Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Make Up Your Mind, Breath of Fire Series

I've mentioned the Breath of Fire JRPG series a few times recently, and because I've been watching a lot of junk on YouTube about it, it's rather at the forefront of my mind at the moment.

Thus, under this embed of a piece of boss music I'm going to do a little bit of aimless rambling about it.

I mentioned on a previous occasion that one of the things about the Breath of Fire series is that it seems to like game mechanics that other JRPGs avoid for the most part, most notably the fusion systems found in the first few games.

Each of the games' fusion systems was a bit different (I mention this here). This is perfectly acceptable in and of itself, and as the games are mostly nonlinear stories seemingly set in the same world, not generally a big deal. Except...

Well, the first game's primary use of fusion involved certain specific relatively specialized characters. Once you had enough characters that the whole party couldn't participate in a battle at once, one of the more specialized characters (i.e. one with narrow uses normally) gained the ability to cast a spell that would let him merge with two other relatively specialized characters, which gave him no new combat abilities but did send his stats through the roof. Over time, he'd gain more spells of a similar nature, until he finally got one that let him merge with all three of the potential fusion candidates at once, the result being even more of a combat monster. (Since the game featured eight playable characters, this fusion character represented half of the game's roster, and since you could only have four characters in the party, having that final fusion character was kind of like having 75% more characters in your party at once.) Then, towards the end of the game the game's Ryu gained a dragon form which was also a fusion form which included the entire party. (While generally awesome, it should also be noted that this turned the battles where you could use it into something of a simplistic "I hit you, you hit me, repeat until I need to heal, start over at step one" affair, because the mega dragon fusion didn't have any actual special combat abilities, just massive attack power and comparably impressive defense. Fortunately, the Breath of Fire games have an autobattle feature that means you can just sit back and watch.)

The third game's only use of fusion (there's a reason I'm going out of order) was when that game's Ryu unlocked certain dragon forms and fused with party members; this worked a bit like the first game's fusions, though from what I can tell the fusions had many more special characteristics than brute force.

The second game's use of fusion went in a completely different direction. Rather than involving multiple party members, each fusion involved a single party member and one or two of a certain group of NPCs. This basically was a big power-up that tended to give a new ability as well as greatly enhanced stats (depending on how you mixed and matched the NPCs with the party members) and a new appearance. But there's a key difference: The game's Ryu is one of two characters* not able to fuse properly, and this is explicitly because he's a dragon. Specifically, being a dragon means that any attempt to create a fusion with him will cause not only a failure but a massive explosion from the power overload.

Now, this actually wouldn't necessarily be inconsistent with the first game's lore, where the dragon fusion not only ROFLstomped a goddess but needed an awful lot of worthiness-testing to achieve the ability; one could speculate that without that testing, it was just too hard to control such a powerful form (and Breath of Fire II's Ryu hadn't even fully awakened to being a dragon yet, much less learned any significant control). But from what I can tell, the fusions from the third game were fairly casual matters, and certainly didn't seem to need all the testing and whatnot that the first game involved.

So make up your mind, Breath of Fire series! Are dragon-based fusions difficult, impossible, or easy?

(Of course, each game takes place in a different time period, so there's a possible explanation involving dilution of dragon bloodlines [and II's Ryu had a non-dragon father], but that's honestly a bit... meh.)

*The other Breath of Fire II character who is unable to fuse is Bleu/Deis, a mysterious sorceress/goddess and secret character who is actually the same person in all three games, unlike Ryu, Ryu, and Ryu (or Nina, Nina, and Nina). In Breath of Fire III, she's actually an NPC, but in the first Breath of Fire she's (obviously) also a part of the full-team dragon fusion, which means by the second game's standards that's a doubly impossible fusion.

-Signing off.

No comments: