With the recent spate of remakes and remasters, there’s plenty of options on the table for developers to look at the classics they’ve released throughout the history of gaming and breathe new life into once old sagas.
Off the back of successful remakes in recent memory (FF7R, Resident Evil 2 & 3 Remake), we’ve decided to explore titles from days lost in our youth to discuss what deserves a remake, or should remain a cherished, if distant memory.
Welcome to our first feature, hopefully in a long line, of Retro or Remake?
The game we’ll be exploring this week is Capcom’s Breath of Fire III, which I would argue is the best title in the saga. Just to be clear, there have been six Breath of Fire games to date, ranging from its first entry on the Super Nintendo in 1993, all the way up to its most recent entry on iOS, Windows and Android. Over the years the series has seen moderate re-release onto other systems like PSP and Switch, but what we’re looking at is whether it’s a viable candidate for a remake.
So some background, Breath of Fire III was the first in the series to go 3D, while still retaining 2D sprite work for the characters, monsters etc… The setting has charm in droves and the cutesy, anime like characters add to that too. For the time, it was pretty impressive graphics wise, and sported one of the best overhead isometric RPG experiences around.
The mechanics of the game were various. There were 6 full time party members in total, with addition (if I remember correctly) of one other at the start of the game. Each character had their own unique skill, which could come in handy in specific areas to gain access to otherwise hidden areas or to complete puzzles (and boy, did the dungeons have puzzles).
It was also the first in the series to introduce the Master system. Basically, characters could mentor under specific NPC’s, to learn new skills and abilities as they levelled up. It sounds pretty simple, and for the most part it is, but it added an element of depth to the series not seen before.
Another feature, was the ability to commandeer a small faerie village, set them tasks such as hunting, building and clearing to make way for more buildings. Woo capitalism! The purpose of helping the faeries to maintain a roaring serfdom under your tutelage was to well… get stuff. As the culture of the village improved, through allocating different jobs, shops would open up and new jobs would become available. I won’t spoil too much, but it’s an exceptionally cool mini game.
Breath of Fire III, as most RPG’s of the time, had an overworld map. However, on the map you could also set up camp and talk to your comrades while taking a much needed rest. There were also specific spots on the world map (signalled by question marks) for the most vigilant of players to find that could be hidden areas and the like. A feature that made a return from a previous iteration in the series was fishing, albeit with an updated interface and system.
So to be fair, Breath of Fire III brought a lot to the table. Beyond that it was your a-typical RPG outing. Turn based battles, dungeons to explore, and random battles aplenty were the meat and bones of this adventure like many others of the time.
A bit about the story without giving too much away. You play as the main character, Ryu, who is a member of the Brood race. Essentially, what this means is that our little blue spiky haired friend can transform into a dragon and unleash all sort of nastiness on his enemies. There’s plenty of races in the game, from Woren (Cat-like people that can transform into Weretigers), your standard Humans, the monk like Guardians (a race of well… guardians, but bloody big ones with spears, horns and prayer beads) and there’s even Horsemen. Oh and an onion. Yep.
The story in this game is likely one of the best I’ve ever had the chance of experiencing. It was unique, and had plenty of twists too. The entire start to finish spans Ryu being a kid all the way up until adulthood, so its definitely an epic. The characters are great (I don’t think there was one I didn’t like, even the onion) and there’s just a lot there to take in. You grow with the characters as they age up, and its a pretty rewarding experience in its own right.
Did I mention the soundtrack? I still occasionally find myself humming the tunes. The boss battle music is truly great, and the music is generally just impressive and ambient in all the right places. A whole lot of them I could probably whistle from memory today. And that’s a good indicator of a great musical experience, the ability to remember it.
So, is it worthy of a Remake or should it remain in the hallowed halls of Retro?
Breath of Fire III was pretty successful. It garnered a lot of love from the RPG community and there was plenty in the game, for the time at least, that hadn’t been tried before. It came in a period where the Playstation was THE console to have for RPG’s.
If a Remake were considered, the ability to expand on the visuals of the game is limitless. Yes, it probably doesn’t have the following that heavy hitters like Final Fantasy has. But with a little bit of love, this once beautifully told and exciting story could become a solid modern adventure in its own right.
There could be expansion on the fishing system, a greater and grander experience with the faerie village where perhaps it would be more intrinsic to the game overall. There’s also so much that could be done to update the battle system into modern standards and to improve on the Master system. I can’t imagine anything cooler than going full dragon transformation on the scale that we’ve seen recently in RPG’s.
Hell, there’s plenty of original content they could build on and expand. Even add in some new features.
The point is, Breath of Fire III is still a great game. Old, but great. There’s a reason it was re-released onto the PSP, and that’s because there’s a tonne of gamers that appreciate the RPG classics.
So with that in mind, I think we can chalk this one up on the Remake side of the board.
What’s your thoughts?