I remember somehow enjoying Breath of Fire when I first played it. Having played it again recently, I can’t imagine why. What changed my mind about this Final Fantasy ripoff? Let’s review!
Yes, yes—just like Lufia, Breath of Fire is a Final Fantasy ripoff that led to a series of decent games. Release date about two years after Final Fantasy II? Check: It was released in Japan just before Lufia. Story involving collecting items to save the world from bad guys? Check: We have keys and an empire trying to revive an evil goddess. Graphics about two years behind the times? Also check!
The worst part about Breath of Fire is that, although it was released in Japan before Lufia, it wasn’t released in the West until only ten days before Final Fantasy III. The rush on trying to develop the game and catch the Final Fantasy II hype is obvious, too. There’s only about 30 hours of gameplay—and most of that is due to an extremely slow walking speed and a high random encounter rate. The fact that, here in America, it’s a contemporary of Final Fantasy III when it’s trying to rip off Final Fantasy II only makes it even more sad.
So, at this point, the graphics are only about on par. The isometric battle system is pretty cool looking, and the game does have one or two partially-animated cutscenes, but those only work to bring it back up to average. Not much really going for the game in the graphics department.
Worse, however, is the music. Most of the songs are only around thirty seconds long before looping, which gets repetitive pretty fast. While the overworld themes are a little longer, you never get to hear more than ten or fifteen seconds’ worth before getting into another random battle, anyway. I suppose that the composition actually isn’t all that bad, but the songs just get old pretty fast.
I suppose that, by itself, the game isn’t quite so bad. But, there’s really nothing that makes it stick out, especially considering the period in which it was released. There are a couple of neat things, like each character having a special ability to use outside of battle, but those are largely outweighed by the slow progression and generic story.
Even if you like classically-styled RPGs, this one is average at best, and only if you toggle the turbo-speed key on your emulator. There wasn’t much going for this one back when it came out, and it certainly hasn’t improved with time. It may not be a terrible game, but I wouldn’t really suggest checking it out past the first few minutes. You’ll get the idea from there.