Bahamut Lagoon (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Squaresoft | February 1996 | 24 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Squaresoft | February 1996 | 25 MEGS

Squaresoft, one of the best developers during the Super Nintendo’s hey day, was responsible for such beloved classics as Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy III, Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu III (AKA Secret of Mana 2), Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG just to name a small handful. That right there is a who’s who of SNES lore. When it came to third party developers, you could always count on the big 3: Capcom, Konami and Squaresoft. They produced some of the best games in the SNES catalog. In February of 1996, Squaresoft released a strategy RPG by the name of Bahamut Lagoon. Unfortunately, because it came out so late in the SNES lifespan and wasn’t a proven IP (unlike Super Mario RPG which came out in May of ’96), Bahamut Lagoon was destined to never leave the Land of the Rising Sun. But thanks to the dedicated efforts of Neill Corlett, Dragon Force and Clyde Mandelin (AKA Tomato), a fan translation was released and those unfamiliar with Japanese were then able to experience Bahamut Lagoon in all its glory. Earlier this year I finally carved out some time (57 hours to be precise) and got to experience one of Squaresoft’s “lost classics.” Bahamut Lagoon FREAKING ROCKS.

It looks so badass on that white cartridge!
It looks so sleek on that white cartridge!



Bahamut Lagoon is a strategy RPG that’s unlike your typical SNES RPG. It’s extremely linear, the game is broken up into 27 chapters and getting lost is virtually impossible. Naturally, there are pros and cons to this. If you’re looking for an RPG where you can really explore and branch off on your own path, this probably isn’t the game for you. But if you’re in the mood for a streamlined tactical RPG with some badass dragons thrown into the mix, this is the perfect game for you. In Bahamut Lagoon, you control up to six parties with each party containing four members and one dragon. Of course, members are interchangeable and different formations can be selected. You can adjust strategies as you wish. That’s mainly where the game’s freedom kicks in. You won’t get to explore a vast open world, but you have a bevy of options when it comes to offense and defense. Dragons add another key element to the puzzle. But more on that later…






These are just 15 of the characters you’ll meet in your journey. Many others are waiting to be found. As you can imagine, each of them has their own personality, strengths and weaknesses. It can be fun to mix and match. Experiment!




You can change their default names if they’re not to your liking. Dragons must be fed frequently if you want them to grow and increase in power. After a certain point, they can even transform…

Some forms can get pretty crazy...
Some forms can get pretty crazy…





There's definitely a Star Wars vibe going on
There’s definitely a Star Wars vibe going on

Resistance, Empire? Hmmm….


Squaresoft sets a serious and epic tone right away by casting ominous thunderclouds from the moment you power the game on. King Kahna tries to awaken Bahamut from its slumber to no avail. Might his daughter, Princess Yoyo, hold the key to saving Orelus and the once peaceful kingdom of Kahna?


Obsessed with ruling the skies and all of Orelus, Emperor Sauzer goes on a war torn path of destruction. Sauzer and his right hand man, Palpaleos, admire their handy work from a tower while contemplating a future where all cower before them.







Kahna: What are you scheming, Sauzer?! The Holy Dragons shall not awaken. I will not hand over their power to you!

Sauzer: They won’t wake up because their time of awakening has not come yet! The moment I conquer this world, their time shall begin! And that time begins now!







Kahna’s brutally murdered as one era ends and a new one begins







Several winters later, Sendak (an old surviving member of Kahna) calls out to Byuu, a fierce young warrior who has since gone off grid. Sendak knows the Resistance will fall short without Byuu leading the charge. Sendak notes that everyone is saddened by Byuu’s absence and makes a harrowing proclamation: winter looks to be cold again this year. He wishes Byuu, wherever the young lad might be, the very best…







Naturally, Byuu makes a triumphant return and we get a flashback to provide a little backstory. Byuu was the one responsible for reviving Kahna’s Dragon Squad and during his hiatus he was out searching for all the dragons that went missing. Now that all the titans have been found, Byuu rejoins the Resistance force ready to reclaim the kingdom of Kahna! Pretty epic stuff, right? Squaresoft was simply the best once upon a moon…







Although the dragons have been found, it’s the Holy Dragons that must awaken. Specifically, Bahamut. Bahamut holds the key to everything…








Bahamut Lagoon has a unique battle system. The very first fight introduces us to the basic mechanics of the game. You can interact with your environment, something you couldn’t do in many other RPGs from that era. For example, if a bridge is broken you can’t cross the river unless you first freeze the water. It’s little things like this that makes the game so nice to play. Sorry.







Decide which party to go first. Then, you have a variety of options available. This includes moving your party around the battlefield, selecting the aggression level of your dragon and even using magic attacks from a safe distance. I like to select move and at the very least analyze how far I can advance. The screen will darken when you do this, with the lighted path illuminating your options.







Typically, you won’t be able to move far enough on your first try to get close enough to attack an enemy group. You may, however, be able to hit them with one of your magic attacks from far away. It’s OK too if the square isn’t directly on them. Press the button and it’ll show you the coverage. As you can see here, that enemy group is caught in the line of fire. Although damage is weakened when the enemy is not in the center of your initial square, it’s still nice being able to pelt them!







Damage is dealt to each bad guy in the group. Keep in mind as the game progresses you’ll have more mixed groups of enemies. For example, if an enemy uses fire magic then all fire-based attacks will not hurt them but it will actually heal them. So be sure to check the groups before you start hurling magic attacks!







Dragons come into play after your party launches a magic strike. Depending on the command you select (you can choose from go, come or stay), your party’s dragon will look for a nearby enemy group to attack. If it’s close enough, it will enter a new screen where combat will be conducted. This is a little dangerous as it gives the opposition a chance to hurt your dragon. However, if the dragon is not close enough to attack, it will then launch a magic attack from a safe distance with no chance for enemy retaliation (provided your dragon has enough magic points remaining). Naturally, you receive more points and bonus items for defeating enemies up close and personal. So there’s an incentive for those types of battles. Also note your dragon will only launch a magic attack if it’s within range. Stay keeps the dragon where it is. Come makes the dragon come close to you, and go is a complete wild card. It sends your dragon anywhere on the map. This can either work out in your favor or against, and it’s up to user discretion…







Whew… and that was just one party’s turn! Now you choose what the rest of your groups will do. All of your parties must end their turn before it switches to the enemy’s turn. Here we see Sendak just barely being able to attack the ice mages.







Salmando finds himself in a close quarters encounter, which shifts the scene to the classic side view as seen in many of Squaresoft’s previous RPGs. You can still perform magic attacks here of course, which is lovely for spraying damage to all enemies. Unfortunately, you cannot control the dragons. They move and attack randomly. The only command you’re in charge of is whether they will come, stay or go. I would have preferred being able to control them but being powerful beasts, I actually like their autonomy. Besides, it brings a certain wild card element to the battles which make it extra fun and sometimes slightly unpredictable. Thankfully, the dragons tend (emphasis on the word TEND) to make the right choice more times than not…













Nothing’s as satisfying as when the dragons attack exactly as you would have done, if you could control them. The best is when they launch a magic strike that hits multiple groups of enemies. Even better is when said strike takes out a group. You’ll get Flame Grass (a fire-based magic attack) whenever an enemy is killed with fire magic. You can use Flame Grass in battle or feed it to your dragons to increase their fire potency. But more on that later…







However, nothing’s more annoying than a magic strike that BARELY leaves them alive. If only that dragon’s Thunder Gale was a level 3 and not merely a level 2. Hmmm, what if I feed it some Thunder Grass…













Defeating an enemy group in this fashion grants you more money and items. Items can aid you in battle or be used as dragon food. It’s fun to experiment! Don’t just kill enemy groups from afar. You need money and items and beating them up close and personal gets you plenty of both. You’ll also level up a lot more!













Having exhausted all your parties’ turns, it’s now time for the enemy phase. I like how Squaresoft made sure we knew! Once you kill the boss of this chapter, bonus items and points are rewarded. And just in case you didn’t know that you won, Squaresoft spells it out for ya, literally.














Following fights (and before), you have the option of feeding your dragons. I highly encourage that you do, and make sure you balance it out or else you’ll show favoritism and those neglected will lash out in various ways. Use items you’ve bought or gained during battle to feed your dragons. Some are obvious, like fire items increase a dragon’s fire magic. But some others aren’t so clear. Like what would happen if you feed your dragon a porno magazine? I’m not kidding. Find out for yourself…








Explore your surroundings… you’ll never know what you might find. See, I wasn’t lying about that porno mag. It’s a real thing :P














Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books from the ’80s and ’90s? One of my favorite things about RPGs is the option to select your response to a character’s question. There’s plenty of that sort happening here. It doesn’t change the game but it’s still nice having choices. Some humor arises like when you select “It’s kind of awkward, so don’t…” but then Princess Yoyo responds, “But… oops! Too late…”













Princess Yoyo is quite the sentimental lass. After arriving at the Church of Memories, she tells you the legend of how when two people who love each other come here, they’ll be destined to be together forever. She’ll then ask you if you want to go in. You can answer by saying “Yeah, let’s try going in” or “No way!” If you pick the former, she’ll respond “Tee hee… I’m just kidding… it’s still too early for us… we should have brought Matelite too.” Princess Yoyo is a tease after all, I guess.













Princess Yoyo changes the beat and things get a little more serious. I love this scene. It felt like something pulled right out of a Hollywood film. It reminds me of some girls I’ve known… sometimes they want you to promise them in the moment even if it’s a lie… it’s moments like this that make you forget for a split second that you’re playing a video game. At least, it was for me here.







Switching back to some lighthearted tomfoolery on a dime, Bahamut Lagoon does a good job of balancing things with the right amount of humor at the right time.














Before each chapter fight begins, you can adjust a variety of options and also scout the competition. This includes enemy health and even how many squares they can move. Once you’re ready, I like to take the fight right to them!













Usually before you can even attack, your dragon will launch its own strike automatically. This is nice for softening them up. Then it’s your turn. A direct hit is always satisfying, a MISS is always demoralizing.













Keeping your parties fresh by healing them when appropriate is the key to success. As with any other RPG, it’s winning 101. The cool thing about Bahamut Lagoon is that your characters can also be healed just by standing on the right square (i.e. squares containing a building). However, keep in mind that the same applies to the enemy.







Dragons are honestly overpowered, making this game even easier than it already is. But damn if it isn’t still fun watching the destruction unfold!







Sometimes your dragon will be flanked in all directions. This has the potential to be disastrous. On the bright side, it also leaves the enemies extremely vulnerable when clustered as such. A magic blast can potentially strike all groups at once for optimal damage.













Depending on the character, some are better off using magic attacks due to their physical attacks being shit. But the mini devils are the most infuriating to me. Too many times their offense will fail and you literally get a Fail! caption. You can almost hear Squaresoft’s evil crackle as it happens. There’s a reason why I sub out the mini devils as soon as I can…













Lanzenritter (no relation to John), the boss of Chapter 1, is quick to abandon ship once you prove your superiority. Bahamut Lagoon has some gorgeous visuals as you can see here.







Emperor Sauzer has kidnapped the princess and taken her to the green continent of Campbell. Palpaleos can’t sleep and decides to “check up” on Princess Yoyo in the middle of the night. It isn’t long before Sauzer has the same restless affliction and finds that his general has beaten him to the punch. They watch Princess Yoyo in the darkness as they talk — not creepy at all — and later find themselves contemplating the legend of the Holy Dragons…








Farnheit sets sail for Campbell… but first, some basic training and words of encouragement are in order.







Matelite, captain of the guards of Kahna, gives a pep talk the likes of which George Lucas would approve of. Matelite even states that they won’t be known as the Freedom Force but rather the Resistance. Hmmm, where have I heard that before?















Environmental hazards come into play. Using fire magic in such areas will cause a fire to break out, which will harm anyone caught in its path. Good stuff. There’s plenty more cool tricks to discover in the game’s 27 chapters, which I’ll let you discover on your own.








Upgraded magic spells get bigger and crazier in classic RPG fashion.







Speaking of bigger and crazier, that’s what will happen to your dragons if you feed them accordingly. Don’t be shy to experiment — you never know which new forms you may unlock!







Speaking of the dragons, take good care of them. They can catch colds. Hell, they can even get married! Yeah… I’ll let you figure that one out on your own… :P







Beginning around Chapter 6 or so, a side quest option is available to select. From here you can pick either Granbelos Fortress or Easy Dungeon. It’s basically a place to level up your characters, earn more items and money. The background sadly stays the same for both side quests throughout the rest of the game. The only thing that changes are the enemies. A third bonus side quest, Hard Dungeon, opens up later on and is insanely difficult. Enter at your own risk!







Landscapes vary. Some are standard but a few get pretty creative and crazy. Take, for example, the cave where the walls are organic and will close and open on every turn. If caught while it’s closed, those party members will be rendered useless for the duration of that round. I do think there could have been a little bit more variety and imagination but what Squaresoft did give us is satisfactory.


Donfan is probably the one character I remember most when all was said and done, simply because he had the most outlandish lines and he was such a creepy pervert. His interactions with the female characters never failed to entertain. A perfect comic relief character. I don’t think I used him in battle once :P


Bahamut Lagoon translator “Dark Force” was not too pleased with Squaresoft…


And here I thought Donfan was the pervert of the group!


[Always knew Steve was a perv -Ed.]


From a certain perspective, sure it can be. In the game’s context, most definitely. You’ll just have to play it to fully understand…


After you beat Bahamut Lagoon, an “Ex-Play” option is made available at the title select screen. This allows you to play through the game again but with your current levels, items, weapons, spells and money. Basically you’re overpowered from the start and the amount of destruction you can unleash is quite satisfying!



It’s a shame Bahamut Lagoon never received a proper North American release. But it’s understandable. Released in Japan on February 9, 1996, it would have been mid ’96 at least until a translated copy would have hit North American stores. The SNES was on life support by then and Square didn’t want to chance it with an unproven new IP. As such, Bahamut Lagoon faded into “obscurity.” Only the most diehard of RPG and SNES fans kept clamoring for it and keeping its memory alive. Then when our boys translated the game, it reached a whole new audience. Nowadays, it’s often held in high regards. Sure, there are some critics who claim the whole thing is far too easy (they’re not wrong) and that it’s not as great as they had hoped, but the majority seems to love it more than not.

Well deserving of the spotlight!
Well deserving of the spotlight!



For years I had heard the hype surrounding Bahamut Lagoon. I’m glad I finally made time to play through it. Being a strategy RPG, it’s a little different from your typical SNES RPG which I found infinitely refreshing. Battles are long and I like how the game is broken up into 27 chapters. It’s almost like reading a great book. Playing one chapter at a time is enough to scratch your itch for the night. Rinse and repeat. Carefully positioning each group in your party while managing your individual and collective resources is satisfying even though the game is so easy that you could “brute force” your way through without much of an issue. Still, I like to be efficient and make sound tactical decisions wherever possible.


The addition of the dragons is a clever and intriguing gimmick. They’re a wild card, making each fight slightly unpredictable since control of them is rather limited. Feeding them is simple and handled well. It’s quick and easy, and doesn’t really detract from the game’s flow and pace. If anything, it’s a nice momentary break from the lengthy battles. The ability to alter your dragons depending on what you feed them helps with the game’s longevity, not to mention the nifty Ex-Play mode which is unlocked after you beat the 27th chapter. Graphically, the game looks gorgeous. Massive and detailed dragon designs that look like they were plucked straight out of a top selling manga, awesome spell attacks and amazing usage of parallax are just some of the key highlights. The music is classic Squaresoft — it’s epic and memorable! You can’t help but feel like there’s a spectacular struggle for power and world domination happening right in front of you thanks to the game’s stellar soundtrack.

Another fine Square masterpiece!
Another fine Square masterpiece!

If you consider yourself a fan of 16-bit RPGs and miss the golden age of role playing games but have yet to play Bahamut Lagoon, you should probably rectify that at your earliest convenience. It’s a grand adventure that’s just begging to be experienced at least once. It’s not Final Fantasy III or Chrono Trigger, but hey, what is? It’s brilliant in its own way and easily makes the cut as one of my top 10 favorite RPGs on the SNES. If you’ve ever wanted to summon a big ass dragon and have said beast blast a bunch of bastards to Kingdom Come, then Bahamut Lagoon is definitely right up your alley.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9
Longevity: 9

Award4Overall: 9.0
Gold Award

... or is it?
… or is it?
"Ill be back!" No he wont...
“I’ll be back…”  No, you won’t :P

Treasure Hunter G (SNES)

Pub: Squaresoft | Dev: Sting | May 1996 | 24 MEGS
Pub: Squaresoft | Dev: Sting | May 1996 | 24 MEGS

The SNES is blessed to have a stacked library that features some of the finest RPGs from the 16-bit era. Of course you have the good old standbys: Chrono Trigger, EarthBound, Final Fantasy III and so forth. But there are some lesser known RPGs that, while not quite in the same class as the aforementioned titans, are definitely worth your time. Similar to Gunman’s Proof, Treasure Hunter G is a “hidden gem” that doesn’t get nearly enough credit. Thanks to a dedicated community, lost gems like this have been fully translated and are ready to be explored. Ever wake up one morning and find yourself thinking, “Man, if only there were a game where I can save the world using two brothers, a girl and a monkey” — let’s be real here, who hasn’t? Well then, you’re in luck. Enter Treasure Hunter G!



Treasure Hunter G was one of those games I never knew about until 2010 or so. I feel it flies under the radar and doesn’t get nearly the recognition it deserves, even in SNES circles. It can sort of be described as Donkey Kong Country meets a strategy RPG. It’s not hard to see why given the pre-rendered graphics and a primate companion. Sadly, by the time this game came out (May 1996), the SNES was pretty much dead in the water here in North America. As such, it was doomed never to touch American soil. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of a gentleman by the fine name of Metalhawk, gamers can now experience “lost” gems like Treasure Hunter G in all its English glory. What I love most about this game is how much you can explore your environment. By comparison it makes searching in other RPGs look downright primitive. If you see it you can smash it. We’re talking jars, pots, barrels, hell, even bushes aren’t safe from your OCD to treasure hunt. This leads to discovering useful items and the like, which make exploring the landscape very rewarding indeed. It’s a blast just to run around, destroying your surroundings and discovering secrets galore.

It's a congruous marriage of tactics and role playing
It’s a congruous marriage of tactics and role playing

Treasure Hunter G has a charming exploratory feel to it, and it’s only fitting given the title. You’ll traverse many unique locations and bear witness to some truly awe-inspiring sights, all in the good name of treasure hunting. Along the way there are plenty of apoplectic bad guys to dismantle, funky NPCs to interact with and various allies that are certain to leave a lasting impression.


Lacking a little originality there, are we, Gamrius IV?
Lacking a little originality there are we, Gamrius IV?
Im looking at you, Star Ocean...
I’m looking at you, Star Ocean
This is proof positive an RPG doesnt have to run 40+ hours
This is proof positive RPGs don’t have to be 40+ hours
*cue dramatic air horn blare from most trailers*
*cue dramatic air horn blare from most trailers*
Impressive indeed. The Dark Lord is already at work
Impressive indeed. The Dark Lord is already at work
Link, ever the glory hog
Link, ever the glory hog
Because silly, it's obviously a dramatic plot point...
Because silly, it’s obviously a dramatic plot point…
Uninspired plot but who cares -- the game is fun!
Uninspired plot but who cares — the game is fun!
The last SNES game published by Squaresoft...
The last SNES game published by Squaresoft…
Damn right it just might be
Damn right it just might be


THGCharRed is the main protagonist. Not surprisingly, he’s the strongest character in your posse. Although he cannot use long-ranged weapons, he does swing a mean sword. Sadly, his mother passed away when he was young, and his father, Brown G, is often away on his treasure hunting expeditions. Therefore, Red was forced to fend for himself and take care of his younger brother for all those years. Robbed of a robust childhood, Red can be defiant and rebellious. He has the least amount of action points so he doesn’t get around as much as the others, but Red does possess the most evade and health points. Overall, he is a solid and capable combatant.

THGChar2Growing up a latchkey child, Blue has been (pardon the pun) rendered helpless. He is often found crying and whining; it’s safe to say that he’s one of the most feminine male characters in SNES history. However, don’t judge a book by its cover because Blue proves handy in battle. He can effectively wield either an axe or spear, which can strike two squares away and hit up to two bad guys at once. Owning the second highest amount of action and health points, he can set deadly traps as well. Eat your heart out, Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin).

THGChar4Who is this mysterious girl that goes by the name of Rain? You’re not entirely sure when she shows up but being compassionate (and possibly horny) you take her in all the same. Fulfilling the RPG rule to have at least one female party member, Rain is the kind of gal that trouble can’t help but follow. And surprise surprise, she is the weakest of the group. On the bright side, she has the most action points and she also knows some powerful (healing) spells that are sure to come in handy. She can also communicate with her primate pal. So while she may be physically weak, she contributes in many other ways.

THGChar6Monkeys. You can’t live with them, you can’t live without them. Or so the saying goes… [There is no such saying, fool -Ed.]. Ponga is a cool little bastard who makes it impossible for you NOT to fall in love with. Able to play the violin and use magic, Ponga is unusually gifted for a monkey. He strikes with cutters which can hit up to two spaces (be careful that you don’t hit your own allies, which YES, you actually can). In addition, he is capable of learning all the spells within the game. Not just here to be a token cute mascot, Ponga is well rounded and will quickly endear himself in your gaming heart.



The combat system is unique and different from most other SNES RPGs you’ve played. While it is turn based, that’s where the similarities end. Players operate on a grid that sees every movement count as an action point. Of course, you only have a set number of action points per round. Blue, yellow and red squares represent different point values, making forward thinking and game planning crucial to one’s success. Each color, then, eats up a certain amount of action points. The game thus works your brain a bit as you can’t just pound the attack button over and over again like you can in most RPGs from that era. I love strategically positioning my party in the right squares to maximize my strikes. It makes fighting very fun and much more rewarding than your standard turn based RPG.


Most RPGs don’t allow you to level up (and regain health as a result) mid-battle. Experience points are usually doled out post-battle. Not so here! Each blow successfully landed grants you experience points on the fly. This means you can actually level up in the middle of a fight and regain full health. It’s such an awesome little feature and one of my many favorite things about Treasure Hunter G. Also, you know how in most RPGs the more you level up the more points you need in order to make the next jump? Well, once again, not the case here. Instead, characters level up for every 100 points accumulated. Nice! The game moves along steadily as a result and it never gets old seeing your levels climb rapidly.


Another unique aspect is that the game never shifts to a new battle scene. You fight it out wherever you are. This ensures that each battle will be unique due to the ever shifting landscape. And yes, sometimes the scenery comes into play. Certain weapons allow you to clobber from a couple squares away, saving you precious action points for more strikes and less maneuvering. Brilliant.


There aren’t many tactical strategy RPGs on the SNES, so it’s nice that this not only fills the void but does so with flying colors. You can attack in 8 directions, cast spells, use items, hell, even set booby traps. Crowding a miscreant, or luring one to be blown SKY HIGH by means of a well placed land mine, is immense loads of fun!


Playing Treasure Hunter G hearkens me back to when I first played Shining Force on the Sega Genesis. I immediately found the grid tactical battle style appealing and unique. It felt more rewarding killing bad guys when you actually had to move your way through any given war zone. Shining Force remains a classic that holds up well to this day. If you liked that game then chances are you’ll dig Treasure Hunter G, too.


The game is loaded with humor right from the start
The game is loaded with humor right from the start
The characters really grow on you fast
The characters really grow on you fast
"Yeah? Did it involve me beating up your ass?!"
“Oh yeah? Did it involve me beating your ass?!”
Nothing like a flashback to provide some backstory
Nothing like a flashback to provide some backstory
Incessant bickering made for an interesting storyline
Incessant bickering made for an interesting storyline
The old man isn't lying. There really IS a Ferric Falcon...
The old man isn’t lying. There really IS a Ferric Falcon…
... and a magical tree. *cough* Secret of Mana...
… and a magical tree. *cough* Secret of Mana
Deep shit, eh?
Deep shit, eh?
Now THAT'S enough to make ME cry
Now THAT’S enough to make ME cry
Gotta love old crazy Gramps
Gotta love crazy old Gramps :D
He's an original (Treasure Hunter) G.. [Oi -Ed.]
He’s an original (Treasure Hunter) G… [Oi -Ed.]
Behind his rough exterior lies a tender heart, er, clock
Behind his rough exterior lies a tender heart clock :P
You can actually hear the atmospheric tick tock. Nice!
You can actually hear the atmospheric tick tock. Nice!


The ability to interact with much of the environment made exploring in this game fun rather than a tedious chore. Some RPGs aren’t very interactive. Treasure Hunter G, on the other hand, lets you can snoop around to your heart’s content!

Manage your inventory wisely
Manage your inventory wisely
SNES flexes its graphical muscles here
SNES flexing its graphical muscles

The overhead world map is gorgeous and simple. The map is much smaller than most other SNES RPGs because the game isn’t nearly as long, but I don’t mind that. In fact, one of the reasons I enjoy this game so much is partially due to how quickly it moves along. Pacing is tight and it never wears out its welcome. I can’t say that about all SNES RPGs (*cough* Breath of Fire). Give me quality over quantity!

Nothing like seeing a save point after a long section
Nothing like seeing a save point after a long section

These Saturn statues serve as your classic save or restore points (depending on the color). Nothing beats seeing one of these bad boys after a particularly long and difficult stretch of dungeon crawling.

Enemies are either visible or ambush at set intervals
Enemies are either visible or ambush at set intervals

Throughout the existence of RPGs, fans are split on enemy encounters. Should battles occur at random with no warning, or is it best if enemies are visible on screen prior to the battle? Some love the old school random battles but others find it archaic. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” It’s a bit ironic though if you think about it. It’d be like going to a baseball game and bitching that it isn’t a brisk two hour affair. But I digress. I don’t mind random battles so long as it’s not taking place every few steps. I like being able to see enemies on the field but it does take away a bit of the “suspense,” if you will. Well the good news is that Treasure Hunter G satiates both sides by featuring a bit of both. Though the random battles aren’t random — they’re more like set ambushes, á la Chrono Trigger. On a side note, enemies are eliminated forever once you kill them. Convenient, indeed.

She teases a large donation but only gives out 20, ha!
She teases a large donation but only gives out 20 :P

I love everything about the text, from how it looks to the actual words used. It’s just got a very pleasant aesthetic; the font and avatar catches the eye.


Oops, I originally thought Blue was my younger sister hence I I named her Jenny. In reality, Blue is actually my younger brother. Well, it was hard to tell, what with all the crying and long hair! My bad, Blue…

Who is Blue? Guess I wasn't the only one then...
Who is Blue? Guess I wasn’t the only one then…
Characters can face diagonally. Nice
Characters can face diagonally. Nice

Most RPGs from that era did not allow you to face diagonally. Not so in Treasure Hunter G. It’s the small details, and this game is loaded with them.

At least he knows who he is!
At least he owns it, eh?

One of my favorite things about RPGs is interacting with all different kinds of NPCs. The NPCs in this game are fun to talk with. Some spew philosophical musings while others lament over their youthful regrets. It’s all handled in a very slick and quirky package that keeps you entertained from start to finish.

Patience is a virtue... or NOT
Patience is a virtue… or NOT

And then there are tongue-in-cheek moments of tomfoolery, showing you that the game never takes itself TOO seriously.

Um, yeah. Talk about an awkward silence there...
Um, yeah. Talk about an awkward silence there…

Later you’ll run into a strange little cat named Mio. Mio, ahem, takes a liking to Rain. Talk about something that would never happen in America back in the ’90s.

The grid adds an extra layer of strategy to boss battles
The grid adds an extra layer of strategy to boss fights

Any RPG worth its weight needs to have some big, bad, memorable bosses to liven things up. Treasure Hunter G has a solid selection on offer, starting with Hel the witch. Hel has an undying loyalty to serve the Dark Lord and she can unleash some nasty spells in addition to teleporting anywhere on the grid. This will keep you on your toes. Kill her zombie minions first, and then go for the head!

A little gang bang action... wait, what?
A little gang bang action… wait, what??

Nothing satisfies like cornering a boss. Take turns teeing off until you pound them into submission. Poor Hel here finds herself trapped, much to the twisted and sick delight of my foul heart.


Who needs Lyft or Uber when you got Kujira the whale? Seeing him streak across that vast ocean with the coalition nestled on top is a sight to behold.

Gotta love Ponga's reaction
Gotta love Ponga’s reaction. Never change, buddy

Of course, peace doesn’t last long. Trouble looms over the horizon…

Kill those nasty slime creatures to protect Kujira
Kill those nasty slime creatures to protect Kujira

Nothing like playing a game, seeing something cool happen and thinking to yourself, “Man, that’s exactly how I would have programmed it, too!” Using Kujira’s backside as an impromptu war zone? Brilliant.

I won't spoil it but this was a memorable moment
I won’t spoil it but this was a memorable moment
Nice dude but lose the "last mad scientist" shtick, eh?
Nice dude but lose the “last mad scientist” shtick, eh?

Meet Dr. Hello. He’s the zaniest cat in town, filled to the brim with personality. Not just a pretty face, he also invented some mighty things that will aid you in your quest.

Sometimes less is more...
Sometimes less is more…

Ah, exactly 20 hours in and it hardly feels like it. That’s when you know a game is doing its job. The pace never dragged; it’s a breath of fresh air when compared to some other RPGs that require 40+ hours to beat.

"No... it's Iowa"
“No, it’s Iowa…”
[D'oh. Someone missed the punchline -Ed.]
[D’oh. Somebody missed the punchline -Ed.]
Always sick when a spell accounts for all :)
Always awesome when a spell accounts for all :D

Besides physical attacks, you also have at your disposal a variety of handy spells. These range from pillars of flame to shards of ice. Different spells have different effects, and bigger spells cover more grid tiles. I love it when a spell damages every bad guy in one fell swoop.

Pops wasn't lying after all. The Ferric Falcon LIVES!
Pops wasn’t lying after all. The Ferric Falcon LIVES!

This mammoth winged goddess directs you to the path of serendipity. She is quite the impressive sight, displaying the growth the genre made compared to character models from early SNES RPGs such as Final Fantasy II and Inindo: Way of the Ninja.

Everything I needed to know I learned from RPGs
Everything I needed to know I learned from RPGs…

Like that old TV show Father Knows Best, at the end of the day your pops knows what’s up.

Behold -- the Dark Lord in all his evil glory!
Behold — the Dark Lord in all his evil glory!

Like most major RPG bosses, the Dark Lord has more than one form. Keep your hero up front because he can only attack up close, and keep Ponga in the back to cast spells.

He's defenseless. Dish out a monster-sized ass kicking
He’s defenseless. Deliver a monster-sized ass kicking

But just when you think it’s over, the Dark Lord’s prized treasure, the Bone Dino, is resurrected! Er, at least partially, anyhow. Still, it makes for quite the spectacle as Dino’s half rotting corpse remains firmly buried in the frozen cliff. With each blow the Bone Dino emits an ear-shattering cry as the screen shakes like a sumbitch, making this final fight very satisfying and memorable. In a weird sort of way, it’s almost a tragic fate for the trapped, half-resurrected monstrosity. Unable to defend itself, you and your party unleash Armageddon on its frozen ass.



Treasure Hunter G is incredibly easy. You actually recuperate some of your health following each battle. It’s like possessing the Sword of Miracles (for all you Dragon Quest V fanatics out there). But truth be told, I’ll never hate too much on an overly easy game when it’s as much damn fun as this one is.


Another feather in the Super Nintendo's cap
Another feather in the Super Nintendo’s mighty cap

The SNES was left in the dust more or less by mid 1996. Thus, Treasure Hunter G sadly never saw the light of day here in the good old US of A. But suppose for one second that it did. If so, there’s no doubt in my mind that it would be hailed and lionized as one of the better RPGs on the SNES today. In reality though, only dedicated and devoted SNES gamers who scour retro gaming forums and spend hours looking for hidden gems they might have missed, will ever experience all the joys this game has to offer. Although gaming history cannot be rewritten, thankfully the original Japanese dialogue was so that English users can enjoy this game as though it were officially released. And enjoy it they did — I have yet to meet anyone who didn’t like Treasure Hunter G after giving it a shot.

Super Play gave Treasure Hunter G some good loving
Super Play gave Treasure Hunter G some good loving


Squaresoft goes out with a bang as SNES publishers
Squaresoft goes out with a bang as SNES publishers

Treasure Hunter G just might be the best SNES RPG you’ve yet to play. It combines cutting edge visuals (for its time) with good old fashioned RPG traits. This includes a simplistic four person party, zero class changes and plenty of fun NPCs to interact with. Add to this a unique grid style battle system and you have something that is truly special. The game looks beautiful and plays like a dream. Every battle is a little different due to the shifting landscapes so there’s more strategy to be found here than your average RPG. The formula works extremely well and makes going through the zany universe a blast. With plenty of rich locales to traverse, nasty bad guys to kill, wacky locals to meet and rare treasures to be found, Treasure Hunter G is a great adventure from beginning to end.

That's what she said {What is this, 2005? -Ed.]
That’s what she said {What year is this… 2005? -Ed.]

But of course it’s not without some flaws. You can only carry 20 items per character which can be annoying at times when the goods begin to quickly pile up. On the other hand, this added even more strategy as you’re forced to work out what to keep and what not to. Though developer Sting did a fairly admirable job with the sound and music, it’s not up to par with the likes of Square or Nintendo. The game is also on the easy and short side. But honestly, after playing so many 40+ hour RPGs I found it refreshing to play one that only took me 26 hours and could probably be finished in 20. Rather than dragging on and wearing out its welcome, Treasure Hunter G moves along at a very brisk pace. And by the time you finally imprison Bone Dino in its frozen grave, you almost feel a sense of sorrow that the end is nigh. If you love the genre and the SNES then do yourself a favor and play this game. Besides, I ask you, where else could you save the world with a violin playing monkey? I rest my case. Put this at the top of your queue; you’ll be glad you did. Squaresoft’s last game published on the SNES is not only worthy, it’s a damn fine swan song.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9
Longevity: 8

Award4Overall: 9.0
Gold Award


Bone Dino is perhaps the most tragic SNES boss ever
Bone Dino is perhaps the most tragic SNES boss ever

You can’t help but feel a little empathetic for Bone Dino. What did it ever do? The Dark Lord is the true evil one here. He resurrected Bone Dino in the hopes of making the creature do his evil bidding. But the Bone Dino was only halfway resurrected and is basically left defenseless as you pick its bones.

Hey, it has to defend itself!
Hey, it has to defend itself y’know

It’s definitely not like any other end boss I can think of on the SNES. Ultimately, Bone Dino was less an abomination of destruction and more an unwilling victim of circumstances. Truly tragic, then.

... or is it...
… or is it… ???

Secret of Mana 2 (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Square Soft | September 1995 | 32 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Square Soft | September 1995 | 32 MEGS

As I write this, it’s Saturday, September 30, 2017. That marks 22 years since Japan was graced by the presence of Seiken Densetsu 3 (AKA Secret of Mana 2). Sadly, it never received an official release in the US. This was due to the fact that by the fall of 1995, the SNES was on the (rapid) decline despite a number of smash hits still yet to come. 32-bit war machines were starting to become all the rage, and it would take months to translate Seiken Densetsu 3. So it was never meant to be. It infuriated dedicated SNES owners who saw previews of the sequel in their favorite magazines but knew they would never get to play a proper translation. Thankfully, the “repro” scene changed that when a fan released a fan translated version of the game. It was a special moment for all Secret of Mana fans who longed to finally play the Japanese only sequel. I really like Mana but I am not one of its biggest fans. However, I’m all about the sequel. It’s f*cking awesome!

We certainly are... and to be continued indeed...
The wait is over. At last, Secret of Mana 2 is here…






One of the biggest differences between this game and its predecessor is that while Secret of Mana forces you to use a specific character, Secret of Mana 2 gives you a choice of six. After selecting your main character, you pick two allies. The game employs various changes depending on the characters you select. It increases the game’s longevity significantly and is an awesome improvement. Some characters may even fall in love or find themselves embroiled in a lack of mutual respect. It makes the many different combinations you can form all the more interesting and invites you to experiment and beat the game several times.


Each of the six characters represent one of the six countries. The game begins with three countries at war and three as neutral territories. The relationship between the three characters you select for your party will evolve as the game progresses. Also new is remember how in the previous game there were eight different types of weapons? Now each character can only wield their specific weapon. I didn’t mind this as I felt the weapons in the first game were a bit of an overkill and I found the US translation lacking. I much rather have a complicated storyline with layers and a simple weapon system than a complicated weapon system with a basic storyline.


























Combat is improved. Say bye bye to that annoying meter from Secret of Mana. Instead, your character won’t be able to strike for a brief moment. No need for a stinking meter, especially one that didn’t properly ration the damage ratio.







Another improvement: unleash a powerful blow after your bar is full.



"Why hello there, son..."
“Why hello there, son…”

Steve’s father, Loki, served the kingdom of Forcena as one of the elite “Knights of Gold.” But at a time in Steve’s young days, Loki went away, never to be seen again… meanwhile, Steve’s mother was battling an illness. After losing his mother, Steve was raised by his aunt, Stella. Though he hardly remembered his father, swordmanship ran in his blood. With this skill, he came to serve King Richard as a mercenary for Forcena.







Steve’s eyes grow heavy and weary as he drifts off into past memories…







Steve’s father goes on to explain how this tribe is the most powerful faction of all. Loki remains confident, however, thanks to standing alongside Prince Richard. Time passes and one night Prince Richard rushes to address Loki’s wife, Simone. Sadly, Loki and the Dragon Emperor both fell into a bottomless pit after Loki rushed in to save Prince Richard from certain doom. Prince Richard and his men stayed for a week after, searching for Loki but to no avail. Simone was crushed but proud of her husband to be a Knight of Gold to the very bitter end.







Although Steve can barely remember his father, he remembers his father’s final words. Steve took the task seriously but was devastated when his mom faced a deadly illness. Simone’s sister, Stella, pleads with her why she didn’t seek help earlier? Simone, with a heart of gold, explained how if word got out that she was sick then surely Loki would have rushed home to tend to her. She didn’t want to be a burden and so she kept things mum. In her dying request, Simone asked her sister Stella to look after Steve and Wendy. Stella honored it to the ends of the earth.







Pandemonium breaks out while Steve is snoozing. A loud commotion awakens him and chaos ensues.







Wizard may not be the most creative name out there but he’s certainly no joke.







Wizard sends a fiery column blast your way to quickly confirm the severity of his powers. Luckily for you, the Wizard tends to other business and spares your life… for now.







Fortunately, one guard managed to escape within an inch of his life, Loki’s son, Steve. It appears as though Altena is sending spies to Forcena. Perhaps an invasion is in the works…







Sibling bickering begins. But underneath it all is love.







Fortune Teller and Steve have their own bickering session as well.







Another huge change in this sequel is changing classes.

She aint gonna take your shit
She ain’t gonna take your shit


Steves willing to do anything
Steve is willing to do anything







Before Steve can leave, Aunt Stella stops him. She knows better than to argue or plead, but she knows she can offer Steve a parting gift…







Continue the legacy of your father.







Additionally, Aunt Stella lets you know that she’ll let Wendy know and to talk to King Richard before leaving. This is a touching moment and symbolizes what Secret of Mana 2 excels in: storytelling and having a TON of heart!







Determined to redeem himself, Steve sets out to find and kill the Wizard.







Combat as mentioned earlier is vastly improved. I found the haphazardly implemented meter from the previous game to be a nuisance. Thankfully that’s gone and now waiting between strikes somehow feels a lot smoother. Battles happen in real time and slain enemies grant you experience points in order to level up. When an enemy is nearby, your character automatically assumes a battle stance. A power bar allows you to deliver an extra powerful blow.







There’s a load of different locales to traverse throughout the journey. It helps keep things interesting. I also like how the characters are well defined and you grow rather attached to each one of them.







Secret of Mana 2 has this epic sweeping feel to it in spades.







Square lends Seiken Densetsu 3 a very slick almost theatrical presentation.







Presentation is such an underrated component of these type of role playing games. A game that nails it can really suck you into its world and take you on a magnificent journey. Secret of Mana 2 got it so freakin’ right.







Peaceful times this ain’t. You find yourself in the middle of war.







[Classic Steve. Thinks he’s so sly but no -Ed.]

Um, pardon? They do?!?
Um, they do?!?



Yet another massive change is the brand new day-evening-nightfall transitions. This isn’t merely cosmetics, either. Similar to the Breath of Fire games, certain events can only occur at certain portions of the day (or night, as it were). I especially love seeing your character entering a door during nightfall. It’s super atmospheric, particularly when playing on a late evening with the lights turned off.













Transitioning from early evening to late nightfall is a thing of beauty. It adds a whole new sense of wonder (and strategy) to this game which simply did not exist in the previous game.







Rabites are sleeping, vulnerable to attack during the night, for example. In other instances, certain events can only be unlocked during a certain time of the day (or night). Back in 1995 this was truly mind-blowing. And even today it impresses me. It’s stuff like this that occasionally blurs the line and makes me forget, even if just for a second, that this is a real breathing world.







Leveling up is a classic staple of the (action) RPG. I like how this game makes you pick one category at a time to specifically level up.


[Story of Steves life... -Ed.]
Hey, you’re one to talk, lady!







There’s some callback to Secret of Mana as seen here with the innkeepers.







Remember the infamous cannon traveling method? It’s back.







Flammie returns to transport you as well, in addition to a brand new sea turtle creature. He looks rather ridiculous but there’s something oddly endearing about him and that includes his bizarre name, Booskaboo.







Traveling at night is always super atmospheric, thanks to being able to see the bright yellow lights down below.







Encounter many different enemies throughout. Best of all, the three player option has been retained. Now this is a sequel done right.







Gigantic boss monsters abound. The action is intense and the visuals are fantastic to boot!







They’re intimidating as hell!







Sending you the best of wishes…


Just in time for Halloween, Secret of Mana 2 is ideal to play around this time of the year.

Speaking of Halloween and creepy...
Speaking of Halloween and creepy…
The fabled sword!
The fabled sword!











One of the best Super Play covers ever created
One of the best Super Play covers ever created

Secret of Mana 2 fared extremely well with most everyone who has been able to play it. Super Play loved Secret of Mana when it came out so it was no surprise that they worshiped and championed Secret of Mana 2 as well. Consensus seems to be that most people prefer this game over its predecessor. It had a better story, more playable characters, improved combat and the list goes on and on. Truly a shame that this game never saw the light of day in the USA. If they really wanted to, they could probably have rushed a translation in time for that holiday season of 1995, but it was probably deemed a lost cause because of how fast the gaming landscape was changing as 16-bit began to wane and wane. Then again, with the amount of characters and dialogue, this probably turns it into a first quarter of 1996 release. Sadly, it was perhaps doomed from day one to stay in Japan.


One of the best action RPGs you could ever play
One of the best action RPGs you could ever play

Seiken Densetsu 3, or Secret of Mana 2, is one of the finest action RPGs in 16-bit history. It’s sad that Super Nintendo owners back in 1995 didn’t get to experience this gem, but fortunately fan translations have somewhat rectified past sins. If you enjoy this type of game and you haven’t played Secret of Mana 2 yet, then make it a point to do so ASAP. The visuals are stunning. Seeing still pictures is one thing but seeing it in motion is entirely another. I love the art direction — it’s very Chrono Trigger-esque. Seeing the screen explode in flames is downright breathtaking. I don’t consider myself a graphics whore but Secret of Mana 2 has some of the sweetest visuals I’ve ever seen in any Super Nintendo game. The sound and music is equally as impressive. But the main thing is the game plays like an absolute dream. Whereas I felt Secret of Mana felt a bit clunky at times, this one gets it almost perfectly right. From having six characters to select, smoother combat, more unique bosses and day night transitions just to name a small handful of positive changes, Square shows us how to program a sequel right (and then some).

High praise indeed. But it's earned it!
This game has carved a special place in my heart

Secret of Mana has a ton of fans and rightly so. I enjoyed it a lot as well, but I’m not its biggest fan. Although I gave it a rousing 9 out of 10 score, to me it’s a low 9. Something about it always felt a bit missing or lacking. Secret of Mana 2, on the other hand, nails it out of the park. The replay value here is higher than most other games from the genre thanks to the multiple endings and party choices. And if you happen to have two friends on hand, you can even experience the awesome three player mode. A proper sequel should build on everything from the previous game as well as fix its shortcomings. This is a shining example of exactly that. Not only is Secret of Mana 2 one of the finest action RPGs on the SNES, but it’s one of the best SNES games, period.

It's a work of art, really
It’s a work of art, really

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 9.5
Gameplay: 9.5
Longevity: 9.5

Overall: 9.5

Double Gold Award
Double Gold Award




Now go beat it with the five other characters ;)
Now go beat it with the five other characters ;)
Um, uh, that's a wrap y'all! See you next time!
Um, uh, that’s a wrap y’all! See you next time!

Breath of Fire (SNES)

Pub: SquareSoft | Dev: Capcom | August 1994 | 12 MEGS
Pub: SquareSoft | Dev: Capcom | August 1994 | 12 MEGS

Back in the mid ’90s, Capcom was most well known for their Street Fighter and Mega Man series. Capcom tried their hand at the RPG genre when they released Breath of Fire in Japan on April 3, 1993. It took 16 months for the game to hit North American soil. SquareSoft was an established firm with a penchant for translating JRPGs for American audiences, and they took on the unenviable task of converting the game over. There wasn’t an abundance of RPGs on the SNES back then. Thus, Breath of Fire instantly found a diehard fanbase. It wasn’t great by any stretch but it was plenty solid enough. And for the time, solid did just fine.


For me, RPGs went from the outhouse to the penthouse!
For me, RPGs went from the outhouse to the penthouse!

I couldn’t stand RPGs growing up. To be precise, it was more like I couldn’t care less. My brother, however, was obsessed with them. He played them all the time it seemed. I didn’t care for RPGs back in the day because I couldn’t see how a slower-paced, turn-based game could be any fun to play. I was a young boy who wanted instant gratification. It wasn’t until much later — around 2003 — that my view on the genre began to shift. Suddenly, the thought of conversing with the locals to dig up clues or just hear some wacky nonsense became massively appealing to me. The turn-based combat went from yawn-inducing to an obsession to level up and earn more gold so I could upgrade my weapons and armor. Today, I consider RPGs among one of my most favorite genres. Go figure. So I don’t really have any big back stories to share about Breath of Fire growing up. I remember, however, being impressed by the magazine previews. Although I didn’t like RPGs then, the game looked quite colorful and even, a bit intriguing. But I figured it to be another in a long list of games I would never play. Little did I know, over a decade later, I would find my way back home to the Super Nintendo for a second chance at 16-bit gaming redemption.

The GameFan preview is embedded in my gaming heart
The GameFan preview is embedded in my heart










Sara turned them into statues to save 'em
Sara turned them into statues to save ‘em








[One of the better? More like above average'-Ed.
[Whoa, one of the better? More like above average -Ed.]















This gets me every damn time. Love Super Play!
This gets me every damn time. Love Super Play!
Awesome monster chart. RPG packaging always #1!
Awesome monster chart. RPG packaging always #1!
Monster chart was, err, off the charts [*sigh* -Ed.]
Monster chart was, err, off the charts [*sigh* -Ed.]
This helpful map was also included in the package
This helpful map was also included in the package


Now unfrozen, you step out into the cold light of day
Now unfrozen, you step out into the cold light of day
Lame. You better not make any mistakes...
Lame. You better not make any mistakes!







Select the sword option and it opens up even more options.

Hooray for awkward abbreviations!
Hooray for awkward abbreviations!


They allow you to level up. Fight, free heal, then repeat
Fight, heal yourself for free and level up. Repeat
Not earth-shattering or anything but it's solid
Not earth-shattering or anything, but it’s solid
Little details always make me smile
Little details always make me smile




"Let me go and I'll never eat another frog leg again!"
“Let me go and I’ll never eat another frog leg again!”
Breath of Fire utilizes a neat ¾ perspective
Breath of Fire utilizes a neat ¾ perspective
Leave it to friggin' Capcom to use energy bars in an RPG
Leave it to Capcom to use energy bars in an RPG
Critical strikes in RPGs is like rolling a 12 in Monopoly
Critical strikes in RPGs is like rolling a 12 in Monopoly
As a result, boss fights can drag on a wee bit
As a result, boss fights can drag on a wee bit



Nothing like leveling up three times at once!
Nothing like leveling up three times at once!
It's perhaps most well known for its day-night cycle
It’s perhaps most well known for its day-night cycle



















Breath of Fire uses a unique system where day passes into early evening before giving way to nightfall. It’s pretty cool, especially the first time you see it. Not just cosmetic, either! There are things you can only do in the dark… giving the game an air of clandestine intrigue…

Quite brilliant, yes, but also at times annoying...
Quite brilliant, yes, but also at times annoying…
Eat your heart out, SNAKE!
Eat your heart out, SOLID SNAKE!

The front guard of Nanai is vigilant during the day but falls prey to exhaustion once the sun goes down. Only at night time can you sneak by him. If a soldier spots you at any point, it’s back to the beginning. It was a clever little way to add in some stealth action to the typical RPG formula. If nothing else, you have to give Capcom some credit for that. I love the small details seen here. Everything from the guard’s snoring bubble to the very atmospheric yellow lights that lends Nanai a brilliant glow. Be sure to explore a bit and not just rush for the exit as there are plenty of good items to be found in chests and large cabinets. Money is tight early on so collect all the free items that you can.

Early on, the day-night system is used quite well
Early on, the day-night system is used quite well


Not exactly world-changing stealth action but it's there
Not exactly world-changing stealth action but it’s there
Nice looking game back in '93/'94
Nice looking game even by August 1994 standards
There's a certain magic to them that I just love
There’s a certain magic to them that I just love
Makes the high encounter rate more bearable
Makes the high encounter rate a little more bearable
"Coz there's so many fukken random battles!"
“Coz there’s so many fukken random battles!”


[You're, ahem, fired -Ed.]
[You’re, ahem, fired -Ed.]
Leave it to friggin' Capcom, eh?
Leave it to friggin’ Capcom, eh?
Funny whenever RPGs offer you an obvious choice
Funny whenever RPGs offer you an obvious choice
Weapons that hit multiple enemies are simply the best
Weapons that hit multiple enemies are simply the best
What unspeakable horrors lurk deep below?
What unspeakable horrors lurk deep below?
Surprisingly decent for a horror film aimed at youth
Surprisingly decent for a horror film aimed at youth
Nina is the first of seven allies to join. Head to Tantar
Nina is the first of seven allies to join. Head to Tantar
Um, OK. I think you're also the master nutjob, pal
Um, OK. I think you’re also the master nutjob, pal
Varying skills made each one feel critical to success
Varying skills made each one feel critical to success
Resident Evil is a true Capcom classic
Resident Evil is a true Capcom classic


Our heroes have been reduced to the size of mice!
Our heroes have been reduced to the size of mice!
Save the mice clan from deadly cockroaches
Save the mice clan from deadly cockroaches
[Sometimes... man is the monster... -Ed.]
[Sometimes… man IS the monster… -Ed.]
"Do you come from another world? Or from some distant star?"
“Do you come from another world?
Or from some distant star?”
Aw, sorry, Cerl. If only we could go back to the future
Aw, sorry, Cerl. If only we could go back to the future
Good point. Endearing son of a gun, though
Good point. Endearing son of a gun, though
The night time scenes are super atmospheric
The night time scenes are super atmospheric




Another cool feature is the hero's ability to morph
Another cool feature is the hero’s ability to morph


Meet the Goddess of Destruction. Meet TYR
Meet the Goddess of Destruction. Meet TYR





No bearing on the game but it's a fun fan service
No bearing on the game but it’s a fun fan service


Failing to do either could result in sheer frustration
Failing to do either could result in sheer frustration


As allies join, use their skills to open new areas
As allies join, use their skills to open up new areas


Not uncommon to get stuck if playing sans guide
Not uncommon to get stuck without a guide
Not the game's best moment...
Not the game’s best moment…

An old man tells you about the I. Claw near the end of the game. You need to find it or you cannot advance. The problem? There is no clue whatsoever as to where this elusive I. Claw could be hiding. Combine that with a massive world and well, you get the idea. The game forces you to do a ridiculous back-and-forth letter exchange between a weapons’ collector and an old lady stranded on some obscure tiny island in the middle of friggin’ nowhere. Discovering this without any help was pure dumb luck. Breath of Fire doesn’t even give you a damn clue like, “Hey, I heard there’s a lady living somewhere on the east region who loves weapons…” It was simply, “You need an I. Claw” which essentially translated to “Good luck finding it on the large world map, mwahahaha!” Brutal. While some RPGs (i.e. Super Mario RPG) held your hand too much, Breath of Fire was a little TOO obscure at times. I like a happy middle ground — not too obvious but not too obscure, either. A game that did an excellent job of balancing the two was EarthBound. You always got a sense of what to do next but you were never 100% sure. But the key was the game always gave you a sense. Those are the best RPG experiences. Sadly, it’s not quite the case here.


Wil Overton's art covers killed it. This is one of my faves
Wil Overton’s art covers killed it. This is one of my faves

Breath of Fire was met with rather strong reviews. Despite the near year-and-half delay for the North American version, it still managed to stand toe-to-toe admirably with the big SNES summer blockbusters of 1994. EGM gave it scores of 7, 8, 8, 8 and 9. They praised it for its excellent visuals and sound. GameFan rated it 90, 90 and 94%. GameFan lavished heaps of praise on it for its artwork and animation, its length and its stunning music. Super Play was less enthusiastic, however, giving the game a respectable but not remarkable rating of 80%. They called it lightweight. Leave it to those Super Play chaps to calm the rest of us down. They didn’t hand out 9s and 90s willy-nilly like EGM and GameFan did!







Nintendo Power ranked it #82 on their Top 100 list
Nintendo Power ranked it #82 on their Top 100 list


Thanks for the PSA
Thanks for the PSA

Breath of Fire is a solid RPG. It did many things right. These include brilliantly animated sprites, amazing sound and music, a unique day-night system that affected gameplay, and skills unique only to certain characters which made all eight protagonists serve a key role. But with the good comes the bad. The game starts out on a high note — it introduces you to each new ally in a meaningful way, allowing you to hunt and fish for health items, shrink down to save a family of mice from deadly cockroaches and there’s even a cool little stealth action. Sadly, at some point it felt like the developers lost a bit of their ambition and vision. The game begins to drag a bit in its second half. And damn, is the game long. It took me 40 hours to beat and I felt it lost a little steam in the latter half of the journey. The ridiculously high random battles didn’t help it any, either. There’s no run button so our heroes move like snails in mud. The lack of character development in the latter half was also disappointing. Sometimes clues were far too obscure and left you wandering around wondering what the hell to do next. The day and night system, while promising early on, later proves to be a bit of a pain in the ass. In order to advance in certain areas of the game, you had to talk to a specific person in town who only appeared at a certain portion of the day (or night). This actually ended up hampering the experience for me as it made it tedious to play at times. Sure, the day and night engine starts out as a fun quirky novelty, but it quickly morphs into an annoying hassle. This is definitely not the kind of RPG that holds you by the hand. Some will like that open-endedness, but I prefer a balance. You won’t find much of one here.

It's far from perfect but it's more than enough to satisfy
It’s far from perfect but it’s good enough to satisfy

Nevertheless, for all of the blemishes I brought up, I really did enjoy my time playing through Breath of Fire. It’s got a certain charm to it with its bright and colorful visuals that melts my 16-bit heart. The music is haunting. The melodies fit each region of the game to a tee whether it’s soothing, ominous or action-packed. I enjoyed using the eight characters’ unique skills, such as Ox smashing through barriers and Karn opening locked doors. But at 35-40 hours, it’s just too damn long for not being an epic RPG. It’s also a bit too obscure with its clues. Be sure to have a guide ready. Also, I didn’t like how too many of the NPCs repeated the same phrases. I know they were trying to save memory, or maybe they were just lazy, but these moments often took me out of the moment. When too many NPCs repeat the same thing I just read from someone not two feet away, it really hurts the game’s ability to truly immerse you. Having said that, I would recommend Breath of Fire to any RPG fan with a Super Nintendo. It’s far from a classic, but it’s an enjoyable adventure with a few unique twists along the way that makes it worth going through at least once.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8
Longevity: 7.5

AwardsOverall: 8.0
Silver Award


Game store ads were, once upon a time, so damn cool
Game store ads were, once upon a time, so damn cool
The sequel, Breath of Fire 2, is notably better
The sequel, Breath of Fire II, is notably better