Breath of Fire III
Reviewed: 12/30/2003


Being a high profile nerd from some generic suburb, when I refer to my first time, I refer to my first RPG as opposed to other firsts. For me, Breath of Fire 3 was the first. So it’s no small wonder that it’s still one of my favorites for the simple reason that every time I think about it, I feel a certain wave of warm nostalgia. This was, after all, the game that opened the floodgates to what would be my primary genre of choice in videogames. However, I’ve choked all of those feelings down to provide a fun, exciting, and most importantly, neutral, review of one of the RPG’s to step out of the shadow of Final Fantasy VII during its time.

The first thing that hit me when playing BOF3 was the light feel to the game. Sure, the first 12 seconds or so have this odd, cryptic, blue haired elf warrior (at least that’s what I thought it was at the time) telling you this odd, cryptic, rather blue message that, for all I knew, dealt with elves. However, from the 13th second and through a great majority of the game, BoF3 is very lighthearted. The plot starts off as a recently-awakened dragon that is burning everyone’s asses up (it rocks, trust me). This dragon eventually escapes his would-be captors and turns into a little boy (don’t ask). From there, he meets a couple of rogue wanderers that just so happen to live in the most kick ass tree fort ever. The story develops around this boy/dragon named Ryu and his struggle to discover his past and use his mysterious powers to vanquish the evil that would make the world suffer (become communist).

Screen Shot
Learning from this “Master” gives you useful magic

So while the game has a lighthearted feel, the overall plot is, in fact, a serious and deep one that keeps the player fully engaged all the way through. One of the keys to keeping this fun, chip-and-dip feel to the game is the music. The music is fun. It’s like I don’t have a worry or care at all when I’m roaming through the world map and that music is going, partly because there are no random battles on the world map, but mainly because of the music.

Now, music and plot are great, but I can also get that by reading a good book with Beethoven in the background. What separates BOF3 is the excellent and innovative battle and upgrading system in general. Some features carried over from previous installments include fishing and camping. Both of which are totally kick ass and really make sense. I mean, why didn’t FF7 do this? Did Barret have an aversion to campfires or something? Or maybe Cloud couldn’t bait a hook. The world will never know. Anyway, these cool features along with the “Master system” (not the Sega console) really add depth and customization to the solid turn based battling system. The Master system is basically being able to have a certain someone take a party member on as an apprentice. If you apprentice with, say, a lumberjack, your strength will go up faster, but your magic will remain unmoving. Or if you apprenticed under a pirate, your ability to steal and be awesome would increase. It’s all about matching the right character with the right Master. After earning a few level-ups, returning to visit your master could score you some sweet new skills. It’s very cool and leads to a great amount of depth. The Master system, along with plenty of mini-games and other collectibles lead to plenty of fun and aversion from the main plot.

Screen Shot
The battles are kinda like Lufia in 2.5D

Then there’s the graphics. They’re sub par as far as PS1 RPG’s go, but I don’t blame Capcom for laying off on the graphical power. They did, after all, make it possible for you, the gamer to rotate the camera almost the full 360 degrees. That’s hardcore: real harcore. Think about it, most people are stupid and only like graphics in their games, but not these guys. These guys (probably named Kurasawa and Shiniwa) gave graphics the middle finger and went on with a much more kick ass camera and style. So while they’re not perfect, they’re certainly more than acceptable.

Don’t let that last paragraph bug you, graphics are stupid anyway. But there is one more thing that bugged me. The ending was very anti climatic. It was like “Thanks for playing me for 60 hours, you may go now, and see little to no ending.” It marred an otherwise stellar story and game. However, that’s not to say the game wasn’t worth the trip, it just sort of stumbled over the finish line, still finishing in the top five.

-Cory Buck

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Excellent
Story Great
Graphics Very Good
Sound/Music Great
Replay Value Excellent
The Verdict: 9