Breath of Fire 2 - Review

Where No Dragon Has Gone Before Part II

By: Jade Falcon

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 5
   Music/Sound 9
   Originality 3
   Plot 5
   Localization 2
   Replay Value 3
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Hard
   Time to Complete

35-50 hours


Title Screen

   On the heels of the success of Breath of Fire, Capcom tried its luck on a new installment of the Breath of Fire series, this time publishing it under its own name. However, a game based almost strictly on religion had never been attempted in America before. Would a game of this type be able to stand on its own two feet?

   Since the game was released in the middle of the "golden age" of the RPG era, the battle system is very generic and is turn-based. After being whisked away into the battle screen, a usual menu of commands appears. Each character has his or her own individual skill. The main character can transform into several interesting-looking dragons. Random, frequent encounters plague the overworld as in Final Fantasy VI, though the encounters are not as numerous. However, the encounter rate in most dungeons is much higher, and it is quite simple to get lost in a maze.

   The menus in Breath of Fire II are just as generic as the battle system. The font is readable, but all the names of the items are restricted to eight letters and the names of the characters can have no more than four letters. Some item names are not discernable due to the extent of abbreviation. Items can be grouped into groups of nine, which is necessary, since there is limited space for item storage.

The Overworld Map
The Overworld Map  

   Music in an RPG sets the tone for the situations presented. Breath of Fire II's instruments sound less like actual instruments than the average Super Nintendo RPG, but the way that they were used is nothing less than remarkable. The battle theme is one of the few battle tracks that will never get old, despite repeating once every minute. Sound effects are nothing more than blips, but they get the job done.

   As mentioned before, the story involves major religious overtones. The religion issue is almost immediately thrust before the RPGamer as soon as the main storyline begins, shortly into the game. Character development is at a lack for the majority of the characters. This is mainly due to the fact that the dialogue is written in mostly choppy sentences with few long dialogs between characters, thanks to the translators. Add to this that most of the time the characters are saying what is blatantly obvious does not help the plot development. The speech is littered with large amounts of bad grammar mistakes. However, despite these inherent downfalls, the plot comes across in a coherent, however slow, manner.

Dead Dragons
Full of dragons... even dead ones.  

   Like most RPGs, Breath of Fire II is a tedious trek. The large amounts of levelling up takes the fun out of the game. One level up may be all that is necessary to defeat a boss, but the single level can take upwards of 30 minutes to attain. Some parts of the game are too tedious to go through again anyway to bother playing through again.

Graphics are quite good, especially in battle scenes. The most impressive graphics are for the spells. The unnamed main character's Dragon transformations are some of the best graphics for any game on the Super Nintendo. The general fare for the towns and maps applies, however. The game proceeds through a night-and-day cycle, the first one in my memory for any RPG, and the differences in day and night are great.

The majority of the game is not challenging, but due to the number of encounters in dungeons and the ridiculously difficult boss battles, the difficulty of Breath of Fire II skyrockets. All the characters need to be levelled up, and that takes eons to complete, because all the characters will eventually need to be used at a point in time.

Because most of the game time will be spent levelling up, the time will vary with the amount of levelling up done. The game can be feasilbly completed in 35 hours with a modest amount of levelling, but the boss battles will be quite difficult. A good ten or so hours of levelling up can make wonders in helping to make the game just a little easier.

Breath of Fire II continued the Breath of Fire line with characteristics like lots of dragons, Nina and an unnamed hero who transforms into the dragon, and short, uninformative item names. If you can slog through the bad translation, lack of dialogue, and constant battling, a great game shines through. If more time had been spent on details, the game would be one of the best remembered games of all time.

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