Beyond that, he gets no magical abilities except for his dragon forms and relies almost completely on his basic attack. Because your stuck with him for the majority of the game, barring a small stretch at about the 30% mark, that makes it easy to button mash your way through his turns, and makes him about as deep as a puddle in terms of battle tactics.
He really shines in his fishing mini game, being the only character who can use the rod accessory. There are some rare treasures to be fished out of the ocean, along with a few chances to catch a swimming merchant. Fish really only serve to restore HP, with the only exception being the mackerel or Mackrl, which cures poison. These fish often aren't worth the cost of the bait required to catch them.
His dragon forms are absolute monsters and can deal some pretty solid damage in boss fights if you exploit elemental weaknesses. Otherwise they deal a set amount of damage. The first six are just Fire, Ice and Thunder dragons with the second iteration of the three being an improvement in elemental damage dealt and able to hit multiple enemies. Think of them as sustained elemental spells with the added benefit of restoring Ryu's health completely (the first time he changes in that fight). The player can freely exit the dragon form if they want to, for whatever reason.
Beyond all of that, Ryu is the only Breath of Fire main character to speak, every other version of the character is a mute, excepting the occasional battle cries and grunts and such. He's also the only one with the Light Dragon mark on his forehead, which is pretty badass in and of itself. He's basically like "Fuck you, this is my clan, I'm a fucking were-dragon, do something about it or get the fuck out of the way".
Ryu is your basic, run of the mill, RPG character in many ways. This version is pretty boring compared to some of the more innovative things Capcom pulled later, and is kind of a disappointment.
He'll always be a favorite of mine because of his OG status and his bad ass forehead tattoo though.
Next time, Nina, the flighty princess. Catch you on Monday.