Game Over Online ~ Breath of Fire II

GameOver Game Reviews - Breath of Fire II (c) Capcom, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Breath of Fire II (c) Capcom
System Requirements Game Boy Advance
Overall Rating 85%
Date Published Thursday, June 27th, 2002 at 09:36 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

The tiny handheld that powers Breath of Fire II has to be one of the most fertile grounds; not for new genres, ideas, or visual splendor. No, it excels at rekindling old titles of yonder because for every sensational original title that comes out on the GBA, there's another one that is a lifeless rehash of an old game. I wouldn't be complaining about this, however, if they were all as a good and astute as Breath of Fire II.

The original Breath of Fire focused on dragon lore and the traditional archetype of a hero, destined to succeed, arising from nowhere to defeat the evil that plagues the land. Its follow-up sequel doesn't look or sound too dissimilar but its premise is wildly different. Rather than assuming the role of someone who comes across, to quote Dickens, great expectations, here's someone who merely is out to make a name for himself with a few chums who happen to be along the way. In that sense, Breath of Fire II is superior to its predecessor; it's not steeped in too much fatalistic literature.

The best thing about Breath of Fire II is its attention to the original's flaws. An easier learning curve to slip players in, Breath of Fire II starts with a dramatic black and white flashback sequence for the protagonist, Ryu. The protagonist here is assisted by his childhood friend Bow whom you'll meet in the flashback sequence. The real plot starts off tepidly when Ryu and Bow are basically looking for work. The first job is a simple chore to find a cat and the ball starts rolling from there. Over time, Ryu and his companions practice the old requisite of 'levelling up' and move on from one setting to another.

The last Breath of Fire game had a weird trait where the protagonist was able to fish when wandering around in the landscape. Now, Bow and all of Ryu's friends will have superpowers both during the adventure phase and inside the turn-based battle modes. Some, like Ryu's uncanny knack for metamorphosis, helps make the battles more interesting and the development of the characters more fruitful. In the last game, every character was locked into mages, fighters, so on and so forth. The companions here are far more memorable that you'll think twice about dropping them for someone else.

On almost all accounts, Breath of Fire II is more flexible than the original. At one point in the game, you're able to effectively build your own town, much like what happened in Baldur's Gate II; although the ramifications are far less dramatic here. Furthermore, the developers have added a helpful auto-save which basically emancipates the game's reliance on save points. As to how difficult a game it is, Breath of Fire II continues its predecessor's easy-going nature. It's not too rushed or too difficult. Death is never a finality that causes frustration or distress.

Obviously, there are limits to how much improvement you can endow on a vintage title like this. While the accessibilities are appreciable and basically makes the game friendly to non-RPG enthusiasts, it is still hampered with language problems both in content and presentation. Often times, the conversations are lethargic, with awkward diction and copious amounts of ellipses. The latter is a unique feature of Japanese RPGs. Ellipses by definition indicate dramatic moments but the over the top drama is frustrating on the GBA since the font size only allows for one or two lines on the screen. This makes for a cumbersome and uncomfortable reading. It's difficult to ascertain why these problems aren't fixed, especially since things like automatic battles, a save anywhere feature are obviously nods in the right direction.

Lengthy in nature, Breath of Fire II will keep you busy for quite some time and the story is more interesting in this rendition, with a colorful, and at times, zany cast. If you haven't had a chance to play the original, this is a superior title through and through. Capcom is big into remakes the last little while, even on next generation consoles like the Gamecube. Hopefully, this is won't be the bulk of their 'new' work that we'll pass lazy summer afternoons with. Insofar as novelty goes, I think the sight of SNES classics on the GBA is, alone, no longer the only reason for people to pick this up. It's still got charm and you can't say you'll ever go wrong with a title of this calibre but Capcom's modest effort ex post facto of this game, or any Capcom game's original release is starting to grow a little long in tooth.


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