Breath of Fire II Review

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Graphics: 7.0
Sound : 7.0
Gameplay : 7.0
Multiplayer : N/A
Overall : 7.0
Review by Andreas Misund Berntsen
The story starts ten years ago when your father asks you to go find you sister. You are in a small village with friendly people, who all know and love you. When finding her your father is standing next to her, he tells you a story about how a while ago vicious monsters attacked the village you live in. To help the inhabitants of the village, who were doing their best to fight, a huge dragon helped, who later moved to the abandoned side of a mountain. But sadly, your mother dies in the battle, so you're left with a sister who loves you and a father who blames himself for the loss of his wife and the mother of his children.

When his sister and her father are headed back to their house, our hero stays behind for a little while. Then something strange happens, something really strange. When back in the village no one seems to know who you are. Everything and everyone seem seems identical to when you left. Even the village priest, who used to be your father, is a different person. Your father and your sister are gone.

And whoosh, ten years fly by and Breath of Fire 2 begins. You've become an adolescent by now, and your profession is being a Ranger. But ultimately your job is finding the rest of the family, and discovering the power inside yourself.

Making a sequel to a game as successful as Breath of Fire couldn't have been an easy task. Regardless a few years ago Capcom continued the story of dragons, challenging quests, tons of spells and weapons, and of course a lot to use it all on. One of the problems the Japanese to English conversion struggled with was its awful grammar and spelling errors. Luckily, that has changed a lot in this newly released Gameboy Advance version.

The battle-system, which is a lot like in other games, works like this:
A character can attack enemies with the primary weapon, can use various abilities like Guts, where your health is given a small boost and raises the chance of auto-resurrecting yourself, without costing AP (equivalent to mana). And of course, you may use spells, which have effects ranging from blowing your foes to smithereens, to something as simple as healing. In fact, some of these spells show Breath of Fire 2's best graphical effects. Speaking of graphics, Breath of Fire 2 is really a colourful and friendly looking game. The developers did a good job making detailed friends and foes. However, the best texturing is in my opinion in the battle-sequences. Because, say you're a thick forest - some games have only one single background environment. Breath of Fire 2 on the other hand is more diverse, thankfully. But still, while it has nicely drawn and generally pleasant looking graphics it doesn't measure up to Golden Sun (which will be reviewed shortly). Even though the story of Breath of Fire 2 is decent I feel you're fighting more than necessary, and when you're stuck and can't figure out what to do it gets fairly tedious to stop and fight puny goo-like villains who "can't" harm you. Luckily, after you've crossed an area there will be less action later, but moving from one town to another can take a lot of time because of the annoying interruptions. Secondly, the inventory management is a lot more annoying than it really needed to be. When you buy for instance a sword from the local weapon-shop you will need to leave the town, then pick a fight with a couple of monsters, and finally choose to equip the sword. But what's worse is that when you're going through the inventory you cannot see whether the item is better or worse than what the hero is currently wearing. That info is only shown in the shop, so you need to memorize the name of the item and the character that it will equip it. This can get very frustrating when you have for example bought several different weapons, chain mails and such. In my opinion Grandia 2 did this very well, and if Capcom adopted a similar system then I for one would give it a higher score. What's fun on the other hand, and what makes Breath of Fire 2 different from most other role-playing games is that you can build your very own town! Even though doing so isn't done for free you can really leave a mark after yourself by building houses similar to the ones in other towns. Secondly, if you're in need of a short break from adventuring then you could for instance grab a fishing rod and try fishing for treasures. This is just one of the several mini-games that Capcom luckily introduced. Luckily because it adds a sense of humour, and lets you relieve some tension after having fought poisonous demons in the neighbour caves.

On the hearable side of the game I found Breath of Fire 2 to be fairly up to par with games in the same genre, because even if it doesn't have a whole lot of background tunes, some of the ones are downright cute and for some reason didn't annoy me even after a few hours of playing. The same goes for the sound effects as well: not too diverse a selection but of a good enough standard to work well. Each of the characters have their own attack-sound too, so because of that the combats excitement is lifted a bit.

Conclusion:

The original Breath of Fire is looked upon as one of the best role-playing games so far, and the sequel isn't too bad of a game either. With a decent story, colourful and nice graphics, cute and innocent sounding music and lots of villain butchering. It should take you a nice number of hours to complete the game, so if you're a fan of the genre then this could be a new addition to your collection. But still, if you gave me the choice between playing Breath of Fire 2 and Morrowind then I wouldn't hesitate to go for the latter more than a few millisecond, but this still offers a lot of adventuring that you could do easily even from the bathroom, and who wouldn't want that?