PlayStation Gamer REVIEW


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NTSC - Japan
Joe Chan

Breath of Fire 3 I will say this right away: Breath of Fire 3 is a fantastic RPG. It's developed by Capcom, an company which you usually wouldn't associate with role-playing games. The first and the second game of the series were released on the Super Nintendo years ago. I liked both of them, but at that time, I was more attracted to games from Squaresoft (Front Mission, Romacing Saga 2 and others). So when I first tried Breath of Fire 3, I wasn't sure of what to expect. I wasn't even sure if buying the game was a smart thing in the first place.

Breath of Fire 3 The game doesn't start with any fancy FMV intro, just a real-time sequence which explains a bit of the story background. The story begins in a mine, where people were digging for energy crystals. Deep inside the mine, a huge dragon fossil was found. And inside it, there was a dragon baby frozen inside a large energy crystal. When the workers blew the crystal away, the dragon baby awoke. It has been said in the legends that dragons were evil, destructive creatures, so the workers were terrified at the sight of a living dragon. They started to attack it. The baby dragon defensed itself and killed many miners, but was caught in the end. The miners put it inside a cage and transported it away. During the trip, the cage fell down into a forest nearby.

At the same time, Lei (a tigerman) was hunting in the forest. He saw a blue-haired child beside a steel-cage being attacked by two wolves. Being a skilled hunter, he slayed the wolves with ease. He brought the child home, where his friend Teepo was waiting. Later, it was found out that the blue-haired child's name is Ryu, and the story goes on... the real fun starts!

Breath of Fire 3 The story takes place in the same universe as the first Breath of Fire (not sure about the second, I didn't play it a lot). Just like before, the main character is Ryu. Being a descendent of the dragon clan, Ryu has the ability to transform into dragons of many forms. Another familiar character is Nina of the royal Windia family. You will find many other resemblances. Initially, this game seems to be aimed at young players. The characters look cute and there are many amusing scenes along the way (the jokes are a bit Japanese-flavoured). But later on, the story becomes much more serious, with many tragic events. The characters will grow older, and their appearances will change. Overall, the story is pretty good. There are many surprises, and the number of sad and happy scenes is well-balanced.

Breath of Fire 3 About the graphics - the backgrounds are presented in 3D with polygons while the characters are drawn in 2D bitmap graphics. The polygon-backgrounds are very detailed and colorful. They feel solid, with almost no break-ups around the corners. You can rotate them both horizontally and vertically, but only to a certain degree. If you have played Dark Saviour on Saturn, you know what I mean. It is made this way to make it harder to find hidden items. You must search each part carefully, important items can be hidden right behind a wall.

It is a good thing that the characters are drawn in 2D. They look much more detailed that way, and we all know what Capcom can do with 2D graphics. The characters look large and have many expressions.

Breath of Fire 3 The battle system is turn-based. The game doesn't change to any special battle-scene when you encounter enemies, they just appear right on the spot (similar to Chrono Trigger). Battles seem to occur randomly, but I think they take place after you have walked a certain distance. If you hate turn-based battles, you might not like Breath of Fire 3 a lot. Battles occur very frequently. Luckily, you can set the characters on auto-fight by tapping L1 twice.

The characters have plenty of magic spells and special attacks. Some techniques are unique to a certain character, but later on, you will meet people who can teach you new techniques (which can be used by anyone). Some of these techniques are very effective, others are totally useless. If you want to learn techniques from a master, you need to be his apprentice. Being under a master will also affect your growth in abilities when you level up. Some masters will increase your attack and defense abililties, others can increase your magic power and speed.

The music is quite good. It is composed by Akari Kaida and Yoshino Aoki (my favourite composer ^_^). Some of the melodies are quite nice. Each character has his/her own voice-actor. When you perform a technique in battle, your character will say the name of the technique (and there is over a hundred of techniques which can be used by every character).

Breath of Fire 3 What makes Breath of Fire 3 so great is that it's so fun to play. The game feels very polished. No parts seem to have been cut out in order to meet the deadline or anything like that. The events in the game are timed perfectly and flow well together. There are interesting puzzles to solve in the dungeons, and the dungeons themselves are never too long. Once in a while, you have to play a mini-game like fishing, wood-chopping, rope-dragging and more. The story is very well presented. Answers to the mysteries in the game are revealed in the special events, which usually take place after you have finished a dungeon. Playing the game feels rewarding in that sense.

Breath of Fire 3 has many unique features. For example, about halfway into the game, you will be granted access to a fairyland. And a bit later, you will be able to help the fairies to develop their homes. It's like a simulation game where you assign fairies to different tasks like hunting, construction, research, etc. Later, you can give them different occupations like being a shop-keeper, fortune-teller, treasure hunter and more. Some special items can only be found in the fairyland. Also, you can get a special music player here and listen to all the tracks of the game.

Another example, in an event late in the game, you must make sushi for a person before he will help you. To do that, you need to find all the ingredients yourself, so you have to go fishing, finding spice, getting special water and stuff. After that, you must make the sushi yourself by adding the right portions of the ingredients. If your sushi tastes good, that person will be so happy that he cries! In which other RPG can you do things like this?

I also liked the battle system. In order for Ryu to transform into a dragon, you need to acquire Dragon Genes. Combining different genes will result in different dragon forms. Some combinations will give you special forms which are more effective than others. Even though the battles occur frequently, you can usually set it on auto-fight, so it really didn't bothered me.

I can go on and on telling you how great this game is, but I don't want to spoil too much. This is an RPG I enjoyed playing no less than Final Fantasy VII. It took me 72 hours to beat it (including many hours spent on levelling up, finding secrets, learning special techniques, etc.). And like many other Japanese Capcom games, there's a great ending song during the staff roll.

For the Japanese version of Breath of Fire 3, I will give it a strong 9 out of 10. The US version should be out very soon. I hope that they haven't censored any parts of the game (some scenes may not be appropriate for the US market). Also, the previous English translations of the Breath of Fire games have been terrible, so I can't guarantee that the US version will be just as good as the Japanese one.

Rating: 9/10

Reviewed by Joe Chan,

(c) Capcom

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