Breath of Fire III
  • Genre:
    • RPG
  • Platform:
    • PlayStation
  • Developer:
    • Capcom
  • Publisher:
    • Capcom
  • Released:
    • JP 09/11/1997
    • US 04/30/1998
    • UK 10/08/1998
Score: 80%

This review was published on 10/13/2007.

Breath of Fire III is the third game in the Breath of Fire series, in case you couldn't figure that out from the title. The first game was mediocre, the second game was better than mediocre, and the third game is actually good. It took them about three games, but Capcom finally got it right. Read the rest of my review to learn why that is.

Image

The intro to Breath of Fire III is well done. It puts you right in the thick of things whilst remaining mysterious. It's also fairly unique and interesting, with an inkling of humor. The plot has really come a long ways from the likes of Breath of Fire II. It remains good and varied all throughout the game. Localization still isn't perfect, which leads the dialogue to being somewhat underwhelming or awkward, but it too has been improved. Thankfully, you no longer have to deal with absurdly short, nonsensical item names.

Image

While they are still based on random encounters, the battles are fought on the same screen that you use to explore areas as opposed to a separate screen, not unlike Chrono Trigger. This is by no means new, but for some reason it's seldom used in most turn-based RPGs, so Breath of Fire III earns a few bonus points for this one.

Image

Right from the start, your party has the ability to acquire skills that the enemies may use in battle. It's done in a similar manner to Final Fantasy's Blue Mages; you need to select "Examine" from the menu and then wait for the enemy to hit you with the skill. It annoyingly doesn't always work, but the benefits are at times worth the trouble. The only negative thing I can say about the battles is that they're a little too slow paced. There's a lot of unnecessary pauses in between character actions and animations, which tends to prolong even the shortest fights.

Image

Equipping armor and weapons has gotten a bit deeper. Truth be told, a similar thing had been present in the previous Breath of Fire games, but its effects have been greatly enhanced. Every piece of equipment, save for accessories, has a "weight" rating. This rating subtracts from your character's agility. That means, your character becomes slower if you gear him/her up with powerful weapons and armor. You might think that this is a trivial matter, and it would be if it weren't for the fact that agility affects more than just the turn order and dodge rate. It also has an impact on accuracy, but more importantly, it increases the chance of there being "EX turns," or in other words, extra turns. As their name implies, these are extra turns that your character wouldn't normally get unless they have a high agility rating. Having extra turns like that is a real convenience, so it's up to you to decide how to equip your characters.

Image

Another interesting bit is the Master and Pupil system. At certain areas in the game (which are sometimes hidden), there are "Masters" that can take any number of characters in your party as "Pupils." Your party's stat growth, as well as the abilities they learn, can be hugely influenced by the Master they are apprenticed to.

Image

Worth a mention are the dragon transformations that the main character can utilize during fights. The past two Breath of Fires also had this mechanic, but here it's been given an exciting spark. Throughout your journey you can collect "genes." During battle, the main character can transform into various dragons depending on how you combine these genes. There are quite a few transformations, so the fun part is experimenting until you find something powerful or useful. Some combinations will lead to the same or similar forms, which helps add some flexibility. Every combination will always lead to a dragon or dragon-like form, and you can slightly customize the stats and abilities of a particular form by altering the combination somewhat. There's also a way to add certain forms to your "favorites," so that you may call upon them without having to repeatedly select the gene combinations. Making good use of this will allow you to easily trounce even the toughest of bosses.

Image

Notable side endeavors are the fishing mini-game that you can optionally participate in all throughout the game and the Faerie Village. It seems a lot of care was put into polishing the fishing, but the same can't be said about the other quest. After the story has progressed a bit, you're given a tiny faerie village to tend to. It's pretty simple; each faerie has a number of attributes which happen to be represented by bars of different colors and lengths. You're in charge of allocating the faeries to certain tasks, based on what they're good at doing. By effectively keeping up with this quest throughout the game, the faerie village will grow, and as a result, you'll be rewarded with rare items and shops (providing you built them) that sell trinkets. Compared to the fishing, it's a little shallow (pun intended).

Image

Breath of Fire III is refreshing. It is Capcom's finest attempt in the entire series so far. With this, Capcom has demonstrated that they are capable of developing a decent RPG. If you only play a single Breath of Fire, definitely make it the third one.

Word Count: 906