There's something truly comforting in knowing that however fast technology moves, it's still possible to get a good gaming experience from an outdated and obsolete system.
Original Playstation titles have, for whatever reason, been experiencing something of a revival over the last couple of years. It's been good to see that even with the release of the Vita, ported games from the old PSX have still been making it on the PSP playable list, and it's still possible to buy, if not the old PSX system, then certainly refurbished PS2 systems in trade games shops. Yeah, I'm an advocate of older games, you can't blame me when so much joy can still be had from games published over 10 years ago, even more in some cases.
As far as older games go, this one should certainly not be passed over. It's something of a collectible now, often going on ebay for as much as a new PS3 title might. If you see a copy of this in a trade in store for pennies, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you passed it over.
Breath of Fire IV is one of the Japanese style RPGs that hit the market just after the millennium. It is the fourth title in Capcom's successful franchise that was it's answer to the wildly successful Final Fantasy series offered by Square (Enix). BOFIV was released in the Japanese and US market in 2000 and the European market in 2001, selling over 300,000 in it's first year and qualifying it for that old re-release silver bordered thing Playstation used to do.
Characters and Story
The story focuses on a number of characters as the game progresses, and in JRPG style, we learn a little more about them over time as their relevance to the story is revealed.
The protagonist is Ryu, as is always the case in Breath of Fire games. This incarnation is a blue haired boy who has the power to transform into powerful dragons. He has no memory of who he is, or where he is supposed to be when he is discovered at the beginning of the game.
Fou-Lu is a mysterious and frighteningly powerful man who were are introduced to through cut-scenes and short play scenes. He is Ryu's 'other half' the immortal emperor, newly awakened and hell bent on ascending to Godhood.
Ryu is joined initially by Nina, a winged princess of the Wyndia kingdom and Cray, a cat-like warrior of the Woren tribe. They initially set out to take Ryu to the nearest town, in the hopes someone would know him, but like all amnesiac heroes, he's irresistible and they just can't leave him alone. Good thing too, else there probably wouldn't have been much of a game to write about.
As they uncover memories and flashbacks, Ryu realises Fou-Lu is attempting to ascend, an act that will have dire consequences for the mortal world. They embark on a quest to stop him, picking up the usual RPG bunch of misfits as they go.
The characters here are vivid, and while they certainly don't break any huge norms, they do have empathetic personalities and stories with which you can engage. It is noteworthy that the characters are not cut in black and white here, even those outside the playable 'fellowship', they are complicated people, with ingrained ideals and hard won trust. Their aims may not all match up with Ryu's for the same reasons, but there are some genuinely touching moments in the plot. In BOFIV The characters are the story, they are not along for the ride.
As a late 90's/early 00's game it relies on the classic overhead, isometric viewpoint with a moving camera. Often the camera can be rotated to position the viewer more favorably, which is invaluable in towns as there is often a door that's invisible from a certain angle. It has to be said; I have, on more than one occasion, forgotten this feature and spent a good half an hour trying to figure out why I can't get anywhere/find the shop/leave the town.
As you journey through the world Ryu learns more about his dragon heritage. You learn how to harness that power, which can be tamed into specific spell forms that Ryu gains over time. When you draw on these forms in battle, Ryu will transform first into a dragon/man hybrid, in which he is able to use ancient magic, or, when the power gauge is full draw out the dragon's full form. This transforms Ryu fully into the dragon you have 'summoned' cuing a cut-scene for the ultimate attack. They are stunningly beautiful and actually useful, unlike some games, where the benefit of summons is unbalanced against the time taken to watch the cut-scene/animation.
There are several side quests and extras you can engage in, forging your own armor with scavenged and farmed parts, minigames in the plot line to advance the story and the ever present fishing in all JRPGs. The fishing's useful however, although there's the old 'Pokemon' element there it's also a method of unlocking rare items, since you can turn in fish for vouchers.
The other aspect of this game's approach is the fairy village. At some point on your travels, when you have set up camp, a fairy will approach the band and ask for help. They are useless at managing their time and resources and need someone with a level head to help them out. Without considering Darwin's 'survival of the fittest' Ryu agrees and you suddenly have access to a whole extra part of the game which is a charming mishmash of part SimCity, part Harvest Moon and rewards your resource management skills with new minigames, shops and for some reason...insurance. (I'm not sure why incompetent fairies sell insurance but It helps you revive dead party members, so it's not to be sniffed at.)
The big highlight here is not only how well written and complex the characters are, although that's a sure fire winner, it's the graphics. It's rendered in beautiful 3d, with 2d sprites, it looks very 'Capcom' which in all honesty is no bad thing, and the environments, creatures and animations are beautifully designed.
If you'd like to see more, just google images for this game, the world alone is pretty, but the aesthetic of the world is so good that it's spawned fantastic fan art, FMV cutscenes and even it's own Manga.
The music is also brilliant, so much so that I have the official soundtrack, which is pretty rare for me.
These are blissfully rare. The camera angle thing is irritating, but at least you can rotate it, and are not stuck trying to 'guess' where the doorway or alley might be.
Sometimes the overhead view can make traversing terrain a little tricky, and certainly I've fallen off more than a couple of rocks, but it isn't as bad as some 3d platformers that are on the market even now.
I consider BOFIV to be a gem in the history of console RPGs. Admittedly I have a weakness for the old Japanese style, but in all honesty, it's hard to beat the great story, well paced plot and pretty animations that it has to offer, even if you don't.
I would recommend keeping an eye out for it in bargain bins, if you see it, snatch it up. If you are a collector of classics, or enjoy games like FF7, FF9, the Tales of...series or even some of the Zelda games, there's a lot for you here. It may even be worth paying collectors price for.
Breath of fire 4 is the fourth game in the series created by capcom. It is a sony playstation one role playing game which was released in 2001.
Just like the other series in the game you are a man going by the name Ryu. (You may change this in the game.) Who is one of the last of his civilisation. After crashing on earth he meets his friends first nina who persuades him to help her on her quest to find her sister who has gone missing. Along the way they meet others who help them on there quest and help ryu learn about his past and what he really is.
The game play is exactly the same as the breath of fire 3, playing from a overhead isometric view. The camera can be rotated 360 degrees the only thats different is that it cannot be tilted up or down. Each character has its own special skill what they can do out of battle that help you find items, unlocking doors helping you with quests.
Again you also have the faerie town, which you must help to grow and become stronger, helping you to unlock new features, play mini, find special items and fish.
You enter battles randomly whilst travelling through the fantasy world. You fight in a 3, and is again turn based. In battle you can attack, use item, defend and use magic. However the good thing about this battle system is that you fight with 3, but you have the chance to swap one of your players from the back line, or when one of the is down, you can then swap the as well. If you have been playing with someone in the front and then put them to the back row they then there ragain health and magic points which i think is really good for this role playing game.
Once defeating an emeny in battle you gain exp which in turn helps you level up and gain new skills and increase your stats.
I have loved these series from the start. Though the story is the same it still seems to be different from the others...if that makes sense? I think the battle system is far more better than the rest. having the chance to swap characters. All in all i think its a really good game.
So, I just finished this game, oh, two days before I found this site. I didn't know why I had decided to buy it on my birthday and for me I took forever completing it, a whole 33 hours, full. I am though rather surprised no one else has had the gumption to come here and write about it. Capcom deserves a review, so well, and well, I shall jolly well give one! Breath of Fire is an RPG of a series of four (no the title isn't just for fun!) and follows a storyline so intricate it could make your head spin, but please don't, the stains will never come out. ^__~ Lets get down to some facts shall we? Breath of Fire is made by capcom, a games company that isn't known for it's rpg's, but for it's Beat em Ups. You say capcom, we think games of the like of Streetfighter or Rival Schools, maybe a few platformers but primarily the succesful streetfighter series is what jumps to mind. That is what is so deceptive about Breath of Fire. Just because they make beat em ups, doesn't mean they can't make rpgs of the style and presentation to rival other companies. Ok, so Breath of Fire will never knock Final Fantasy off the rpg throne, and even then would have to beat off Dragon Quest and Star Ocean to stand a chance! Breath of Fire is intelligent and does display not only a good use of the format but also a kind of self awareness that borders on irony. Four games along, and with a battle/look style that keeps evolving we have to stand back and smile! The game itself: Battle system: for those familiar with Final Fantasy or indeed most rpgs, the idea of fighting with more characters on screen than say, three, is an absurd one but I think Breath of Fire shows again, an acute awareness of what annoys most serious gamers. Do your characters just, wander about aimlessly like headless chickens as you try to kick the butt of whatever arch mage with bad fangs? Capcom, indeed BoF doesnt think so and I agree. It make sense to hav
e a back row, where characters can rest and recouperate and then be able to sort of tag team battle to beat an enemy. It makes for much more interesting game play. The controls are pretty simple, with an excellent help screen menu provided by highlighting the subject and pressing what you have put on your controller as "help". The menu of options is short but concise, even as an old timer at these things I found myself turning to the guide occaisionally for help! In the game, you can either use a physical attack <Attack> magic or a skill <special> Use an Item <use item> or guard/defend a physical blow with the added bonus of maybe learning an enemies skill! <guard> Two options are available if you press r1/l1 and that is to escape <run away!> or charge <attack in a beserker fashion>. If you are stuck in the back row, trying to stop and breathe from the main fight you can regain some of your AP that you lost. They are called CP and will only exist in the battle itself and are very useful, but say Nina has 132 ap, she is at 45 of that 132, and regain 11 ap through cp in the back row just before the battle ends. After the battle is over her ap is still 45 because Cp only exist within the battle. I hope that made sense.. ^__^ Combo attacks are also something interesting. If you take one magic and follow it with it's natural order, like say... fire, then fire, then fire, you will get the first fire attack, the second will also burn and have a secondary attack with it from the added effect of double fire and yep, you guessed it, the third will have a second AND third pointage added onto it. IF it all is done in a combo screen. It's very hard to miss, trust me. Then there are other types of combos. Natural order of elements. Fire-wind/wind - water/water-earth/earth-fire if you do say... Inferno, and follow it by a wind attack, like typhoon <two of the highest powered spells in the game> you will mingle in a combo attack and ma
ke Gigaflare, a flame/wind attack that is highly useful/dangerous and my favourite spell before I finished it, maybe due to the damage it dealt. But also, mixing wind and water makes lightning, if only done in the order shown above, water and earth mades mud attacks and earth and fire create attacks like Ragnarok from breath of fire 3, or magma blast. There are different levels of spells, so try combining them and see what you can create to bash in your foe, and dont forget, all magic can be linked in a combo, even some physical skills <attack skills> and status ones. It's ingenious and limitless. My personal favourite is Gigaflare but for an early combo, try the "rock blast" followed by "burn" or some other fire spell. It's very useful. ^__^ In Game controls: Tra la la! Capcom have indeed been using the good ol' analogue sticks for a long time now and in breath of fire 4 they are not essential but I like it as it makes the ingame move fluidly. Character all have their own special skills that can be used in the field, apart from scias... I dont know what he does, watch I think. ^__~ Nina can Fly, a jump thing where she rises above the earth/scene and surveys it, showing you where everything is! Kinda... Cray has a push ability, Ershin a headbutt attack which BoF players will immediately clamp onto as Peco's attack. Ursula can fire her weapon as a long range attack, useful when helping your faerie village, and Ryu can attack with his sword. Conversations aren't the best ever choregraphed but then, i admire breath of fire for it's genius and innovative systems rather than the qualities of the lingo, and the game remains well plotted despite small differences in the translation. The World map can be a tricky thing, Sandflier/boat using even trickier! I personally hate the boat! but the sandflier is fun... especially wiping out on a dune... otherwise, up until you find and acquire the "shift function" <inst
antaneous travel between two points> you have to walk the map and do everything the "good old way" by foot. Question Marks over your head indicate either a spot of interest or such, or a fight area and an exclamation mark is something you cannot escape from, it being vital to the plot. Also, innovatively, you play two characters at once, Ryu, the orphaned dragon boy who knows little of himself or his past, and Fou Lou, the first emperor and God of the empire... and how it all unfolds is a tale in itself... Interesting things to note are the camera angles, now fully 360 degrees available to play with, oh yes ^__^ which adds to the feeling of interest. Dragon gene system however, is something I dont agree with. it's awkward a sloppy and you can easily miss genes if you dont know where to look for them! However, from ryu's basic form <aura> to Fou Lou basic form <astral> they do evovle into things like behemoth and wyvern/serpent because fou lou uses ice magic,... and ryu, guess what, uses fire.. this bit could have been better worked out. Ingames: Faerie Village!!! I love it! I want one! Though, after a while I would get tired and they would all die of boredom or hunger. So what DO you do in faerie village. You help them. Once you have liberated their village they will ask you to look after them. to gain access there is a faerie who will hover about in your camp. You can put them to tasks, and different jobs as the culture levels increase, but first off, send all your faeries to hunt food. the more food you have, the more faeries will be born, the more faeries born, the more things you can do. It is however not that simple. You faerie could hate or love her job, and if say, Naeg the faerie at the weapons store hates her job, she wont get good weapons or stuff, they'll be shoddy or defective in some way. But Chai in the items store loves it and gets wisdom seeds and bamboo rods and stuff ya cant find elsewhere f
or you. You have to be able to judge who goes where and when. In the village you can build houses, and listen to music, look at original game art, rest up or even play games and buy life insurance??? I think it loses something there in the translation... ^__~ Fishing: Ahhh, fishing. I used to be so good at this game on Breath of Fire 3, before it got stolen that is, damn those heartless thieves.. but anyway, enough of my pain. Fishing is a serious mingiame where you, well, fish! You fish in streams, at the ocean edge, in marshes for all types of fish. You gain different rods along the way too, from the good ol' wooden rod, to anglers and up.. The fish are more diverse in this minigame, with sweetfish and well, I think the octopus' look meaner! however, the way you fish has changed, the idea more difficult! I gave up trying to get technical marks... either that or they're not shown on screen when you do good, but the bar is now like this. In the centre is a box, when you catch a fish, you bar that moves up and down with the tension of the wire/energy of the fish must STAY in that lil' yellow rimmed box or else! it's very tricky and if you are caught off guard you can kiss your lure goodbye. Take time over it... it could be the best part of the game! Also, as a hidden bonus, if you get enough of certain types of fish, you can take them to a manillo <the blue one, called, Manillo, so creatively> and he will trade them with you for items, and stamps on a card that you can cash in for more items. Not too bad a deal then, eh? Manillo also sells the Royal Sword, the most powerful weapon in the game. the plot. a final summary: The plot is intricate, and I wont ruin the entire thing for you, but it runs thus. As ryu, you get to see the game from Nina's perspective, as she narrates it like a story someone looks fondly, or indeed, dismally back on from a long time in the future. Everything she says <in white, as narrator> is
in a past tense. Subtle but good. They crash land in the desert when their sandflier gets overturned by a Dragon. The Sand Dragon oddly enough... ^__~ and Nina offers to fetch some parts to get it moving again, but instead finds Ryu face down in a large crater just south of the crash, with a dragon stood over him... the dragon soon vanishes but ryu awakes. Being a kind hearted soul, she takes him with her, and that is how the story begins. Nina and Cray are trying to find Nina's sister, Elina who vanished in synestra but they have heard rumours of her being alive in the deadly empire... Fou Lou has also awakened from his self imposed sleep of ages, and returns to smite those who have ursurped him and forgotten the promise they hold in trust... what a nice God.. People join them along the way, as the Path of the Dragons, the Endless ones sweep them up as if caught in a mighty tide as the struggle to survive becomes paramount, through many twists and turns... Sad and melancholic, the bittersweet joys in it are well thought out and one shock in particular managed to move me deeply. Ok, Ok, so I'm a wuss, a girl who is a sucker for a good story... go pick on someone your own size <sniffs> I'm also amazed at all the Parallels it draws to BoF3. Peco's tree in BoF3 is there in the desert of four. Momo is here, transported somehow. Deis summoned from her death with Myria... Ryu at the same age. The Desert preventing passage, Dragons of powers, each different like the genes. The Wyndians and the Worent<obviously the Katt Tribe> and as a special treat, if you complete with a clear game save, Teepo and Rei apparantly have a shop somewhere in the abandoned village! Woohoo! The Masters too remain similar in type and style, and there are many to be found. BoF4 is much more intricate and thought out than any before in the series... Breath of Fire 4 is innovative in style and presentation, almost as good as some of the FF games and as go
od if not better than it's predeccesors in some remarks. A pretty decent deal for twenty quid and sure to have you coming back time and time again for more journeys with the endless... Lov' Rith xx