The Breath of Fire series is one of the best retro RPG series. It seems to have been abandoned by Capcom in favor of other series. It feels like what Konami does with their franchises.
This is a JRPG that is closer to the Phantasy Star series in terms of gameplay and how the plot unfolds. The setting and mechanics are closer to the Dragon Quest series. It does feel like its own unique game as the series goes on.
Breath of Fire is an easy and short RPG similar to other RPGs from the early 90s. Going back to play the first game has been a wonderful experience. My entry point was the third game, so going back to see how the story started and was expanded on has been very enjoyable.
TLDR: A Good Game that Stands Out, but Not One of the Best RPGs on the SNES.
That game’s story isn’t anything new. You play as a chosen hero of the Light Dragon clan. Since you’re chosen, you go on a quest to save the world. Soldiers attack your village from the Dark Dragon clan as they try to take over the world.
Along the way, you meet up with members of the different races that make up the world. They all seem to have issues with the Dark Dragons or are considering working with them. The Stone Giant is my favorite part of the story.
After you have recruited Nina and Bo into your party, you try to break a dam that the Dark Dragons have constructed. The General, a generic bad guy who shows up in the first half of the game, pilots a massive machine known as the Stone Giant. He uses it to destroy one of the villages near the dam, and you have to stop him from doing more damage.
The Giant sacrifices itself so it can’t be used for evil anymore. It was a nice moment to learn that the construct wasn’t evil and had a mind of its own. I thought this was a great moment in the game. You didn’t see stuff like this too often, and it was fun to see.
The story follows after you defeat the Dark Dragon’s fleet when they attack an undersea city. This is when you’re introduced to the four big bad guys you must beat to reach Zog, who leads the Dark Dragons. You either have to defeat four enemies or gather four things. I’ve noticed that the number four gets used a lot in JRPGs.
There are also the Goddess keys. Throughout the game, you have to gather all of the keys. These keys are what the Dark Dragons need to release Tyr. This is the ultimate enemy in the game and the source of all of the problems of this world.
There is a bit of a twist when you get to the end of the game. Once you beat Zog, the leader of the Dark Dragons, you discover that Jade is the new big bad guy. It is a nice twist that doesn’t sound all that bad.
Eventually, you end up fighting Tyr. During this battle, you’ll receive advice during the battle.
This is a turn-based RPG where the player controls up to four characters. The other characters move with your party and can be swapped from the menu. This is really cool!
Some characters have a secondary action or ability. At first, this seemed strange to me. As the game went on, this became one of my favorite things. Karn and Ox have extremely useful abilities and fit in wonderfully with the game. You also have an underwater travel ability where one of your characters can turn into a fish. You also get a character that can dig in specific spots to enter buildings or find items.
These abilities were a great touch! It forced the player to experiment with different party members, even if you don’t have to keep some characters in your party for long. Once I got my head around it, I thought it was one of the best things in the game.
If there was something that I found disappointing, it would have to be the offensive magic spells. I thought they were underpowered when you compare it to the abilities that other characters had. I found that I used regular attacks more than magic attacks. I don’t think this was bad; I felt it was slightly off.
As the game went on and my characters gained levels, I found the magic very powerful in some instances. However, the number of magic points needed was relatively high. So, it got better as the game went on, but I still relied on physical attacks.
The boss fights were interesting, and most of them had an interesting twist: the “second wind” ability. Other RPGs at the time didn’t have this.
Your main character can turn into elemental dragons. You can turn into several variations, and more are unlocked as you continue the game. This is a staple of the Breath of Fire series.
To get all the dragon powers, you must gather some equipment and find shrines scattered worldwide. For most shrines, there is a boss you have to defeat with only your main character. The last dragon power is given to you without a boss fight.
I do like how the gameplay is set up. I don’t think this game is a grind fest like some other RPGs, and it was a somewhat easy game with only a few frustrating parts.
This game looks fantastic! I’m a huge fan of pixel art, and this game looks very good! When I compare it to the other RPGs I’ve played, I think Breath of Fire looks better than Final Fantasy IV and Phantasy Star III.
The cutscenes are a welcome addition to the game. Normally, games from this era use still frames or in-game graphics. Breath of Fire is a rare example of using both. They are very well done and one of the highlights of the game’s visuals.
The game looks closer to a Final Fantasy game. It would have been nice if Breath of Fire had done something similar to what Phantasy Star did by having comic book cut scenes.
The enemies look unique from the other games out at the time. There were only a handful of enemies that you might find in other games. Even the few I could recognize seemed to fit into the game’s world.
There are many options for retro RPGs. Breath of Fire is a good game, but there are better games on the SNES and the Sega Genesis. Here is a short list of other games that I think you’ll enjoy if you like Breath of Fire:
- Final Fantasy IV
- Final Fantasy VI
- Phantasy Star II
- Phantasy Star IV
- Breath of Fire II
- Shining Force
- Shining Force II
- Shining in the Darkness
- Secret of Mana
- Chrono Trigger
- Illusions of Gaia
- 7th Saga
- Lufia II
8.5/10. Breath of Fire is a solid game that does try to do some new things with the genre. However, it is a largely linear story that doesn’t do enough to make it into the best JRPGs on the SNES.
- Engaging story
- Fun characters
- Beautiful graphics and cutscenes
- Short Game
- Basic story that doesn’t take many chances
- Weak magical attacks
The third game was my entry point into the Breath of Fire series. When I started collecting games, the first two were on my list of games I wanted to find. They sat on a shelf for a long time before I played them, and I’m glad I finally gave the first one a chance.
The first Breath of Fire is one of the early SNES RPGs, and you can tell that Capcom was still figuring out what they wanted to do. It has a good story; even if it is a little basic, the characters are great, and the world is exciting to explore. This game has a brighter setting than the future games in the series.
While the third game is still my favorite, the first one is excellent. Like other RPGs from the early 90s, it didn’t push the genre too far, but it did enough to stand out in a soon-to-be crowded field of RPGs on the SNES.