Monday, December 13, 2010

Text Play: Breath of Fire (SNES) Issue One: Getting Started

This is probably one of the dumbest ideas I've ever had for a blog series, but why let that stop me?

Here's a little something I tried a while back when I was more active in the forums at The Spoony Experiment with a game called Legend of Mana. I didn't quite get it off the ground for various mostly personal and stupid reasons not worth getting into. I've decided to try it again, this time with a Capcom title for the SNES: Breath of Fire.

My motivation for this is to be writing something to post to more than just my own blog while I get my ass in gear to finish my Mysterious Cities of Gold Looking Back piece to put on That Guy With The Glasses, which is now a few months later than I had intended it to be.

Breath of Fire is your standard RPG from it's era in the mid 1990s. It's got a decent story, solid graphics, and pretty good music. I can't quite remember how I came to own this title, though I think my kid brother got it for me for Christmas the year it came out.

Anyway, the basic story of the game is that a villainous group calling itself the Dark Dragons is trying to awaken an ancient goddess of desire and destruction so they can take over the world. The only ones who can stop them is an opposing group, aptly named the Light Dragons. Since the game's hero is pretty much the only one left who's not a complete pussy once his sister surrenders to the bad guys, it's up to him and those he recruits along the way to save the world. Standard stuff, really.

The battle system is interesting in this one. The battle scene is in something of a ¾ view from behind and above your party. This is the only game I can ever remember seeing anything like it in. Probably the most confusing aspect here is that there's two different options for fighting monsters. There's a manual mode, where you can select each move each of your characters makes each turn, which include the standard options for weapons, magic, items, and defense. There's also an automatic mode that pretty much just makes everybody in the party attack with weapons each turn. Gotta be careful with it, though, because it can get your ass kicked if you don't manage to go back to manual mode in time to heal everybody up.

Overall, the thing I keep having the most trouble with when I play this game is that I usually forget that I have to use the select button to access the non-combat menus. It's an interesting idea, but it's just different enough from the norm of having that option mapped to the B button that I keep forgetting.

So, on to the game itself. The opening cutscenes of the game explain the story about how the bad guys want the ancient war goddess to take over the world and that the only two people left alive who can stop them are the hero and his sister, who surrenders herself to save the few people, including the hero, who survive the torching of their village by the Dark Dragons. In the process of doing so, Big Sis turns everyone but herself into stone to protect them from the fire. The next morning, the fire's over, the village is destroyed, and the petrification wears off. When most of the villagers realize that they're pretty much screwed, they run off and leave the hero with an old man and an old woman who tell him to go save the world and give him a couple bucks to outfit himself with.

At this point, I should probably say that I'll try to do as much of this from memory as I can, but it's been awhile since I've played this game, so I'm likely to forget a few things along the way and may be looking up in a walkthrough should the need arise.

So, after gaining a couple levels in the immediate vicinity of the hero's home town of Drogen, it's time to head off to the town of Camlon, which has been shaken to hell by mysterious earthquakes. There's a king there who rules both this town and Nanai, the next one, but before he'll tell the hero crap about the quakes, he's gotta go into the local castle and forcibly remove a frog monster from the throne. Once the hero's beaten the frog monster's ass, the king tells him that there's an earthquake machine in the main dungeon of Nanai. So, the hero does his thing and goes over to Nanai to deal with the problem.

This part of the game can be a real bitch. The hero must sneak in at night, and there are still guards around to kick his ass out if approached to closely. There are indications that the original intent might have been for there to be some temporary support characters in the party at this point, because when the guards get the hero, they keep saying “intruders”, meaning more than one, and the boss at the end of the dungeon, a knight of some sort, is a little tough for one character to take alone. You kinda want to be sure to get all the boxes in this dungeon as you go through, because there are no second chances. The good news is that the knight, tough as the bastard is, can be beaten, and doing so will stop the quakes. The bad news is that the town of Nanai gets blown up when the quake generator gets stopped. The just plain goofy is that the people of Camlon proclaim that the hero is indeed a hero because he made the right choice in blowing up their capitol city, though I suppose it does make some sense in that the world is safer as a result. Oh well, at least there's the fact that the hero now has access to the E-key, which can cause earthquakes when used in battle.

And for now, that's going to wrap things up, as that's about as far as I've played as of right now.

Next issue: East to Winlan, where we'll meet our first party member and come across some more cool features in the game.

See you then!

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