Breath of Fire III- Review  

The Return of the Goddess
by Lucky Melchior

20-40 Hours
+ Good battle system and gameplay.
+ Very functional menu system.
- Soundtrack is poor.
- Boring story.
- Little Originality.
Click here for scoring definitions 

   In 1998 Capcom released the third installment of it's RPG series Breath of Fire in North America. Breath of Fire III was the first game of the series not to be released on the SNES, but rather on the original Playstation.

   The game continues the goddess storyline continuity of the first two games. The game takes place far in the future, long after the events of the first two Breath of Fire games. In this setting the Dragon clan, now referred to as the Brood, are extinct. Now miners harvest chrysm from their dead bodies which is used for energy. The game starts out when Ryu is seemingly born out of chrysm as a young dragon. He is captured by the miners, but escapes and reverts to human form as a young boy. He is then taken in by two young bandits Rei and Teepo. The one interesting thing about the story is that it unfolds in two parts; one where Ryu is a boy and the second where he is an adult. All the while Ryu will be trying to uncover his origins and find out what happened to his ancestors. Having said that, the overall story is pretty boring. For most of the game there is a lack of overall direction and the story lacks conflict for much of the game. Moreover, there is a much smaller cast of allies than in the previous two games. And sadly, several of these characters are uninteresting and lack much in the way of development and back stories. Overall, the story is fairly boring and not very good.

   Breath of Fire III employs basically the same battle system and gameplay as the previous two game, but with some additions. It is a standard turn-based system. The choices for each character are attack, defend, magic and item. The auto-battle feature returns of course you have the option to flee. Because of the smaller amount of allies only three members fight in a battle at a time. There are different formations for your allies, but less than in the previous game. The main character Ryu can again transform into a powerful dragon. This time you collect various dragon genes throughout the game and you can create various dragon forms by splicing different combinations of genes together. A certain amount of AP will be drain for each round that you maintain the dragon form. Your allies learn certain spells naturally when you raise their levels. However, you can also obtain additional skills through the master system. You will find many master's through out the world whom you can apprentice one of your characters to and they can learn additional skills. The core of the battle system is somewhat basic, but the Dragon gene system and the Master's skill systems make it above average overall.

Of course there is the fishing mini-game. Of course there is the fishing mini-game

   Beyond the battle system there are other enjoyable aspects to the gameplay. This primarily includes the fishing and townbuilding minigames that return from the previous games. The fishing mini-game is vastly improved over the versions seen in previous installments of the series. There are various fishing spots scattered all over the overworld. Each spot hosts numerous fish. This time you can be awarded points for how well you fish and increase your fishing rank. You can also trade in the fish you catch for all sorts of specials items and weapons. As for the town building mini-game, this time you don't build a town at your home base and recruit townspeople, but instead you manage a fairy village. You tell the fairies where to build houses and want kind of stores to open in them. Also you must have some fairies hunting for food. The fishing and townbuilding mini-games are at times more enjoyable than progressing through the actual game. These gameplay features paired with the battle system are overall good, but not great.

   The aural presentation is one of Breath of Fire III's weaker aspects. Most of the tracks are mediocre and feel out of place. A few tracks are just flat out bad with awful electronic beats. Moreover, the overwolrd theme seems more like something you would hear in an elevator and not the main them for an epic RPG. The boring soundtrack fits the boring story. The graphics on the other hand are better, but hardly exceptional. The sprites for enemies and characters are all pretty decent. Your character move around in crude 3d environments. Overall, again the graphics are not bad, but could have been better and just don't match up to some games released at the same time for the same platform, see Final Fantasy VII.

   The interaction and interface are very good. The menu system itself is top notch. It is easy to navigate the menu and you can sort your items with manual or automatic options. Moreover, the options are completely customizable as are the controller options. The battle menu is also easy to use and you just tap the control pad in a particular direction to open various options. The only drawback to the interaction is the controls are a bit clunky when it comes to moving your character around. Also the controls for the camera angles are not very functional. Overall though, the interaction is very good.

   Breath of Fire III has plenty of flaws. The boring storyline and banal soundtrack sap a lot of enjoyment from the game. While the battle system and gameplay is enjoyable and prevents the game from being bad, it is a below average RPG nonetheless. I only recomened the game to those playing through the whole Breath of Fire series. If you are looking for a stand-alone classic RPG to play I would pass on this one.

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