The Bottom Line: If you pay more than $20.00 for it, you're paying too much. Stop making this a required category.
First, before I start beating this game like a punching bag, I have to give credit where credit is due: Of all the companies out there that make video games, Capcom is one of the best, if not THE best. Why? Because they go out of their way to make quality games that emphasize gameplay instead of relying solely on graphic and sound gimmicks. Even with the fancy things the platforms can do these days, Capcom sometimes opts to go the other way, they continue to make excellent 2d games like Street Fighter whatever-number-they-throw-in-front-this-time and the Mega Man X series. And while they don't always employ the latest graphic enhancement gimmick, they always fine tune the 2d graphics right down to the smallest, most minute detail. And, lastly, their games are always ahead of their times.
That being said, let me now say that Breath of Fire 4 was a dissapointment for me. It's a worthy effort, no doubt, but in the end it just tries too hard. Or not hard enough. A little of both would suit, I guess. But in the end it just doesn't work out.
But before I get to that, let me first talk a little about the games good points. Of course, the graphics are outstanding, even if they're not on par with some of the games that Squaresoft releases these days. Breath of Fire 4 employs a standard 3/4 overhead view with 2d characters. The characters all have their own looks and battle stances, and the attention to the smaller details is staggering. Everyone also has clothes and hair that moves in the wind, and the animation is missing very few, if any, details and the game doesn't suffer from any slowdown. The 2d characters look gorgeous against the rendered 3d backgrounds, and the bright, beautiful colors liven up even the most mundane backgrounds. The camera angles can be rotated 360 degrees with the l and r buttons. They have to be seen to be believed.
I don't have anything against the sound, either. The music is fitting, but it can get repetative after awhile. There are two different scores for battle music, depending on who you're playing as. The sound isn't annoying and it doesn't get in the way, but it is kind of standard.
The controls leave something to be desired, though, and it is here that the game begins to faulter. Breath of Fire 4 allows you to move in all eight directions, but the game feels like it is being played on a grid nonetheless. This means that once you take a step, you can't do anything else until the step is completed. In other words, if you suddenly decide to switch directions, there is a split second delay between the time you press the button and the actual movement. This delay is more defined when you switch camera angles, when you stop but nothing else does. The battles are fought in a 3/4 overhead view, with your characters on the bottom right of the screen and the bad guys on the top left. The battle commands include a block option, and if you get hit while blocking, you can learn the technique the enemy used against you. But once you learn the technique, you can't use it until you take it off a "scroll", and please don't ask me what that is, because my game didn't include a manuel. But I do know that I tried every option in the game to get the techniques off the scroll, and none of them worked. Other than these, battles are pretty standard, with attack, magic and item options. Another thing is that between towns, instead of seeing a beautiful countryside, you get to see... A map! That's right, outside town you travel on nothing but a piece of parchment with a red line on it. Oh, sure you can stop at certain locations on the map to go in and look for treasure and fight, but who wants to do that?
The main problem with the game, though, is that it is bogged down with too many pointless quests that are designed for the sole purpose of passing time and taking up ROM space. You can't go into a town, get the info you want, and move on. Often, you go into town looking for information, and when you find the person who supposedly has it, he tells you that it is known bt a man some odd number of minutes out of town. Or, at one point there is an even more annoying scenario. In a big town, some little kid won't give you the info you ask for unless you play tag with him. So, upon being forced to play tag with him, I chased him around town for the better part of two hours, often losing him right at the critical moment because I had to switch camera angles. After I caught him, he had me eat at his house, then he had me play hide and seek with him and his friends before finally telling me what I needed to know. It's very annoying.
I can't say much about the story, by the way, because it took too long to introduce itself, and by that time I had had enough. I know that the story begins with a failed attempt to locate the missing sister of a girl named Nina, whose sand skimmer (or whatever it's called) is attacked by a dragon in the middle of the desert. While going to the nearest town to find replacement parts, she stumbles into someone named Ryu, who doesn't seem to know much about himself. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, an evil warlord is just waking up after a long period of sleeping. While Ryu, Nina, and her accompanying friend Cray look for Nina's sister, the warlord sets off to do... Well, I didn't stick around long enough to find out.
While it may be possible to harbor something resembling love for Breath of Fire 4, I haven't found a way to do it. I guess this is just one of those rpgs that is better off being reserved for genre newcomers and hardcore rpgers who just HAVE to play everything out there. For everyone else, it's just not worth the money.
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About the reviewer
Nicholas Croston (BaronSamedi3)
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial. Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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After centuries of war, the two lands bordering a vast swamp-land have finally reached an armistice. Suddenly, the noble Princess Elena disappears somewhere near the war-ravaged front lines. Distraught, her sister Nina goes in search of the Princess alone and on her journey, meets a mysterious young warrior named Ryu. Their destinies soon entwine. The next chapter in the epic tale of magic and mystery now unfolds. The fate of what lies ahead now rests in your control.