It’s time for an old school RPG. This one has definitely been around for a while but I just hadn’t had time to give it a shot before. Well, after playing it I can confirm that the game has aged well. The gameplay style is nice and retro with the story being rather solid. You don’t really see a lot of games like this one nowadays, at least not among the AAA companies.
The game starts with everyone in the village being murdered as per usual with just a few survivors making it out. Ryu’s sister decides she will go out to stop the Dark Dragon Clan in their wild quest to destroy the world. A long time passes and she does not return so Ryu is forced to take up the challenge next. He will need to team up with a lot of skilled fighters in order to make a difference but is he really just setting off on an impossible mission?
As you complete each area you get more and more allies to fight by your side until you’ve got a rather solid roster. It’s all done very methodically which works rather well. While the game may not be very original in some ways like the story and all, the fundamentals are just really strong which is what makes this game a lot of fun. For example the gameplay is just really smooth and in some ways it beats out some of the more modern versions. When you don’t want to fight enemies you can actually use up an item that prevents any random encounters for a little while. I thought that was a really handy item and there were no strings attached. Sure, you do have to spend money to get the item but it’s rather cheap and you’ll be swimming in money later on.
You get a map along the way and the ability to fly so going through the map isn’t super crazy. I will say that on occasion the game isn’t very clear on what you need to do next though. Because of how the game lets you mess around with the order of things a bit, sometimes you’ll miss out on an item or event that you need in order to go forward. When that happens it can be a bit annoying. It doesn’t happen often but in those moments it would be nice if there was a way to ship the item to a newer location so you didn’t have to run all the way back. Now that would have been ideal.
So it’s not like it’s all perfect here but at the end of the day it’s a very peaceful game. It’s one that you can just sit down and have a good time with at any point. IN general I feel that way about the retro RPG titles because I like the turn based system quite a bit. Beating up on enemies over and over again is a great way to build up your XP but it can also be very soothing at the same time.
For the graphics, I’d say they’ve aged well. The level designs are on point and I like how the characters look. The soundtrack is also decent although I wouldn’t say that any of the themes are very memorable. It could have used a little more energy to the tracks but either way it’s not something where I would give it a thumbs down for that. There isn’t much replay value after beating the game but the campaign’s fairly long so that won’t be much of an issue here.
As to the story, I thought it really took off once Goda and the group of villains showed up. It starts off a little slow as you beat up a bunch of forgettable villains for a while but then once the big villains show up, the game really raises its level. It also made you feel like the game had a good chunk of content left since for a little while there it felt like you were going to end it before a whole lot happened.
Your allies are a bit forgettable though. None of them really stood out for me. They weren’t bad but if you asked me to tell you their personalities I wouldn’t be able to say much more than the one sentence premise of their characters. It felt like they didn’t get to do a whole lot despite being around. The main character was the most interesting and even then he is fairly standard. The villains are definitely the more interesting characters here and the game has some twists and turns at the end of it.
As with just about any RPG you can expect that the final boss here is rather difficult. Make sure you’ve trained a lot and have the best attacks and equipment ready or you will be in for a rough time. If you lose you can always just go back to train of course but it’s always ideal to train first so you don’t have to backtrack for a long while. Particularly for the final boss where you would have to go trough the dungeon all over again.
Overall, I’m definitely ready to check out Breath of Fire 2. If you like a good RPG then you’ll definitely be a fan of this one. You’ve got all of the classic RPG elements here and they’re executed well. While some areas could have been better, I’d say it shines as a bright example of why the genre is so good. It would absolutely be worthy of being someone’s first RPG too as it would get them used to the mechanics. There really aren’t any downsides to this one so just go in and have fun.