Breath of Fire
Fun Fact: The highest fishing rank you can acquire in BoF 3 is "THE FISH."
Publisher: Capcom

Breath of Fire
By Nathan Schlothan

It would be impossible to talk about fishing minigames in RPGs without mentioning the Breath of Fire series. While the main heroes of that series are distinguished by their shared name and their mighty dragon transformation powers, anyone who has enjoyed a Breath of Fire game will likely remember them just as much for their love of fishing. As a result, fans of the series were treated to some of the most involving fishing gameplay ever found outside of a dedicated fishing game.

In the original Breath of Fire, fishing was a process so simple that it could hardly be called a minigame at all. All the player had to do was equip the main hero, Ryu, with a fishing rod and some bait, and examine a fishing spot. After a moment, the game would just determine whether Ryu caught a fish and what fish was caught without any player interaction. It had its place in the game, and was even necessary for advancing the plot at least once, but it was not very interesting in of itself. Starting with Breath of Fire 2, however, the fishing mechanics started to get much more complicated.

From Breath of Fire 2 and onwards, fishing started to require far more skill on the player's part. The player had to start doing things like control how far the line was cast, maneuver the bait once it was in the water, avoid snagging the line on the bottom, grab the attention of fish, and fight with the fish to catch it. The mechanics for these tasks were crude at first, but became much more sophisticated and fun as the series advanced to the PlayStation era. By the time of Breath of Fire 4, the fishing minigame had grown to include complex fishing spot terrain, many more varieties of fish, a several types of bait, an exciting system for reeling in fish based on adjusting the tension in the line and wearing out the fish's stamina, and a point ranking system that awarded titles for catching particularly large fish. Thanks to many of these advancements, fishing in later Breath of Fire games became a great way to pass the time.

Still, while the fishing mechanics became ever more sophisticated, the rewards for fishing remained consistently useful throughout the series. The fish Ryu caught became items in the characters' inventory, and could be sold in shops as a valuable source of income or be kept and used to help the heroes on their quest. Many fish were fairly powerful and cost-effective healing items. Some provided effects like powerful AP restoration or multi-character healing that were simply not found on normal healing items. Often, the hardest-to-catch fish were some of the strongest healing items that could be found in the games.

The true utility of fishing, though, goes beyond just the fish themselves. Some of the most important equipment in the original Breath of Fire, the Dragon Sword and pieces of Dragon Armor, are found through fishing, and that equipment can then be used to acquire Ryu's advanced dragon transformations. Later games include treasure chests that can be snagged and reeled up while fishing and fish-man merchants who will sell you rare goods if you manage to catch them. Some of the most powerful equipment in those games can be acquired this way. In Breath of Fire 3 and 4, acquiring a good score in the fishing minigame will unlock some of the masters who improve characters' stats and teach them new skills. With benefits as powerful as these, taking a few minutes off from adventuring every so often to relax and enjoy some fishing is a great thing to do.

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