Series of console RPGs by Capcom. Not the best or the most popular series, but good games nonetheless, with dedicated fans.

The hallmark of the Breath of Fire series is the main character of each game. Although it's a new character in each game, it's always a blue-haired boy named Ryu (japanese for "dragon"), and he's always, well, a dragon.

The world of the Breath of Fire has many different races ("clans"), each with distinguishing traits and abilities. the winged Angel Clan that lives in Windia can turn into birds. The feline Fullen Clan are excellent warriors. And, of course, the Dragon Clan is the most powerful of all.

  • Breath of Fire
    For the SNES, started the series as an only average game.
  • Breath of Fire 2
    Also for the SNES, BoF2 surpassed it's predecessor in every category. One of the best games in the series.
  • Breath of Fire 3
    There are mixed opinions about BoF3, for the Sony Playstation. It is very slow-paced, and thus many gamers found it boring. If you're patient, it's still an excellent game.
  • Breath of Fire 4
    Also for the Sony Playstation, BoF4 is not yet available in english, but the japanese version has recieved excellent reviews.

Breath of Fire
Breath of Fire was originally created by Capcom, for the Super NES. Sometime late in development, Capcom decided that it would not be a profitable game, and handed over the entire project to industry giant Square. Square used their famous ability to sell any RPG successfully, and Capcom realized they should have released it themselves, and eventually continued the series, turning it into yet another Capcom franchise.

BoF1 featured an irritating item management system, and was only average in other categories. For this reason, it could be considered the least impressive game in the series.

The original Breath of Fire is notable for two things:

With all this, Breath of Fire does have a few redeeming qualities. For one thing, over the fairly large course of the game, the designers managed to put in some innovative back grounds and pretty towns and scenery. This doesn't however, change the mindnumbingly boring combat system, but when you get shrunk and must fight cockroaches on one of the games many Fetch Quests, well, it relieves the tedium.

Title: Breath of Fire
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom and Square (SNES), Capcom and Ubi Soft (GBA)
Date Published: August 1994 (SNES), 2001-12-01 (GBA)
Platforms: SNES, Game Boy Advance
Ratings: (For GBA version) ESRB: Everyone; ELSPA: 3+; VET: S

What kind of game are we dealing with here?

Breath of Fire is a fairly cliched, but still very enjoyable console RPG. But who cares about cliches, as long as there are dragons in it. =)

The story and opening setting is fairly simple: Once upon time, this fantasy world was ruled by various tribes (clans) of people - each tribe possessing some special gift - and the world was ruled by the mightiest of them all, the Dragon Tribe (obviously having the ability to transform into dragons). They ruled the lands just fine, until one really nasty goddess showed up and provoked some fighting inside the dragon tribe regarding who gets the chick. Hopeless it was! So, the dragon clan split into Light and Dark side. Then the evil goddess was locked up in some distant cell for good, and keys were scattered around the land.

The peace was restored, and the two tribes remained the mightiest and didn't attack each other too much. But then, shortly before our story starts, some guy called Zog from the Dark side had this evil and completely doomed plan of taking over the world. (All evil plans are doomed to fail.)

After having seen the opening sequence over and over several times, I think it rates up there among the coolest game opening sequences ever. Starts sort of boringly, but the music in the end... just brilliant. Ooo, and dragons and this cute wolf guy. Cool. In fact, I think the game is great just because it does have dragons and furries and stuff like that. Fascinating.

The game is a normal top-down console RPG. You control one character, and the rest of the characters follow you around. You can change the marching order. This is important because some characters in towns want to talk to specific people (For example, only Ryu can enter the dragon training, and people who need healing need to see Nina) and some places are only accessible if specific characters are leading the party (Bo walks through the forests).

"Wake up, Warrior! Disaster has struck!"

As the game begins, the Dark Dragons are attacking the town of Drogen, controlled by the Light Dragons. An old lady pulls the player awake.

The player's own character (known as Ryu, but you can pick the name if that doesn't suit you) is a young warrior of the Light Dragon Tribe. Of course, since nobody more competent is around, and Sara (the most powerful magician in the city) was taken away by Jade, Zog's henchman, it's your task to rise up against this really, really unpleasant fellow.

Ryu Bateson - your average anime youngster with blue hair - is a capable fighter, who is also able to fish. Later in the game, he gets the ability to morph into different dragon forms during combat. (I thought, when I heard this, that he'd become a gigantic monstrous fire-breathing horror. But actually, the dragon is a cute little one. Just as deadly, though. =)

There are others who join the party later on: Soon you meet Nina Winlan, a fae healer with wings and ability to turn into a bird, Bo, a wolf who can hunt and use offensive spells, and even later some other characters like Karn the thief, Ox the giant who can smash objects, Mogu the mole, Gobi the fishy merchant straight from the bottom of the seas, and an archmage called Bleu.

Truly, the rest of the journey is so epic that most people shudder after the sheer amount of Epic Bits the game has, but one thing is sure: The game is good.

What's wrong in SNES version and how they fixed it in GBA version?

The GBA version is a very faithful conversion of the original game, but luckily, the developers have listened to the critique over time and many of the major gripes about the user interface have been fixed. While the original may have been only an average game, these changes make the game more of a classic material - at least running through the swamp of Epic Story Elements is not slowed down by the UI.

There's a new "dash" command: Push down the B button, and you can run instead of sloooowwwlllyyy walking to your destination.

A new "quick save" option is definitely a bonus for a game that's developed for a portable platform. This save command is not as "permanent" as a normal save at the Dragon Shrines; if you die after starting a quick-saved game, you start from the shrine where you last saved the game.

Also, the icon-driven interface is mostly gone and all of the commands are in plain English. I personally found this more logical choice. Also, the combat menus are organized in more logical way, so even when the game still has millions of battles against the vast swarms of insects, I can easily develop the reflex that when there's dozens of 1 XP, 4 GP blobs ahead, I can hit Right and A, and let Ryu deal with them using the Foil. =)

The Majorly Annoying Game Item Management has been made vastly more tolerable. In the original, people needed to wade through gigantic list of items to find the stuff that the character was supposed to equip. Now, in Equip menu, everything is organized much more logically: The game shows the items the character is able to equip and also shows how the stats will change (helpfully red if stats will worsen.) Also, there's a very neat "sort" command that gets all items in neat order, leaving tons of herbs on the top of the inventory. And on top of this, in shops, the game shows which charactes can equip the items, and even has an arrow that shows whether the item will make the character overall better or worse.

And, as usual with the GBA games, I found the music just a little bit better than in the original.

The original translation was pretty good, and apparently there are some little fixes in the translation. Haven't played both versions that extensively though...

As a curious addition, the game supports the Game Link cable for trading items between games!


The GBA version is likely to be available. SNES version is quite likely not. Also, Breath of Fire 2 for GBA has been released.

Breath of Fire, developed by Capcom and modified for the US by Squaresoft, is possibly one of the best video roleplaying games ever made. Bold statement? Certainly. However, I am well-prepared to back it up. Be warned, this will involve some minor spoilers.

Breath of Fire is a 16Mbit cartridge game for the Super NES. In this tiny space (not much more storage than a single ordinary floppy disk can offer) has been packed a world with nineteen towns, seventeen dungeons, eight characters who each actually have a unique purpose and use within the game, and more quests, subquests, and diversions than you can shake a stick at. Its failings (if you want to call them that) are both few and far between, and generally seem to come more from the mindset that Squaresoft has passed on to basically all of its RPGs, rather than thoughtlessness or a failure to implement ideas properly.

The basic story of the game involves a long-running conflict between the light dragons and the dark. There are some keys which are somehow connected to the Goddess Tyr, the absolute power of the land. You have to go questing for the keys in order to stop the bad guys and save the world.

This is sort of an interesting title in that Capcom is primarily known for its fighting games, especially the Street Fighter series. Squaresoft has built up a well-deserved reputation for quality RPGs, starting with the classic Final Fantasy, a world which has spawned something like twelve roleplaying games to date, not counting titles like Final Fantasy Tactics which are only kind of RPGs, and are more properly referred to as strategy games, though they feature character development. Breath of Fire itself has a sequel, Breath of Fire 2, also a SNES game. BoF and its sequel have also been brought to the Game Boy Advance; this review is entirely about the SNES version.

This is interesting to me, because the game plays out in a manner typical of Squaresoft RPGs. It can be exasperating if you fail to adopt the proper mindset. The game does not hand you anything on a silver platter, except for money and experience points. Everything else has to be earned. It actually becomes somewhat pathetically easy to advance your characters if you spend much time training, which ends up being sort of a side effect of trying to find things. You must look under, behind, around, and in the vicinity of everything you find. You must also take some things very literally, a tendency which might simply follow translation issues, since like most RPGs, it was first released in Japan. The dialogue in the game is generally very smooth, however, and there are only minor difficulties, many of which might be alleviated by reading the manual. This is something I try to avoid in general...

For example, you are told that you will make your way easily through the forest with "Bo" leading your party. I didn't take this seriously enough - What, you mean I won't be leading my party or something? - but when you put him at the head of the party order, you can walk right through the forests that formerly barred your way. Bo, a wolf-man, is not the only character that opens up new areas to your group. In fact, most of your characters provide you access to locations you could not otherwise reach. One character is a thief who opens locked doors for which there is no key, besides also being able to open the rare booby-trapped chests without setting off the traps. One of them turns into a gigantic fish, and carries the party over rocky areas under the sea - which you gain access to somewhere around halfway through the game. Another digs holes (in specially-marked locations) which open into subterranean vaults which contain treasures, or people who teach some characters spells.

This sort of thing is only one aspect of the depth of the characters in the game, however. Some of your characters gain abilities that you have no inkling that they would acquire later on. Your main character winds up being able to turn into several types of dragon, and the aforementioned thief can eventually merge with other characters to form beings which can get you into some new locations, and which are also combat monsters with huge numbers of hit points.

Even the equipment in the game is exceptionally rich and varied. The names of objects are short (a common characteristic of older RPGs) such that the Dragon sword is the DragnSD, the World Mail is WorldML, and so on. However, the inventory screen (which shows all items not currently equipped, conveniently greying out items you can't use in your present situation) features a help option which tells you the characteristics of items, what they do, and who can equip them. Only a few items are not clearly explained, besides the various healing items not telling you how many points they restore. Most of the interesting equipment is, of course, well-hidden. Some of it is optional, while other items are needed to progress your main character to the point where they are capable of completing the game. In particular, you have to go fishing (literally) for his interesting equipment, and the only fishing rod (there are four of them) capable of pulling it up is hidden under a box in a room hidden under a safe in a castle that you have to jump through hoops just to enter. If you talk to the people in the room where you find it, however, you are given a clue as to its presence, so it's not all obscure.

The game is visually and audibly stunning, as games for the Super NES go. The music is not exceptionally well-varied, though in general each significantly different area has its own tune. The sprites are very well-drawn and each character has not only their ordinary set of animations, but also a wholly different set to show status such as poison, curse, and even zombification. The latter even depicts the character with pallid skin, prominent teeth, and arms outstretched ala Frankenstein's Monster. The SNES provides plenty of colors, and the game makes excellent use of them. Each area of the game tends to have at least some elements not shared with any other area, with the exception of some of the dungeons. Climbing one tower to retrieve one of the Goddess Keys, the player finds themselves walking through the rain, and then across a floor filled with the sky, clouds sweeping by under their feet.

The storyline, too, is relatively mature as such things go. In particular, it is not afraid to be abusive to characters or NPCs. Whole towns are destroyed. Good people die, and if you count the towns but not the faceless minions you wade through on your way to achieving your goals, in greater numbers than bad people. Whole peoples are enslaved or ensorcelled, providing opportunities for the heroes to demonstrate their greatness achieving their freedom.

All in all, I have found Breath of Fire to be one of the most enjoyable games I have ever played. I would not recommend it to the easily daunted, unless they are the type who does not feel cheated when they resort to a walkthrough or strategy guide (same thing, really.) Even with all I've described here, there are a hundred beautiful touches to be experienced, throughout every part of the game. To me, the most objectionable part of the game is the relatively slow walking speed and message speed - though in both respects it is superior to other games I have enjoyed playing, such as Dragon Warrior on the NES. This was certainly not enough to make me think any less of it, but it does make the game take somewhat longer than is strictly necessary. However, it is well worth the time of any lover of VRPGs.

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