“Long ago in the days of darkness and magic, a young wanderer comes face to face with his destiny. You control the fate of Ryu, a young warrior and descendant of the Light Dragon Clan. Together, with your mystical friend, Nina, you must search for magic spells and mysterious secrets. Along the way, gain experience and skill as you battle against strange monsters. Uncover valuable secrets that will help you on your adventure and unlock the secrets of the Dragon Clan.”
This is the description of “Breath of Fire” for GameBoy Advance as written on the back of the game’s box. Not the most original storyline, but then again most video games weren’t terribly complex in 1993. (The year “Breath of Fire” was originally released for Super Nintendo.)
Most of you already know that whenever Hollywood tries to make a sequel to a hit movie it almost never lives up to the original. Video games are a totally different story, however, since most of the time a sequel is superior to its predecessor in every possible way. They almost always pack better graphics and sounds, more polished game play and a more compelling storyline. “Breath of Fire” is no exception to this tradition. The RPG (role playing game) clearly shows its age with its obviously clich√© “sword and sorcery” plot, cardboard cut-out characters and a very poor translation from English to Japanese. Result? You get a game that might be pleasing to some die-hard Breath of Fire fans, but will turn most casual game players off.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the “Breath of Fire” series, allow me to enlighten you with the whole concept of the games. It’s basically the same deal for each of the four titles in the series: You play as a blue-haired kid named Ryu. He’s a member of the Dragon Clan and can learn to transform into different types of dragons of all shapes and sizes. You’ll journey on your merry way stopping by towns, upgrading your weapons and armor, joining up with a handful of other bizarre characters, killing monsters and eventually going up against a really big, evil monster who’s trying to take over the world. Standard RPG fare.
So, is there anything that makes this portable remake of the original “Breath of Fire” any better than the Super Nintendo Entertainment System version? Not really. Besides the fact that you can now take the game anywhere, the only changes worth noting are the ability to run by holding the B button, a new quick-save feature that lets you record a temporary file of your data anywhere in the game, and a two-player mode that let’s you exchange items with your buddies providing they all have separate “Breath of Fire” cartridges.
Besides these few minor modifications, “Breath of Fire” for the GameBoy Advance is nothing more than a port of the Super Nintendo version. If anything, the game’s music has actually suffered a bit compared to the S.N.E.S’s. This is understandable since you’re playing the thing on a system whose sole speaker is roughly half the size of your pinky. Also, the GameBoy Advance’s dim screen makes finding your way through dungeons a little bit more frustrating this time around.
All in all, if you already own “Breath of Fire” for the Super Nintendo, be sensible. Don’t waste your forty dollars plus tax. To anyone else who is a fan of the “Breath of Fire” saga and missed out on the original, give it a try if you’re anxious to see how it all began. Other than these select few people, I honestly cannot recommend this game to anyone other than huge fans of old-school gaming.