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Breath of Fire series

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Breath of Fire is an RPG series by Capcom. It is also a name given to a variety deliberate breathing techniques, and is related to the practices of Yoga and "Aerobic Breathing".

This page concerns the role playing game. Each game is set on the same world, merely after the previous one. As such, there are many changes from game to game, except for certain characters that are in almost every game.


Currently there are five games in the series:

Theme

As in most RPGs, the main conflict in the Breath of Fire series is the battle between good and evil. Although this theme is extremely common in RPGs, the Breath of Fire series is unique in its treatment of the subject in that the plot is of a decidedly religious nature. In each installment of the series, the main antagonist is a demon; the protagonist Ryu, the last surviving member of the messianic dragon clan, must save the humans from their otherworldly foe. The plot often involves corrupt or misled religious leaders who are eventually revealed to have helped the demon.

Although religion in games is not an uncommon theme today, it was extremely unusual in the 16-bit era when the series first debuted, and the early Breath of Fire games were a pioneer of this trend. While topics of faith had long since been considered fair game in Japan, they were largely ignored by American companies who feared that the subject was too controversial. Typically, when a game which had any religious references in it was ported to an American console, (usually from a Japanese or PC version of the original) all of those references, no matter how small, were edited out (such as the SNES Ultima games). There were even a few cases of games that were denied American releases specifically because they were deemed as being too religious in content, such as the SNES game Terranigma. In fact, it is likely true that Breath of Fire II was the first American console RPG to have its plot center around a religious conflict.

The Breath of Fire games are also unique in the fact that, while most RPGs are easily recognized as either Eastern or Western inspired (as in Dungeons & Dragons or Anime inspired), the Breath of Fire series has shown clear elements of both cultures. Dragons and enemies from both cultures are usually used, and although the series does have a slightly anime feel to it, the morally ambiguous plots owe much more to the cynical early PC RPGs of America than to traditional Japanese RPGs, which were typically much more black and white in their presentation of good versus evil. The earlier games' official artwork and especially boxart was also of a decidedly western nature (even retaining a slightly western look, although to a much lesser degree in the Japanese releases). However, as the series has progressed its artwork has shifted to a more traditional anime look, and some of the newer games even feature full motion anime cutscenes.

Finally, where as many RPG series tend to re-invent themselves with every game, the Breath of Fire games have retained essentially the same tone and style of gameplay throughout the entire series. Only the fifth game, Dragon Quarter, differs greatly in these aspects from the original. Some changes are introduced with each sequel, as is to be expected. For example, Breath of Fire III features a more sci-fi inspired setting compared to the semi-medieval backdrop of the first two. In addition, the more recent games have replaced the traditional worldmap setup with a more "point and click" based one, similar to those commonly featured in strategy games. Despite these aesthetic changes, the core gameplay remains intact. The result is that whereas games in other series such as Final Fantasy are often completely different in style from one game to the next, often to such an extent that the only recognizable characteristic is the title, the Breath of Fire games are instantly recognizable as being what they are.

There is almost a general timeline for most of the games. Breath of Fire 1 (which means that it was before 2 and 3) linked to Breath of Fire 2 and Breath of Fire 3 in the art of certain stages (earlier characters are depicted or appear as NPCS). Deis/Bleu who is in almost every Breath of Fire game. Breath of Fire 4 which has characters from Breath of Fire 3 but as trainers or NPCS. A reference point might be the wings of Nina who shrink thorough the series, caused by marrying outside her clan. If this could be inferred, then the timeline would be Breath of Fire I-Breath of Fire II-Breath of Fire IV-Breath of Fire V-Breath of Fire III. There is enough evidence that at least Breath of Fire I, Breath of Fire II, and Breath of Fire III belong to one timeline in some fashion.

The character design has changed little for the core characters. Ryu characters have blue hair, and equipped with sword and fishing rod. Nina is usually a Caucasian looking blonde female with wings (or something sticking out her back) that provides magical support. Deis/Blue is (in 3 of the games) mysterious mage who needs to be awakened.

Characters

Throughout the series many characters have come and gone. The four constant characters in every game are listed below.

Ryu is the protagonist of the series, and the main character of each game. He is one of the last surviving members of the dragon clan and is always depicted as having blue hair and wielding a sword as his weapon. Although his age varies from game to game, he's generally depicted as being in the 15-20 year old range. An interesting point is that Ryu almost never speaks (except a few battle cries, and in the first game there are some rare moments where he speaks) in any of the games (except Dragon Quarter). It is important to note that each game stars a different Ryu who is presumably a descendant or reincarnation of the protagonist of the previous game. In Dragon Quarter, Ryu is a human whose power to transform into dragons was granted to him by an outside source, because Dragon Quarter has no "dragon clan".

In all games, Ryu has the power to assume a dragon form. In the first game, this were his only spells. Though they powerful, gave him a defense boost, and immune to status effects, they only dealt a fixed amount of damage, he would eventually level up to the point where he could deal more damage in his human form, rendering them obsolete. The one exception is his strongest form, Infinity (Agni in the American version), where he would fuse with the other party members, forming a dragon that would always deal the maximum amount of damage possible, while giving a large defense boost to the party.

In the second game, Ryu's dragon forms were much weaker, and were only powerful one shot spells that would deplete all of his AP.

The 3rd and 4th games depicted Ryu's dragon forms similar to the first game, except that they would grow stronger as he did.

In the 5th game, using Ryu's dragon transformation wasn't always recommended. Though it made him much stronger, there was a timer to the game that using the dragon form would speed up, and if the timer ran out, it would mean an instant game over.

Nina is the lead female character in each game. Like Ryu, she appears in each game as a descendant of the previous Nina. She is a member of the Fae (winged) tribe and is the princess of Wyndia. There is typically no explicitly stated romantic connection between her and Ryu, though secondary sources (such as manga adaptations) often indicate such a relationship, and a scene in Breath of Fire II implies that the original Nina married the original Ryu.

Deis is a blue haired sorceress, resembling a naga in appearance. She was referred to as Bleu in the English translation of the first two games. Although Ryu and Nina are different people in each game, it is generally assumed that Deis is the same person. She does not seem to appear in Dragon Quarter.

Myria (also called: Tyr, Maria) the Goddess of Destruction, is the final boss in parts I and III. She has a beautiful and angelic appearance, but when threatened, she becomes an ugly snake-human naga. Breath of Fire II's antagonist, Deathevan, is her offspring. In Breath of Fire, she grants powers to the Dark Dragons to create war in the world. When she meets the heroes, she pretends to act childish and innocent, offering to grant their wishes, and they refuse the fight starts (saying yes results in her restoring their HP and AP with no ill effects). In Breath of Fire III, she acts as an overprotective mother of all the world's creatures, "protecting" them from the dangers of technology. Myria is Deis's sister, though the two never directly acknowledge their relation.

Races and Groups

Dragon Clan: An ancient race of people who have the ability to transform themselves into dragons. When they aren't transformed into a dragon, they are very similar in appearance to humans.

Crust: A race of large bipedal armadillos. Despite their intimidating stature, they are a humble and peaceful people and accomplished farmers.

Fae: A tribe of winged people that resides in the kingdom of Wyndia. In the earlier games, their royalty have the ability to transform into the Great Bird. The name "Fae" didn't appear until the fourth game in the series; in the earlier games they were simply referred to as Wyndians.

Forest Tribe: Probably not the actual name of the tribe. They are a group of swift wolf-like people who, as the name implies, often reside in the forest.

Grassrunners: A clan of anthropomorphic dogs (Momo, despite being frequently mistaken for a rabbit, is a dog - compare her ears to Scias's ears).

Immortals: Not so much a race, but a nickname for a group of ancient sorcerers. Deis (Bleu) is the most prominent member of this group.

Manillo: A race of bipedal fish that are able to survive on land. They often appear in the games as merchants and bankers.

Woren: A tribe of cat-people, resembling tigers. They are natural fighters and vary slightly in appearance from game to game. In the Japanese games they are called Furen.

Shaman: A clan of people with the ability to fuse with others to increase their powers and alter their appearance. The Shamans from Breath of Fire II belong to this tribe. It is also believed that Karn from Breath of Fire I is from this tribe.

Release history

  • 1993 - Breath of Fire is released for the SNES in Japan.
  • 1994 - Breath of Fire is translated by Squaresoft and released in North America.
  • 1994 - Breath of Fire II is released for the SNES in Japan.
  • 1995 - Breath of Fire II is translated by Capcom USA and released in North America.
  • 1997 - Breath of Fire III is released for the PlayStation in Japan.
  • 1998 - Breath of Fire III is translated and released Europe and North America.
  • 2000 - Breath of Fire IV is released in Japan, translated and released for Windows and the PlayStation in North America.
  • 2001 - Breath of Fire IV is released in the United Kingdom.
  • 2001 - Breath of Fire is re-released for the Game Boy Advance in North America.
  • 2002 - Breath of Fire II is also re-released in North America for the Game Boy Advance.
  • 2003 - Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter (Breath of Fire V) is released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan and North America.


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