Top 100 SNES Review: #21 – Breath of Fire II (1995)

I Tried, I Really Did.

Story 👏 Must 👏 Connect 👏 With 👏Quests 👏. 

Breath of Fire II Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #21/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

I don’t understand what took so long for archaic RPGs to catch on to what worked. Final Fantasy 3/6 came out in 1994  and was successful due to two core ideas: less grinding, more story. J-RPGs aren’t rocket science. A little bit of emotional attachment goes a long way.

Breath of Fire II seems 5 years behind its peers. Its only interesting character is locked away for too long due to plot purposes (a dog named Bow who uses a Bow – Bow w/ dah Bow!) Funny and endearing, Bow is an archetypal screw-up that makes things light and interesting. After that, dull characters join for tacky reasons. People in this world have nothing better to do than become an itinerant band of vagabonds.

It was bearable until it was paired with quests that provided no emotional attachment. Here I am, spending my precious time on Earth, fighting witches for people I do not know and getting into cooking contests to prove the lineage of a frog prince because the main character has the attention span of a bird.

Breath of Fire II translation
Not only is it poorly translated, it uses short hand.

[OVERVIEW]

Ryu goes to find his sister but comes upon a dragon instead. Something happens, and he is transported to a time where no one recognizes him. It’s been so long since any of that was relevant that I can’t tell you more than that.

Breath of Fire II Poo
Poo, Really?

[ANALYSIS]

I don’t like being rash. I prefer to build my case slowly. There was evidence from the beginning this game was going to be a fetch quest nightmare. The encounter rate is really high, the battles repetitive, and back-tracking is the norm. Bow w/ dah Bow kept me going. I wanted to help him and clear his name. This was the ostensible purpose of the journey. Instead, you end up doing a bunch of busy-work.

The Frog Prince Was the End.

After traveling unnecessarily back and forth between my town and other locations, I finally find the requisite boat to head to a new continent. In the first forest, I find a frog who’s under the spell of a witch. He asks us to go to the witches’ tower to turn him back. into his normal form. We agree. But, Why?

We do not know this frog. 

So without motivation, we traverse a random encounter-riddled tower. We defeat the evil witch and return to save the frog. No longer under the spell, he turns into…another frog and invites us to his home town. He is accused of being an imposter prince and jailed. His sister comes to us for help. We agree. BUT, WHY!?

We do not know this frog. 

Now, we rescue him from jail, putting our lives at risk. He realizes he could prove his lineage with a heirloom, but he gave it to that previous witch for no obvious reason. We then have to find the witch again who happens to be at a cannibal party where we are almost fried alive. Come to find out, both Frogs claiming to be prince have an ancestral jewel, so now we have to clear their names via a cooking contest. They ask us to fetch the essential ingredients. We agree. BUT, WHY ARE WE DOING THIS!?

We do not know this frog.

This is not the first time the game does this. They make you do all this worthless crap and then tack the main story at the end. Some NPC comes out of nowhere to say “I think the person you are looking for went West.” The next town is the same story: more worthless activities so someone can tell you “head west.” Oregon trail did it better.

Breath of Fire II Graphics
My view moments before I gave it all up.

Old School Opaque Bull.

The worst part about these quests? No direction. Not only does the game waste your time with the content itself but also presentation. Many of the solutions aren’t evident, so you spend time wandering around and revisiting locations. This would suck under most circumstance, but when you are facing three-step random encounters, it’s brutal.

There are also all the other “old school” problems. It’s not uncommon to be completely ravaged by poison and die. This is because no one has a spell to cure it, so it requires a constant supply of antidotes. One would think 10 would be enough, but some monsters cast spells that create four victims so your stock goes quickly. Healing magic is nonexistent and requires copious potions, but they are expensive and you do not gain much gold or experience from battles. It’s a mess all the way around.

Breath of Fire II Battle
I had to cheat to know the name of my characters. Not a good sign.

[CONCLUSION]

It just doesn’t hold up.

Other People’s Takes: 

  • The Well Red Mage: “If you’re looking for a solid RPG that represents classic role-playing mechanics, then look no further than Breath of Fire II. It’s such a meat-and-potatoes game, a standard of what traditional role-playing games are like.”
  • Hardly Hobbies: “We almost rage quit. Multiple times. This game is so terrible, even my gaming partner who has impressive fortitude and patience when it comes to video games had to consign to putting the classic controller down and taking deep, healing breaths.”

Author: Casual But Smart

I review the top 100 books, movies, albums, and games of all time.

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