Breath of Fire: Princess of Wings Review

Breath of Fire has returned with a new adventure. It actually brings the characters from the first story back for a round 2 which is pretty neat. It’s nostalgic to see them all back in action. It captures the hype of getting to have all of the characters fight it out once more and also with introducing a new threat who is even stronger than the last one. It’s over as soon as it’s begun with only 8 chapters at the ready but this is still a satisfying read all the way through.

The story begins with Nina telling her story to some kids as she wraps up the first adventure. She makes sure to omit some details though. Nina is having a good time for the most part but misses Ryu as he hasn’t come to visit in a long while. In general the 8 heroes haven’t really stayed in contact much and that’s about to cost them. A pair of ice demons known as Zazan and Kruce have appeared and are targeting the 8 legends. They’re all being hunted down and yet nobody knows about this until it’s too late. When they attack Nina as well, she fears the worst and is thrown into the fray. Can she get the band back together in time to stop the ice dragon god from returning or are they all going to enter an eternal slumber?

It’s a rather specific premise but I always like it when a sequel brings in all of the characters and has them get wrecked or at least challenged by a new foe. Because at this point the heroes have seemingly already beaten the most powerful villains alive so who could possibly be giving them a fight right? That’s the kind of hype that this conflict generates and I’d say that Breath of Fire does well with that. It also tries to balance giving the new villains hype while still having the heroes be considerable threats which isn’t easy to do.

As you can probably guess, there are some excuses made for Ryu when he is attacked by the villains. As we say in the world of competitive gaming, no johns. He still did lose the fight no matter what the context was and it was one of the big scenes here. The battles are often very short since there isn’t much time for anything beyond moving the plot across but the suspense is always right there with you.

Nina works well as the main character here. She has a lot of reasons to want to get the band together and being a member of royalty also means that she will have some connections here. She even has two guards who try to protect her at all times. They were actually rather solid and get some big moments in the story. You always feel like they are probably doomed since they weren’t apart of the main character cast but they never back down and fight their hardest at all times. I could definitely appreciate their dedication.

Nina also looks very good as the leader in how she tries to come up with plans to help Ryu and keeps the team together. At this point she is the heart and soul of the team. Sure, Ryu is the most powerful but he doesn’t really like fighting and is more of a solo act at this point. He commands everyone’s respect but being leader isn’t really something he’s all that interested in. Of course I did have a lot of fun watching him battle once Ryu finally got into the mix. He definitely does not take prisoners, that’s for sure.

I’d say the other standout character from the heroes was Deis as she is still treated like a true powerhouse here. In a straight fight even the new villains were having a hard time with her. She absolutely had the advantage but unfortunately as a hero there will always be a lot of other people that you have to look out for. That’s just the way that it goes. Ultimately it made for a reasonable explanation as to why she didn’t just end the series abruptly.

If you’re a fan of Mogu, Manillo, Builder, or Danc then you may be sad as they get the shaft. Hey, you couldn’t possibly expect the series to squeeze everybody in right? The series did its best but there’s only so much time in 8 chapters and I think they chose the right people to give a focus. For example Gilliam got to do a lot here as he fights hard and is treated as a very dependable ally. He knows how to take care of himself so the heroes don’t really have to worry about him. He feels a little out of his league here but doesn’t complain about it. Gilliam just gets up and goes straight to business.

As for the villains, there were two main ones here. First is Zazan who gets the biggest role here. You could call him the mastermind of the villains and is instrumental in reviving the god because he’s a spellcaster. Zazan can activate the magic needed to make this all work out but in the meantime he likes dishing it out in combat against the heroes. I liked his confidence and he’s a very prideful villain. Zazan ends up looking good throughout the series and was a very intimidating presence.

His partner Kruce was less notable but no weaker. The guy made his presence known as well but was a more direct fighter who uses brute strength to get through. That puts him in a good spot to defeat most of the fighters but naturally that wouldn’t fly against someone like Ryu. The two villains had a solid dynamic going and I’d even say they trusted each other. You like to see that from villains every now and again. Their leader the ice god was decent as well but he only gets to appear for a chapter or two so there’s not a whole lot for him to do.

Picture any big villain and that’s basically this guy. He’s got endless amounts of confidence up his sleeve and a lot of power but you know that he’s just doomed from the jump. Ultimately there isn’t a whole lot that he can do to delay his inevitable demise. If the series were longer then he would probably be able to leave more of an impact.

The artwork is really good here. It’s definitely a step up from the original manga. The style is very different though so this could definitely depend from person to person. It works for me though, it had that old school fantasy look to it. The characters are more detailed and the fights really go in depth. Each page has a lot of power to it and I just had no complaints with how it looked. It was all very satisfying to me.

So the story here is simple but the execution is solid. It’s really the definition of a good action story. You get to have some fights and each big character gets their chance to shine. There’s no twists or anything deeper than the villains trying to summon the god and fighting the heroes but there doesn’t need to be. It all just flows together smoothly and the 8 chapters can easily be sped through in a single sitting.

The climax happens quickly but with the amount of tension and atmosphere that you would get after a longer story. The planet is at stake after all and the heroes are facing their toughest threat yet. It all feels very real even while going all the way through. It’s also worth noting that there just aren’t any weak points to the manga. It’s got good pacing and each chapter will keep you at the edge of your seat. It would work really well as a movie and that may have been what they were going for here.

Overall, Breath of Fire continues to operate on a very high level here. Even if you haven’t played the game you could get what’s going on here but it probably won’t hit you with as much nostalgia. It won’t really feel as big a deal to see the 8 heroes of legend taken out so quickly. At its core this is a very dramatic epic with good amounts of action and story. You want to read it with the full context to really get the complete impact. Hopefully they bring the characters back again in the future, I’m sure there’s still a lot you could do with them.

Overall 7/10

Breath of Fire Review

The Breath of Fire video game was a lot of fun so it was time to see how the manga would fare. Adapting a complete RPG in only 6 chapters is definitely quite the task. I’d say the manga did a good job but of course for obvious reasons it does cut a whole lot out. Things tend to move quickly here, particularly the climax which has to go at lightning speeds. Some of the villain generals also don’t get to appear here. For example you’re not going to see Goda here unless he had some kind of wordless cameo. Even in the game these guys didn’t appear much until the end though so it’s not too surprising.

The manga starts off with a ton of lore and the cliff notes version is that the world was once inhabited by a bunch of dragon clans. One day the Dark Dragons decided to go and murder everybody for some reason. The White Dragons were the only ones that could have stopped them but unfortunately they decided to become complete pacifists so they just watched as everyone got slaughtered instead. I’d be steamed if I was anyone living in that world tbh. Well, eventually the dark dragons got to the final survivors and nearly murdered them too but Ryu’s sister Sara made a deal to keep it as a 1 on 1 fight. She sacrificed herself so that Ryu could live.

Fast forward a few years and Ryu has made it his life’s goal to destroy all of the dark dragons. This will not be easy but he’s ready for this. Inn the meantime he also comes across other characters who have had their lives ruined by the dark dragons as well. The heroes will have to move quickly though or there won’t be a world left to save. They are also heavily outnumbered and so the heroes have to make sure that their plans are completely on point.

This feels like a very classic action adventure story. You’ve seen the characters and this kind of adventure before. It’s not trying to be super ambitious or anything like that and is just trying to tell a good story. It works well at doing this and if you like fantasy adventures then you will definitely have a good time with this one. Ryu makes for a solid main character. He’s your classic heroic kid who has a personal grudge against the villains. As the series goes on he learns that rage isn’t the way and that he must fight for justice instead.

Ryu never backs away from a challenge and will defend his friends to the end. He jumps right into action whenever there is danger and so I definitely don’t have any issues with him. I thought he handled all of the situations really well. Then you have the main heroine Nina who is rather retro in how she’s always beating up on poor Ryu. She can’t fight super well or anything but she does have healing abilities which come in handy. What Nina lacks is self confidence as she is easily set off by the sorceress Deis with rather light teasing. Nina needs to stay strong so she doesn’t cause any trouble.

Danc gets a fairly important role here as he has a tragic sob story as well and is ready to help out. The kid can’t really fight but helps give a motivational speech as one point. I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of his but he’s not bad. If you want a bad character, Manillo fits that bill. They try to play him off like a decent guy by the end but I wasn’t buying it. He wouldn’t let the heroes get a boat so they could go save the world because he wanted extra money. His offers to them were pretty bad on the kinds of other tasks they could do to raise money. I don’t see how any of the characters were cool with him after that. They should have just knocked the guy around instead.

Builder gets his moment to shine as well. Things started out rather rough for him but the heroes helped him regain his confidence and make a comeback. Ultimately he got a happy ending which was nice, things almost got pretty dark for him there. Gillian also has his own chapter and that’s probably one of the perks of being an early character. I feel like you get more time to shine since you’re also around in the background for the rest. He’s a good character and helps everyone stay calm.

Mogu is an example of a character who came in too late. By the time he appears the series is pretty much over so there’s not much for him to do. He is a nice enough character who wants to help out but you don’t really feel like he can fight as well as he may think that he can. Deis is the final member to join the group and she’s a fun character like in the game. Her abilities are actually really good so she can help Ryu on the front lines unlike the others. Her spells have a lot of versatility to them and you can count on her help in any circumstance. She does enjoy teasing Nina for sure but you can say that it’s to help make Nina stronger. Deis has quite the strong personality and definitely helped to enhance the overall team dynamics.

As for the villains, most of them didn’t really make the cut here so the roster is rather small. You have Zorgon who thought he was the leader but he is manipulated from start to finish and never actually gets to look all that good. In the end this guy was really all talk and his role is so small that you may chuckle at the end. Judas is definitely the standout villain. He makes his presence known at all times and is incredibly powerful. He lands a lot of super big blows to the heroes and is relevant for the whole series. He gets more to do than I would have even expected and it makes for a great character arc.

Naturally Ryu’s sister Sara is also really solid. She’s determined and has a lot of power just like he does. She never backs down and doesn’t end up playing second fiddle. Sara just goes in and keeps on fighting all the way through to the end. She gets one of the most emotional moments in the manga. Finally you have Myria who is really the big bad here. The destroyer of the universe and she has other cool titles like that. She can fight and has kept up with the power creep over times.

While her goals may not be much more than total destruction, she does a good job of setting this into motion. Myria is strong and I liked her well enough as a villain. She may not stand out in terms of personality but her abilities are the real deal. This is where I would have liked another chapter or two though because the final fight ends up being a little rushed due to the length. In the span of 10 pages the heroes have to try and land their first blow on her and then the series ends. Not a lot of time for a real fight considering how powerful she was right?

The artwork is nice and retro. This looks like a very old time manga and it does adapt the video game designs well. At times the action can be a little hard to follow along so I think the manga could have been clearer there. It’s still good but it’s what keeps the good art from being very good. This would lose to a lot of modern titles for example but it’s solid enough where I wouldn’t call it bad. You’ll be able to blast through the chapters either way. The series has a little fanservice like with the obligatory river washing and Deis messing with Ryu but for the most part there’s not much here. It feels more like the series was ticking off a box than they were trying to add a lot of this. I’d argue that’s a box you don’t need to tick off since the scenes don’t add anything but they’re minor enough where they don’t bring the series down.

The story has good vibes to it and stays upbeat for the most part. There are a lot of tragedies as each character has a sob story but there is no time to really dwell on it. Even the characters are quickly back to having fun as they travel the distance. I’d say the manga does a good job of showing just what an adventure would feel like and how the characters adapt to it. It’s fairly low key even with the world at stake which helps on the retro feel.

I still say that the manga should have been longer but ultimately that’s not something that would shave a star off of the final product. It just means that this will probably encourage you to play the video game to really get the full experience. That’s my recommendation here as well, if you like the manga then definitely play the game. You get the bullet points here and all of the big story moments but it’s just not the same compared to a 20-30 hour experience on the game version. You get more time for the twists and character development there.

Overall, Breath of Fire is a solid title. It’s a very quick read at only 6 chapters long. It’s ultimately 2 volumes long as a result but they would feel like fairly short volumes to me. At least you could also say this speaks to the quality of the series as you will have no problem binging it all the way through. It’s what I’d consider to be a fairly safe pick. It’s not really going for any outlandish twists or bold story choices. This is a traditional adventure with fun characters and really plays out exactly how you would expect it to. So it’s a fun story that should appeal to most without trying to test the waters. I’ll be checking out the Breath of Fire 2 adaption soon and we’ll see how that one stacks up. I’d say I’ve got pretty good hopes on that one as well. Should be a solid adventure too.

Overall 7/10

Breath of Fire Review

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.

Overall 7/10