Breath of Fire is a role-playing video game developed by Capcom originally for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Initially released in Japan in April 1993, the game was later made available in North America in August 1994 by Square Soft, who handled the title's English localization and promotion. Recognized by Capcom as their first traditional role-playing video game, Breath of Fire would set the precedent for future entries in the series, and features character designs by company head of development Keiji Inafune, as well as music by members of Capcom's in-house sound team Alph Lyla. In 2001, the game was re-released for the Game Boy Advance handheld system with new save features and minor graphical enhancements, with the English version being released in Europe for the first time.
Set in a fantasy world, Breath of Fire follows the journey of a boy named Ryu, one of the last surviving members of an ancient race with the ability to transform into mighty dragons, as he searches the world for his sister. During his quest, Ryu meets other warriors who share his quest, and comes into conflict with the Dark Dragon Clan, a militaristic empire who seeks to take over the world by reviving a mad goddess. The game experienced mostly positive reception upon release, and was followed by a direct sequel, Breath of Fire II, in 1994.
Breath of Fire is a traditional role-playing video game, featuring two-dimensional character sprites and environments presented from a top-down perspective. Players move their characters in four directions while navigating through a number of environments ranging from towns to dungeons filled with traps and monsters. In order to advance the story, the player must take part in story-based scenarios that require them to enter dangerous areas and defeat enemies while also interacting with non-player characters to become involved in the plot.
During gameplay the player's main character, Ryu, will meet other characters that join his party, each with their own distinct abilities in and out of battle. These include differing magic spells as well as unique Personal Actions that can be performed in certain situations that allow the player to interact with the game world, solve puzzles, or navigate environments more easily. A player's active group can consist of up to four members at a time, but may switch any of them with reserve members at any time, even in the middle of battle. The game uses an icon-based menu system that organizes the player's stock of items, equipment, and character information, with subsystem shortcuts than can be set to unused buttons on the game controller for ease of access. As the game progresses, players may purchase or find items and equipment that can aid each character and make them stronger.
Players advance the game by doing battle with enemy creatures. Combat in Breath of Fire takes place in hostile areas such as dungeons, with encounters occurring randomly every few steps. The game uses a turn-based system while in combat, where the player inputs commands for each character at the start of each round, which are then carried out by order of their 'agility' rating. While each controllable character's health is indicated by numerical hit points, an enemy's vitality is represented by a colored bar that decreases as they take damage, and must be reduced to nothing in order to be defeated. Stronger boss characters have the ability to continue battle even after their health bar is depleted, with their true remaining health being obscured for the rest of the battle. Characters can cast spells to harm enemies or aid their allies, which require AP (Ability Points) in order to be cast. When a player defeats all enemies present, they are awarded with experience points that go towards leveling up characters, making them stronger and giving them access to new spells. Progress is saved in one of three slots using the game cartridge's internal battery back-up, which can be accessed by dragon statues at certain points throughout the game.
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