Today I am going to review one of my all time favorite games. To do so, we need to go all the way back to 1998, a simple time where the PlayStation was my whole world. One chilly spring evening, my wonderful father took my brother and I to the local game store known as “In-ta-games.” Perusing the shelves, a little gem catches my dad’s eye. He immediately tells my brother and I to put whatever inferior games we picked out back, because he has found the winner.
Back in March of 1998, Capcom released the third installment to the legendary Breath of Fire franchise. This was the first game in the series to have three-dimensional graphics and voice acting. Kind of a big deal. Especially when you are 10 and the coolest looking game is PaRappa the rapper. Now, I had played a few RPGs before this, but little did I know this was about to lead me on an emotional journey consisting of dragons, jazz, onions, and were-tigers.
The story opens inside of a cave where workers are mining an ever so important mineral known as chrysm. You will learn all about it’s importance later. While harvesting some precious chrysm, some poacher type guys come across a baby dragon in a rather large deposit. Naturally, they crack that bad boy open – freeing the little guy. You emerge scared and confused. As a tiny level 1 whelp, you try and escape the mines, with really no luck at all. You are defeated and knocked unconscious.
When you wake, you are trapped in a small cage on a rickety train headed to God knows where. The only thing you can do is to shake, rattle, and roll this cage off of the box car and into an unfamiliar forest. Upon impact, your prison busts open, sending you deep into the woods – to be knocked unconscious yet again. You then transform into a small boy with blue hair. At the same moment, a young thief is wandering the forest. He finds you and takes pity. Thinking you are an orphan, much like himself, he takes you back to his hideout where he has another companion without a past. When you wake up, you are greeted by a cat-like boy named Rei, and a small purple haired boy named Teepo.
Upon chatting with your new friends, you find out that they survive by robbing local town folk and killing creatures that infest the forest. Lucky for you, the boys have taken a liking to this random blue haired child that doesn’t remember a single thing about himself except that your name is Ryu. Little does anyone know, you are actually part of an ancient race known as the Brood.
What this means is that while you may be a human, you have the ability to change into a dragon, depending on a combination of special chrysm genes you acquire. For example, want to be a thunderous ice dragon? Boom: equip the frost and thunder genes. Maybe you just want a good old fashioned lava bone dragon, Bam: use the trance, shadow, and defender genes. Or maybe you want to combine all of your players to make a huge behemoth! Pow: Equip any special genes you want with the miracle stone, and you got yourself a dragon party. Seriously, with 18 different gene stones, you can make any combination of dragon you’ve ever dared to fathom. ANYWAYS… that’s for later, let’s get back to the story.
So you decide to live with these kids and help them out by robbing innocent strangers and killing random vermin around the woods. After learning a few valuable lessons of right and wrong, life and death, and even a little about love, the three of you decide it’s time to rob from the city’s corrupt mayor and give the people back the money he has so greedily taken from them. Revenge, however, is swiftly carried out after you succeed with this mission, in the form of two unicorn looking men hunting you down, beating you until you once again lose consciousnesses, and then burning down your lovely new home. Well damn.
Now it’s time to man up. Sure, your house has burnt down and your new family is probably dead and you are a child all alone in the world with no memory of anything, but it’s time to stop crying and begin your journey of self discovery. You see, somewhere in your little human/dragon heart, you feel your friends are still alive somewhere, and it’s your duty to go and find them.
This is where the fun begins. You now get to travel around the world finding unique companions, appalling villains and all of the puzzle quests you could ever dream of. The game play is just like any other RPG. It’s very straight forward and easy to get a feel for. What really hooked me to this game was the story. I got so immersed in it, I was getting all sorts of emotional when confronted with the in-game situations. You find a total of 6 companions you keep with you through different parts of the game. Unfortunately you can only keep 2 of these troopers with you while on your journeys. With different abilities ranging from magic, to brute strength, to just pure knowledge, picking which 2, was always a challenge. Everyone is so different and precise that it was almost necessary to keep everyone at about the same level so you wouldn’t run into troubles later when you had a particular character mission to complete. A fun feature they added is that they put a Master system into play, where you can get any of your characters an apprenticeship from various hidden masters around the world. This allows everyone to learn new skills and sway their statistics. Highly recommended by the way.
Now, maybe you are wondering why I am talking about this super old game, and I guess it’s because I’m a big fan of storytelling in games, and let me tell you, this game did it for me. The story is just so memorable and suspenseful that it’s always going to stick with me. There’s so much humor and tragedy mixed into this fantastic little tale that it’s not so original game play and over abundance of enemy encounters weren’t a big deal.
So if someday you find yourself bored out of your mind and looking for something to pass the time, I recommend resurfacing your PlayStation and giving this little baby a go.
Some things to keep in mind: Look for all of the Genes. These will help you out so much in certain situations.
Learn the skill “influence“.
Peco will seem lame for quite sometime, but don’t give up on the little guy, he may prove to be a valuable player.
Find masters for everyone. Even if your apprenticeship has ended, find a new one.
Don’t get emotionally attached to any of the characters like I did. It may just end up breaking your heart. And with that, I leave you to try it out for yourself. Until next time, I bid you all adieu and wish you all happy hunting. Thanks for reading 🙂