PLEASE NOTE:
You are currently viewing an archival version of GF!

Click here to return to the current GamesFirst! website.

Questions? Suggestions? Comments?
Contact us at:

editors@gamesfirst.com

cover.jpg (25335 bytes)


star06.gif (4104 bytes)star06.gif (4104 bytes)star06.gif (4104 bytes)star06.gif (4104 bytes)

by Capcom

sshot1-01.jpg (5659 bytes)Capcom appears to be on a role with the re-vitalization of older games, older characters, and us older player’s nostalgia for such things. Breath of Fire II follows the first in the series as another serious addition to the RPG genre on the Gameboy Advance. It leads in with a well developed prologue, introducing your character, one which you get to name, like always, as a boy sent on his first quest, a simple one, to find a girl who might be lost in the forest to the North. And, as in the first installment, you don’t get too far before running into a dragon (this one’s sleeping) which happens to haunt your dreams as well as the girls. So begins another quest in one of the richer RPG worlds.

sshot6-01.jpg (6360 bytes)From the get go, the player realizes that BoF II is another epic, one which will challenge the Square-centric attitude around RPGs. Unlike the competitor, Capcom gives us a unique game that doesn’t really borrow from anyone else in the field—at least it wasn’t apparent; for me, Breath of Fire is a welcome break from the now passť games that haunt the shelves of our local shops.

sshot8-01.jpg (6649 bytes)Each character in your party has their own unique ability, one which can be performed while on the world-map or elsewhere. Much like BoF, where you had Bo, for an example, who allowed you to walk through forests, you have others like Sten, who can pull you across close-gaps or your main character who can fish. I think the game could have been richer if Capcom would have given you a slew of skills that you could acquire through your quests, ones you could switch between to make the game more expansive—maybe a skills matrix, or the ability to learn skills from other members in the party. For me, there’s a fine line between too much complexity and just enough to make the game more enjoyable.

sshot7-01.jpg (6917 bytes)Really, you won’t find it necessary to spend hours upon hours playing BoF II, which comes as a relief on the GBA—a system that doesn’t really cater to multi-hour game sessions. Portables are cool, but they’re not 60 – 70 hours cool. And this is where my enjoyment of BoF II comes to fruition. I found the mixture of a fast pace across the world map and the ability, like its predecessor, to automate my battles an immense advantage to putting in the time it took to increase character levels and acquire the necessary hardware to progress through each quest. Like other RPGs, you’re forced to buy a majority of your weapons and upgrade your armor over time. Granted, you do find some unique items, but the overall feel was of having to purchase them; however, this is balanced out by the fact that you don’t really get into a financial crunch and, over time, you’ll have to actually store money at the bank.

sshot9-01.jpg (8614 bytes)I mentioned that the game was rich, but its richness not only encapsulates its battle system, quest(s), and characters, but also the graphic and sheer color in the game. For the GBA, plagued by the evil dark-screen, bright colors do a tremendous job in aiding the players overall enjoyment of the title. But, since it’s Capcom we can almost expect colorful, cartoon-esque games in any title they produce. This one is no exception.

sshot5-01.jpg (8449 bytes)Enemies are plentiful, but not to the extreme: it is possible to make it from one town to the other without actually engaging in combat. When you do run into them, they’re not too difficult, unless you’ve strayed into an area you’re not quite ready for, but this goes for any RPG out there. What is nice about the monsters in BoF II is that they’re nicely done, and there seems to be a variety in their numbers. It would have been nice to see them drop a few more items—come on Capcom, throw us a bone—so we don’t need to always refill our item sack.

sshot3-01.jpg (8672 bytes)The quests are pretty straight forward: go to point A, do something, fight a boss, etc., move on, which does run the risk of being tedious for some players. But, with BoF II this isn’t really the case. The quests remain relatively short, but seem to play into the overall plot and theme of the story, which can, at times, feel a bit nebulous. The puzzles aren’t complex, but just enough so as to not seem completely hack. Granted, you need to remember while playing this game that it isn’t a new game; rather, it’s a remake of the old SNES title. Something tells me that with the re-release of the Breath of Fire series on the GBA Capcom is building up to their forthcoming release on the next-gen systems, namely the PS2.

sshot4-01.jpg (10174 bytes)Since my choice in RPG games is always limited, especially with the next-generation systems, Breath of Fire II came as welcome relief to the monotony of action or sports related games that seem to be assaulting the local video game dealer; I feel like the thoughtful, fun RPG is slowly being squeezed from the gamer-conscious. And in all truth, I haven’t really enjoyed a majority of the RPGs I’ve seen on the PS2. So, where do we turn? Our trusty GBAs. What with the drive in the development houses to re-release their classic titles from the SNES, I can’t think of any better time to own a GBA than now.

Matt Baldwin   (06/23/2002)

Snapshot

Ups: Great RPG; nice, fast pace; excellent bright colors and graphics; a lot of fun.

Downs: Very traditional RPG style may turn off gamers looking for something different.

Platform: Game Boy Advance