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Breath of Fire 2

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Reviewed by Ian Petreman Breath of Fire II is a definite hit from the Super NES. It's a turn-based RPG with a great story-line and well-balanced graphics. The story line is based around the hero (whom you can name yourself) and the different key characters throughout your adventure. The main character is a natural adventurer after his well-loved father and sister disappear while he is asleep. The lost boy finds a new best friend (named Bo) and together they try to live their lives as "Rangers" (pretty much private investigators). The main conflict occurs when a giant demon is found in the under-world who tries to strategically devour the world. This demon is using infiltrators to do his work, and gain him power through the use of the un-expecting civilians of the world. There are many different towns to visit and approximately 9 characters who can fight with you at different times. In the game, you come across a carpenter who "will repay you any way he can". This carpenter builds a town for your purposes, whom you may invite many people to reside in. Breath of Fire II gives you a choice between 3 carpenters (all with their own style of architecture) whom house different fun and games. The people you can invite each do a different task for you. They may open a store, or give you advice. There are many tricks and secret characters who are hard to find... generally, the harder the person was to find, the more useful they are. The main character has to make decisions and answer questions which can change the outcome of the ending, or influence a characters' attitude/mood towards you. This game has realistic responses towards the character also. The character who you are talking to will give an appropriate retaliation towards any rudeness or benevolence you show.

Graphics 8 out of 10

The graphics in Breath of Fire II are much better than the average SNES game. They feature an in-battle turn-based view, where you get to see the characters' and enemies' special fighting moves, and magic up close. The characters and enemies have much detail, and extremely smooth-flowing animation. This is not your average SNES RPG. The characters are large, and full of life in the battle scene, and all possess personality. Some characters are weaker/stronger more or less agile, and you can see this in the characters' build and movements. Many of the characters and enemies are animated, even when charging a turn (which is foreign to most SNES RPG's Ex: Final Fantasy series). The special effects for the magic spells are very extreme, and house a 'that must have hurt' effect on the enemies and characters. This effect shows in the characters' hit points. The main map features the popular over-head view, where you can see your party lined up behind the current leader. This map is two dimensional, yet it gives a good impression on elevation. The mountains and lakes look like mountains and lakes (always a good sign of good graphics). There are many terrains including deserts, grasslands, prairies, forests, bodies of water, and of course: mountains. This view is also used in the dungeon/town landmarks that come along very often. These towns and dungeons are designed nicely, in a truly 'RPG' manner.

Music and Sound 9 out of 10

The music and sound in Breath of Fire 2 is tremendous. It gives you an excellent nerve-tingling effect, which very effectively give you a great idea of the mood and atmosphere of your surroundings. The music may make your heart beat heavily, calm you, or make you cringe. The battle music never gets boring, as it changes a few times throughout the game to associate the atmosphere and maturity of the fight. The sound effects are what is to be expected in a SNES RPG. They are fairly good, and give you a good idea of what's happening. When you hit a beast with a blunt weapon it sounds like a blunt weapon, when you slice into a beast it sounds like slicing. The sound is not revolutionary in the Super NES's capabilities, but then again... I can't think of a game which is.

Game Challenge 8 out of 10

The game challenge does not vary entirely well, but you can control it by how much leveling-up you do. If you're a weak strategist, you may want to spend more time leveling up than a strong strategist. This point is what makes an RPG so good though... every level of gamer is able to beat the game, no matter how good they are. I do not believe a game's ending should be shown to a select few who can master a particular button-combination, yet you still feel rewarded when you finish it. It is not an easy task. In strategy, the game features different party members who, at many parts in the game, you may choose 3 (plus the hero) from. The battle scenes support a maximum of 4 warriors, who can be arranged in many formations. In the formations, the characters at the front deal and take the most physical damage. In the back, the characters can attack just as much, but their physical attack is limited. By putting a character in front of another, the character in back is attacked much less by the enemies, and the one in front may be attacked twice as much. Many of the enemies are challenging (especially if you don't know what their weak-points are). Whether you're fighting the un-dead zombies, or the 'Gold Fly', there is an effective way to defeat them through particular forms of magic, or fighting. Blunt weapons may work better on some baddies, while edged-weapons may work better on others. The game's challenge also varies in the decisions you make. You may want to fight one boss with no armor and no weapons, or fight two bosses with armor and weapons (that is one case scenario). If you help some of your teammates out early, they might just help you defeat a boss when if you didn't help them out as much, they wouldn't.

Fun-Factor 9 out of 10

The programers in Breath of Fire 2 have made this game a very fun and involved masterpiece, which inspires many RPG'ers. The game features not only fighting battle after battle, but a well-involved story-line which is what makes an RPG so attractable. The programers usually never makes a dungeon boring for long. The dungeons involve moving floor pieces, puzzles, moving wall sections, and more. The dungeons' atmosphere is changed up quite nicely. There are the more humorous ventures (like fighting all the evil fatties in a truly obese women) and then there are the more mature adventures (like travels through the basement of a castle to find a magic token). There are more great parts to the game which spicen it up a great deal. There are hunting and fishing modes (you hunt and fish for revitalizing food). In the fishing mode, you cast different baits with different fishing rods into the sea. You can catch little fish, big fish, treasure boxes, or even a salesfish. The hunting mode can be accessed by the two hunting characters you find along your journey. You can use a crossbow, or a club to capture roasts from fast-moving deer, or spare-ribs from a ferocious bear. Other creatures include birds, wild pigs, and floating spikey-head things. The town offers you a good amount of fun. You recruit characters to set up shop, or give advice or whatever they wish to do into your own town dedicated to you and your cause. There is also a special 'uniting building' which can make your characters into superior fighting machines. Although there are many paths that you have to, or wish to retrace, the programers often let you off with an easier way to travel. In the world map, you can travel by foot, frog, bird, or whale (yes, that's right FROG!). And in dungeons, you may have the ever-popular exit spell which loosens up the tension.

Frustrations

One frustration I found with Breath of Fire 2 is a bad translation. There are quite a few spelling and grammar mistakes in the game. This is caused supposedly by a hurried translating crew. Although you can still easily figure out what they're trying to say, opposed to what they have said, it can get annoying. In total, I can estimate about five of these mistakes (remember, that's just an estimate). There is also one or two spots in the translation where you are given the choice between two options, and the translation on the two 'paths' are switched. This can be frustrating especially when you do not wish to make your best friend mad at you. There are a few parts in the game which are extremely hard to figure out. You may just be leveling up when you really don't want to. (Here's a hint: hit the fence). There are parts where you have to re-travel paths that take too long and you end up fighting enemies which you already know you can easily beat.

Replayability Factor 8 out of 10

This game takes about 30-40 hours to finish, so replayability is not a huge factor in the dignity of the game. This RPG however, has a surprisingly high replayability factor. This game offers many different paths which may be travelled, and many secrets which may not have been found the previous time through. You may wish to find all six 'shamans' or you might just come across the one 'secret character'. The game has a good number of different make-ups for your town, with about 4 or 5 different people to choose from for each of 6 houses. This will keep you busy when you start thinking "I wonder what that cat could possibly offer me if I gave it a house". You may actually go through the whole game just to find out about one thing. Usually when you find it out, you're satisfied. This game's replayability is among the highest of the SNES games and should be honestly compared to Chrono Trigger. The game has 3 different endings. Two of which you may choose from, and one is much harder to find. When playing through a second or third time, usually you are not looking for endings, or super powers, but trying to work the relationships out with the characters.

Overall 8.4 out of 10

Overall, Breath of Fire II is a very good RPG, and could very easily keep you up late at night, or make you think long and hard (just what you want right?). It's very entertaining, and has good music and graphics. The game keeps you on your toes, and the plot is nicely drawn out. I recommend Breath of Fire 2 to anyone who likes to think, and loves a good story. If you're an RPG fan, then this is a very good break from the Final Fantasy series which has primarily (along with a few other hits) dominated the market.

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