Title: Breath of Fire II
Release Date: 1994
Where to Buy: Your best bet is Nintendo’s Eshop for $7.99 assuming you have a Wii or Wii U. You can go to the Store Page Here. However if you don’t have a Wii or Wii U or you want to have the original SNES version for your collection you can find it on Amazon with prices ranging from $199 to $329 depending on the condition of the item. You can browse what’s available on Amazon right here.
Overall: 63/80 79% C+ “Good Game for Girls”
Concept: 10/10 Breath of Fire II is another one of my all-time favorite games. I loved the cute and colorful graphics, interesting characters who are mostly anthromorphic or furrie in nature, and especially enjoyed the city building aspects of the game. It also had a very touching story; and one that was quite bold and unprecedented especially for a western release at that time as it takes a very negative view of religion. Combat is typical 90s RPG turnbased style and there are random encounters every few steps with unseen enemies. While this style of gameplay is dated today, it was pretty standard fare back in the early-mid 90s.
Gameplay: 8/10 There are numerous characters to recruit, while not as numerous, as say, Suikoden, it still offered a half dozen or more playable characters who could join your party, each with unique skills and abilities. You had a max party size of 4, but could freely rotate characters in and out of your group. As mentioned above, aside from the ability to build your own town, including choosing colors and styles of buildings, and selecting who to move into your city, aside from that aspect, it’s very typical of gameplay found in other 90s era RPGs, especially in terms of combat. While it doesn’t innovate, it’s definitely a tried and true gameplay mechanic with millions of fans of these games. Some people may find the gameplay a bit tedious if not used to games from this era. Combat is fun though since you have many different abilities to choose from with each character, and how many other games are there where you actually become a dragon :).
Story: 10/10 The story of Breath of Fire II follows a young boy, Ryu, who returns home from an adventure one day to find his family missing and other townsfolk acting oddly. It’s as if Ryu’s family, and Ryu himself, have never existed. No one has any memory of them and Ryu finds himself all alone in the world. He is taken in by a priest and meets another orphan dog-like boy named Bow. The two decide to escape the foster home together and flee for the city where they plan to live as Mercenaries for Hire. While taking an assignment from the palace, Bow is accused of being a thief. And thus Ryu’s adventures begin in an effort to track down the real thief and help clear Bow’s name. The journey begins with our cast of characters as light-hearted “scamp” precocious like children, and then it evolves into a very mature mystery as we witness the characters’ growth throughout their journey and we learn more about the evil demons and possessed citizens who have fallen victim to a false religion. We also learn what happened to Ryu’s parents.
Characters: 10/10 Throughout the journey, you meet many people who are possessed by a strange power. You also encounter dragons, beasts, demons, and learn that Ryu is in fact the last remaining member of the dragon clan with a latent ability to transform himself into a dragon and kick some ass in combat. You encounter a full cast of interesting, unique, non-human like comrades who will join your party, including Nina, a winged woman; a tiger girl named Katt; a bull or horse like character named Rand; Sten, a monkey like creature; Jean the frog; Spar, a plant like creature; and Bleu the Naga serpentine like creature. I really enjoyed such a unique character lineup. I also feel there’s significant character depth. While the game largely is light hearted and suitable for all ages, there’s some touching and even “heavy” moments such as the scene with Nina’s sister (if you’ve played the game, then you know the one). I found the entire cast to be likable and found myself caring for them and responding to their emotions.
Graphics: 8/10 The graphics are extremely colorful in this game, more so than other rpgs released around the same time such as phantasy star, final fantasy, illusion of gaia, and etc. The character designs are out of this world and unique (though admittedly, Jean does remind me of Frog from chrono trigger with the cape design and everything being very similar). The special effects in combat were also exciting and fit well with the expectations of one who can shape shift into a big bad dragon. However, clearly, the game is old, and its graphics don’t stand up to today’s standards. Also unlike other games of its time such as Lunar, Popful Mail, Vay, Y’s, etc It suffers from a lack of cinematic scenes which could have really brought this game to life. I’m assuming it’s because it was a cartridge based game and had to make due with less space than other games of its time, but I think it would have been awesome with some anime cutscenes.
Music: 5/10 The music didn’t really make any lasting impressions on me. It’s been about 3 years since my last playthrough; and I can’t really recall any particular tracks. I am sure the music was “good” but when I compare it to say Lunar, Chrono Trigger, or Final Fantasy 6… It just doesn’t “stand the test of time”. While other 90s RPGs have such “iconic” music that I can still almost “hear” in my head years after last playing them; Breath of Fire 2’s music just falls by the wayside.
Replay value: 4/10 The game is linear in terms of story, like so many 90s JRPGs were back then. But I still find myself replaying it, not necessarily for story or branching plot or anything of that nature, but instead, simply because, it’s a very enjoyable game with unique and lovable characters. It also offers a little bit of variety with its city building aspects.
Overall: 63/80 79% C+ “Good Game for Girls”
Innovation of the week: Turn your old-fashioned timepiece into a smartwatch