North American fans of the third entry of the underrated Breath of Fire series just couldn’t seem to catch a break when it came to seeing a re-release of it. But after a recent statement from Capcom, there may be a small chance.
After several fans inquired about a digital release of the PSP version of Breath of Fire III on the Capcom-Unity forums, Capcom executive Christian Svensson replied:
“I’ll never say never, and I am looking into one way to put it back into North American circulation, but it’s a long shot. When and if I get news, I’ll let you know.”
Breath of Fire III was ported to the PSP in Japan back in 2005. The port was released a year later in Europe, but SCEA denied the game’s release in North America due to a specific stipulation on ports to the PSP that stated that a port needs to have at least 20% new content to be considered for release on the handheld. This still didn’t explain how ports of other Capcom titles like Power Stone Collection and Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX were allowed.
Since a PSP version didn’t work out in North America in 2006, the plan was to release Breath of Fire III alongside IV as a PSone Classic on the Playstation Store. While Breath of Fire IV made it just fine in North America and Japan, III did not pass an IP clearance test. Although Svensson wasn’t informed of the reasoning behind this, we reported on a rumor that there were issues with missing TM marks, nudity and violence that didn’t comply with the ESRB’s current standards.
I brought the question of III’s failed IP clearance up again on the Ask Capcom forums, and Svensson believed the issue had to do “with some obscure sprites in the PS1 version having potential infringement issues that the PSP versions cleaned up/didn’t have.”
Based on that information, it seemed that the infringement issues pointed to a boss in the game called Stallion, who was a clear parody of Japanese action hero Ultraman, sporting a similar getup and even using similar moves. In the PSP version of the game, Stallion was recolored and his pose was removed, most likely to avoid potential infringement. It is uncertain whether this type of parody would fall under fair use.
Nevertheless, PSone Classics need to be submitted as-is, with no alterations possible. Hence, the PSP version seems like a more likely candidate for re-release. News of whether or not SCEA will give into allowing a digital PSP release of the game will take a while, according to Svensson:
“We are having conversations with SCEA about this possibility however please be aware that if it were to happen, it wouldn’t be for several months. Unfortunately that’s how long these things take. :/”
Until then, North American fans (including this fervently passionate one) will have to wait with bated breath for the possibility of getting a digital version of Breath of Fire III on their PSPs and/or Vitas.