Breath of Fire 2
Box Shot
Breath of Fire 2
Platform: Super Nintendo
Publisher: Capcom
Designer: Capcom
Genre: RPG
Players: 1
Published Date 1994
Reviewed by: Rupto-pack

As much as I loved the original, everything about this game is a step above the first. It's exactly what a sequel should be, and it reinforced my love of RPGs. The graphics, characters, and music drew me in right away. From the very beginning the story is much deeper, involving some heavy issues like religion, morality, and wars over ideology. Breath of Fire II has become one of my all-time favorites.

As the story begins, you're a small-town boy living with your little sister and your father, a priest. Your mother died when demons raided the village years ago. Luckily the town was saved by a huge dragon which blocked the mouth of the cave that the demons were emerging from. It fell asleep there, so that the evil could never reappear. All seemed well when you took a nap beneath the dragon one day, but when you awoke, the villagers no longer recognized you, your sister had disappeared, and your father was gone, replaced by another priest. Now homeless and a stranger in your own town, there are many mysteries to unravel. You must find your lost family and real identity, and discover what happened that fateful day. You may want to play the game through twice, just to catch all the details and plot twists and intertwined relationships.

The game plays basically like its parent. You travel on a general overworld map, and the environment becomes "actual size" when you enter a town or cave, or when you're thrown into battle at random while walking around. The ability to hunt wildlife has returned, though somewhat changed. Now when exploring, you may occasionally see tufts of tall grass waving in the wind. You can enter these and chase your prey around without fear of random battles interrupting you. The shops are again run by fish-men, as are the banks for storing items and money. It wasn't long before I noticed a big difference from the first game though: it's considerably harder. In the beginning I died many times while venturing by myself, and it takes longer to accumulate money. When you die you're returned to your last save point and half your total money is gone, so put that gold away in the bank! There have been some slight changes to the battle scheme as well.

The turn-based fighting menu now consists of Attack, Special, Item, Auto-battle, or Run. Hitting L or R will access Switch party formation or Defend, respectively. "Special" refers to the special ability that each of the nine total characters possess. For instance, one can revive a fallen member, one can taunt the enemy to draw attacks away from weaker members, one can call upon Nature to hurt enemies or heal the party. Special turns don't always work. It's hit or miss, but the abilities are worth it when they're successful. Inactive members do not gain experience from battle, so you have to rotate them if you want to keep everyone's levels up. You can have four people in your party at a time.

Breath of Fire II introduces one of my new favorite videogame characters, Katt, the red-headed cat woman who never wears pants. Unfortunately Patti, the thong-wearing batgirl, never joins your party. All the characters are detailed, colorful, and well animated. Some elements are present which are continued in the Playstation's Breath of Fire 3, like a town with a coliseum for fighting tournaments or characters that are half-plant/half-human rather than half -animal/half-human. Another thing about this game that won me over is the humor. I often found myself laughing aloud at the dialog or wacky scenarios and unexpected twists. It's a hard thing to pull off in a videogame, but this one does it pretty well. I won't even try to describe the circumstances that require you to jump into the toilet at the Witch School reunion party.

Speaking of witches, there are a number of female shaman that you will run into throughout the game who can merge their souls to your characters, giving them new abilities and sometimes even changing their form. You'll also run into people who want to set up new shops, and if you give them the ok they'll band together and build a town. You can dictate the contents of the town to a certain extent depending on who you talk to and send there. One of the buildings becomes a tavern full of your admirers who gossip about you and keep track of your stats, almost like loyal sports fans. They can tell you things like how many times you've been completely defeated (in my case, 11,) how long you've been playing (64 hours,) even how many times you've stolen items out of people's dressers (58.) There's an expanded fishing game, a city beneath the earth, lost pigs to be found, impostors to be unmasked, and plenty of deception, betrayal, sacrifice, and drama. Breath of Fire II is highly recommended if you can find it.