Breath of Fire II - Review

Dragons, Demons, and Religion

By Matt Prince

Review Breakdown
   Battle System7.0
   Replay Value4.0
   Time to Complete30-50 hours 

BoF2 Logo

   Many gamers clearly recall when Squaresoft was planning on not releasing Xenogears in the United States, due to its heavy religious themes. However, a game was released in 1995 that had heavy religious issues, and made it to the States with no conflict: Breath of Fire II.

   Breath of Fire II has an intricate and complex plot, tied quite well into the plot of the original Squaresoft/Capcom RPG, Breath of Fire. However, one of the strong points of the game is that it can be played without playing the previous installment. The plot centers around the nameless main character, arbitrarily named "Ryu" (translated "dragon" from Japanese). A young Ryu is sent to find his sister, Yua, who ran away from home. After saving Yua from a malicious Beak, Ryu heads back to town. When talking to his fellow villagers, however, none recognize him, his sister, or his father, the preacher of the village!

   The plot twists and twirls around numerous revelations about Ryu, his lineage, and the church that is growing larger and larger. Indeed, it leads the player to ponder the reasons they believes what they believes. The fast-moving story is quite mature for the game's age.

   The battles are mediocre, leaving much to be desired. Random fights happen far too much, and world travel is almost painful until obtaining ocean and air travel. The boss fights are interesting for a time, but once the hero has Dragon abilities, many are easily beaten. Magic is handled with AP (Ability Points). Although there are different spell names, many RPG favorites are included (Fire, Ice, Bolt, etc.)

   The music is incredibly repetitive. Most of the songs are variations on a theme, playing the same melody over and over and over again, simply raising everything a note higher. The sound effects are nothing to applaud, either. Often simply grating, one finds oneself hitting the mute button on the television often.

   With tedious battles and repetitive music, it becomes easy to see why the replay value is so low. Despite the amazing plotline, replaying the game feels like a chore. The player finds themselves rushing through battles and turning off the sound, rushing from plot point to plot point. After the first time, the game turns into a book.

   The graphics aren't that bad. The standard SNES-sprite look fits the world/town view well. The graphics in battles are simply wonderful. The characters all have a 3D look that suits them all quite nicely. The monsters all have small little animations, a nice touch. All in all, the graphics are good.

Jean the Frog
Jean the Frog  

   The game is fairly original. The religious theme was something unknown at the time of publishing. The Dragon powers are a new idea. Also, each character has there own ability for use outside of battle, making it necessary to have certain characters for certain areas in the game.The bad thing is, there is no replay value whatsoever. After playing it once, I could not even imagine playing it again. This is unfortunate, since it has such a small replay time. For all the trouble one has to go through to find it, 30-50 hours of playtime just doesn't seem to be enough.

   To sum everything up, Breath of Fire II is just halfway decent. If you see it for sale used and have nothing better to do, snag it. Barring that, I'd leave this one alone.

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