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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Breath of Fire II (ブレス オブ ファイアII 使命の子)

In my continuing quest to multitask pretty much everything with games that are easy to multitask with (ie have very boring mechanics), I have finally completed the long and arduous journey that is Breath of Fire 2.

So a year and 8 months after the first game, we have Breath of Fire 2 "The Fatal Child" (supposed to be "fated"), technically an impressive improvement of the first game in every aspect in terms of characters, graphics, and length. And boy oh boy, did this game feel loooooong.

A Japanese company tries to get fancy with English in the 90s... hilarity ensues.

Breath of Fire 1 definitely felt like a first attempt for a company that normally didn't make RPGs so it's good to see that the sequel was able to build up to what you would expect from a decent RPG from that era. For example, they added an option to sort your items, a feature that was sorely missing in the first game. And the menus use *GASP* actual words instead of just single Kanji like 「能」. I have to give kudos to whomever was able to localize a game with menus that only used essentially one letter but anyway, all that is fixed in the sequel. Funny story but I couldn't help reading that 「能」 as "neng" throughout the first game. Ok, not funny at all, sorry.

Not only the menus but feature wise, everything about the sequel is better than the first game. The graphics are improved, you even get a bit of back story on the characters instead of the paper thin story of the first game. (Though Nina was pretty well "fleshed out" in both games. Hardy har har) It even has a couple alternate endings and though both games don't record your game time (BOO!!!), Bof2 felt like about twice as long as the first one.

However, longer isn't always better and the first significant chunk of the game has TONS of backtracking. What's worse is that you need certain party members to go certain places and if you don't happen to have them in the party, back you go, trudging all the way back to your town. Fortunately, this is not an issue once you get the teleport spell but the party system rears its ugly head once again when the game's story makes you go solo with a certain party member. Since people not in your party don't get EXP, prepare to grind unused characters for hours.

Tip for you guys: only including waifus in your party is not a strategy I would recommend but dammit, I can't help myself.

The other major issue with Bof2 is that the battle mechanic remains mostly unchanged from Bof except for the improved menus. The majority of the game was still spend on auto-attacking (thank god they left that feature in), healing, rinse and repeat. Yes, this is pretty much the par for the course of 90s SFC RPGs but the story wasn't compelling enough to make the grind rewarding in my opinion. What's worse is the item/spell to reduce random encounters hardly seemed to make a difference and expires way too quickly. It also didn't help that the SNES emulator on PSP couldn't really handle the graphics and had quite a bit of slowdown. (I later discovered you can fix this by upping the number of frame skips.) In any case, it's usually not a good sign that I got bored enough to load up a visual novel for some multitask grinding.

I DO NOT recommend emulating on PSP but waifus are ALWAYS RECOMMENDED

The story was better than Bof2 but not great. The main villian was as generic as they come and my MAIN complaint is that once you gain the ability to switch party members, they say almost nothing in response to events in the story except at the last dungeon. I'm guessing it was too much work to come up with dialogue for all the possible combinations of party members, which wasn't really a problem in the simpler Bof1. Capcom's solution to this problem was to have your party members make a comment once you go back to your town and they all go back to their rooms. It was WAY too much of a pain to go back to your town after anything happened in the story just to talk to your party members scattered throughout a huge house and hear their dumb comment on what just happened after the fact, so I didn't bother.

The one thing I found really amusing about this game is that even though it didn't have the obligatory bath scene fan service (otherwise known as a POOL for us English speakers), it was kinda pervy in a lot of ways. Monkey hitting on girls, poor Rinpuu getting called flat-chested by said monkey, girl getting kidnapped for her looks, asking a lady with big breasts about her well... breasts, etc. etc. Of course, thank god, Nintendo of America took some liberties with the translation to protect us poor Americans. Flat chest = little girl, etc etc.

The Adventures of Conan and animal pals I hear was not a bad game either.
Score: 2.5/5
Overall, is Bof2 a better game than Bof? Yes but is it a good game by itself? Well, when you improve the story a little bit but add a LOT more grinding, the ratio isn't a good direction for someone who really places importance on story like me. The GBA version might actually be the better way to go for the extra experience but again, I much preferred the SFC version's music.

While Bof2 improved on the sequel, other companies are doing the same and for an RPG that came out 8 months AFTER Final Fantasy VI, this game still falls squarely in the mediocre category. Plus .5 points for perviness and waifus.

Also, screw that stupid rhythm mini-game. Worst rhythm game I ever played.

0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

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