Breath of Fire 1 review.

After playing through Breath of Fire 2 a few months back, I quickly played through the first one. I meant to post a review about it, but my computer died. So, without further ado:

When I first played Breath of Fire, I remember enjoying it. Of course, I was also in a phase of my life that I like to call “Any-RPG-is-automatically-fun” phase, so I probably enjoyed many games back then that weren’t so hot. Finally, I’ve replayed it, a good nine years after its release. Two thoughts that crossed my mind the majority of the time I spent playing it: “I really LIKED this game?” and “I can’t believe they made MORE games after this one!”

So, here’s what’s up: The Dragon Clan used to be all-powerful; but then some goddess named Tyr appeared that granted wishes. The dragons fought for control of her power, and almost wiped themselves out. Fast-forward to an unknown amount of time later: The Dark Dragon Clan, led by Zog (his parents must have really hated him to name him ZOG, by the way), having recieved cool powers from Tyr, are trying to take over the world. They decide to kick off the party by killing off the Light Dragons. The main character, Ryu - a Light Dragon - vows to take on Zog and the Dark Dragons, and goes off to find them. Another thing that Ryu does is to try and collect all the goddess keys - keys used to seal off Tyr long ago - before the Dark Dragons do.

This is pretty cliche to begin with; but I’ve seen cliche things pulled off well. The problem with this story is that NOTHING is pulled off well AT ALL.

Where to start? I suppose the biggest thing that sticks out is the plothole concerning the goddess keys. At the beginning of the game, Jade, Zog’s right hand man, boasts that they already have the goddess keys. This would make sense, seeing as the Dark Dragons already have the power of the goddess. However, Ryu and his band of merry men find only find two of the six keys in the Dark Dragons’ posession. How have the Dark Dragons gained power from the goddess, Tyr, without unsealing her with the goddess keys? And, if they’re so much stronger than every other nation, and are working to subjugate ALL of them, why wouldn’t they have found the keys yet? None of them were particularly well-hidden. I suppose I’m beating a dead horse here, but the final nail in this coffin is that Ryu never set out on his journey with the goddess keys in mind. Why would he, anyways? The Dark Dragons are supposed to have them all! This makes it even stranger that finding them would wind up being such a large part of the story.

What else? Pretty much every hero and villain is lame. Many of them join you JUST because they also want to stop the Dark Dragons, which is reason enough; but some characters join you for virtually no reason at all. Almost none of the heroes have any personality. We know the Bleu, the magician, is blunt and rude; but, that’s about all. We know that Gobi, the merchant, likes money; but, that’s all there is to know about Gobi. Sounds a bit lame, huh? Here’s the kicker: Those are the most well-developed of all the heroes. There are six characters of whom there is even LESS to know about, if you can even imagine that. The same problem is true for all the villains of the game. Sure, there’s flashes of inspiration in the villain, Cerl; but, since you only talk to her about ten minutes before you finally fight her, it’s hard to give a crap about her.

The last bothersome, trifling detail about the story is the pace and flow. There are many times when you’re given no indication of what to do/where to go next; and, if you have THAT information, you never understand WHY you’re doing this thing/going to this place. Ryu never gets any information about where the Dark Dragons are located, and sometimes it feels like he’s not even looking for them at all!

You might be thinking, “Oh, well then, Ryu’s primary goal is probably to retrieve the goddess keys!” Well, never mind the fact that Ryu didn’t set out to find them in the first place, Ryu is never pointed in the direction of the keys, either. Many keys are obtained through some lengthy, boring, fetch quest. The only thing that makes these fetch quests relevant is that you find out that the Dark Dragons involved. After solving someone’s random, absurd Dark Dragon problem, a key somehow winds up in Ryu’s posession. Ryu and co. then trek along the path of least resistance to their next location, and do it all over again until the end of the game.

I saved that particular point for last because of its effects on the gameplay. And oh my, what a game this is to play! Breath of Fire is your typical archaic turn-based RPG. The only really cool thing about it is that two of your characters can transform into cool monsters - one of them by fusing with other party members. Everything else about it is so jurassic that it’s hard to believe that this game was green-lighted for a release. Slow walking speed, high encounter rate, mandatory level-grinding, and limited inventory space are bad enough, but Breath of Fire takes it even further by using picture icons for the menus instead of words (which sucks, cos the pictures don’t always make sense), not showing you how much experience is necessary to level up, and making half of the cast useless in battle. Yes, Breath of Fire goes that extra mile to not only make you FEEL like you’re playing a game released in 1987, but to do things that would even be unacceptable back in 1987 - let alone 1993, the year of this game’s release!

Other than that, the graphics are pretty mediocre, the character designs are fairly original. The music, done by Yoko Shimomura (Super Mario RPG, Street Fighter 2, Kingdom Hearts, Legend of Mana) and a few other composers I don’t know, is alright. There’s nothing about the visual or aural experience that makes this game stand out too much.

There’s not much else to say. This game was unnecesarily backwards and primitive long before it ever came out, and it was released anyways. It goes without saying, then, that by the time of this review (2008), it’s pretty much a waste of time to play. Unless you want to see the beginnings of a series which - thank GOD - got much better over the years, play something else and save yourself from an absurd waste of time.

C’mon man, what are you, a masochist? I told you that BoF1 was a horrible game, and if you didn’t like BoF2 (Which is only really possible through nostalgia glasses), playing this must have been torture.

That said, only a few corretcions. The story is just as undevelopped as you say, but it made just SLIGHTLY more sense in the original thanks in part to the translation, but mostly because the backstory was on the manual just like in most early Megaman Games. Essentially, Myria (Tyr) tried the “beat each other up and gain my power” scam a few thousand years before and the dragons beat her up, except they were wasted in the process. The Dark and Light clans are the only ones that remain, and the former forgot about the war and just fell into the trap again. The “received power from the goddess” bit was a a problem with how little development there is in the story. Myria supposedly provided them with a bit of power, which actually were infiltrated men (like Jade) who were working for her all along.

Of course, the rest is as you said. Zero story flow whatsoever.

Oh, and I can’t believed you didn’t mention the second wave bit in gamplay.

I played this recently, only after reading a half-way decent novellization of the game that tired to give it some character. Could have been better, but did a good job with giving stuff mroe depth, at least. Witht hat in mind, I had a much easier time with this game than I probably would have had, otherwise.

Still dunno if I’d play it again, though.

I played the GBA version a couple of years back and nothing’s changed. It’s still as olde-skool as the Super NES version was. Though I have to admit you’re the better gamer than I, not that I didn’t beat it myself mind you, I just got too distracted by the level/dungeon grind to pay attention to the story (or lack thereof in this case).

One thing you may have forgot to mention, and correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the ‘big’ innovation made by this game was to give each character a field skill, i.e. Ryu could fish, Bow could hunt, Nina could fly (eventually), Gobi could swim underwater, Karn could pick locks, Mogu could dig, Ox could break walls, and Bleu could unhh… cast magic (checks shrine) oh cast teleport magics or something?

A lot of people I know (friends I mean) tend to think part 1 is better than part 2.

Needless to say, this game is better than many of the crappier modern games, such as enchanted arms.

I already played Breath of Fire 1 a long time ago, as I stated in the first paragraph of my review. And actually, it was less painful than Breath of Fire 2, because you didn’t have to grind NEARLY as much.

Besides that, I made the effort to play the game because I’m working on a personal project, where I’m looking at the positives and negatives of each game in the series, and comparing it to what more BoF fans view as the high and low points of the series. In order to do that, I need to play the games and make detailed notes, hence, the reviews.

That’s still not much better, but I guess that’s a LITTLE better…like, 1%, maybe.

Not sure what you’re referring to, exactly.

I guess…but, I didn’t even recognize that. I don’t think that’s an innovation, so much as “Hey, instead of making an airship, we can just make our ‘airship’ a character” sort of thing. Final Fantasy 3j had ‘field abilities’ to a very, very minor degree (Thiefs could open locked doors, but that’s about it), and Final Fantasy Adventure had that to a small extent, too.

Aww, that’s just WRONG, man! Enchanted Arms is decidedly somewhere in the mediocre-to-bad range, but as far as Breath of Fire goes, there are like, absolutely NO redeeming qualities to the gameplay or story. Enchanted Arms at least has a neat battle system, and is kind of funny.

I always felt bad for Cerl. She was the only character with a developed plot and she dies like right after she’s introduced for real and then forgotten. And she turns into a four legged beast mantis thing with breasts.

Speaking of turning into stuff, didn’t it really get silly as the game went on about some of the stuff the enemies turned into? I mean, Dark Dragons suggests they might turn into dragons. But no. The first guy* turns into a Gremlin, which is at least some kind of scary monster thing. But then the next ones turn into squids and crabs. Not only a crab, a crab named Pincher! Oh look out, it’s General Pincher of the Crab Army! And what the hell was the thing Jade turned into? A bug with a horrible wart problem?

*The first guy who transforms, that is. I’m aware there are like 20 knights and generals and other guys with the same sprite and different names before him.

Originally Posted by Skankin’ Garbage
Originally Posted by [STRIKE]Killmore[/STRIKE] Khalbrae View Post
Needless to say, this game is better than many of the crappier modern games, such as enchanted arms.

Aww, that’s just WRONG, man! Enchanted Arms is decidedly somewhere in the mediocre-to-bad range, but as far as Breath of Fire goes, there are like, absolutely NO redeeming qualities to the gameplay or story. Enchanted Arms at least has a neat battle system, and is kind of funny.[/i][/QUOTE]

First off: Fixed. Second off: It’s hard to say that when BoF 1 was simply an old-school JRPG at a time when certain forward thinking JRPGs were coming out (classics like 7th Saga, Secret of the Stars, and Spike McFang). Third off: While 2’s story went further (albeit slightly) than 1’s did (seriously how could it not?) they nerfed both the Dragon transformation system and the character specific skills and added the Shaman Fusion system (aka the you might be able to avoid having to grind for several hours for an added 10 levels to get through the next part if you exploit this system so long as you and your characters all have the devil’s luck and are not required to start all over again due to a critical hit/lucky shot/poorly timed level/carelessness system) instead. And Finally: Give it 13 years then tell us how great/awful EA was.

Ok, question: I’ve heard that BoF III is connected to the story in BoF II. But is that correct? Sure, the game shows the mural with the characters from II in the credits, AND you actually find said mural at one point of the game, plus some legend about “cycles” which appear to mean that Ryu and the Goddess are fated to battle again and again through history. This seems to imply that the boF characters reincarnate in the same forms (and relationships) with no real explanation as to why, ala YUGIOH and a few other Animes.

Except the story background in III -for the Dragons, the Goddess, etc.- does NOT seem to fit in with what I hear about the first two games. (The Goddess is NOT a god, the Dragons were killed because they already had the Ultimate power, etc.) So: are II and III supposed to be set in the same world, or is III a reinterpretation, complete with alternate BoF II characters (in the distant past?)

I tend to think of Breath fo Fire 3 as a sequeal to a possible interpretation of the prior games. As the games were, not really much of a connection, but maybe, from a different interpretation of those games, it could be a sequel.

An excellent review, SG. Between your reviews and Sin’s comment in the Blue Dragon thread, the experience mirrors a lot of my own as I’ve gone back and tried to replay a number of classic games in the past years. Very often the only ones I can stomach are upgrades like Final Fantasy Origins and the like. Later-gen 16-bit RPGs also still retain some of their allure.

One thing you might be able to point out about BoF that I, at least, found well-done, while not unique, is the large amount of side-tracking there was to be done. Although not fully-developed sidequests, BoF provided a lot of occasions for you to either backtrack to an area you’d already been to pick up some chests with a new field ability or go fish down a well for something. Especially with reference to the shop where really good items randomly showed up, some people might find the time spent on this more of a drag, but when I played it all added up to some nice optional material that let you get a leg-up on the grinding with better equipment. Contrast this to the source-material DQ games, where very rarely is there anything worthwhile in dungeon chests (hey look I’m level 50 and just found a copper sword YAY) and almost never a reason for revisiting cleared areas. This all feels like a chore now due to the high encounter rate, but with a few tweaks they could have made a decent remake of the game.

I first played BoF1 like three years after it came out. I also enjoyed during an “any RPG is awesome” phase, but now wonder what I enjoyed about it.

The “second wave” bit was where once the boss’ HP meter ran out, they’d make some comment and you’d still have to do a mystery amount of damage to kill them for real.

As for the picture icons, I guess it’s because the Japanese version used a single kanji for each menu command, and they didn’t want to completely redesign the menus to have room to be able to spell out everything.

I’m surprised you didn’t mention the limited magic. Nina gets all the healing magic (and can even revive her own corpse on the menu) and Bleu gets all the attack magic (even though you don’t meet her until like 2/3 of the way through). The rest of the characters only get a couple magic spells (Bo gets the real basic attack magic, Ox has a couple decent healing spells but almost no AP) and none of them (besides Nina and Bleu) will learn new magic from experience levels.
Also, almost no enemies have resistance/weakness to any particular magic (can’t think of any particular enemies, but there might have been a couple) so magic will almost always do a fixed amount of damage, so you don’t have to think much about which spells to use.
I suppose Mogo did have just a bit of a backstory, with you entering his dream at one point.

  1. Sorry, heh! :smiley:

  2. It was an old-school RPG because it was already quite antiquated for its time. If you look at the progression of the Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star series, along with other games that you mentioned which tried to innovate, and compare it to Breath of Fire 1…well, there isn’t a comparison. Breath of Fire 1 isn’t ‘not old school’ just because games around it are progressing.

  3. I’m not saying Breath of Fire 2’s combat was better…in fact, it was even worse. But just because something is ‘better’ doesn’t make it enjoyable by ANY means. Thus, I stick to what I said.


  1. Your comment about Enchanted Arms is irrelevant to my reviews, as I take care to consider when a game was released, and review it in that context. If I reviewed Enchanted Arms fifteen years later, I would still review it was if it came out in 2006/2007 or whenever it came out.

I suppose I never thought of it that way. It is kind of cool, I guess…but it was still a total pain in the ass to do. :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t know, that didn’t bother me, cos it never felt like a fight was so close that the ‘second wave’ thing screwed me over.

Hah! That’s pretty interesting :open_mouth:

The limited magic didn’t bother me, as that was pretty standard for the time.

Lol, she can revive herself. :stuck_out_tongue:

As for the other characters, I suppose I just truncated all that stuff by saying that they were ‘useless in battle.’ Really, though… Bo is only useful because you don’t have a full party by that point, and Gobi is no better. Ox is useful for the same reason.

And I GUESS Mogu had a backstory…it’s not as if you really learned much of anything about him, though.

It was the simplicity that made the game enjoyable. I can name another very successful, simple RPG with little to no backstory for each character:


BoF’s target audience was the same as Pokemon. A younger generation.

You’re reviewing the game as though it was intended for those of us from the older generation that enjoy game of with shakesperian or machievellian calibers of story. BOF is at it’s heart a simple, easy to play RPG intended to get a younger generation into the genre, that they may grow and expand into other, more complex games. BoF had it’s faults to be sure. But when it boils down to it, the game is enjoyable in a basic method.

Please don’t take my mentioning of Enchanted Arms personally also, I did not enjoy it. My brother in law who liked and beat every RPG he tried before it couldn’t play through it. Not every RPG will be everybody’s cup of tea.

Breath of fire is better in my opinion than these SNES RPGs:

Secret of the Stars, Inindo: Way of the Ninja, Breath of Fire 2.

That’s just personal opinion. Nothing more.p:unch::

As a note: I liked Secret of the Stars. I have no idea why, but I do. I still play it sometimes, even. And I would love to give Enchanted ARMs a try. Even though I know almost nothing about it, hearing people talk about it makes me want to try.

And actually, it was less painful than Breath of Fire 2, because you didn’t have to grind NEARLY as much.

From what I remember of BoF2 (and I’ve replayed it within the last couple of years), the only time I had to grind was the very beginning, and the very end of the game. Of course, I ground a little in the middle bits to make it easier, but I remember going through it without much at all.

Also, Secret of the Stars. For some weird reason I liked it too. No idea why, because in some ways it was even more painful than BoF1 >_>

It wasn’t just simple, it was boring to play. I’m not just talking about the story, the gameplay itself is atrocious, and dated - even when considering the time it was released! The speed of the game was tragically slow, the encounter rate was RIDICULOUS, and a whole bunch of other crap I already mentioned that made the game feel sloppy, tedious, and just not-fun in general. That is NOTHING like Pokemon. Sorry, dude.

No, I’m not looking at the game as if it was intended for an older audience. Lighthearted or not, it was done poorly.

Have you read my review of Blue Dragon? You’ll see clearly that I DON’T review every game that way; I try to judge things like this based on their target audience. However, doing so is completely irrelevant, seeing as everything was done poorly. Breath of Fire 1 is full, FULL of plotholes. Breath of Fire 1 has characters with no depth - some of them, you don’t even know ANYTHING about! Blue Dragon, on the other hand, is a game CLEARLY intended for a younger audience, but it was at least written competently.

In other words, regardless of the audience it was intended for, the plot is pretty much dead in the water before we can even get to that. Even a child wouldn’t like or remember characters like Bo, or Mogu.

I actually enjoyed BoF1 more than BoF2. I’ll just leave it at that.

Well, this review makes me appreciate BOF5 even more.

Such a fucking awesome game. :open_mouth: