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Recordkeeping: Breath of Fire 2 COMPLETE - The Forbidden Codex of The Pink Beyond - A Sqrl's Journal

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January 6th, 2016


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06:56 pm - Recordkeeping: Breath of Fire 2 COMPLETE
I was discussing Dragon's Dogma with a friend, and cracked a joke about it being Capcom's ACTUAL Breath of Fire 6, since the real BoF6 is some phone-based nonsense. Then I realized, well... I've never actually finished a Breath of Fire game! I tried 3, but it tried to make me watch small children grow up in what felt like -real time- and I just couldn't handle that.

Instead I backfilled with Breath of Fire 2, and man this had Big Ideas that didn't all mesh together well. A huge world, lots of secrets, multiple endings, a build-your-township system, hunting, fishing, fusing party members into new party members... Yet, the town system was awkward and the hunting was basically Oregon Trail, but THAT'S OKAY because that's fun to play too...

...and Capcom dickboned it at release with a typical SNES JRPG translation of awfulness. It's okay though, we live in the future. People are willing to professional-style re-translate games for free out of insane fandom. As such, I played the Watercrown Productions retake of Breath of Fire 2 and absolutely loved the hell out of it.

ASIDE FROM the encounter rate (which is horrendous) and the way battles drift from "Spam physical" to "Spam the Death spell" to "Spam Dragon attacks on the bosses and hope" by the endgame, this was one of the better SNES JRPGs I've ever played? ... Yes, that feels accurate. I mean, you can tell I'm writing this on the fly, but "one of the better RPGs available on the system" FEELS accurate after I typed it, so I'm leaving it there.

...And hey, it actually manages to contain some nuance. I was prepared for the plot of this game to be "Religion is Evil, punch God in the face" like most SNES JRPG stories. Instead it was "Religious hypocrisy is evil, your religious tenets are okay but what you're doing is wrong, also punch God in the face" which feels at least complex enough to be a Playstation plot.

(Also, game contained big buff armadillo, sexy naga lady and catgirl with no pants. A++ Five Furry Stars.)

I guess now I have to play... well. I'm not going back to BoF1 probably. But ... I do own 4 and Dragon Quarter (yes I know, I know, I don't care what the fandom thinks of it). And maybe 3... deserves a second chance? But not right now, two long JRPGs in a row will probably actually murder me dead.

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[User Picture]
From:kjorteo
Date:January 7th, 2016 02:07 am (UTC)
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"I was prepared for the plot of this game to be "Religion is Evil, punch God in the face" like most SNES JRPG stories"

... in Japan, maybe? Like, maybe I'm forgetting something, but in America that feels more like a Playstation thing. Actually, I recall a lot of people describing Breath of Fire 2 with words like "revolutionary" and "groundbreaking" and 'historically significant" not because of the gameplay (like you said, it tried a bunch of things but still ended up feeling like a somewhat primitive SNES JRPG in the end) but because it actually somehow managed to slip the plot of Xenogears past Nintendo of America, who was still HUGELY in their NO RELIGIOUS REFERENCES EVER phase (censoring the crosses on the graves in Earthbound, etc.) Edit: Wait, fuck, I'm thinking of Mother, sorry. They actually didn't censor the crosses in Earthbound (though they took out the Red Cross logo on hospitals because it's copyrighted.) So maybe I'm wrong..?

Anyway, hooray! I know it has its rough edges that haven't aged especially well here and there, but it does my heart good to hear you still loved this game overall.

Edited at 2016-01-07 02:09 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:xyzzysqrl
Date:January 7th, 2016 02:15 am (UTC)
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It's funny, I remember that trope being common enough that it's in the top 100 of the Grand List of RPG Cliches from way back when... but this is clearly a post-Playstation list. Maybe I'm conflating the two.
[User Picture]
From:swordianmaster
Date:January 7th, 2016 05:29 pm (UTC)
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BoF3's pacing hasn't gotten any better with age, and that sounds like the part you had the most problems with. It's still got an interminably slow first act (aka "the kid years") and just from watching people play it and trying to play through it myself four or five years back, it just feels like wading through molasses.

Which I hate, because it basically fixes most of the problems BoF2 had with its Big Ideas meshing.
[User Picture]
From:xyzzysqrl
Date:January 7th, 2016 11:07 pm (UTC)
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Mmh. You're probably right. It would be long and suffering. ... but Rei's SPRITES...
[User Picture]
From:kjorteo
Date:January 19th, 2016 03:47 am (UTC)
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Rei's sprites give me life. And a few other characters' sprites too. That game has seriously hands down the finest sprite work in the entire series. And best dragon system, too. And best lots of things. (Not including translation, alas.)

I guess the trick to at least HANDLE the pacing of the kid years is to not view them as merely a first act? I mean, that's like half the game and your entire party. Like, I remember when you were going through BoF2 and got hit with your first "something in the plot happened that was SO big that the world map music changed" moment and you were like, "AUGH, WAS EVERYTHING I'VE BEEN THROUGH SO FAR MERELY A TWENTY-HOUR PROLOGUE??" And I was like, "Um... no? It's... it's the same plot, it's just progressing because that's what plots DO, but everything you've been through so far still counts!"

That being said, I will admit that the start of the kid years is the slowest damned JRPG intro I've experienced since Star Ocean 2 (where it's like two hours before the mayor of the starter town even sends you on your way to anywhere.) But like Star Ocean 2, once you finally get going, it mostly clears up. Or at least I think it does. Admittedly I haven't played the game in years, I was blindsided by how poorly the first few hours had aged when I tried to get my (now-ex-)girlfriend into it, and, uh, that was kind of awkward for everyone. I really want to say it gets better, because I swear I remember it does, but unless I go back and check again....
[User Picture]
From:xyzzysqrl
Date:January 19th, 2016 04:26 am (UTC)
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...In a way, though, I was right and it WAS a 20-hour prologue. And then there was a lengthy epilogue/sublogue to the prologue where you run around getting READY to go home again, and then you ACTUALLY go home and then that's the final dungeon right there.

I feel the Breath of Fire series has Pacing Issues basically.

Star Ocean 2 is lengthy, yeah. Nothing beats Persona 4's FOUR HOUR intro before you get to start really doing stuff, though. It's four valuable hours of character setup, but on replays oh dear lore does it trail out eternally.
[User Picture]
From:relee
Date:January 9th, 2016 10:16 am (UTC)
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Congratulations! I never managed to beat BoF2. The difficulty jump when you go to hell was too high and I couldn't stand grinding to get up to that power level, so I gave up way back then. Liked it a lot up to that point though! I was recently thinking of giving it another go, and now that I know it's been retranslated I'm even more keen to try it again.

Breath of Fire 3 was my favorite Breath of Fire game, for the reasons you said you didn't like it, so it probably won't be yours. But it is good!

Breath of Fire 4 is also good.

I've never played Breath of Fire 5, but it's pretty infamous. Knowing you you'll probably love it. Oh ho ho ho ho. <3

Breath of Fire 1 I can barely remember, but I'm pretty sure I beat it.

I heard that they were doing Breath of Fire 6. I didn't hear it was on phones. Wow. That's crazy. OR IS IT? I don't know. I suppose a phone is a great place for retro JRPGs if they wanted to make one.
[User Picture]
From:xyzzysqrl
Date:January 9th, 2016 10:34 am (UTC)
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I feel like people would be happier if it WAS a retro JRPG. Instead, well...

Have a look.

Sort of a tap-things walk to the right and wait game.
[User Picture]
From:relee
Date:January 10th, 2016 01:57 am (UTC)
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Ahh geez, I see what you mean. The trailer I saw before made it look much better.

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