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Game Review: Breath of Fire

Geek Specs:
Title: Breath of Fire
Platform: Gameboy Advance
Genre: RPG
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release: September 1, 2001


Introduction: Since its launch, the Gameboy Advance has slowly been developing its identity as a gaming platform. While the system is capable of truly impressive 3D visuals for a handheld, as was seen in Golden Sun and a yet unnamed 3D shooter, the 2D games are the reason why some of the 'old-schoolers' (myself included) are busting out the hippie signs; a fallback to the days of yore (SNES).

Review: Capcom's new old game is Breath of Fire, a port of the classic SNES rpg. The port is just that, a port, not a remake so don't go in expecting to see some 3D dragon transformations. The translation is pixel-perfect, almost word by word. That's somewhat of a double-edged sword though as the original translation was done by squaresoft and although it is a good one, it can't be said to be an exact translation of the Japanese version. Lots of names were changed and though it doesn't detract from enjoying the game, hardcore Breath of Fire fanatics might take offense (I should know, I mod for some BoF boards and I've had to lock my fair share of square-hate topics).

The story is classic RPG all the way. You play as Ryu(u), a member of the ancient Light Dragon Clan, who sets out on a journey to discover the whereabouts of his sister Sara (who goes MIA in the first fight scene). As is always the case with such a quest, Ryu will be paired with the lovably clichéd princess Nina and six other rather strange creatures who will aid him on his quest (not really considering how much power Ryu's dragon transformations yield). You'll eventually have a stable of eight characters to swap into your party, and you can have a maximum of four in combat, each with his or her own strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and back story (albeit rather weak stories). You'll also find that each character will have his or her own unique special abilities which will come in handy in your travels when that character is at the head of the party. For example, Ryu will be able to fish, Bo will be able to walk through forests on the world map, Nina will be able to get you to seemingly inaccessible areas with her ability to transform into a huge bird, Ox will be able to slam into objects to shake loose items or open new paths, Karn can open locked doors and has the ability to combine with others players, and so on.

Conclusion: While it's not the best-looking or most technically impressive RPG out for the system, Breath of Fire is still a rock-solid game. Thanks to the faithful translation of the SNES game, the lengthy quest offers a meaty challenge for RPG fans to get sucked into. If you haven't played the game before or want to relive some choice gaming moments, you should check it out. And if you enjoyed BoF, BoFII is not far off from its release stateside so I suggest you pick it up (it's arguably the best of the BoFs).


Ratings: (scale of 0.0 - 5.0)

Gameplay: 4.5 Graphics: 3.0
The gameplay is standard RPG fare. You'll explore the world by traveling across a world map and interacting with various characters in towns. During your travels, you'll enter into combat with enemies via random encounters and boss battles. As you explore dungeons and caves in search of items or to complete quests discovered by chatting with NPCs, your party members will level up, gaining new attacks and finding items. The combat is of the turn-based variety; although a nice feature allows you to have the AI automatically fight a battle, which comes in handy if you keep ending up in fights with low-level enemies. The game now features an option to run automatically in the game, which you'll appreciate as you trek through your quest (my right thumb thanks you capcom). However there is some variety and originality, Ryu's dragon transformations for example. Capcom has opted not to upgrade the game's look visually for the GBA, which results in graphics that don't quite sync up with the quality of currently available GBA games. Fortunately, in spite of its slightly dated graphics, Breath of Fire still looks very good. The characters sport a bit of animation when attacking and are detailed. The spell effects are nice but humble, featuring plain animation. Thus the graphics don't attract puddles of drool nor are they anything to write home about, but at the same time you won't consider the blind a lucky bunch.

Sound: 2.5 Overall: 3.0
The sound in the game is pretty bare, as was the case with a lot of RPGs back in the early '90s. You'll hear a few chirps and sound effects during combat and assorted themes as you make your way through the world map. Unfortunately, that's just about all you'll hear. Sadly enough, the sound of the GBA port is sub-par of that found in the SNES version. While it's not the best-looking or most technically impressive RPG out for the system, Breath of Fire is still a rock-solid game. Thanks to the faithful translation of the SNES game, the lengthy quest offers a meaty challenge for RPG fans to get sucked into. If you haven't played the game before or want to relive some choice gaming moments, you should check it out.

Written by Vagrant Zero

 

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