One of the better-known RPG series, and one of the few to enjoy fairly equal treatment and acclaim on both sides of the ocean, Breath of Fire is Capcom's creation. The company's attempt to say, "Hey, we can do more than platformers and fighting games!" The series is almost immediately recognizable at a glance thanks to its mainstays: silent heroes, dragons, silent heroes who transform into dragons, winged chicks, and wanton god-slaying.
Breath of Fire | SNES | 1994
The original Breath of Fire has a tricky history; Capcom apparently shied away from releasing it in the RPG-unfriendly U.S. Meanwhile, Square shied away from releasing the completely awesome Final Fantasy V in the U.S. So the two got together and Square released Breath of Fire in the U.S. for Capcom. It's no FFV, but it's still pretty dang good.
Breath of Fire II | SNES | 1995
The American success of Breath of Fire made Capcom bold and it decided to release the sequel on its own. This was a dumb idea, because late 1995 was a very different world for RPGs than summer 1994 had been. We had played and loved Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger? by then -- and had been spoiled not only by their gameplay but also by their pleasantly un-terrible localizations. Something Breath of Fire II couldn't offer.
Breath of Fire III | PS1 | 1998
The third Breath of Fire boldly stepped into 3D...nah, not really. All it really did to mark the PlayStation era's technological advances was turn its pseudo-3D into actual polygons. It also gave gamers a taste of Xenogears -- seventy hours of aimless tedium topped by a pretentious fight with God.
Breath of Fire IV | PS1 | 2000
The last of the traditional Breath of Fire games, BoFIV went a long way to smooth over some of its predecessor's flaws, offering a less unwieldy transformation system and a combat system that took welcome cues from the original game. By this point, though, most RPG fans were looking elsewhere for their jollies and the game went largely unnoticed.