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Breath of Fire Review (SNES, 1993)

For a 1993 release on the Super Nintendo the original Breath of Fire plays surprisingly archaic. The plot is simple to the point - the game's silent protagonist embarks on a journey to rescue his sister and save the world from evil emperor Zorgon. The journey itself consists mostly of sub plots. To be honest I forgot about Ryu's sister halfway through the game because it never mentions her again until the last act. Dialogue and character developments are kept to a minimum, and while the game's story elements have some neat moments it's hard to stay interested in the shallow story as a whole.

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Even in terms of gameplay Breath of Fire doesn't excel. Dungeons have some puzzle elements that are welcome, and the characters' personal actions allow for some nice exploration rewards on the world map. However a high encounter rate and slow movement speed cause every moment of the game to drag on and on. Unfortunately there is little to no character customization (each character can equip 2 accessoiries that have various effects and that's it) - each skill is fixed for you. It also doesn't help that most characters require massive amounts of experience points to level up - by the time I beat the game (and it's a long one) my party was mostly around level 30(!). Breath of Fire is the exact opposite of a modern RPG in the sense that there is very little feeling of reward for your time.

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Various transformation mechanics and a diverse cast of anthromorphic characters paint the game with a unique tint, but neither aspect makes it any less boring. This one's for curious fans of the series only and not a game I'd recommend to even regular JRPG fans. As a long time fan of Breath of Fire III-V this one left me quite disappointed. Due to the generic fantasy setting even Phantasy Star I and II were more interesting to play (context: I also played those for the first time rather recently in 2018), and those are quite slow and archaic as well.

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