Saturday, July 12, 2014

Breath of Fire (Super NES, 1993)

The first in a fairly popular series of RPGs from Capcom. I'm just doing one post for this game; played it in the past and don't want to go through it again. Taking a look at the first hour or two of the game should be fun, though.

This is a game that has a bit of history with me. This, 7th Saga, and Secret of Mana were three RPGs that I rented and attempted to play through before I really liked RPGs. I didn't get too far with any of them (maybe 5% of the way through the other two, about a quarter of the way through this one) before hitting roadblocks. In 7th Saga it was the Red Pison fight. In Secret of Mana it was the Fire Gigas fight. In this game, I got to a part where you need to acquire a gold bar to proceed. They cost 65000 G and I legitimately thought you needed to farm that much gold, which would take hours upon hours of battles, so I quit. Turns out you can get a gold bar in a nearby dungeon (but if you sell it for 32500 G, then you'll have to farm the rest of the 65000 after all). What a weird idea for a quest.

In any case, once the inarguably-awesome Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI made me really like RPGs, I revisited this one and finished the game. It's a good one. Taking a quick look at it today. No series, just one quick look.

The hero is Ryu, seen here looking super-creepy.

The story of this game revolves around dragons, specifically Light Dragons and Dark Dragons who have been in conflict for a while.

 The Dragons in question take the form of people most of the time, but they can transform during battle.

At the outset of the game, the Dark Dragons attack your hometown and raze it to the ground. It's a pretty generic plot.

Luckily, there's one powerful Light Dragon... Ryu's older sister (I think).

Yes, this plot is incredibly generic.

Since most of the people here are too weak to fight, Sara petrifies all of them before going out to fight the bad guys herself. Wow, she's a badass.

 Sara lets herself be captured, then takes out all the guards by quickly disarming them when they don't expect it. She's like Jack Bauer! Can I play as HER in this game instead?

Alas, the leader of the attack squad is Jade, the right-hand general of Zog. He's more powerful than Sara (or Zog, oddly enough), and easily defeats her. Jade is more or less the real villain of the game, but you don't see him again for a while.

This game comes with a huge poster, and the back of the poster has pictures of every enemy/boss in the game complete with their HP and stats. It totally spoils a bunch of the final fights, as well as the fact that Jade is in fact much stronger than Zog.

Everyone un-petrifies the next day. After some incredibly sad music that makes me want to die plays, Ryu walks outside to find his hometown in ruins. Thus begins his adventure to... stop the Dark Dragons, I guess.

 But first! Blue slimes! This is totally an early 90's RPG. What would happen if an RPG hero started in any area of the world besides the one area they always start in with the weakest enemies? Their adventure wouldn't last very long.

And fleas! Gigantic Super Saiyan fleas! Why does Ryu look so thrilled?

The first town is located nearby, and immediately has problems for our blue-haired hero to solve. It seems monsters have invaded their castle, and the royalty are all stuck outside. HAW! Suck it, The 1%! Now you get to live like everyone else!

 So Ryu heads into the castle to clear it out and return it to its owners. For zero pay. Because he's an RPG Hero, and all-around nice guy, I suppose.

I spend a little while level-grinding by this healing spring early in the dungeon, since I didn't do any grinding on the overworld.

I go from level 1 to 7 here, and that's enough for now. Like most console RPGs from this era, this game is all about the grinding. At least early on. Once you have more party members and more strategies to employ later on, you can afford to not grind much.

Finally, Ryu arrives at the throne find it occupied by a frog. Seriously? It's an angry little frog, too. At least it isn't Toad.


The frog puffs himself up to epic proportions. He's like "Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner in 1999!

 The first boss fight is pretty easy, likely because of my own puffed-up levels. It's also boring, since you're just slugging back and forth. Bosses in this game are unique in that they fight on once you deplete their life meters; they usually have a stronger second form at that point. Not a physical transformation, just a second tier of strength where they do more damage than before. Can't see their life anymore, either, but it's usually about half as much as their initial life meter was. A lot of the boss fights don't get serious until you've depleted their life the first time, oddly enough. Just when you think you've won...

Apparently the frog was passing a lot of gas, which is probably why everyone was forced out of the castle to begin with.

 The next problem arises almost immediately, and - of course - the only person who can do anything about it is Ryu. Can these people cut the kid some slack? He just lost his sister and his hometown, and dealing with puberty is no slouch either.

 Ryu trudges across the overworld and day turns to night. Cool. You see wildlife roaming around sometimes, and if you have the archer character in the lead he can snipe them for food.

 The next town is occupied by the Dark Dragons (or rather, their army, which seems to consist of regular humans). At night, a lot of them fall asleep on the job, which allows Ryu to sneak in.

 Here's the Quake Control base, which the DDs have seized and are using to trigger earthquakes and terrorize nearby towns. Why the hell did these people have a Quake Control in the first place? Is there a reason to intentionally cause earthquakes, ever? Maybe it was for stabilizing things and preventing earthquakes, but if you turn the knob in the other direction it causes them. I don't know.

 After a slightly more confusing second dungeon, which looks sweet...

 ...I walk in on the second boss masturbating. That explains the earthquakes.

 He can't just let it go (.....) and challenges me to a fight. This one is a considerable step up from the frog because he has a looooot of HP. He can also heal himself. Luckily, I've got about 15 Herbs on hand from enemies constantly dropping them, and those heal Ryu to full at this point.

 You get two combat items in the dungeon that inflict large amounts of damage when used, and using them at the right times is the key to victory. I use one when he gets down to low-health, since that's when he starts casting Heal. I use the other one after he Hulks Up, which lets me quickly defeat his stronger second form.

These guys have a difficult job being the gatekeepers of Ann Coulter's cavernous vagina. One could stumble around lost in this foul place for hours.

Ryu arrives in this game's version of Windia, a recurring windmill-filled town of winged folk. There's a version of it in every Breath of Fire series game, as far as I know. Just like there's a Ryu, and a Nina. It's sorta like the Zelda series. Recurring concepts in different worlds. Not sure if they're all reincarnations or what.

Xenogears for the PSX actually explained how a saga of recurrence like these could work by referencing a number of historical periods where the same heroes showed up to save the day... but then it didn't fill in the rest of the saga.  That game could have spawned a huge series if they had wanted it to.

Now, we play as the princess of Windia, Nina. Not sure what Ryu is doing during all of this. Sleeping, I guess.

Nina is a bit adorable, but she isn't the knockout that she is in the second game. Also, I think she's supposed to be like 12 in this one. Speaking of the second game, I haven't played that one and I'm looking forward to getting around to it.

Nina is pretty weak by herself, so she gets a couple of generic soldiers to accompany her. Enemies still drop tons of Herbs, which means two things. A) You're never hurting for healing items, and B) Everyone in this world is a complete stoner.

Nina's first mission is to traverse a forest. I believe she's looking for a remedy to cure her father of an illness, or something along those lines. After this mission she joins Ryu and you go forward with two party members. Weird that he'd be taken out of action for this section; I'm not a fan of when games do that. The first Dragonball Z RPG for the NES changed your party constantly, so your (required) level grinding was continuously nullified.

This is where I'll stop. Great game, with even better music. My favorite track in the early game is easily the overworld theme. It's triumphant and heroic, with a sense that anything can happen.

Later in the game, there are second and third overworld themes that also completely rock. I think the main thing I took away from this game back in the day was the soundtrack... Capcom really knew what they were doing in that department.


  1. I always thought "slimeless humans" was a funny line in an otherwise bland translation.

    The second overworld theme is still my favorite, it's a shame you have it for such a limited time.

  2. Ryu's look in this game is iconic for me. One of the few characters from this era to have a cape, and I liked the way his hair sticks out.
    Forgot about the badass fight between Jade and Sara in the beginning. Yeah, I remember the poster with all the bosses; I spent a lot of time looking at it. Though it spoils, it also gets you really excited about the game.
    I like how this game has HP bars in addition to numbers, gives it a bit of a fighting game feel.
    You're right, maybe Ryu should've just let this royalty stay outside the castle, haha.
    I like that "slimeless" is an insult in a frog's mind.
    I remember sneaking into this city at night really well, too. "THIS IS NEW!" I thought. I remember going out to play but being excited about that.
    Ohh good you showed the Nina quest too! I remember that. They build her up a lot in this game. The BoFs also always have Bleu, right? I'm a big fan of how they do shows they know their best character designs.
    And you got the last thing I really wanted, too, which was the overworld themes. I remember the first really really well and it's great to get reacquainted with the other two.
    Come to think of it the music in these really sounds like SNES Capcom, too. Everyone in the company must have been using the same WAVs and possibly they had the same guys going across multiple genres.

    1. I agree about the poster. Sometimes spoilers get you MORE excited about things, and I've never shyed away from them.

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