As I promised I would, I've begun going back through my game library and finding the old classics I've left unfinished. These are all titles I made it all the way to the end of, and then stopped right before vanquishing evil for good and all. There's a lot of ground to cover, but I began this journey of a thousand steps with Breath of Fire III. After about 70 hours of gameplay, reliving my favorite moments from this classic from Capcom's library (including one of "Hey, I didn't suck all those years ago! This last boss really IS hard!), I can count this one as off the Backlog.
I first picked up Breath of Fire III when it was practically a new release. I loved the first two games, the second one especially I could play for ages. With the third, I found a title which still tied in to the history of the first two games, but was a unique story at the same time. It didn't lose any of the charm the first two had, and in fact used the hardware advantages it had to add to the traditional presentation the series is known for. Vibrant colors, lively cities, sweeping adventure and subdued, subtle moments; this game had it all. I played it for dozens of hours, all the way through to the end.
|Though many of those hours were spent listening to the jazzy overworld theme.|
Then, in the last dungeon, I stumbled across the last boss before I was ready for her. She made mincemeat of my team and I hadn't saved in hours.
So, that was that. I turned it off and never played it again. However much I loved this game, whatever kind of attachment I had to seeing it through all the way to the end, it just wasn't worth it to me to walk through that last dungeon again. I'm sure at the time I told myself "oh, well that's an upsetting loss, I'll put this down until tomorrow." Well, tomorrow took about 13 years to get here, but it's finally arrived. Breath of Fire III has been vanquished, and it's time to move on to the next game on my list.
But playing through it gave me reason to stop and take stock of why this gem never really caught on. It did well enough in sales and reviews, and as I've previously stated, it's at least as fun as some of the best-selling games of today, but Breath of Fire III tends to get lost in the shuffle when talking about the great RPGs of the Playstation-era. So before I get into my personal experience with going back and enjoying my adventure with Ryu and the gang again after all these years, let me begin the first part of this post with a different topic.
Timing a release.
More important than you might think.
|And that's just one example.|
When you're releasing some new media, you want to make sure you don't do so at a time when something similar, and possibly superior, is also hitting the market. You want to offer something unique to the world, at least for awhile. You want to be the thing that everyone tries to copy; the first of a new wave of pop singer, the first comic character in a string of gritty reboots, the first fast food restaurant to offer a new and exciting way to kill yourself.
|Narrowly beating out Wendy's lard milkshake.|
The worst thing to be is something released almost simultaneously. At least the hordes of copycats which invariably follow a success can ride the coattails of the initial wave of public interest for awhile. If you come out with your media at the same time as something else which catches on more easily, that's the end of you. It was the poor timing of this nature that gave us a world where Garbage succeeded instead of Republica, where 30 Rock graces television sets instead of Studio 54, and where Armageddon is remembered as "that meteor movie" instead of Deep Impact. Although to be fair to Deep Impact, it predicted that there would be a black president, whereas Armageddon predicted that Liv Tyler would be a solid leading actress, and so far only one of these predictions has come true.
|He's hoping he can reach a middle ground with the meteor.|
Of course, there's one more form of bad timing. The kind that happens when you release something in the same category as something else which was SO big, and SO popular, and SO pervasive in the market that fans aren't going to be happy with anything less than more of that same thing. Instead of drumming up interest, this monument to a genre actually hinders your success, because people take a look at what you have to offer and say "well that's nothing like that other thing we like." Fans don't expect you to reinvent the wheel, they expect you to be the exact same wheel as the wheel they already own and have driven the last hundred thousand miles on.
With that in mind, let's talk about Capcom's first post-Final Fantasy VII RPG release, Breath of Fire III