Breath of Fire 3
I've had more respect for onions after playing this game...
Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom Genre: Roleplaying Players: 1 Memory Blocks: 1 Discs: 1 Analog: No Dual Shock: No ESRB: Teen Difficulty: Intermediate
To tell you the truth, I've never actually played the first two on the SNES (unless you count five minutes on an emulator with no sound as playing one), so there wasn't a whole lot that I knew about this series when I turned it on. However, after I began to play, I understood what all the fuss was about. Breath of Fire 3 is an excellent game.
Gameplay--Breath of Fire 3 plays like your average RPG, with weapons, shops, inns, strong-attackers-but-no-magic party members, great-magic-using-but-no-attack party members, and the like. However, throughout the game, there are some quite innovative bonuses along with the standard shtick.
Take, for instance, the Examining feature, which, during combat, lets you lose a turn to examine one enemy. If that enemy uses a unique ability during the next turn, you have a chance of learning it. If you've played FF6, you'll probably realize that this is exactly like Stragos's "Lore" feature, only tweaked a bit to make it possible for each character to try it out. I never really had any use for Lore earlier, but after playing this game, I understood it a lot better. Also, BOF sports something that nobody would have thought of: fishing! This fun mini-game lets you select different types of lures and rods, and immerse yourself (no pun intended) in a button-mashing battle between man and fish. It's these sorts of things that make Breath of Fire 3 a diverse adventure to play. Like Fritz Fraundorf once said, "There's always something new to do."
Graphics--Who needs polygons to be effective? BOF's sprites do just fine, with detailed landscapes, well animated characters, FF-Tactics-ish spell effects (that's a good thing), and cool enemies. I especially like the little signs that appear over characters' heads, like exclamation points, question marks, and That Drop Symbol That Symbolizes Nervousness In Anime (which, I might add, is used a LOT). While some things are ho-humish (uh, townsfolk), more than a good chunk of the game is great-looking (that Eye boss you face in the Lighthouse is simply awesome, as is the Dragon Zombie).
Music--Hmm...I expected better from an RPG. There isn't exactly anything that's really catchy (well, except the jazzy Overworld theme) here, which was disappointing after playing games like Final Fantasy 7 and Chrono Trigger. There's nothing really bad, either (I guess the boss music is okay), but some tracks can really grind into your nerves after a while (i.e. the Tower), when you're stuck on a puzzle. However, the sound effects are excellent. Spells roar, hit effects smack, and best of all, the characters give yelps and cries during combat (you gotta love the "Puddy!")!
Storyline--What starts out as a dragon going on a rampage, then ending up changing into a young boy turns into a search for the ancestors (the Dragon Clan) of the boy. Along the way, the boy, called Ryu (just to remind you that this was made by Capcom) goes along on some side quests, such as infiltating a mayor's courtyard, fixing the bulb in a Lighthouse, etc. Additionally, he meets some pretty cool characters as well. Momo, for instance, is a scientist who always talks about her dad, reminds me strangly of Lucca, and carries around a tiny, incredibly cute robot named Honey. Or there's a mutant onion (yes, an onion) called Peco, who babbles in veggie-language ("Wheep!" "Psyku kyu pusyku?") and wins my "Cutest Character Period" award. Later on, the game takes a major plot twist, and you play the second half as an adult, and find out what's happened in the past few years while...well, you'll find out.
Fun Factor--Fun to play, with diversion, RPG action, well-designed dungeons, and of course, the fishing game. BOF3 never really focuses on one main thing to do, even if you know that Ryu has to learn more about his past. The Examine feature adds a lot to combat--I love stealing an ability from an enemy and then using right back at 'em. Same goes for the innovative Accession command, which lets you combine up to three dragon genes, which you collect along the way. Using these genes--Fire, Ice, Defender, you get the idea--will form a powerful (and cool-looking) dragon who can totally dominate in combat. Boss battles aren't too tough, which gives you a sense of power as you fall a nasty enemy. Or maybe it's because I just don't have "skeelz". Great stuff, anyway.
Overall Satisfaction--Wow, I'm impressed. What this game has going for it is variety . You can continue your progressing adventure, or you can go fishing, or search around for extra things on the map, etc, etc. This, along with some memorable foes, frustrating-but-rewarding puzzles, and everything else that RPGs are known for makes for a fun experience. Breath of Fire 3 definitely deserves a place on the Finished Squaresoft Games, Is There Anything Else? fan's list, and is highly recommended by me. So "Fire" up the CD *laugh track* and start adventuring in one of the most enjoyable RPGs to hit the Playstation. WHEEP!