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RETRO MONTH: Breath of Fire III Review

RPGs nowadays are kind of….well, they’re kind of stupid. To me, games like Disgaea and Atelier Whatever seem to be nothing more than interactive anime shows with corny-ass themes, shitty voice acting, clunky controls and a plethora of “extra features” nobody gives a shit about, unless you’re a weeaboo. Now, classic titles is where it’s at and I’m not just saying this because I have a passion for retro games. I’m saying it because it’s fucking true and it’s there for all to see. The Breath of Fire series has made its mark since it’s debut on the Super Nintendo and it achieved a level of ascension on April 30th, 1998 when Breath of Fire 3 was released in North America for the PSX.

BOF3 was the first in the series to feature 3D graphics and voice acting, though nowhere near as overabundant as the JRPGs out today. *shudders* Anyway, the game was developed and published by Capcom and featured a sort of smooth jazz track for the music in the game. I’m proud to say that I do own the soundtrack and it’s really, really good. Now, due to BOF3 being the first title of the series to be put out for PSX, some changes(upgrades more like it)were made. For one, the game is presented from an overhead isometric viewpoint. The player may rotate the game’s camera in any direction around the central character, as well as tilt it up or down to see over or under impeding objects. So, it’s really useful when finding out-of-view treasure boxes. The other map feature is you can utilize each character’s unique, out-of-battle ability to interact with the map and solve puzzles. For example: Momo can use her cannon to blow down broken doors and walls, while Rei can pick locked doors and open them. As I said earlier, the game uses three-dimensional graphics for scenery, buildings, and other objects, while still retaining two-dimensional sprites for characters. Now that takes care of mechanics, but how do battles work? Well…

Battles in BOF3 occur randomly when a player travels through hostile areas or dungeons during the course of the story. Using a turn-based strategy approach, the game allows a player inputs commands at the start of each combat round, which are then carried out in accordance with each character’s “agility” rating. A player may choose to attack, defend, cast magic spells, use items, change equipment, or flee from battle entirely. While previous Breath of Fire titles allowed groups of four characters to participate in combat, Breath of Fire III restricts the party limit to only three, yet offers a new “formation” system that allows for characters to be arranged in certain patterns for tactical benefits and bonuses to stats. Battles are won when all enemies are defeated, yielding experience points that go towards gaining characters’ levels, which in turn leads to higher statistics and new skills. But you already knew this, right? No, of course you didn’t…weeaboo. Another additional, and incredibly useful feature is the “Master System”. What is does is it allows any of the game’s playable characters to apprentice under specific non-player characters known as “Masters”, which allows them to learn new skills and influence their statistics. So for example, the Master named Mygas will teach you the skill “Frost” after you have gained 1 level after accepting him as a master. The downside to mastering with him is that every time you level up, your Power and Defense will suffer a 1 point boost but your AP and Intelligence will get a bump on top of the standard stat gain. So you see, you have to really pick and choose which master is right for which character. Oh, I should probably mention that certain conditions have to met prior to a Master accepting you as an apprentice, but I’ll let you figure that one out.

As with most RPGs, there are things you can do outside of the storyline. While BOF3 doesn’t possess any side-quests, it does have 2 very cool things to do: Fishing, which has been present in all the previous BOF titles and the Faerie Village.

Fishing is a series mainstay and this time it was upgraded with a new, expanded interface and point allocation system that keeps track of what fish a player has caught and their size. Every fish you catch can be used in-battle as a healing item, AP restoration item or attack item. To make it more expansive, you can now change the lure you use to catch different types of fish depending on their depth in the water, and you can use different rods to help you pull in and reach much stronger fish such as whales. I’m serious…you can catch whales in this game. The other feature is the Faerie Village. It’s kind of like a sim game, but less stupid. It gives the player the ability to influence the growth of a small town of faeries, which in turn gives them access to special items or in-game features such as mini-games and a sound test. While it is time consuming, it’s very beneficial in the later parts of the game because you can unlock a shop that will copy a singular, rare item…though there is a small chance the item will be lost. I can’t really go into specifics about how the village works due to the fact that it’s a lot of information to take in. So, I guess you’ll just have to play the game, won’t you?

The one thing about this series is the protagonist is part of a mystical clan of Dragons called “The Brood”. Like its predecessors, the main character(Default name is always Ryu, by the way)has the ability to transform into a dragon during battle. Obviously, the transformation gives you a significant boost in stats. However, BOF3 added a little bit of awesomesauce to the mix. Scattered around the world(and sometimes given to you during the story)are objects called Dragon Genes. Once collected, they are added into Ryu’s “Ascension” battle menu. From there, you select the gene you want to use and…GYYAHHHHHH!!! BOOOM!! Dragon time. However this time around, you can now combine up to 3 genes that will give you a different effect each time. Don’t get me wrong, there are some obvious gene recipes like…Combining the Flame, Frost and Thunder genes will transform you into the “Trygon” Dragon with access to all three elemental attacks instead of the standard one. Now before you go dragon-happy, please understand that you can’t stay a dragon forever. During the transformation, a set amount of AP will be deducted from you every turn. So, for those long boss battles(And there are plenty of them), make sure you have some AP restoration items necessary to keep Ryu in dragon form long enough to lay the punishment on that boss’s ass.

Overall, BOF3 is absolutely fantastic. It has a great mix of balanced mechanics, epic music and story…oh wait…did I mention the story? No, I didn’t. Want to know why? Because if you really want to know the story, play the game. Seriously. I know this goes against reviews I have done in the past but not this time. No, this time I will let you find out yourself. You’re an adult, right? Got your big boy/girl pants on? Good, then get the game. If you are unable to find/afford it for PS1, then there is a PSP version of it. Even though it was released in Europe, you can import it and it’ll play just fine on the PSP. To this day, I still own my original copy of Breath of Fire 3 as it was the first game I purchased myself back in May of 1998. And while I do own the PSP version, I still crank out the original once a year.

Rating this game wouldn’t really be fair as it is awesome and better than any of those goofy-ass JRPGs out there now. But if I had to, I would give it a 10 out of 10, hands down. If you retro fans really want to play a classic RPG that rivals the likes of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy III/VI, then this is the one for you. As far as the weeaboos are concerned…just shut up and eat your fucking pocky as you are useless to this world.

Until next episode…

2 Comments

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  1. Red says
    June 17, 2012, 11:08 AM

    Great blog/review to BoF 3. This game, along with part 4 has the best dragon transformation system so far. BoF 1 dragon system was broken in more ways than one. Ryu’s dragon powers in BoF 1 were either too powerful or they sucked (save for Agni) as the game progresses. The reason for the dragon powers sucking over time is that the damage doesn’t scale as Ryu levels up. Karn’s transformations/fusions were broken too.

    BoF 2 probably had the worst dragon system of all the games. I really hate the one-shot all AP consumed thing, whereas characters such as Ray are able to stay in dragon form permanently throughout a battle. Well, it’s good to see that there are still BoF fans out there besides me. I really hope Capcom will pull their heads out of their asses and revive the series by giving us(the fans) either a new game continuing on from BoF 3, or reboot the series and this time make sure to not have so many loose ends on the plot and character development. I’m sick of Capcom acting as if showing Ryu and Nina from each game doing lovey dovey stuff together is only for adults. Games aren’t for just for kids anymore geez. Besides, they give us several implications here and there in each game that these two characters are fond of one another, but the devs just simply refuse to let players see more to this relationship.

    Reply
    • Beau D. says
      June 18, 2012, 8:05 AM

      Spoken like a true BoF Veteran. Hats off to you, sir!

      Reply

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