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Breath of Fire II (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Breath of Fire II (Game Boy Advance) review


"I felt that BOF2 was a complete let-down in terms of plot and story. The interesting introductory sequence makes you think that the storyline will be deep and interesting, but Capcom barely scratches the surface. Most of the game's dialogue is devoted to dull and silly conversations between the game's characters, who seem to have no real significance in the storyline, with the exception of Ryu. "



Introduction:

I'm impressed with the number of promising RPG's which have appeared on GBA, thus far. First, Golden Sun ''wowed'' gamers with its beautiful graphics, then the release of Breath of Fire proved to everyone that GBA is capable of running a near perfect port of an old classic game. Now, the sequel has come out, and gamers have even higher expectations. Sequels are always expected to be bigger, better, and prettier. In most ways, BOF2 manages to improve upon the original, which makes it a solid game, but it still could've used a lot of work.

Gameplay:

Like in any old RPG, most of the game takes place in dungeons/random battles. This isn't so bad, but there really are a lot of those battles. In some ares, it's so bad that you don't even really get a chance to take a breath before that dreaded screen pops up again. The frustration doesn't lie in the difficulty of the battles--they're actually quite easy--it's just that there are so many, it makes the game incredibly repetitive. Even the smallest dungeons can take a very long time, and possess a very tedious feel, all because of those damn random battles.

Of course, you'll also have to do other things, such as keep your characters well-equipped, explore, talk with people, and partake in the game's fun mini-games! When you think about when it was made, BOF2 was actually quite ahead of its time. Unlike others, such as the old FF games, you can stray from the storyline/gamepath to have a little fun on the side. The most common one in BOF2 is fishing, which not only requires a fair amount of strategy in baiting your hook and choosing different fishing equipment, but you'll also have to battle the fish. Fishing is a way of getting cool items, as well as having a little fun. You can also hunt on the world map, which, upon successfully killing an animal, you can gain some HP. The other mini-game is the town creation system. Right from the beginning, you will be able to choose from a few different styles for your house. As the game progresses, you'll be able to recruit new citizens, adding more houses, and you can eventually turn it into a floating town! It's little touches like these that make it nice and refreshing to do something other than just partake in the game's linearity.

The battle mechanics are simple but effective. Each character has the ability to run, attack, use an item, use a spell, or use their own unique ability. These abilities vary from random nature effects to healing all of your HP. The system isn't terribly deep or different, but it works well all the same. As they level up, your characters will learn new spells, which is basically what makes these characters unique. Some will learn powerful elemental attacks, while another might learn healing or supportive magic. With the game's eight characters, you should have some fun discovering who works best for you. The game also has a few cool features for battle which make it slightly more unique. For one, the main character, Ryu, can transform into a dragon in order to perform devastating magic attacks. While there's nothing phenomenal about this, it is the first time I've seen a main character with the ability to turn into a dragon. You will also have the ability to fuse 6 different shamans together to your characters to create powerful combinations. They range from actual transformations where a character will look different with much different stats and abilities, to simple, minor changes. It's up to the player to figure out all the different combinations, which is a nice element.

Unfortunately, the game is chalk-filled with backtracking and ''fetch'' quests. You'll have to run up to the woods, fight this boss, get that item, return to the town, only to find that you need another item, which is located at the end of another dungeon, so you have to go fight another boss. This boring and repetitive pattern of gameplay can get tedious and aggravating. I also lost count of how many times you need to go back and forth between your township and distant towns, just to trigger meaningless story sequences. The world map is crawling with monsters, so a single trip will be filled with random battles. I wish they had added a little more variety to the flow of the game.

Despite all it's blaring flaws, BOF2 is a fun game to play. You'll enjoy leveling up your characters and getting deeper into the game. It flourishes with all that old, classic goodness which SNES RPG's were in good supply of. Quirky enemies, quirky characters, fun little quests, fairly deep mini-games--it all makes the game very enjoyable, even though you might get kind of bored, frustrated and annoyed along the way.

Story:

I felt that BOF2 was a complete let-down in terms of plot and story. The interesting introductory sequence makes you think that the storyline will be deep and interesting, but Capcom barely scratches the surface. Most of the game's dialogue is devoted to dull and silly conversations between the game's characters, who seem to have no real significance in the storyline, with the exception of Ryu. I felt that the game was just too silly for me, filled with dumb little side-stories and quests, such as defeating all the ''evil fatties'' inside an obese queen's stomach, or collecting ingredients for a cooking contest between two frogs. The characters are overly goofy (a monkey, a frog, a grassman, a dog) and they're just not interesting. The first half of the game is really just about getting all the characters, and from there, the storyline goes practically nowhere. The whole dragon clan idea, which the game is supposedly centered around, is scarcely mentioned until late in the game. I was vastly disappointed with how unsatisfying the game's story really was.

Graphics:

This is a perfect port of the SNES game. This can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. It's good because that old game had a nice charm to it, with simple but crisp graphics and unique character designs. This is bad because the graphics are dated, simplistic and lack detail and inspiration. All in all, they're pretty good, but they aren't flashy or impressive by any means.

Sound:

Again, this is SNES-quality stuff here. If you liked it on SNES, you'll like it here, but otherwise, it's just simple, low-quality tunes and sound effects, which don't really add much to the game. All of the music is catchy, simple and fun, which may cause certain gamers to feel nostalgic towards the older-style of RPG. There's nothing to complain about the sound, really, it's just nothing amazing.

Replay:

While it's impossible to say exactly how long the game is, due to the fact that it doesn't have an in-game timer, but I'd estimate it's somewhere between 15 and 20 hours. Needless to say, it's a fairly lengthy adventure that should take you a couple weeks of excessive playing to finish. Unfortunately, most RPG-ers will be expecting 30-40 hours of gameplay, and that simply isn't going to happen. It's short, but sweet. The mini-games such as fishing and township can get kind of addictive, maybe causing you to come back to the game even after you've finished it.

Challenge:

I was disappointed by how easy this game is. I died only a few times in the game, and even then, I wasn't terribly frustrated. The bosses are weak and go down without much of a fight, and the random battles are simple and require no real strategy. However, there is a siginificant amount of difficulty which lies in the figuring out what to do; and let me tell you, this is a bad thing. As is with many of those old RPG's, the game is based up of running around to seemingly random places, talking to people and completing strange and arbitrary tasks. Something will be mentioned briefly, and then you're somehow supposed to know exactly where to go and what to do. I found myself aimlessly wandering the world map, being annoyed by the random battles and wondering what I was supposed to do. This might be a good thing if it required brain power, and was based on the idea of having to think, but I just see it as a poor game design.

Conclusion:

BOF2 needs a lot of work, that's no mystery. It's severely lacking in terms of storyline, and the gameplay is repetitive. However, it's filled with all the elements that make an old RPG, including eight fun characters to use during battle, a decent fighting system, an easy-to-grasp concept, and an overall pleasing appeal. Even if you demand a great story in your RPG's, or must have deep, well-developed characters, I'm sure you'll still have fun with this, because it's a fun game. I could babble on and on about how bad some aspects of it are, and how much the developers must have been drinking at the time they made it, but the game is fun all the same and is enjoyable from beginning to end.

Breakdown:

Graphics: 7/10
Gameplay: 8/10
Replay: 8/10
Story: 5/10
Sound: 7/10

Rating: 7/10

ender's avatar
Staff review by James Gordon (Date unavailable)

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