Breath Of Fire was developed by Capcom for the Super NES in 1993 for Japan. It later saw a North American launch in 1994, and then an updated version in 2001 for Gameboy Advance.
The world is dying. Places are crumbling and the Dark Dragons are to blame. You play as Ryu (or whatever you want to name him), and you awake to your village being destroyed. You shortly set off on your quest to stop the dark lord Zog, and put an end to all this destruction and death. Does this sound super interesting? Absolutely. Was it? Not at all.
I first played Breath Of Fire about 15 years ago. It was on a modded Xbox, and I never finished it. Why? Well I was bad at actually finishing games. But what 13 year old actually finishes games that are longer than Super Mario World? With it being on Nintendo Switch Online, I thought to myself, “now I can finally play this and finish it and see why it’s so loved!”. Part of me wishes I never started it. For starters the pacing of the game was awful. The in-between of story segments were so long, I honestly forgot what I was doing or why. I’d get to the next town, only to be left scratching my head, as I talked to everyone. Then I’d talk to them again, and again, and again, only to vaguely find out where I should try and go. This only got worse as the game progressed. To the point where I was constantly having to refer back to a walkthrough to find out what to do. “Oh I need this item to progress through this cave? Well how do I get it? Oh. I have to talk to person X which starts a side quest making me go to this person. Why couldn’t they have just said that!?” It was terrible. Plus the story was so lacklustre to me, by the time the credits rolled, I just didn’t care that I saved the world.
Look I get it. It was an early RPG, and games were harder back then. But many RPGs came before it that weren’t nearly as cryptic as this! As you explore the land, you find Dragon Shrines for Ryu. These help him get more powerful by giving him magical dragon powers to let him transform into a dragon. Except later on in the game, you start needing things like Dragon Armor to get into the shrine. Where is the Dragon Armor? Well we won’t tell you! Thankfully I had a walk through! But that was tedious as all hell as well because I had to get a fishing rod from this spot, then buy bait from this town, then go to random spot X on the map and fish in a damn well to get the item! Seriously!? Who would’ve figured this stuff out? Then when you near the end of the game, it does the typical “that wasn’t the big bad! I’m the big bad!”. So then I had to crawl through another dungeon as I was banging my head against a wall.
The gameplay is like any turn based RPG. You pick what you want your allies to do, then it all plays out. Enemies die, you get experience and money, rinse and repeat. For hours and hours and hours. Every three friggin steps! That’s the problem with this being such an older game too. The encounter rates are absolutely horrendous. You spend most of your time in battle! Heck, by the end of the game, there were some enemies that were so strong, I’d need to use so many resources to kill them, and it wasn’t worth it because I’d see them every three steps! So I’d use the Switch’s Rewind function to at least let me get an easier enemy!
On the topic of the Rewind system too, I cheesed the hell out of it by the end of the game. I’m not even ashamed to say that. Especially on the last handful of bosses. Every boss in the game was a meat sponge. So you had to slowly whittle away their health and hope you survived. Then when you depleted their HP bar, they would go into a “last stand” sort of deal. Their attacks would get stronger, or hit everyone in my party, and I’d still have to beat on them until they died. When would they die? Who knows because their HP bar wouldn’t move anymore! So at the end of the game, I’d rewind to the start of the turns if the bosses used a bullshit attack that nearly wiped my team out. That way I wouldn’t be sent an hour back because there’s no save points in these huge dungeons!
Then what an RPG without meaningful character development right? Too bad there’s none here! There is such little dialogue in the game, I never actually felt like I got to know any of the characters. So I never connected to them. Or felt for them. Near the end of the game, SPOILERS, Ryu’s sister dies. I didn’t feel a single thing because I never knew him as a character to feel anything for him! Same goes for the other 7 characters. Which all have their own abilities on the overworld. Like walking through trees, or opening locks, or digging holes at specific markers on the map. Would you know any of that without talking to people? Nope!
- Started A Well Beloved Series
- Way To Many Too List
I enjoyed my first few hours with this. I was excited when I got new party members and found where to go. But the game gets too convoluted, bosses become too HP heavy, and the story is barely there.
The only thing this game does right is establishing the well loved franchise. But as a first to the series? It’s terrible, it didn’t age well, and I’m surprised so many people love it. I’m also saying this as someone who loves old JRPGs. Final Fantasy 1 is my favourite! So it’s not about not understanding old games. Just don’t bother playing Breath Of Fire 1. It even made me hesitant on starting the second game.
If you enjoyed this Review, why not check out some more we have on site.
You can also chat to our writers by joining us on Discord with this link – Discord Invite