[Feature] Breath of Fire: Official Complete Works – Art Book

Written by Thomas Haroldsen

Prologue

One thing that draws me in to playing video games year after year is being able to experience the diverse ways creators are able to express themselves through their medium. Video games, as a medium often follow the footsteps of big screen giants in the movie industry and the titans of television in that a story is presented via motion imaging while blending several art styles. Games, likewise, employ artistic direction with rich plots, beautiful scores of music and gorgeous graphics. What separates the gaming industry from the herd is having control over these story elements. Linear or not, it’s happening to me, not in front of me. Many games offer a freedom that you can’t find on other digital platforms. Some of those narratives have resonated with me my whole life.

Breath of Fire is one such story. I didn’t experience Breath of Fire until 1998. It was an instant classic and remained slotted in my SNES for some time. I was blown away by how the characters could interact with the overworld environments. And a hero who could turn into a dragon? That blew my mind! I felt powerful. When I saw that UDON Entertainment was publishing an art book for Breath of Fire, I was overjoyed. As a collector, I find art books to be among the most stunning pieces to own. Having a tangible token that I could scour the pages of to uncover concepts, clues and renderings of a world I’ve lovingly explored is satisfying to say the least.

All in the Art

UDON Entertainment have graciously offered a copy of their Breath of Fire: Official Complete Works art book for review. This was a great time to revisit the classic series which can be accessed if you have a Nintendo Switch Online Membership. It was only a few years ago that I was able to journey with this fantastic cast of humanoid-animals on my Nintendo 3DS. Now I was able to reunite with Ryu and Nina on the big screen once again, conveniently switching to handheld when desired.

The Breath of Fire: Official Complete Works offers nearly 200 sprawling pages of beautiful art spanning the five console games. Found within is concept art, rough sketches, detailed character images and a lot of monsters. Additionally, various items and weapons are on display as well as gorgeous backgrounds. And dragons. Can’t forget the dragons.

The artbook is a comprehensive collection which chronicles the series from the Super Nintendo to the Game Boy Advance and the PlayStation 1 and 2 to the PSP. The colors are vibrant and the layout is well produced. Every page is worthwhile and wastes no space. Unique tidbits about the games are sprinkled throughout for those who want to delve deeper into the lore of Breath of Fire. The addition of color palettes and comparison diagrams was a nice feature. Each section had something unique to display. Some storyboards were added, but not nearly enough.

Summary

It was a pleasure to dive back into the world of Breath of Fire. Not all role-playing games stand the test of time. Nostalgia’s misleading guise has fooled me more than once, reminding me that some games are better left to my memory. Fortunately, Breath of Fire isn’t one of those. I thoroughly enjoyed my quest and having the art book at my side made the journey brighter.

Overall, the Breath of Fire: Official Complete Works offers a huge value to fans of the series and collectors. Each page is carefully crafted and presented in a sensible way. It has a semi-glossy hardcover and is well bound. If you fancy yourself an RPG devotee, this is an artbook worth adding to your library. If you haven’t played Breath of Fire, then this compendium would be a great companion when you start your journey. 

Pros

  • Gorgeous Depictions of Familiar Characters
  • Laid Out Logically
  • A Lot of Artistic Variety

Cons

  • High Price for Casual Collectors

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