Breath Of Fire 4 Review

By: John Doe

After a long and healthy respite period in which I didn't play or review any RPG games (Final Fantasy 7 was my first and last RPG review on this website), I have been brought out of RPG retirement like a crusty veteran, angered that my relaxation has been interrupted by such matters. However, it's been a good break. I've found my RPG legs again, and have since tackled a few of them, even going back and looking at FF7 with new eyes. The Breath of Fire series, which originated on the SNES and was developed by Squaresoft, has been taken over by Capcom on the PSX. They handled the hit and miss Breath of Fire III, but come out swinging with this return to classic RPG gameplay in the fourth of this series.


BOF fans will surely wonder if Dragon/Boy Ryu once again returns to the playing field, as Nina and him have been in every BOF game since the beginning. Yes, Ryu does return, however, you won't be able to play with him right away. The story begins with Nina searching for sister Elina, who, if you haven't guessed, has gone missing. Cray, Nina's friend who happens to be a cross between a tiger and a man, head off on an adventure to locate Nina's missing sibling. Along the way they encounter a blue headed fellow, who has all but forgotten who he is. Yup, you guessed it. Ryu. Amnesia. Tired plot device. But in this case, it actually works.

Considering BOFIV's graphics harkens back to the glory days of sprite based RPG's, the gameplay also stays somewhat traditional; with magic, armor, dungeons, level ups, random battles and all of the usual elements associated with the genre. Where it takes a little turn for the better is in it's fighting. Capcom has allowed the use of combos while fighting, which means you can chain together some wickedly powerful attacks. Your party remains a threesome (from a selection of six) and those who are sitting out can actually be called into battle. Also, while characters are "resting" there status can improve, making battles more strategic. Along the journey there will be many side quests and mini-games to take part in, and for the most part, I'd recommend that you do so, as you will learn valuable information on the possible whereabouts Elina.

As mentioned, BOFIV is sprite based with polygon backgrounds. Maybe it's just me but I like the look of anime inspired sprites used in RPGs. Reminds of FF3 I think. Anyway, although the graphics are done well and you'll find some unexpected cool lighting effects, the camera tends to be a little uncooperative in places. Nothing to upsetting but it can throw your pace off a bit. What you will either like or balk at (depending on your ability to recognize style over substance) is the understated graphical prowess of the magic attacks. We aren't talking light show extravaganzas like Final Fantasy or Vagrant Story, so don't be expecting it. What is there, gets the job done. I personally loved the minimalist approach as it kept the fighting fast and not bogged down by a eye candy. Presentation wise, BOFIV retains a lot of the Japanese development overtones and I think it's great that it does. Some of the translation is a little goofy, but that's part of the charm, I think.

Musically the game is really well done, and I considered listening to it, outside of the game on a few occasions. The music and sound effects are part of BOFIV's strongest points and help to hold the whole package together. Well done!

I know you are all spoiled for choice on the PSX lately when it comes to RPG's; Chrono Cross, FFIX etc, but don't overlook this one. It has enough to satisfy even the hardest of the hard-nosed RPG fanatics. I should know, I used to be one of them. Thanks to games like this and Chrono Cross, my love for RPG's is returning and I'm no longer so put off about coming out of "retirement." Give Breath of Fire IV a chance. I don't think you'll walk away disappointed.






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