"Overall, Breath of Fire 2 is a game that's just below great because of a bad translation and a lack of new content from the previous release."
When I originally reviewed Breath of Fire 2 for the Super Nintendo, I gave it a very low score. I received a fair amount of complaints from loyal fans of the series, although not as many compliments from others who agreed with my main points - The battles were far too slow, the leveling up too tedious, and the translation sloppy. When Breath of Fire 2 was re-released for the Gameboy Advance, I received many of the same complaints, asking how I could justify my review. Well, the reason is simple:
They're two completely different games.
With a few new features and additions, Capcom took a boring, extremely tedious game and actually made it into a serviceable role playing game. It won't make anyone forget about Final Fantasy X, or even fellow GBA role playing games such as the original Breath of Fire or Golden Sun, but it's still a mildly entertaining game. However, there is nothing new added to the game, so there’s little reason to re-purchase this version if you already own Breath of Fire 2 for the Super Nintendo.
In Breath of Fire 2, you play the role of a young man named Ryu from the town of Gate. When you go to sleep under the skeleton of your mother, a powerful human who morphed into a giant dragon, you awake to find the town you left in disarray. All the buildings are the same, but collective amnesia has taken root, as no one recognizes you. You run away with another young child named Bow, only to be accosted in a cave by a huge scorpion-like demon. An epic tale ensues, as Ryu struggles to find out the secret behind his past before the very world he inhabits is engulfed by an insurgent religion and their demonic horde.
The gameplay of Breath of Fire 2 is what you'd expect from a remake of a traditional Super Nintendo role playing game. Combat is on a turn-by-turn basis, with characters attacking based on their speed rating. An auto battle option is available, which greatly increases the speed of battles. Each character has a standard repertoire of commands: attack, magic, item, defend, run, and a special ability.
The special ability varies from character to character. Ryu's skill, Guts, allows him to regain hit points based on how much damage he has received. Bleu regains magic points in the same way with her Shed technique: the more she consumes, the more she can recover. However, most of the other special abilities are useless; Rand's awake technique does far too much damage and only awakens one person. Sten's rip move just seems to get his furry monkey behind beaten even quicker.
The primary question remains - Why is Breath of Fire 2 for the Gameboy Advance so much better then the Super Nintendo version? One word - speed. You can now be in a “run” state constantly, which cuts down on time previously spent walking. Also, experience and coins gained after each battle have been greatly increased. While this might seem to make the game “easier” to some, in honestly, it just removes much of the tedium from the Super Nintendo version.
Unfortunately, one change that didn't make it was a better script translation. Two gorillas and a retarded sea monkey could have translated Breath of Fire 2 into English better. There are too many grammatical errors to count. Because of the way the menus are setup, item names are also constantly being cut. It feels very rushed, and there is no excuse for that, seeing as this is a re-release of a decade old game. Capcom really should have gotten their act together.
Breath of Fire 2 is a rather appealing game visually. Bright, colorful graphics are present throughout, complete with the matching cheerful sounds. There are a few darker moments sprinkled throughout the game, but they're few and far between, occurring primarily towards journey’s end. There are also some nice gallery style graphics, but alas, more would have been much nicer; I can only recall three or four incidents where they are used.
Overall, Breath of Fire 2 is a game that's just below great because of a bad translation and a lack of new content from the previous release. If you've played and beaten the Super Nintendo version, then you don't need to play this one. But if you’re a RPG fan, it doesn't hurt to at least give this game a shot.
Staff review by Stephen Greenwell (December 21, 2003)
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