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Breath of Fire II

Game Boy Advance

Game Description:

The mid-90s were a golden era for console RPGs. Emerging giants Squaresoft and Enix released hit after hit, laying the groundwork for almost all JRPGs that followed. Capcom released the Breath of Fire series with some very heavy competition, yet the games manage to stand among the better RPGs of the Super Nintendo and PlayStation.

After the reasonable success of the first title in the series, Capcom decided to expand upon the elements that made the first work. Like other JRPGs, Breath of Fire II is quite linear, however there are few restrictions on where the player can travel early in the game. This game introduced a hunting mini-game, as well as introducing a more complex fishing game, something that would become a series staple. Despite lacking much of the depth and complexity of the titles produced by Square and Enix, Breath of Fire II managed to be an impressive title that still deserves attention today.

The game opens with one of the best introductions I’ve encountered in a game. The hero, Ryu, a young boy when the game begins, lives with his father, a priest, and sister in a small town in the woods. One day he falls asleep in the forest behind the village. When he awakens, he finds that the entire village has forgotten him and his family is nowhere to be found. After a few more scenes, the game goes to ‘present day’, where Ryu is grown up and living as a mercenary. At times, the plot feels almost simplistic, but there are complexities under the surface just waiting to be explored. Breath of Fire II handles it’s characters quite well. They all have interesting stories and depth.

It’s a fairly standard JRPG in terms of play. The battles are turn-based, with experience and money rewarded at the end of each battle. As with most RPGs of that era, enemies are encountered randomly while walking in most areas. One clever feature is a gauge in the menu that shows how high the encounter rate is in a given area. This is especially important in one dungeon where the player has to kill every monster. Most spells are learned when a character reaches a set level, although some must be taught through other means. A feature unique to this game is an alteration to the fusion system used in the first game. In Breath of Fire II, Ryu will encounter 6 shamans, each representing a different element. When ‘fused’ in certain combinations with different characters, they transform the character into a stronger version of themselves that is often far more powerful.

Breath of Fire II added several elements that would become standard in later games. The biggest of these is the player built town. Early in the game, Ryu finds ruins that another character is able to assist in repairing. Later, the party encounters carpenters who can be hired to construct buildings and people who are willing to move to your town. There are several options for town residents. Most will assist the player, either by selling equipment/items, teaching spells, increasing character stats, or several other effects. There are also some residents who steal from the player. The town becomes very important as the game progresses, especially later if the player makes a correct choice.

As with the first game in the series, Breath of Fire II features multiple endings. This time, there are three. The worst of these two comes from a dialogue choice. The better of the two endings are determined by the player’s actions during a particular boss fight late in the game. The result of this fight has a huge impact on the story and gives access to an important late game feature.

Overall, Breath of Fire II is a great game. The plot and characters are great, the music is good, and the world/level design is fantastic. While the game play is certainly lacking by today’s standards, it is far from boring. If you haven’t played Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, or Illusion of Gaia, yet, my advice would be to go immediately play them (they’re still some of the finest RPGs ever made). If you’ve played all of those, however, and you’re looking to try something new, Breath of Fire II is definitely worth playing.

Content:


3 Hacks
TitleCategoryDate
Breath of Fire II - Sound RestorationImprovement24 Mar 2019
Breath of Fire 2 GBA Palette HackImprovement05 Mar 2012
Breath of Fresh Fire 2Improvement29 Dec 2011