Breath of Fire 2
Game Info
GameBoy Advance
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Mild Violence
The Good

• Easy to get into battle system
• Good story
• Lots of min-games, including hunting and fishing

The Bad

• High encounter rate
• Doesn't look like more than a straight port


Breath of Fire 2's story starts out with the orphan boy Ryu getting hints about the White and Black Dragon Clans, something that won't come into play much later in the game. Some time later, he and his friend Bow are working as Rangers when Bow is framed for a theft. Ryu goes to find the woman responsible for the theft. Along the way, he discovers a number of people who are tainted and turn into demons. Once Bow is cleared, Ryu, Bow and their fellow allies begin a trek to discover where all of the demons are coming from. The story does seem to take forever to develop, but I would have to think that it's for the best as you're not beaten over the head with the main story right away. A lot of time is spent on giving many of the characters at least some development time as to their history.

The battle system is straightforward and simple enough to get into. Players will choose from Attack, Magic, Item and a Special Move specific to each character. Hitting the Left and Right buttons allows the player to change formation or defend. From there, your team and the enemies attack, based on how fast their speed is. Magic consists of a wide yet balanced variety of attack, defense and status effecting spells. As with other Breath of Fire titles, Ryu has the ability to change into a dragon form for a turn, but it drains all of his AP (which is used for magic). Each character in your team is varied in terms of their ability to attack and defend. The character specific abilites range from self healing to mulitple target attacks to waking up sleeping allies.

While moving around on the world map, each of your allies have certain abilites which can prove to be useful. You must use the Left and Right buttons to rotate a certain character to the front of the formation. Katt can hit rocks and obstacles, Sten can reach over gorges, Spar can lead you through forests and Jean allows you to swim across lakes and rivers. With the variation in battle strengths and their abilities on the field map, players will have to take into consideration how they build their team.

Players will also have the ability to combine their characters with elemental shamans to inscrease abilites or earn new spells. While this feature is a nice augment to the standard magic scheme, it tends to be left to the player as to how to use it. You may have a fire or ice shaman who just doesn't mesh with your characters and very little reason is given as to why. It just is.

Along with the main story are some diversions, including the standard fishing mini-game, a hunting mini-game and even recruiting people for your town. Most of the mini-games are fairly shallow and won't really add much more to the game, outside of some items from the hunting and fishing games, both of which you may grow tired of fairly fast.

Visually, the game feels like the original SNES version, but with some graphical tweaks just for the GBA port. Character and monster sprites during battles show a good bit of detail and look fairly good. The color palette is varied and deep. While the world map and most of the cities look fairly standard, everything does have a level of quality to it, even though it seems Capcom didn't spend a lot of time to try and do more with the graphics. Compared to titles like Golden Sun, Breath of Fire 2 doesn't look as crisp and impressive, especially when it comes to spell effects.

Sound effects and music are fairly run of the mill. You won't be impressed by either, but they won't detract from the game too much. As with the graphics, they seem to be stuck in "straight port mode" with maybe a little extra polish for good measure.

Breath of Fire 2 does manage to have some things that can be of annoyance to gamers. The translation seems to be a little iffy at times, leaving some of the script feeling "off". Also, the limited text field size makes the menus a bit of a chore as you almost have to decipher what menu and item names are. On top of this is probably one of the most sadistic encounter rates in random RPG encounter history. Even using smoke bombs to lower the encounter rate doesn't help much and heaven forbid if you have to leave the dungeon for supplies and return to finish.

Fans of the RPG genre should look into this one, especially Breath of Fire fans. It may not be perfect and it may not be the best looking RPG on the GBA, but the story and easy to use battle system will be more than enough to keep you coming back for more. Plus, the adventure has a good bit of length to it.

- - Kinderfeld

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