Breath of Fire 3 - Retroview

Not the Worst Game Ever, But Pretty Close

By: Robust Stu

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 3
   Interface 2
   Music/Sound 3
   Originality 0
   Plot 1
   Localization 5
   Replay Value 0
   Visuals 2
   Difficulty Moderate
   Time to Complete

30-35 hours


Breath of Fire 3

   Breath of Fire is one of the more famous RPG series you'll find. For every Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest/Warrior fan out there, you'll find a Breath of Fire fan. So one day I decided to see what the hoopla was about. I had played a little bit of Breath of Fire 1, but not enough to really get a feel for the series. So being that I had just recently bought a PlayStation and was sorely lacking in games, I decided to go out and get myself a copy of Breath of Fire 3, and instantly regretted it.

   Without spoiling anything, I'll just say that the game had a less than spectacular story. The characters, for their part, had a lot of personality (except for the Crono-esque silent protagonist), but that's pretty much where it ended. The story, while it had its moments, just did not do enough for me to give it a good score. Many of the parts of the storyline were just silly, and not silly in a good way, more silly in a totally out of place kind of way. The serious parts seemed kind of thrown together, like the writers each took one part they liked from a different game, slapped them together, and wrote the story later. The whole thing just did not seem coherent or well written to me, and greatly took away from what little enjoyment I found in this game.

   The battle system is turn based, and very basic. You can fight, use an item, parry, or use your special powers, whatever those may be. Most of these special powers are gained by raising levels, but the Hero's powers are gained by finding dragon genes, which you can then combine to turn yourself into a dragon during battle, with your dragon powers being determined by what genes you combined. Other than that, the battle system is fairly routine and nondescript. Additionally, a fairly high enemy encounter rate further detracts from the battle dynamic.

Hey, fishing sounds great, anything to get me out of playing this game
Hey, fishing sounds great, anything to get me out of playing this game  

   The music was repetitive and at times annoying. Aside from a pretty cool boss music that they only used for a few bosses for some reason, the music is nothing to write home about. It all had this annoying electronic quality to it, like it was performed on a 5-year-old's electronic keyboard. This and the fact that the same songs were used repeatedly equaled a big problem for me. The sound effects were just as bad. When you hit the enemies, it sounded like what you'd hear when squishing a balloon or kicking a bird. Nothing sounded like it was supposed to, and almost gave you the impression the creators were trying to be unrealistic with this facet of the game. The voice effects your characters made when attacking sounded totally unrealistic, too, and sound like the voice acting one would have heard in an NES game.

   When it comes to originality, you really can't get much less original than this. We're talking a serious case of been there, done that about a hundred times. I've seen the battle system, storyline, menu system, and pretty much everything else in other, better games. The idea of combining the dragon genes to gain special powers during battle is a neat idea, but not enough to get a good score. Nearly everything in this game was clichéd to the point where you could accurately predict nearly every plot twist (and I use that term loosely) in the game. Looking for originality? This is not the game for you.

   The localization was pretty good, and in fact is one of the few good things about this game. Few of the lines sounded like they were written by a Japanese guy with one semester of English under his belt. Even though the story itself sucked, it was very well translated considering the budget I suspect they had to work with. But with that small compliment out of the way, let's get back to the crap.

   The replay value is nonexistent. It was boring and frustrating enough having to drag myself through this game once, let alone putting myself through it again. There is absolutely nothing in the way of side quests or any other extras that would warrant a second play through. Thankfully, there was nothing resembling a New Game + feature that would force me to play this game even more. I guess even the designers of this game have SOME compassion.


   The visuals were not what I'd expect from a PlayStation game. In fact, it looks like it could have been done in about a week, on the SNES, by six guys working out of their mom's basement. For one, all the characters, and everything else at that, were sprite based, which isn't bad in itself, but I expected more out of a big name series like this, and it somehow took away from things for me. The backgrounds weren't very pretty either, without much use of color, no real detail, and a bizarre sort of blockiness that made you feel like you were playing Q-Bert. The only decent looking visual in the whole game was the final boss, but the bad music and sound effects made it hard to enjoy.

Unfortunately, this game took more than 30 seconds to complete. In fact, it was closer to 35 hours for me. It might have been closer to 25 if it wasn't for the inordinate amount of stupid, extremely difficult and frustrating mini-games, and the even MORE inordinate amount of leveling up you were forced into.

Well, if you like unoriginal games with bad graphics, bad music, bad sound effects, a crappy story, clichéd battles, no replay value, and a good translation, this is the game for you. Otherwise I'd stay away from this game and try something less boring and frustrating, like trying to balance a stack of pennies on your dog's nose.

I strongly recommend you avoid this game.

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