[NSFW] Breath Of Fire (SNES)

The first game of Capcom's most famous RPG series. Or, rather, Capcom's only RPG series that wasn't a total failure.

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  • System: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Genre: RPG
  • Max Players: 1
  • US Release: August, 1994
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Publisher: Squaresoft
  • Similar Games: Final Fantasy IV, Lufia

I assume this game is called Breath of Fire because even Japan in 1993 couldn’t get away with marketing a game called What The Fuck? RPG. Having started out with playing all the other main Breath of Fires, I’m surprised this game started a franchise title like that, considering how little dragons actually factor into this game.

In fact, a LOT of this game is surprising if you’re very much into Breath of Fire III and IV like I was. This RPG is at least 80% early installment weirdness.

It’s also a little bit fun too.

1-snes-bof
When you actually play this game, this artwork suddenly becomes hilarious.

I don’t know how long this review needs to be—ironically based on the old Dragon Quest template of JRPG, the first Breath of Fire is a bunch of pretty good ideas strung together by a reasonably solid foundation, but it has no heart to actually glue all of it correctly. There’s both quite a bit to talk about and not really much, truth be told. I want to save some of them because those of you wanting to play it will definitely want to savor the surprises, but cutting out the quirks for spoilers means there isn’t much else to talk about.

Interestingly, there seems to be a reverse of the typical JRPG plot progression here. Usually, you start out as a fresh faced youth who travels from one town to another, solving isolated plagues until it starts dawning on you that something’s going on here. In Breath of Fire, you start out knowing who your enemy is and you go to seek them out, but then it just gets looser and looser from there until you’re only plugging along to see what weird thing happens next. For a long time, it seems you’ve forgotten about who you’re after and why, but eventually it starts circling around again.

"The rent money you've been behind on for 4 months now. Did you think that just optional?"
“I gain the rent money you’ve been behind on for four months now. Did you think that was just optional?”

The real meat of the game is simple enough and fairly addicting, I do declare. You go from Points A to Points B-X and occasionally backtrack to a loose thread as needed. You fight battles with attacks and spells, gain levels and money, and buy new equipment. Standard fare but it works well enough, and it’s a good thing, too, because the game is so quirky after that that a loose, weird battle system would’ve killed the franchise at Game One.

I’m just going to list some of them out:

  1. No character even remotely looks or acts alike. This has its strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Your characters will occasionally interact with each other, but not much, and it’s pretty inconsistent.
  3. Your characters all gain levels at different rates, and they variate WILDLY. You’ll have a level 42 Bleu and a level 26 Ox, and you don’t get them too far apart from each other.
  4. You really need to switch characters out just to walk through forests?
  5. You can’t see how close your characters are to leveling up. Oversight maybe, but annoying, too.
  6. Every boss character has a power meter you get to see, but when you get to the end, the boss resurrects with a tiny power sliver left in their meter and now you have no idea how much life they have left.
  7. Translation is both funny and weird, and not good about letting you know where to go next.
  8. Gold and experience tend to be plentiful or pitiful without much consistency.
  9. Characters are also not balanced out very well.
  10. Spells are very unorganized in all their facets.
  11. Even your fucking silent protagonist speaks up a couple times! What?

And there is no pathos or much of anything remotely dramatic going on to help give these quirks some sort of humanity. It almost feels like a beta game that they couldn’t fix and had to go straight to market.

I can't find a decent enough battle picture from BoF 1, so here's one from BoF 2, which looks similar enough and qualifies as a picture that "when you see it, you will SHIT BRICKS".
I can’t find a decent enough battle picture from BoF 1, so here’s one from BoF 2, which looks similar enough and qualifies as a picture that “when you see it, you will SHIT BRICKS.”

At the same time, this game provides quite a bit to enjoy, too. All characters are pretty much useful and very interesting to observe, even if they don’t do much but tag along and say nothing. Some characters, like Gobi and Bleu, have some personality to them. I want to say maybe Capcom was trying to do a Dragon Quest kinda game and really twist it around to see how creative they could make it to test it out. It features all the usual stuff, but the dungeons and twists are so far above the usual stuff that all the other shortcomings almost fade away. Sometimes you have to solve sub-problems in the middle of dungeon crawling! You thought you were getting a key from a tower? Nope; here’s a twist and now you have to help some damn mice with THEIR problem so you can get back to what you were doing in the first place. This game has, like, three twists every hour, and you almost never see them coming.

If this review feels pretty dry, it’s the result of the game. It does its job, and it’s really cerebral during the brainstorming phase, but you won’t care much about it in time. This really is one of the wackiest RPGs I’ve played on the SNES, so give it a shot if you haven’t already and want something familiar and different, too. Just don’t expect to play it often.

  • GameCola Rates This Game: 6 - Above Average
5 votes, average: 7.80 out of 105 votes, average: 7.80 out of 105 votes, average: 7.80 out of 105 votes, average: 7.80 out of 105 votes, average: 7.80 out of 105 votes, average: 7.80 out of 105 votes, average: 7.80 out of 105 votes, average: 7.80 out of 105 votes, average: 7.80 out of 105 votes, average: 7.80 out of 10 (You need to be a registered member to rate this post.)
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About the Contributor


Since 2008

Meteo Xavier has been gaming for a quarter of a century and has quite a bit to talk about from that era. He is the author of "Vulgarity For the Masses" and you can find more on him and his game reviews at www.jslawhead.com.

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