Breath of Fire III
|Breath of Fire III|
North American PlayStation cover art
|Publisher(s)||Capcom, Tommo Inc.|
|Series||Breath of Fire|
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
|Distribution||1 CD-ROM (PlayStation)
1 UMD (PSP)
Breath of Fire III (ブレス オブ ファイアIII) is a role-playing video game developed and published by Capcom originally for the PlayStation console as part of the Breath of Fire series. Initially released in Japan on September 11, 1997, the game was later released in North America and Europe in 1998. It is the first game in the franchise to feature three-dimensional graphics and voice acting. The title was developed by director Makoto Ikehara and features a unique jazz-inspired soundtrack by company composers Yoshino Aoki and Akari Kaida. On August 25, 2005, the game was ported and released for the PlayStation Portable handheld system in Japan, and was also released in Europe on February 3, 2006.
The story takes place in a fantasy world where humans live alongside anthropomorphic creatures, and centers the story on Ryu, the last of The Brood (a race of people who can transform into powerful dragons), as he searches the world to uncover the mystery of his people and reunite with his surrogate family. Ryu's journey takes him into adulthood where he is joined by a number of other characters who aid him in his quest. Breath of Fire III received mostly positive reviews upon release, and would go on to sell approximately 425,000 copies in Japan.
Breath of Fire III is a traditional console role-playing game that requires the player to accomplish story-based objectives while battling enemy creatures in a number of fantasy environments. Presented from an overhead isometric viewpoint, the player may rotate the game's camera in any direction around the central character, as well as tilt it up or down to see over or under impeding objects. When traveling through the game's environment, each character can perform a unique special ability that allows the player to solve puzzles or destroy objects, as well as gain access to otherwise hidden areas. As the first PlayStation Breath of Fire title, the game uses three-dimensional graphics for scenery, buildings, and other objects, while still retaining two-dimensional sprites for characters.
The game introduces a number of new features to the series, including the Master System, which allows any of the game's playable characters to apprentice under specific non-player characters known as masters, which allows them to learn new skills and influence their statistics. An additional feature, the Fairy Village, gives the player the ability to influence the growth of a small town of faeries, which in turn gives them access to special items or in-game features such as mini-games and a sound test. While journeying on the world map, players may set up camp, which can replenish a character's health by resting, as well as allowing them to speak directly to any member of their party. Other series mainstays such as fishing return with a new, expanded interface and point allocation system that keeps track of what fish a player has caught and their size.
Battles in Breath of Fire III occur randomly when a player travels through hostile areas or dungeons during the course of the story. Using a turn-based strategy approach, the game allows a player inputs commands at the start of each combat round, which are then carried out in accordance with each character's "agility" rating. A player may choose to attack, defend, cast magic spells, use items, change equipment, or flee from battle entirely. While previous Breath of Fire titles allowed groups of four characters to participate in combat, Breath of Fire III restricts the party limit to only three, yet offers a new "formation" system that allows for characters to be arranged in certain patterns for tactical benefits. Battles are won when all enemies are defeated, yielding experience points that go towards gaining characters' levels, which in turn leads to higher statistics and new skills.
The main characters of Breath of Fire III are Ryu (voiced by Tomoko Takai as a child and Kappei Yamaguchi as an adult) and his companions, a group of adventurers with their own distinct personalities and skills that help move the story forward. Ryu's story is presented in two parts, which involve him as both a child and adult, and his struggles to find his place in the world, as well as his lost friends. As a member of the ancient Brood race, he is a human with the ability to transform into powerful dragons, a power he doesn't fully understand at the beginning of the game, but begins to piece together as time goes on. He is accompanied on his quest by several other playable characters, including Nina (voiced by Kyoko Hikami), a winged princess from the Kingdom of Wyndia and powerful magician; Rei (voiced by Syusuke Sada), member of the cat-like Woren tribe and skilled thief; Teepo (voiced by Yoko Matsui), an orphaned rogue and longtime friend of Rei's with no memory of his past; Momo (voiced by Kaori Saito), daughter of a famous engineer and inventor who wields a SniperCannon ; Garr (Garland in the Japanese version, voiced by Yukihiro Fujimoto), an experienced warrior and member of a group known as the Guardians who serve the goddess Myria; and Peco (Pecoros in the Japanese version, voiced by Ai Kamimura), a plant-like creature who resembles an onion with limited speech and a connection with nature.
The cast is rounded out by several supporting characters including Balio and Sunder, brothers and horse-men who act as mercenaries to a powerful crime lord and frequent adversaries of Ryu. Their boss, Mikba, is the head of a criminal organization with the ability to transform into a demon. Deis [n 1] returns as a powerful sorceress who knows the secrets of the past. Myria, an ancient Goddess of Destruction, serves as the central antagonist once more, though her motives have changed, and she is instead set on preserving the lives of humanity, whom she protects with an over-zealous matron complex, by ordering the death of the dragons centuries ago.
The game begins in a chrysm mine in a far corner of the world, where a rare and powerful mineral is being harvested from the fossilized remains of dragons. When a large deposit is cracked open by dynamite, a preserved baby dragon emerges and quickly attacks the panicked miners before being knocked unconscious and placed aboard a train to be taken away for study. On the way out of the mine, the dragon jostles his cage off the train and falls down a hill on the outskirts of a large forest, where he transforms into a young boy before again losing consciousness. He is found by a wandering thief named Rei, member of the cat-like Woren clan and fellow orphan who believes him to be just another abandoned child. Taking him to his home in the woods, they meet Teepo, Rei's longtime friend and partner-in-crime, who agrees to let the boy into their thieving operation, and find out that his name is Ryu, the only thing he can remember. The team commits several crimes, and come into favor with local village when they kill a Nue that is terrorizing the village. Shortly after however, they steal from the town's corrupt mayor and re-distribute the money to the village. The mayor, however, is secretly a member of a large crime syndicate. The mayor contacts two hitmen, the horse brothers Balio and Sunder, to seek revenge, who proceed to burn down the trio's home and violently attack, beat them easily and leave them for dead. Awakening a short while later, Ryu finds himself in the care of a woodsman named Bunyan who had found no trace of his friends. Believing them to be alive, Ryu travels to the city of Windia where he meets Nina, child daughter of the King, who helps him escape Balio and Sunder, who are now on his trail.
Ryu and Nina eventually come across a large tower and meet Momo, an inventor and engineer who is researching the properties of chrysm when the two of them arrive. Together with her diminutive robotic assistant Honey, the three escape the tower by rocket when a group of bounty hunters arrive looking for them. Momo leads them to a nearby chrysm research facility conducting experiments on plants when they are approached by the institute's chairman and colleague of Momo's father, Dr. Palat, who tells them that there is a mutant creature causing trouble at the dump area where their biological waste is stored. After defeating the mutant plant creature, it gives up its offspring, whom Nina names Peco, to be cared for in its absence. As the four continue their journey east, they are captured by Balio and Sunder in a double-cross and taken to a nearby colosseum. It is there that the team meets Garr, a seasoned warrior who aids them in defeating the horse brothers for good.
Garr agrees to help the group in finding Ryu's friends on the condition that he also accompany him to a sacred temple far to the east. After crossing a large bridge and traveling straight through a volcano, the group arrives at the temple, where Garr and Ryu journey inward alone. It is there that Garr reveals the true fate of the Brood, having been slaughtered by him and his fellow guardians by the hundreds at the behest of Myria, an ancient goddess who promised an age of peace in return for their services. With Ryu as the last living dragon, Garr attempts to slay him, but Ryu beats him and escapes. Having failed to defeat a child of the Brood, Garr realized that the Brood didn't really fight back against the guardians and could have easily defeated them.
The story then cuts to several years later, where reports of a rampaging dragon have led Garr to the same mines where Ryu was originally found, and finds an adult Ryu within its depths. Convincing Ryu that he will not harm him, Garr instead asks forgiveness for his actions against his people centuries ago and asks that Ryu help him discover the truth behind Myria's genocide of the Brood. The two re-group with Nina, now a young adult and find Rei alive, now battling the leader of the crime organization responsible for the attack on his friends. Once they have him join their group, they learn that he also has not seen Teepo since the incident. While checking on some suspicious activity at the plant institute per Nina's orders the team finds Momo, who has been performing experiments at the plant institute with Peco, who himself has been frequently visiting the great tree Yggdrasil, overseer of the world's forests. They continue their journey once they receive information about Myria's whereabout from Deis, sister of Myria. Crossing the ocean to the forgotten northern continent, the group finds a town littered with advanced technology from a forgotten age, and then proceed to the last known village of the Brood, Dragnier, where they learn of the battle between the heroes from the first Breath of Fire and the Goddess millennia ago, and how she has returned to seek her revenge against the Brood. Crossing a large desert, the team arrives at the ruined city of Caer Xhan, a former haven of technology, with a lift leading to Myria's fortress.
Making their way up the large escalator to the floating Myria Station, the group fights their way into the facility's inner sanctum where they meet a lavender-haired young man who reveals himself to be Teepo. Having survived the attack by Balio and Sunder due to his latent dragon powers, he was later contacted by the Goddess, who convinced him to live in peaceful seclusion in her fortress to spare the world his destructive power. Unable to convince Ryu or his friends to do the same, he morphs into his Dragon Lord form and fought them, only to be defeated, his dying words revealing that he just wanted to be with his "family", Ryu and Rei. The determined group makes their way to Myria herself within the station's control center, where she reveals that she exterminated the dragons centuries ago for the same reason she removed the world's high technology: to keep humanity from inadvertently destroying themselves. She presents Ryu the same choice she gave Teepo, to live the rest of his life in peace within her station or be destroyed. If the player chooses to fight Myria, the spirit of the great tree Yggdrasil then channels himself through Peco and tells her she is taking her power too far, and like any parent, she must allow her children to make their own way. With that, Ryu and his friends starts to fight and defeat her, fleeing the station as it crumbles around them. Garr reveals that his life must end with Myria's, turning to stone while Ryu and Nina look on, and Deis, now revealed to be Myria's sister, appears to her just as the station falls apart, saying they will now leave the world in humanity's hands. Ryu and his friends make their way from the rubble and back into the desert on their journey home. If the player opts not to fight Myria, the game ends anticlimactically, showing Ryu in Eden, and blacking out with the text, "And so time passes... unchanging..."
Breath of Fire III was developed by members of Capcom's Development Studio 3, including director Makato Ikehara and producers Yoshinori Takenaka and Hironobu Takeshita. The game was the first in the series to feature three-dimensional environments, which were used in conjunction with hand-drawn character sprites designed by series artist Tatsuya Yoshikawa. Yoshikawa created multiple designs for many of the game's characters during production, with some in-game character sprites such as young Ryu and Teepo and adult Nina not matching their final promotional artwork. Before its release in Japan, Breath of Fire III was preceded by a promotional trailer that appeared on a demo disc of Resident Evil 2 that came bundled with the Japanese version of Resident Evil: Director's Cut. Capcom USA announced in August 1997 that the title would receive an English localization in North America, with the release date originally set for January 1998, which would eventually get pushed back to the following March.
In June 2005, Capcom announced that it would be porting Breath of Fire III to the PlayStation Portable handheld system alongside a similar port of Mega Man Legends, with both to be released the following August. The port features a new title logo graphic, and was re-programmed to make use of the handheld's native 16:9 widescreen display. An expanded version of the title's fishing minigame is also included, which can be shared with another PlayStation Portable owner using the system's GameShare function, with the Japanese release including a full-color fishing guidebook as a bonus. An English version of the port was later made available exclusively in Europe in February 2006, which contained the same translation as the original PlayStation release.
The music of Breath of Fire III was composed by Yoshino Aoki and Akari Kaida, two members of Capcom's internal sound team who also provided the vocals for the title's ending song "Pure Again". While previous games in the series used more traditional orchestral compositions, the soundtrack to Breath of Fire III features a unique jazz-inspired motif that focuses on instruments such as piano and xylophone. In September 1997, Capcom released the Breath of Fire III Original Soundtrack published by First Smile Entertainment, which features 31 select songs from the game across a single disc. A complete musical selection for the game would not be made available until March 2006, when the company released the Breath of Fire Original Soundtrack Special Box boxset containing music from the first five games in the series. Capcom had originally intended to use the theme song "Machi" (街, lit. City) by rock band Sophia for an opening animation that was to be included in the game but later discarded. The song would later appear in the game's television commercial in Japan, and would be released as a single in July 1997 by Toy's Factory.
In December 1997, Capcom's released the Breath of Fire III Drama Album, a radio drama which features re-enactments of scenes from the game performed by new and returning voice actors. Some characters, such as Momo, Garr, and Peco, are re-cast, now voiced by Kotono Mitsuishi, Akio Ōtsuka, and Yukiko Matsuura respectively, while Kappei Yamaguchi now performs as both child and adult Ryu, and Kyoko Hikami returns as the voice of Nina, who also sings the album's image song, "Harmonica". The album also includes new voiced roles such as Tomohiro Nishimura as Balio, Takehito Koyasu as Sunder, and Sayaka Narita and Omi Minami as Bambi and Bimbi, a team of reporters created especially for the album.
Breath of Fire III was met with a mostly positive response in Japan, with Famitsu Weekly awarding it 28 out of 40 possible points, while Dengeki PlayStation Magazine awarded it a 79% average. The game would go on to sell 425,000 copies in the region in 1997, making it the 24th most-bought game that year, as well as qualifying it for Sony's "PlayStation the Best" distinction, which allowed it to be re-released in December 2000 at a reduced price.
The reception for the game's release in North America and Europe ranged from good to average, with an average GameRankings score of 73.8%. GamePro Magazine called it "a very enjoyable RPG in which sure craftsmanship is easily evident", giving praise to the game colorful graphics and responsive controls yet criticizing its soundtrack, remarking that it "veers widely from unmemorable electronica to hopeless schmaltz." GameSpot declared that despite taking the series into 3D gaming, it was still a very "standard" role-playing game, stating that "even with its handful of new features, Breath of Fire III breaks little new ground." IGN similarly declared that "[f]or an RPG, Breath of Fire presents nothing incredibly new, story-wise, but the way in which everything in the game is arranged and executed shows an incredible amount of attention to detail and depth," additionally giving praise to the game's "memorable characters" and "immersive" gameplay. Game Informer called it a "fairly straight-forward RPG" with colorful graphics and good characters, but found the long load times and high rate of enemy encounters to be a hindrance. PlayStation: The Official Magazine called the game a "must buy", calling attention to the game's "clever use of sound effects, detailed animation, and well-written, often humorous dialogue," adding that "to shrug this game off as 'more of the same' in the role-playing department would be a crime." The North American version would go on to sell 230,000 copies in its first year.
The re-release of Breath of Fire III for the PlayStation Portable was received similarly to the first in Japan, with Famitsu giving the game a marginally better score of 29 out of 40. The game would go on to sell 23,448 units in the region, enough to qualify for a re-release under Capcom's "CapKore" label at a reduced price in January 2007.
European reviewers of the game were mixed. Some, like Eurogamer, were critical of the game's aged presentation and gameplay, claiming that "with nine years of intervening genre development since its inception, this is no wunderkind," citing the port's long load times and slow gameplay to be its downfall. Others, such as Play Magazine, found it to be "pretty generic, as all RPGs never fail to be, but does it all expertly, providing a great adventure that will soak up some hours." Official UK PlayStation 2 Magazine called the game "archaic yet charming" and recommended it only as a window into the genre's past. The PlayStation Portable version retains a slightly lower average score on Game Rankings at 70.9%.
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- Sunder: Hey, check it out, bro... They're gonna try and fight! / Balio: Kids... They just don't wanna do what they're told, do they...? (Breath of Fire III)
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- Garr: Why did they let us kill them??? Why did God have us kill the Brood!? I may not have the right to say this... But I want to know the truth... That's why I ask you... I ask you to let me live until then... (Breath of Fire III)
- Jono: My son... Did you see the mural as you came in? That... is the history of our people's struggle. Our peoples' history stretches back into the distant past... before even the Great War... It is the history of a struggle against a great, recurring evil. With each age, a warrior appears among the Brood... With his allies, he carries on the struggle... Against the evil that appears as a mortal, sometimes as a devil-- the evil that is named Myria... (Breath of Fire III)
- Teepo: Ryu... Myria... is... right... Look at us... The Brood... all we know how to do is... fight and kill each other... like this... but... I... didn't ask... to be Brood... I didn't ask for the power... I... just wanted to be with... you Rei, and you, Ryu... my family... (Breath of Fire III)
- Myria: Sister...? / Deis: It's for the best, Myria... You went too far in your attempt to wipe out the Brood... (Breath of Fire III)
- Deis: Don't worry... They can take care of themselves better than you think... They-- and the world-- are stronger than we think... I'm sure of it... (Breath of Fire III)
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- Dies is known as "Bleu" in the original English translations of Breath of Fire and Breath of Fire II
- Official PlayStation website (Japanese)