riostarwind's Breath of Fire (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) review

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Breath Of Fire wants the player to finish it thus it's a much easier game to breeze through than most JRPG's

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I haven’t put my time toward beating a JRPG in quite a while. Yet something awoke inside of me when the SNES games came out on Switch. I’ve been playing through most of them and since BoF was apart of the set I ended up playing through it. Mostly thanks to how lighthearted it felt difficulty wise since I’ve never been hyped to lose a long battle in an RPG ever. That also carries over to the storyline that may not do anything super interesting yet it does take you to a variety of unique locales.

In general the Dungeon design is very forgiving. Free full heals even show up whenever you might need one.
In general the Dungeon design is very forgiving. Free full heals even show up whenever you might need one.

The journey begins with the protagonist Ryu and his sister Sara who are part of the last survivors of the While Dragon clan. Right at the start they are attacked by the Black Dragon army since his sister seems to know something about the Goddess keys that they are seeking. After seemingly sacrificing her life Ryu heads out to avenge her by taking down the vile Black Dragon army.

When you imagine a JRPG that is what you’ll find here. Turn based battles with time to go through menus that allow you to overcome any obstacle. As you go along you gain party members that give you access to new abilities in and out of combat. That is one of the more unique aspects of this game. For example Karn the thief can pick the locks you would have seen earlier in the adventure. Some backtracking required of course but it is never a huge time commitment. He also ends up being apart of a magical clan of people that can fuse with other party members. Giving you access to an overpowered ally while also giving you less options for your team. That may sound like a reasonable trade yet honestly the threat of death in this game is almost nonexistent.

One mechanic that seems a bit odd is that bosses don't die once their HP hits zero. Gotta wack them some more before they vanish.
One mechanic that seems a bit odd is that bosses don't die once their HP hits zero. Gotta wack them some more before they vanish.

Sure if your willing to not use all the tools the game gives you I expect you’ll have a bit more of a challenge. Yet once Ryu can turn into a Dragon any boss might as well give up. While getting some of Ryu’s later transformations can be random (You have to fish up all the Dragon items.) it makes every boss a matter of time. Other than the few final ones being tough if your willing to give up on using the Angi transformation the only real challenge is making your way through some of the confusing dungeons.

For the most part every dungeon is pretty straightforward. Sure they add in new elements like having to open or shut gates or moving platforms but they aren't confusing most of the time. Yet around the mid point I was very annoyed with the tower that vanishes leaving you to wander around randomly. Along with the spinning dungeon that has platforms that make the game screen spin making it real hard to tell which way is the correct one. Luckily that was just one small part but it is certainly an annoyance that I didn’t like. Yet I had plenty of stuff that I did enjoy.

The overall aesthetics are quite good. They have an upgraded feel of going from 8-bit to 16-bit while still retaining a similar art style. Music wise it may not have anything memorable yet it fits in well with the visuals. Plus the unique cast of characters you gain over the game stands out to me compared to other games of this ilk. How can you not like a wolfman named Bo who uses a bow?!

Overall the setting and tone make it interesting to play through. They even occasionally go for it story wise even when the game can’t really sell it visually. Additionally the game may be a cakewalk difficulty wise but it has other aspects that let it overcome that hump. Plus like I mentioned I tend to like my RPG’s easy since I always come for the story and usually not the combat. But if that is what you want to see out of an RPG then this isn’t one worth playing. Yet if you just want a pretty OK JRPG that is what you’ll find in the tale of Breath Of Fire.

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