Tag Archives: Breath of Fire

On Breath of Fire 3

Today’s post was originally going to be about an annoyance I’ve found with WildStar advice, but I haven’t finished doing the required math for it yet, so I’ll pick a different topic rather than trying to talk math and being wrong.

A little over a week ago, it was suggested that the Breath Of Fire series might align with my interests. I picked up Breath of Fire 4 on PSN, and played through the intro, but it was recommended I play 3 first. (Breath of Fire is a little bit like Final Fantasy in that the games aren’t direct sequels, but they do share more than most numeric Final Fantasy entries.) The problem is, Breath of Fire 3 isn’t on PSN, and the PSP version was never released in this country. Despite that, it was fairly cheap, so now I’m the proud owner of a PSP copy of Breath of Fire 3. I immediately ripped it and stuck it on my PSP Go.

BoF3 Title Screen
Starting Breath of Fire 3 is certainly interesting, I won’t spoil it for people who haven’t played it, but it’s not your usual “first battle against nonthreatening enemies with your main character” that so many JRPGs use. Soon after that, you do pick up as the main character (default name: Ryu) and things are a bit more standard. I just started playing recently, and I like the way the party is shaping up. In addition to doing decent damage with a sword, Ryu also has healing and protective spells. Teepo has a very similar stat spread, but instead picks up offensive spells. Sometimes party member Rei is both faster and stronger than the other two due to his natural stats and his higher starting level, but he leaves the party on occasion during the start of the game. I suspect the other two will have caught up by the time I get him back.

Staus Screen w/ Ryu and Teepo
The actual systems are somewhat interesting. It’s fairly basic stuff, with each combatant acting in battle according to their speed. Characters who are fast enough (mostly this means Rei) can actually get an extra turn in an “EX round”, taking two actions for the enemies’ one. An interesting thing is that in addition to abilities learned naturally, you can use the “examine” command in combat to attempt to watch enemies and learn their skills. At this point I’ve managed to pick up a fire attack from a slime-like enemy (Does every game have these?), a bite attack from a guard dog, and a jump attack from a giant chicken. These skills can be transferred between party members with the use of an item. I like that the actual battles are fought in the normal areas, without transitioning to a separate battle screen (although characters do reposition as enemies spawn in).

Teepo casts Simoon
Overall, this game reminds my why I liked the PS-era JRPGs. It’s fairly simple, looks good, and is fun to play. It might get overly bogged down in plot and lose me later, but I’m enjoying it so far.

On Things That Turn Into Other Things

Everyone has their preferred character archetypes. In D&D terms, everyone is familiar with the traditional Fighter, Mage, and Thief, so most games try to provide player characters with options along those lines. Other games expand a bit more, with a healer archetype (sometimes a variation of the mage) or an archer archetype (sometimes a variation of the thief). More classes are usually created by combining these in some way. The Barbarian is a combination of the swiftness and light armor of a thief with the power and strength of a fighter. My favorite archetype is a different sort of combination: the shape-shifter.

In a way, shape-shifting characters are usually a combination of the thief and mage archetypes in that they are (usually) magic-users with tools to adapt to a variety of different situations. More generally, it’s characterized by the ability to switch between archetypes. The stereotypical example is the Druid, which is usually given a variety of nature-based spells to heal or harm, and the ability to turn into animals when spells aren’t an appropriate solution. There are other characters that fit this archetype that aren’t the druid, like the lead character of the Breath of Fire series, who turns into a variety of dragons.

There is the lesser example of things with a single alternate form, like most depictions of werewolves. In games, this usually manifests as some sort of temporary power up or super mode (which I like a bit less), but it’s sometimes an alternate form with different strengths and weaknesses from the “base” form. League of Legends likes this model a lot, using it for Nidalee, Elise, and Jayce (sort of).

Balancing this character type has historically been difficult, and for good reason. If one person can duplicate the jobs of three or four at a moment’s notice, it risks eliminating the need for the more focused characters. The traditional tradeoff for this is usually decreased effectiveness at any one role, but this leaves the shape-shifter marginalized in any situation where a single task is valued. “Alternate form” types tend to fall into this trap especially often, where the strengths of one form do not sufficiently cover for its weaknesses, leading to use of only one. (Nidalee in League is perhaps the best example of this.)

Some games balance the ability to do everything by forcing a choice of role, and decreasing the effectiveness of other forms or roles. WoW is the best example here, but D&D Next seems to also use this approach. An alternate approach is limiting the ability to transform in some way. Breath of Fire 4 has both a transformation and a perpetuation cost, so you can’t stay a dragon forever. (I think BoF1 only had a transformation cost, but I haven’t played it in a while.) These have shown to be acceptable ways to balance the power level of this type of character, and I wish more games would use them rather than declaring it too difficult and leaving my favorite archetype out.


As a final note: It’s the final day to make donations for The Run, influencing what jobs two members of SDA will use when playing through FF5. I’m still working my way through as well.