Breath of Fire Review [SNES] The Game Collection

Welcome back to The Game Collection. I am
Super Derek, and this is Breath of Fire! You could say I’ve been looking forward to
reviewing this game for a while. And after playing through Hydlide, I felt like I deserved
a little bit of a reward. Breath of Fire was another one of those games I found a long
time ago when I was looking to scratch that RPG itch after playing EarthBound. Its kind
of funny. Lufia left me feeling burned, but Breath of Fire was a breath of fresh air.
Before I get into this though I should mention that because I played this game early on,
I may be a bit biased in favor of this game because to be honest, the nostalgia factor
is in full force, despite my best efforts to remain impartial. But even for those without
some history with the franchise, I know that this game will appeal to a lot of you.
Breath of Fire was the first RPG ever developed by Capcom, the company famous for Street Fighter
and Mega Man. The game was released for the Super Famicom in April of 1993. Because Capcom
hadn’t really dealt much with text-heavy localizations of this magnitude, they handed the game translation
and promotion over to none other than SquareSoft. Due to character limitations of item and character
names that couldn’t be overcome, a lot of the text in the game is abbreviated, which
can make for some confusing moments. But fortunately this seldom affects gameplay.
In Breath of Fire, you play as Ryuu, a young man of the Light Dragon clan. You awaken in
the night to find your village is under attack by the Dark Dragon clan. In an act of desperation,
your sister Sara saves the lives of the village by casting a petrifying spell on the remaining
villagers, and going off to duel with the Dark Dragons. Unfortunately she is captured,
and thus your quest begins. Overall, this is pretty standard stuff, especially
by today’s standards. The story of Breath of Fire isn’t going to compete with many of
the other games I’ve reviewed, and honestly, I’m okay with that. The game’s strength lies
in the smaller, individual character arcs that will hold your attention along the way
to the beginning of the next arc. This makes the game very easy to pick up, even if you’re
new to RPGs. Despite being a mostly typical turn-based
JRPG, the
Breath of Fire series offers somewhat of a unique gameplay experience. On your quest
to save your sister and prevent an apocalypse, you make several friends that are compelled
to help you along the way. Each character belongs to a different clan, which are essentially
human animal hybrids, such as wolves, birds, and fish. Each member of the clans have their
own unique ability as well which are useful for travelling or solving puzzles along the
way. Solving puzzles by the way, is a large part
of Breath of Fire. What the game lacks in depth of plot, it makes up for with its unique
dungeon designs. Traditionally, to this point, dungeons in RPGs were mostly grinding grounds.
Stretches of infested territory you had to make it through in order to get to the boss.
However, Breath of Fire’s dungeons are large and full of puzzles.
The layouts of the dungeons themselves are maze-like and full of treasure for those who
like to go exploring every nook and cranny. If there’s one thing that I love about this
game it’s how much you are rewarded for exploring and retracing your steps with new characters
to access new areas. I do have a gripe about the dungeon exploring
experience though, and that is the enemy encounter rate. In some areas of the game progress is
slow and tedious, as every 5 steps or so initiates a new random battle. This wouldn’t be quite
so meddlesome if the battles were quick, or if leveling up occurred frequently enough,
but battles with even normal enemies can be quite lengthy. But on the plus side, once
the game really gets going, the battles are lots of fun!
One of the recurring elements in the Breath of Fire series is transformation. Our hero,
Ryuu, as a member of the Dragon clan has the ability to transform himself into a powerful
dragon, and remain in that state for the remainder of the battle if you so choose. In addition,
later in the game you obtain the ability to fuse party members together, multiplying their
heath, offensive and defensive powers! I should probably mention here that some people
might have a slight problem with this game towards the end. The diligent explorer, by
the end of the game, will have borderline god-like power and invincibility, due to those
rewards and transformations I talked about earlier. As a result, the final few bits of
the game are extremely easy and practically play themselves. However, I think that what
it does well in these final few hours of the game is illustrate the colossal clashes of
power between our hero, and the games antagonist. The battle sequences aren’t just fun though,
they’re beautiful! Entering a battle changes your perspective from the traditional top-down
perspective into the series staple isometric view. And everything is animated masterfully!
Each of the player’s characters have fully animated attack and spell sequences, some
even have idle animations. Enemies move while on the battle ground, and magic attacks look
excellent. Compare that to Dragon Quest, or Final Fantasy titles of the time and you’ll
see that this was really a very big deal. In addition to the stunning graphics, in typical
Capcom fashion, we are treated with some really excellent music that incorporates a lot of
wind and brass synth that’s very up-beat. Some have compared it to the music in Super
Ghouls and Ghosts, only with less of an emphasis on the creepy horror theme. I think that some
parts of the game are reminiscent, but Breath of Fire’s soundtrack has a wide range, and
even includes some piano and some funkier music as well.
In just a couple of months we’ll be coming upon the 20th anniversary of Breath of Fire’s
US release. Unfortunately this game didn’t make it to Europe until 2001 when the game
was ported to the GameBoy Advance. This version of the game features some minor graphical
differences, and the audio is generally a bit worse sounding than the SNES version,
which is pretty standard of SNES to GBA ports. In addition, the mediocre translation was
untouched with the re-release. They did tweak the game’s balancing though, and added a quick
save feature which is good for a handheld to have, but personally, I would still recommend
the SNES version. As of the time of this review, Breath of Fire
hasn’t yet been digitally released for any modern consoles. So at this point to pick
up a copy of Breath of Fire you’ll be paying either $16 for the GBA version, or around
$24 for the original SNES release, which, really, isn’t bad at all when you compare
it to the cost of other SNES RPGs. Upon its release in the US, Breath of Fire
was met with mostly positive criticism, which was great news for Capcom because development
was already well underway for this games Sequel, Breath of Fire 2! But I’ll talk about that
next time, on The Game Collection!

83 thoughts on “Breath of Fire Review [SNES] The Game Collection

  1. Glad to see this game (and entire series) get the appreciation that it deserves. Too many people just don't know how fun and brilliant it is! Earthbound introduced me to rpgs and left me craving for more afterwards. Then Breath of Fire came into my life and I have been hooked to the rpg genre ever since.

  2. Breath of Fire, great game and great game series. Definitely high up on my favorites list. 😉 The beginning of this game is probably my biggest complaint, other than the high encounter rate. The way it starts off, where you have very little you can do in battle. With just one character and nothing special they can do, a lot of the early game is just mashing the button until you need to heal and each battle is a "war of attrition". I do still enjoy it, but I think it might put off some gamers who aren't used to older RPG's. Great review! And great choice for this review series! 🙂

  3. It has been released on Wii u virtual console for $8. This is probably the best way to get the game now as it will be the snes version.

  4. I absolutely love this game, from the first time I played it many years ago and even now it's still a great game with a spectacular storyline

  5. yeah one the problems with breath of fire and the series in general is exp sharing , which makes leveling take a really long time

  6. I am very lenient on old games. I can appreciate Super Hydlide or Virtual Hydlide even if they have aged (very poorly for VH).

    As for Breath Of Fire 1 however (which I got around a month ago on the Wii U), I can't get around the fact that the first few hours are spent solo stuck with a strategy that's no deeper than "Attack/Get Hit/Attack/Get hit" and repeat (using a potion once in a while), without any other option. And even when I first got Nina, the game didn't really become interesting to me. I feel like it's really cumbersome, boring, and even generic to play. Maybe it becomes better afterwards, but unfortunately, your review, while being a good one, didn't really convince me to replay the game. Sorry, the game is just too painfully slow.

    By contrast, Phantasy Star II (1989) on the Mega Drive also had an high (albeit VERY random) rate encounter and gigantic dungeons, even the first one, and the characters moved even slower, but you already have two party members in your team at the beginning of the game (plus another one you can get in just 20-30 minutes of playing and exploring) both of them can use magic (the main character is even one of the best offensive spell-casters and warriors), double-attack depending on your equipment, and the sci-fi universe was, I think, more innovative and interesting for an RPG of its time.

    If you love Breath Of Fire 1, I think you'll at least "like" Phantasy Star II.

  7. I freaking love the breath of fire games. Huge amount of nostalgia for me, but I still think these games hold up very well. My favorite is probably the third game for playstation. Great Video, Likes and Subs.

  8. Im playing it right now in my cellphone, and having the option to slightly speed it up helps a lot in not making it annoying, specially with the high encounter rate.
    But man I can't let it go, Im playing it in any moment I can, and playing it at the same time, it struck me more than Final Fantasy VI

  9. I need to stop being lazy and play through this game.  I finished BoF3 and 4 but need to go back to the SNES era and do 1 and 2.  Hell at this point I still want to play Dragon Quarter at some point.  Such a great series.

  10. I went through and played Breath of Fire 3 and 4 last year and enjoyed them. I really should go back and try 1 and 2 though, your reviews of the franchise helped me remind myself of that. Thanks!

  11. how fun, i found lufia better than breath of fire, but as you said, nostalgia can be powerful, good reviews anyways..

  12. I absolutely ADORE the Breath of Fire series! I was only a 4 year old boy when I first played this game, it's easily one of the most influential pieces of art that has affected me me as a person.. thank you capcom for making such a wonderful game, and thank you Derek for reviewing it!

  13. As usual this is a great review Super Derek. I had a veeery different opinion on the game however, that anyone can watch by heading over to my own channel. Just a warning though, it is a lot more negative than this one.

  14. i… fucking… LOVE breath of fire. If it weren't for the early final fantasy and breath of fire games i wouldn't be the gamer i am today.

  15. First RPG Series and first to come to America Capcom actually dipped their feet into the RPG world with Sweet Home a Horror RPG only released in Japan. its actually a really good game for their first Try you should check it out if you haven't already

  16. Breath of Fire is 1 is one of my favorite RPGS for SNES! Along with Earth Bound, Final Fantasy IV & VI, and A Link to the Past (And Secret of Mana), I've played this game as a little girl and it took me over ten years to beat it (my five year old self didn't know what to do on the game. LOL).

  17. When I first tried Breath of Fire, I didn't like it, but when I gave it a second chance, it became one of my favorites.

  18. I really love that game. I want to play it again, but I can't get it legitimately. I'm considering using a emulator, but I don't want the malware. Does anyone know how I can get this game without the viruses

  19. I felt like this game was nothing but aimless fetch quests. Just do this, do that, with no rhyme or reason. I never beat it because of that. It reminded me of the first Lufia which also was similar in the same way in terms of endless fetch quests.

  20. Enjoying this series immensely now (BoF 1 thru 4) for the 1st time in years. Just finished my favorite, BoF3 on PS1. Then I went right into the 1st BoF on SNES, which I'm still playing now. Enjoying the original one again and how its storyline is more simple & focused. Then I'll be going right into BoF2, then 4. I'll take the entire Nina & Ryu ride with the "good" BoF games, then stop there.
    I have Dragon Quarter, but doubt I'll play that one again. I'd love to see a new entry into the series on console, not mobile.

  21. I jumped into the series with Breath Of Fire II, which used a more refined and updated engine with superb graphics and sound. I loved it so much, I rented Breath OF Fire I for a week from Block Buster and was overjoyed to see that it was a direct prequel and it finally clicked that the two weirdo's on the Island on BOF II was Bo and Carn, heroes of the first game, and Evan tossing it out that Bleu was in BOF I made it even more exciting to get her in the party.

    HOWEVER…. Going backwards from Breath Of Fire II made it extremely difficult to stomach most of the music in the game. The sound chip that was used for the music was fucking awful. It was bad enough that most of the songs sounded sad and depressing, and it was downright annoying how the music always changed when entering shops/houses/INNS. I really did like the Boss battle theme though, it really invoked a sense of dread. And the game had that really early 90's hardcore charm to it that left a lot of lore and mystery to be pondered because of it's short dialogue.

  22. I think this is a nice review, I just wish you have said some of the chars names (The fish guy is Gobi, the ox guy is Ox, etc), because it really adds to knowing what is on it.

    And again, thank you for taking the time to review the games 🙂

  23. It just came on 3DS on eshop along with Breath of Fire 2. You get a discount buying both (until October 20th 2016).

    Really enjoying BoF 1 so far!

  24. I'm about to play through the series for the first time. I noticed you mentioned that it is hard to know what an item does due to name shortening. You forgot to mention the snes version comes with a lovely little fold out sheet with a full list of spell/item names and what they do. Looking forward to getting home from work.

  25. I played this game endlessly as a kid. Unfortunately I never finished it because our house got robbed and almost all my games were stolen. In a sick twist of fate the robbers left me with my SNES itself and two games, a college football game (that I never played) and The Tick, a mediocre beat em up. It's great that this game is on virtual console though, maybe one day I will finally beat this game. Great review Derek!

  26. Gotta say, this game irked me for one reason: the boss' second winds. It was never enough to kill the jerks once. 😛

  27. Yeah, when I was a kid I remember being rewarded for beating off in BoF

    Rule 34?

    Seriously though. Ive always preferred the BoF series over FF. I love dragons.. in FF you only really kill them.. In BoF, you get to kill and BE them.

    I know this vid is old, but anyone still seeing junk, I'd like to hear from.

    You see, I think BoF 3 was better than FFVII. Just one reason off the top of my head? FFVII gives us Aeris death (classic memory).. But breath of fire 3 gave us Rei and Teepo… and then took to them from us.. And then, manages to both resurrect, but also unforgettably transform (literally) one of them.. while killing the other a second time.. (When 8 year old me found Rei, but not Teepo.. I was almost certain that I chose a favorite character that died before he ever got fleshed out).. but, of course, those of us who have played through the game know how that turns out.

  28. BOF1 is my favourite RPG of all times… And this is the FIRST TIME I hear a review that I subscribe 100%; probably the best analysis of BOF1 in the net, in my opinion.
    People tend to say things like "it' s slow, it' s boring, it' s hard…". But for some, this is just a MASTERPIECE, a very rare gem with a strong personality, a very particular style and a beautiful sad-decadent-melancholic tone.
    Music is so damn good, that relaxes or motivates me every time I listen.
    Desingn is just superb, specially in combats.
    And the plot… I can tell you there' s more on that apparently "simple" plot than it seems. It' s cryptic, like old animanga, and contains a lot of mythical elements that can make you wonder and think a lot about details like Dragon Clan, Tyr-Myria, Bleu-Deis, Krypt, the races, transformations….
    A silent and laconic masterpiece.
    Hard as hell but so charismatic and unforgettable…

  29. 24 and 16 bucks for this Game? Where did you get those? Even in 2014 those games were already very expensive

  30. 😺Name?
    🙎Ryu of the Dragon Clan…
    🙀Breath of Fire or Ninja Gaiden ?
    🙎Street Fighter?
    😾… get out of here Guy.

  31. funny watching this now in 2018 since its ow on eshop however your opinion on the gba version i dont share though i respect it since that was the only version of the first game i ever played until i got it for my 3ds

  32. I don't know why but your style of narration is really cool. At first I thought you sounded a little boring but as it went on I really warmed up to it and I appreciate the speed in which you speak, not too slow but not too fast either.

  33. I played this on the SNES years ago, and more recently beat the GBA version of BoF2. Great games. Not flawless but still great. I found the enemy encounter rate infuriating, though in 2 at least you could use an item to lessen this a bit. I did find the dungeons a bit annoying, but overall had a good time. The character arcs indeed are great and sometimes very poignant.

  34. I'm very glad to see someone commenting this game this graciously. It was one of my first SNES JRPGs and left a very strong feeling of adventure and beauty in my heart, that never left me. You win a subscriber man

  35. Breath of Fire is the quintessential "old school" RPG. There's nothing groundbreaking about it, but what it does, it does extremely well. The overworld is beautiful, the enemies are interesting, and the battle system works well. Most RPGs, at least at the time, had you primarily playing human characters. In Breath of Fire, only two of your characters are human (and even calling them fully human is a misnomer).

    My only real complaint with the game is that it features a day-night mechanic and really doesn't do anything interesting with it. I always loved how Dragon Warriors III and IV used the day-night mechanic to change interactions in towns or present monsters you wouldn't see at other times. In Breath of Fire, you just can't go into shops at night. It was a big missed opportunity to add a whole other dynamic to the game.

  36. In my humble opinion, Breath of Fire 1 is the best in the series. I experienced it 15 yesrs ago, and I enjoyed it. Anyway, Breath of Fire 2 was right behind the first one.
    Fantastic review! I always follow you gladly. A big hug! 😊

  37. It's nice to find other fans of the series because I remember playing this game back in 2004 or 5 and it was fun but I never got to complete the game until I started using emulation back in 2012 because this game isn't cheap.

  38. I have this game since I was a kid me and my brother just beat the whole game three years ago. It was really hard to beat.

  39. I do remember playing the first two Breath of Fire games on the SNES, but never really invested anytime into a serious play through of either. Coming back to the first game now on Switch’s SNES Online catalog though I’m reminded of just how great the sprite work is. It holds up really well.

  40. The localization is crap. The game itself has its issues, but there is so much that is great and creative with it that it makes it worth playing. I agree on the smaller subplots, they're really well, and some are so messed up that they HAVE to be experienced: like the zombies invading Romero, and an old woman has a jar that can eliminate the zombies, BUT, her husband is a zombie (and perfectly lucid), so when you purify the lands you effectively kill her husband. Those kinds of dilemmas really pull. The encounter rate is brutal. The composer is Yoko Shimomura, who did Xenoblade Chronicles and Street Fighter 2.

  41. Can't believe they make you spend all that money to buy an item just to get another item!! That is currently where I am at in the game.

  42. Personally I find Breath of Fire amazing, except for one thing… The random encounters ruin the entire game for me, and the fact that you can’t run away from most of them really pisses me off. It makes the battles extremely boring and you don’t appreciate the animations or small details within the fight that make it more epic. In fact, the random encounters alone almost made me quit the game because of how frequent and obnoxious they are. It’d be a 10/10 game if the encounters weren’t so frequent, but I give it a 7/10 (closer to a 6/10)

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