0 to Z of Playstation 1 Games - Breath of Fire III

Breath of Fire III is the third entry in the popular Capcom RPG series and the first to appear on the Playstation, with the two previous entries in the series released on the SNES, as well as being ported to later Nintendo Systems.

Breath of Fire III is an isometric, turn based, fantasy role playing game, developed and published by Capcom for the Playstation, the game is your classic style of JRPG from the mid to late nineties. The game released for the Playstation in Japan on the 11th of September 1997.

The game would release in North America and in Europe the following year, first in North America on the 14th of May 1998. With a European release delayed until October 1st 1998. In addition to these releases the game was released as part of the Playstation the Best series of budget games in Japan on the 21st of December 2000.

More recently the game has also received two additional releases, the first being for the PSP in Europe and Japan, the Japanese PSP release coming on the 25th of August 2005. The European PSP releases of the game come on the 3rd of March 2006. Even more recently the United States received as PS Vita release of the game via the Playstation Network on the 9th of February 2016.

Notable people who worked on the game, Makoto Ikehara worked as the Production Supervisor, Scenario Writer and a Designer Director on Breath of Fire III. He would go on to fill similar roles on such games as Mega Man X8, Mega Man Maverick Hunter X, Dead Rising and Dragon’s Dogma.

Tatsuya Kitabayashi who worked as the Main Programmer on the game, a role he would also hold for the  fourth entry in the Breath of Fire series. Kitabayashi moved into the productions side of the industry in 2003, working on the Mega Man series, including games such as Mega Man X7, and Mega Man Powered Up. He was also a producer on the 2015 remake release of Resident Evil.

Tatsuya Yoshikawa has had a long career in the video game dating back to 1993 and his worked as an Object Designer for Mega Man X, a series he has worked on throughout his career. In 1997 he worked on Breath of Fire III as a Character Designer, a role he held for Breath of Five IV as well.

Later in his career he worked on games such as Crimson Tears, with Yoshikawa designing the title logo for the game, he worked on the Artwork for Haunting Grounds in 2005 and was an Illustrator for the 2001 released Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. His most recent credit was for his Concept Art work for Star Fox Zero which released in 2016.

Breath of Fire III is an isometric role playing game and uses 2D sprites over hand drawn 3D environments. Controlling your character is done with the D-Pad, players can move their party in any direction, when moving your parties main member will be at the front with the other party members following behind

The game features a random battle turn based system, when traversing around an exclamation point will appear above your characters heads, a quick transition will occur with your characters sprites quickly flashing before they get into battle position.

When combat begins at the bottom of the screen your parties HP and AP will be displayed, with the characters HP shown as a green bar along with their HP in number form, your characters AP is shown as a blue bar, and again also shown in number form.

On the left hand side of the screen will be your enemies and their names, these enemies will have a purple bar to show their HP amount, when attacked the purple bar will turn a dark pink colour for however much damage has been inflicted, this will then decrease and turn black, showing the remaining HP as the original purple colour.

When an ally is attacked their green bar will shrink replaced back a black bar showing how much HP has been lost, the characters HP number will also decrease as damage is taken. The vast majority of major actions in the game can be done with the X button or the R2 and L2 shoulder buttons. These actions include talking, confirming actions, execute, examine and casting and reeling while fishing.

Pressing the Square button when exploring the world map, in a camp or just about any other location in the game, with the exception of when in battle you will be able to access the main menu, when the menu screen appears you will see a brief status of your current party members.

On the main menu you will also be able to see your current game time, your total amount of Zenny, this is the games currency, as well as a horizontal line of icons that you can choose from. The first is a Vase Icon, this is your items menu, here you are able to view all items that you have collected, as well as your weapons inventory. From here you can use, sort or drop your items.

The next icon is a Rod icon, this is your abilities menu, here you can view the abilities of all of your character, here you can view each of your party members and magic spells, certain abilities can also be used such as healing spells when outside of combat, The dragon gene list can also be viewed by the player on this menu.

The Sword icon represents your equipment, in this menu you can view your party’s currently equipped weapons, armour and accessories. The player is also able to swop out any currently equipped weapons, armour and accessories in your inventory.

Another icon looks like three circles, this is your tactics menu, from here you can arrange your party’s battle formation. Another icon is a person icon, this menu allows you to see everyone’s full status, this includes the character HP, AP, current experience level as well as any items that are currently equipped by them.

Two more additional icons are available, the first is a controller icon, this as you would expect allows you to configure the games controls to your own personal liking. The final icon is that of a tent, when on the world map clicking on this will allow you to save your game, rest, change party members, check the master list, change skill notes as well as have conversations with your party members.

Like many RPGs of the time the game features a world map, some things will pop up while traversing around the world map, one of the main things is a options box that appears in the top left of the screen, this box has three options that appear, these are Enter, Guide and Camp, these options each correspond to a specific button, with X being for Enter, Triangle for Guide and Start for Camp.

When these options are highlighted you will be able to select them, Enter being used to enter an area on the map, Guide will give the player a brief description of the area they are currently in and camp allows you to set up a camp, symbols should also appear above Ryu’s head.

These symbols range from the name of the place, such as the town you are about to enter, the road you are currently on and any fishing spots you come across in your travels. Additional symbols include the previously mentioned exclamation point to indicate a random battle, when this appears enter should be highlight in the box on the top left of the screen.

Another symbol the boxed question mark symbol [?], this indicates and unnamed area that is not a normal random battle, and sometimes does not even feature any random battles, enter and guide should also be highlighted when this symbol appears. An unboxed question mark symbol may also appear, these appear when the player is stood next to a ring of flowers, these can be found throughout the world, but only come into player later in the game.

As previously mentioned the game features a turn based battle system that fans of RPGs in the mid to late 90s will be very familiar with, but also throws in a few twists of its own. Once combat has started a battle menu will appear, some of these icons are the same as what appear on the main menu screen.

The first is the Sword icon, this is used to perform a normal attack by the party member, these normal attacks do not consume your AP gauge, these attacks also don’t have any special properties to them it is just a swing of your weapon.

The Rod icon if selected will bring up a list of the available spells that you have at your disposal, as well as any skills that the character has, theses skills when used will consume your AP gauge, in the event of your character not having enough AP, the ability will not be useable. The only character who does not have skills is Ryu, he has a separate menu called accession on the ability list, this is how he turns into a dragon.

The Shield icon when selected for a character will put them into a defensive pose, this will help lessen any physical attack damage they receive for the duration of their turn. When there next turn comes around they will exit this defensive pose, if you want them to stay in a defensive pose you will have to re select this option.

The Vase icon allows the player to use items from the item menu, this menu also allows the player to change equipment. An Eye icon is one of the unique elements to Breath of Fire III, if selected the character that it is selected for will observe an enemy. In the event of that enemy using a learnable skill, the observing character may learn that skill to use themselves in combat.

This ability to learn enemy skills is quite random and may take a few attempts in order for the character to learn a specific skill. Also any skills that have already been learned by another party member can not be learned by a second party member.

It your character has successfully learned a skill, an exclamation point will appear above their heads, along with a brief message. In the event of your character being unable to learn a skill, then a question mark will appear above their heads, along with the message saying that the skill can not be learned.

Two additional battle options are available as well, these are access by holding either L1 or R1. First the L1 which is a Twin Swords icon, this command will automatically command your party to use normal attacks until you issue a new command, in order to regain control of your party and take them out of this mode the Triangle button is used.

The R1 shoulder button is a Boot icon, holding this button will bring up the option to flee the battle, this however will not always work first time, in the event of a failed escape the enemy will have the rest of the turn to attack your characters, higher agility character will improve your chances of escaping.

These icons in the form of the battle menu will be shown whenever one of your characters turns begins, above the battle menu will be the name of the character who’s turn it currently is. In battle if you of your characters has a significantly higher agility level than the opponents they will get an extra turn in which the enemy can not attack. Any characters that have this extra turn will have a yellow Ex next to them, these extra turns are taken after all of the regular turns have been taken.

Initiative also plays a part in combat, initiative is decided prior to the battle starting, where traversing the game world and coming across a random battle and exclamation point may appear above your characters heads. Anyone character who has initiative will gain an extra attack at the beginning of the battle.

In the event of 2 of your characters having an exclamation point above their heads then neither the players characters or the enemy will have initiative. If all three of your character have this exclamation point above their heads then you will have a chance of having initiative. Reversely if none of your characters have an exclamation point above their heads then the enemy has a chance of having initiative.

If a character dies in battle and is not revived before the battle ends they will suffer from Temporary Maximum Health Point Decline or TMHPD. This will reduce the maximum HP amount of the character, this can not be recovered until the player rests at an Inn. Regular camping will not recover an TMHPD that a character has suffered.

Combat in Breath of Fire III features a formation system, with the formations having both pro’s and con’s these formations include a Normal Formation, this formation offers no pro’s or con’s. a Defensive Formation offers a defence and agility bonus to all of your party members, while an Attack Formation offers a power and defence bonus to one of you characters, at the costs of an increased chance of this character being attacked. Addition formations include the Magic Formation, the Refuge Formation and the Chain Formation.

Ryu the main protagonist of the game has the ability to change into a dragon in combat, with a total of 9 dragon forms that Ryu can turn into. This is done by finding crystals called Dragon Genes that are scattered around the world.

These purple crystals contain the essence of the brood and can only be obtained by Ryu, these Dragon Genes that are acquired are placed in your gene inventory, these genes can be activated on their own or spliced together with up to two other genes.

The games main protagonist is Ryu who is voiced by Tomoko Takai as a child and Kappel Yamaguchi when an adult, with Ryu’s story presented in two parts one as a child the other when he is an adult as he struggled to find his place in the world and find his lost friends.

Ryu is a member of the ancient blood race, a human who has the ability to transform into a powerful dragon, this power however Ryu does not yet understand fully, but begins to piece it together as time goes on. Ryu is accompanied on his quest by several other characters including Nina a winged princess from the Kingdom of Wyndia, Rei a powerful magician, a member of a cat like race known as the Woren tribe and highly skilled thief.

Also joining Ryu on his quest is Teepo, Momo the daughter of a famous engineer and inventor, she wields a SniperCannon, Garr who is known as Garland in the Japanese version, he is an experienced warrior and a member of the group known as the Guardians and finally Peco, a plant like creature that looks like an onion, while he may have limited speech he has a close connection with nature.

The games story begins in the Chrysm Mine in a far distant corner of the world, a rare and powerful mineral is being mined, this mineral is formed on the fossilised remains of dragons, when a large deposit is cracked a preserved baby dragon emerges, frightened by the sight the miners attack the baby dragon.

The dragon is able to defend itself and quickly kills the attacking miners and anyone who rushes in to help, the miners however manage to rush in and surprise the dragon, knocking it unconscious, the dragon is then placed in a cage and put on a train to be taken away to be studied.

On the training journey however the dragon awakens, jostling in its cage it is able to jostle the cage off of the train and down a hill on the outskirts of a large forest. The dragon then transforms into a young boy before falling unconscious once again.

The young boy is then found by a wandering thief named Rei a member of the cat like Woren clan, thinking the young boy is just another abandoned child Rei takes him to his home in the woods where they meet Teepo, Rei’s long-time friend and partner in crime, who agrees to let the boy into their thieving operation and the beginning of Ryu’s journey.

Critically for the most part Breath of Fire III was very well received by critics, with the game earning itself a couple of maximum scores, as well as a large number of review scores that were rated 80 or higher, with the game also only dropping below an above average score once.

As usual we will start with the best of the games reviews, with the first bring 100 rated review from GamePro (US). The reviewer while finding the game to be far from perfect, its epic story and new elements make it a worthwhile addition to the series.

With the reviewer finding the third instalment in the series lives up to the series’ heritage with absorbing gameplay, even if it does have some repellent music. Concluding the reviewer found Breath of Fire III delivers rich reward for RPGers, especially fans of the series

Another full marks review up next from Computerand Video Games, who found Breath of Fire III to be a totally engrossing RPG, that will have you sitting in front of your TV screen for hours. The reviewer continued by saying that while RPGs changed after the release of Final Fantasy VII, Breath of Fire III is ideal for those that prefer RPGs from prior to Final Fantasy VII’s release.

The reviewer continued by saying. And for everybody else, this is your chance to experience pre FF-VII hype, with the game not being about the look, but how the game plays, and the totally absorbing building up of your character from a weak boy to a dragon morphing warrior gives you a real sense of satisfaction.

For the next review we take a small drop in review score down to a 90 which comes from PSM magazine. The reviewer praised the clever use of sound effects, especially when in battle with the reviewer finding the similar to the style used in Street Fighter.

The reviewer also praised the games detailed animations and well written and often humorous dialogue, which the reviewer found makes this a truly endearing adventure. And while the reviewer did find the games premise and look may seem overly simplistic compared to the gargantuan productions of recent RPG Offerings.

They concluded by saying. Breath of Fire III packs in a ton of detail and depth in play mechanics and story line. With a lot of attention to detail in the games characters. Ending with Capcom lands a winner RPG.

RPG Land were next up with another 90 rated review, while they did find the graphics to be sub par as far as PS1 RPG’s go, the reviewer however does not blame Capcom for laying off on the graphical power, after all you can rotate the camera nearly a full 360 degrees.

They continued by saying, don’t let that bug you, graphics are stupid anyway, the biggest issue the reviewer had for the game was the very anti climatic ending, with this marring the otherwise stellar story and game. Concluding the reviewer said. However that not to say the game wasn’t worth the trip, it just stumbled over the finish line, still finishing In the top five.

For the next an 88 rated review we head to Germany and the publication Mega Fun. With the reviewer finding that the developers have succeeded in creating a compelling game, with an appealing story, interesting riddles and reasonable graphics, and with around 40 hours of gameplay there is enough long term motivation as well.

The reviewer did have one minor gripe, with the games difficulty, which overall they found to be not particularly difficult, but now and then would throw in an unexpectedly tough fight, which the reviewer found can leave a sour taste. All in all though Breath of Fire which at least for the reviewer will fill the much discussed summer hole entertainingly.

Next up is Game Informer Magazine with another 88 rated reviewer. With the reviewer loving the game, however at times the pace of the game was making them wish for death many times. No more information is available for this reviewer as the archived web page reviewer is for Breath of Fire IV.

Next we head to the other end of the review scale where we find a 70 rated review from RPGDreamers. With the reviewer getting the feeling of the game not being a good as it should be once completing the game. with the reviewer unsure if it’s the story or gameplay, but they were left with this unsatisfied feeling. The reviewer did find the game overall to be good, but not as good as a third instalment in a series should be.

GameSpot are next up with an above average 69 rated review. With the reviewer finding the handful of new features on offer, the game breaks little new ground, the reviewer did find that die-head RPG fans may find it entertaining, but those looking for something new in an ever increasing static genre will come away disappointed.

Game Revolution rated the game just below this with a67 rated review, with the reviewer finding Breath of Fire III to be a decent RPG. With the reviewer finding the game should fill the void since the release of Final Fantasy VII and no other RPGs released since.

The reviewer continued by praising the games graphics calling them good, with an interesting story, with the game overall likely to please the anime/RPG addict. The reviewer also had praise for the Dragon gene splicing, which the reviewer found added a strategy element to the game.

For the next review we head over to France and the publication Legendra who rated the game at an above average 60, with the reviewer finding Breath of Five III has the ability both disappoint as much as it can be a feast.

The reviewer found that this latest entry In the Breath of Fire Series puts much more focus on the dragon transformations, with the game perching on this resulting in a bad balance. Concluding the reviewer found that this game will divide players and is unfortunate to be between two of the best games in the series according to the reviewer.
For the penultimate review we stay in France, this time moving to JeuxVideo.com who also rated the game at a 60. The reviewer finding the game to be similar to Alundra, with the reviewer finding that the game would have been interesting had it been done fully in 3D.

The reviewer found the games sound to be rather repetitive, especially for scenes that often come back such as fights, the reviewer also found the games sound effects to be rather basic. The reviewer continued by saying. In short the game is a little mixed, while looking great, the gameplay suffers due to this graphical style that has been chosen. They also found some of the translation done of the game to be sometimes quite labourious.

The final reviewer is a fairly recent one with it coming in 2009 from RPGamer and is by far the worst reviewer for the game, with the reviewer rating Breath of Fire III at a lowly 20. With the reviewer commenting if you are one of the unfortunate souls to have spent 30 plus hours playing Breath of Fire III, keep in mind there are always worse things you could have spent your time doing.

The reviewer then went on to list far worse things you could have been doing such as gouging out your own eyes, flaying off your skin and taking a swim in the Dead Sea, or playing Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. The reviewer concluded with. Should you choose to act on any of the above in order to purge the memory of this atrociously awful game from your head, I won't blame you, but I also accept no responsibility; that problem lies with Capcom.

This is the part of 0 to Z where is visit four online retailers and see what the availability of the title is, and what price you would be looking at if you wanted to pick this title up, the sites that I will be using for this are Amazon.com, eStarland.com, retrogames.co.uk and Gamedude.com I know the last one is very location specific, but from a podcast I listen to, I’ve heard they have a huge stock of older games, Ebay has now been dropped unless the game is unavailable at other retailers.

So lets get down to business with Gamedude, where we find the game listed as having a trade in value of $20 if you are looking to trade in your copy of Breath of Fire III. If on the other hand you are in the market for a copy of the game, you will be looking at an outlay of $39 for a copy from Gamedude.

Next up is Retrogames.co.uk where we find two copies of the game available. The first copy is an incomplete copy of the game, with it missing the manual, otherwise the copy is in excellent condition with a 9.5/10 disc quality rating. This copy can be picked up for £15 from Retrogames.co.uk.

The second copy on offer is a complete copy of the game, this copy is in slightly worse shape, but only slightly with an 8/10 disc quality rating. If you are interested in this copy you will be looking at a price of £20 for this copy. One thing of note both of these copies are the Japanese version of the game, as such a Japanese console is required to play them.

We head to eStarland.com next where we find two versions of the game listed, the North American release and the Japanese release of the game. Sadly at the time of writing both version of the game are out of stock, when in stock the North American version has a usual price of between $25.97 and $49.95, with the Japanese version having a usual price of between $8.75 and $17.50.

The site also has the North American strategy guide listed, this sadly is also out of stock, with a usual price of $31.95. A trade in is offered on all three items, with up to $14 being paid for a copy of the strategy guide, with a complete copy of the North American version worth up to $28 at trade, while a complete copy of the Japanese version is worth up to $6.
Lastly we have Amazon.com where we find a decent supply of the North American version of the game available. Prices do not start cheaply for this game, with the first copy on offer, a disc only copy in acceptable condition which will set you back $25.41.

Breath of Fire III is another game that suffers from disc only syndrome, with the entire first page of listings all disc only copies. For the first complete copy of the game, which comes in very good condition you are looking at a minimum spend of $52.62 for a good condition and complete copy of the game.

Another complete copy can be picked up for $63.99, this copy comes in very good condition. An acceptable condition and complete copy is available for $73.98, while another very good condition copy can be picked up for $74.61. The good and two very good condition copies are both Black label versions of the game.

If you are looking for a better quality used copy you will find a few like new copies on the market, these start from $78.98, with a second like new copy available for $89.99, like new prices peak at $103.99. Also available are a few new copies of the game, these however are very expensive with prices starting at $250, with new copy prices reaching over $300.

Due to the large number of disc only copies and the relatively high price for a complete used copy as well as the very high asking price for a new copy the North American release of Breath of Fire III has been categorised as being vulnerable

Written by

P J Gibbon


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