Best Breath of Fire Games: The Entire Series Ranked & Reviewed

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Capcom’s very first RPG is also their most successful roleplaying series, a true-to-form JRPG that genre aficionados can’t possibly overlook.

Instead of trying out new gimmicks and experimental ideas for every installment, Capcom focuses on bringing gamers the quintessential JRPG experience, every time. That’s what Breath of Fire is all about.

Even in its most experimental iterations, the protagonist remains a dragon-shapeshifting orphan by the name of Ryu, and a winged girl by the name of Nina.

If you’re a fan of the BoF series, you know precisely what you’re getting into. Which is a good thing.

And whether you’re new to the series or a long-time fan looking to re-connect with these games, let’s have a look at some of the best titles in the entire franchise.

 

6. Breath of Fire 6 (JP) (2016)

Breath of Fire 6 screenshot

Platforms: PC, Android, iOS

It’s pretty normal for games in these long-lived JRPG sagas to never get a worldwide release.

But try not to feel too bad about this one.

Breath of Fire 6 is a mobile title, and it’s filled to the brim with microtransactions.

That isn’t necessarily terrible by itself, but considering the game had under 2/5 stars rating on the Japanese Playstore when it shut down, I think it’s safe to assume we’re not missing out.

Still, it’s part of the BoF series, so it does deserve an honorable mention.

 

5. Breath of Fire (1994)

Breath of Fire GBA screenshot

Platforms: SNES, Game Boy Advance

The original Breath of Fire may feel like a generic RPG if you play it today.

But back in the early 90s, it was revolutionary just for the sake of being one of the very few large-scale JRPGs on the market.

And the SNES was a pretty big RPG machine in its heyday.

The game follows Ryu, the last remnant of the shapeshifting Light Dragon clan, as he fights to stop the Dark Dragon Empire from reviving an ancient power that could end the world.

In his quest, he’ll meet and recruit several characters of diverse anthropomorphic tribes, and even the winged Princess of Windia, Nina – who we’ll often encounter throughout the series. And gosh, she’s just great huh?

BoF was Capcom’s first RPG. So they took pointers from other popular titles and focused on great visuals, a superb soundtrack, and a gripping story.

Despite the original coming out in ‘94 for the SNES, I’d recommend playing the 2001 GBA port.

Generally speaking, the GBA version rebalances the game for a more streamlined & faster-paced experience. It tends to hold up better these days.

 

4. Breath of Fire II (1995)

Breath of Fire II on SNES screenshot

Platforms: SNES, Game Boy Advance

After the remarkable success of the original Breath of Fire, the only logical course of action would be to release a sequel.

Despite the incredibly long introductory phase, the game wastes no time making you feel invested in its story. Not to mention its lovable cast of characters.

Set 500 years after the original, it follows Ryu, an orphan with the power to turn into a dragon.

We play along as he makes allies and discovers his origins as a member of the mysterious Dragon Clan.

This gripping narrative is part of what makes this game better than its predecessor, and it may possibly have the best story in the entire series.

That said, other additions like the Monster Meter, the formation system, and the possibility of managing a homestead throughout the game, were all truly appreciated by long-time fans.

Like the original, BoF II has a GBA port that I recommend over the original SNES version. Mostly due to improved & more colorful graphics, and some meaningful balance tweaks touching everything from monster encounter rate to EXP gains and drops.

But if you’re a retro SNES junkie then of course you’ll probably enjoy the 1995 version a lot more.

 

3. Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter (2003)

Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter PS2 gameplay

Platforms: PlayStation 2

The Breath of Fire franchise isn’t known for its innovation.

In fact, one could argue it’s known for playing it safe and focusing on polished RPGs for each title.

Yet during the JRPG boom of the PS2 era, every game developer had some new gimmick to set them apart from the others.

Fearing their usual strategy wouldn’t work, Capcom decided on going the experimental route. BoF: Dragon Quarter is the result.

While the game retains franchise staples like dragon-shapeshifting protagonist Ryu, and a winged girl named Nina, the setting is entirely different.

It changes from a relatively standard medieval fantasy world, to a dystopian setting where humans and other races survive in polluted cities deep underground. It’s pretty neat, honestly.

Among the game’s more bizarre aspects is the need to “finish” it several times if you want to reach the “true ending”, thanks to a pretty sophisticated Scenario Overlay system.

Other new additions include the fully 3D graphics, a must for anything from the PS2 era.

And also the addition of the PETS battle system, which brings together elements of real-time and turn-based combat for a truly unique experience. There’s a lot of fun to be had here, see if you can find it on the PS Store or grab a copy for your PS2.

 

2. Breath of Fire III (1998)

Breath of Fire III - PSP Screenshot

Platforms: PlayStation, PlayStation Portable

Where BoF: Dragon Quarter seems to have driven the series into obscurity for the foreseeable future, Breath of Fire III on the original PlayStation was a total commercial success.

Not to mention an essential part of many childhoods around the world.

The story is unique in that it follows protagonist Ryu from infancy to adulthood, and each stage of his life has its own trials and tribulations to overcome.

It also features some of the most memorable characters in the franchise, which makes the narrative far more enjoyable.

While the graphics haven’t exactly aged well, at the time they were incredible. It was a big change from the SNES graphics we were accustomed to.

And not only does the game feature pretty detailed sprites, but it introduced 3D backgrounds for the first time in a BoF game.

Some of the game’s most discussed features are the exquisite jazzy soundtrack, a brilliant OST that only grows on you with time.

Plus the addition of the Fairy Village, which you can help develop for bonuses further down the line, and the Master System that lets characters apprentice under masters to hone their skills. Overall there’s a lot to do here and it’s an absolutely incredible RPG.

Although there is also a PSP version with updated graphics, so try to get your hands on that one. It’s aged much nicer.

 

1. Breath of Fire IV (2000)

Breath of Fire IV PS1 gameplay screenshot

Platforms: PlayStation, Windows PC

Looking at BoF IV’s sprites alongside those of BoF III, it’s hard to believe they were released only two years apart – especially considering they’re both on the same console.

I could spend days talking about how beautiful the sprites are, and the general art style of BoF IV is just amazing.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

There’s also the sublime soundtrack, the exciting animated opening sequence, and so much more to love about this game.

As usual, it follows shapeshifting hero Ryu as he befriends a charming cast of colorful characters and fights to stop an immortal emperor from ascending to godhood.

It may be a bit predictable since it follows many JRPG storytelling tropes. But it’s wonderfully written – and the soundtrack is designed to give every scene the necessary gravitas to keep you at the edge of your seat.

BoF IV also puts you in control of the main antagonist several times, giving a new perspective and revealing his motivations along the way.

In terms of gameplay, changes are few.

But an improved combat system and revamped formation mechanic make it all worthwhile. Fishing, apprenticeship, and managing a Fairy Village all return in this installment as well. Totally worth a try even if you just finished BoF III.

Actually if you just finished BoF III, definitely try BoF IV next.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.