters during battle, along with hunting and fishing. Breath of Fire has very little replay value, there are no hidden characters and very little in the way of sidequests. There are a few powerful dragon and transformation spells hidden throughout the game, but that is it as far as sidequests go. There are two endings, but which ending you get is dependent on if you get one of the aforementioned dragon spells and it is not worth replaying the whole game to see the other one. One's initial playthrough will take somewhere in the range of twenty to forty hours depending on skill level and whether one uses a walkthrough.

   Overall, Breath of Fire is an average to slightly above average RPG. While it can feel a bit generic and cliche at times and is hardly a memorable title, in the end a RPGamer will have a somewhat entertaining traditional RPG experience. Those fans of traditional RPGs looking for a new series may want to start with this game with the understanding that the series improves greatly moving forward, for the most part. Those with a GBA or DS may find the GBA port of the SNES version a more accesable avenue to play this game now.

Review Archives

© 1998-2017 RPGamer All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy