Breath of Fire III - Reader Review

Breath of Fire III just doesn't live up to today's high standard of RPGs

By John Miaso, Reader Reviewer

Review Breakdown
   Battle System6.5
   Replay Value3.0
   Time to Complete40 hours 

   I decided to try this game despite awful rantings about it from my friends. After finishing it, I didn't think it was as bad as they had indicated, but it was certainly annoying and a tedious struggle to complete.

   The game starts off with an unusual mystery. A dragon whelp is found sealed in some ore in a mine, which is a significant discovery since the dragons were thought to be extinct. For some reason, this reminded me of the sealed esper in Final Fantasy III, but I digress. This whelp awakens, and runs amok, torching several miners in its path before it is finally caught. The dragon escapes from the train it is being carried on, and ends up in a forest in the form of a young boy. Eventually, the boy (whose default name is Ryu), learns of his power and learns how to use it.

   The way I felt about Breath of Fire III throughout the whole game is that it could have been a great RPG, but it seemed rushed and missing ideas. It had clever, innovative ideas, such as the Examine command and Ryu's Gene splicing in the battle; and various fun sub-quests such as fishing and the Faerie Village. I often found myself just going fishing or going to the Faerie Village rather than playing the actual game, because it was just more fun. But, it seemed that everything else in the game was borrowed from somewhere else. A princess that wants to be a normal girl? Hmm...sounds like Final Fantasy V and Chrono Trigger. I also would have liked to have seen more ways to get around. Walking on foot throughout the entire game (and the short boat sequence) just didn't do it for me. Also, the game seemed like it was rushed through production in certain areas, like how you always had to go through the mountain between Yrrall and Dauna, while you didn't have to do that anywhere else, once you cleared it once already. Also, you had to walk through Mt. Zublo, and there was no enemies on the outer portion (not the Volcano) whatsoever! It just lengthened the game.

   The plot of the game had some religious overtones, which I really hadn't expected when first playing the game. Ryu and his friends end up on this quest to find and question their God, which ends up in disaster. The concept of religion has been in quite a few games recently, and the game Xenogears has been put in question for translation. I don't see the problem.

   The graphics, while nothing really spectacular, were interesting at times, but only mostly in the battle sequences. Your typical walking around graphics in this game consisted of 2D sprites set against 3D polygon backgrounds. At times, the graphics looked like they could have been done on a Super NES. In the battles, you had a few interesting magic spells and dragon attacks, but that's about it. I would have liked to have seen different weapons on the characters (I would have loved seeing Garr carry around a huge Beast Spear), and different graphics for things like the fish items.

   The battles are a format in which you pick commands for all three of your characters, and they execute them when their turn comes around. A big change from the usual Active Time Battle system I have been playing for years, I could never get accustomed to it. However, another innovative and more realistic idea was that of weapon and armor weights. The heavier the sword you equip, it usually is more powerful, but weighs you down more. You have to strategically use weapons so that they are powerful enough, but don't weigh you down enough. However, it seemed that you always had one or two extremely fast characters (like Rei or Nina) that could never equip enough armor to weigh them down, so they had about twice the agility of anyone else.

   However, the battles occur way too often. When you are trying to figure out one of the countless puzzles in the game (Momo's Tower and The Plant come to mind), you can't keep it straight when you have a battle every few steps. You lose track and sometimes have to go back and figure out what you are doing. While great for level-building, it makes the game more tedious and frustrating.

   While the sounds were well done in Breath of Fire III, the music was definitely not. In battle, you had characters shouting words in Japanese before you cast a spell, and relative sound effects in the spell. The music, was always a little too happy or perky for the situation. Besides the very mechanical music that got very annoying, the music was always light and bouncy for the situation. You had one battle theme and two boss musics that all got very old (especially since some of the bosses took around an hour to beat).

   The first time through Breath of Fire III, you will probably miss quite a few things, primarily because they are hidden from normal view, so you have to shift the camera. I got into the process of shifting the camera everywhere I went, and often, I didn't shift it enough, and it took me hours to get through a stage. There is a feature called "Clear game" will allows you to continue from Dragnier after beating the game, but I didn't even bother. It may offer some replay value for fans of the game, but I was clearly not a fan.

   The bottom line is rent this game first. The reviews on this are mixed, soe called "Clear game" will allows you to continue from Dragnier after beating the game, but I didn't even bother. It may offer some replay value for fans of the game, but I was clearly not a fan.

   The bottom line is rent this game first. The reviews on this are mixed, so it's probably all a matter of opinion. However, fans of the series are going to be disappointed with this sequel. Breath of Fire was a lot better for its time. This game has been overshadowed by RPGs with innovation and involving game play like Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy Tactics. If you're looking for a game of that caliber, I suggest that you don't bother with this one. It had promise, but it just didn't deliver.

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