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I haven't played Breath of Fire. In my experience there are four eras in JRPG development. They are the NES Era, the Storyteller Era, the Square Juggernaut Era, and modern era. The NES Era was the primordial ooze days of JRPGs where heavy grinding, dominated the genre. Stories were kept simple, and progresion was linear. The Storyteller Era is defined by Final Fantasy IV. Games from this era were less grindy, and managed to tell a good story, but they still had linear gameplay forced by the need to tell a certain story.

Then, came the Square Juggernaut era. This was when Square was firing on all cylinders with classics like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, and VII. Games from this era introduced all the things that make JRPGs the deep, complicated games that they are today. These games were filled with hidden secrets and things to do off the beaten path. Characters and parties were extremely customizable leading to different "builds" of the same character.

The modern era has many different companies, all following the same core elements set out in the Square Juggernaut era. These different companies have all done their best to either ditch turn based gameplay for real time battles, or make turn based gameplay much more interesting than most would have thought possible. Atlus' Etrian Odyssey series adds serious difficulty to traditional turn based gameplay. Xenoblade, Ni No Kuni, and Tales of have their own take on live action combat.

Anyway back on topic. I haven't played Breath of Fire, but I would peg it as a game of the Storyteller Era. Don't get me wrong, games of that era are still decent and fun. But I've already played so many of them, and they just seem to pale in comparison to games from the Square era, and modern era. Someone sell me on the idea of playing BoF series though.