A World I Will Never Forget - Breath of Fire IV
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I'll admit that there are some things that just draw me in. Jet Set Radio's beautiful cel-shading, No More Heroes stylish sense of self, and Fallout 3 for it's unshakable atmosphere. A world that breathes, rises and falls with the seasons, and generally leaves lingering dreams months and years after its final playthrough. Games like these can rarely go two years without calling me to re-experience their beauty, and I've recently found myself drudging through the desert landscapes of the Playstation jRPG Breath of Fire IV.

The fourth installment of the Breath of Fire series, BoF IV is the second title released on the Playstation and artistically different from the previous three titles.

The gameplay of BoF IV is none too unique from other titles of the jRPG genre. A faux-3D top-down role playing game whose characters are from a vaguely fantasy setting. The battle system is turn-based, with each character having their own unique statistics, capabilities, and roles in and out of battle. The main character, Ryu, and female lead Nina, are regulars of the series are much alike their predecessors' counterparts. Ryu can transform into dragons, and Nina is an angel whose speed and healing capabilities are quite powerful. As well as that, turns in combat are both based on a character's Speed rating, and that character's placement on the battle map. The person in the first (of three) slots will always try to go first, even if the person in second or third has a higher speed rating. These differences manage to set BoF IV apart from other jRPGs, and give the old and tired turn-based system a fresh face. Despite that praise, Breath of Fire IV is still a traditional jRPG.

Because of that, the slow gameplay style and less than fluid controls make the unique gameplay style a little clunky, which slows the entire narrative down. As well as that, the "four camera angles" faux-3D sometimes makes the game confusing to see. This is especially bad when there are multiple buildings of varying heights in the city. This makes more a lot of camera-switching when in crowded towns, and will often grind progression to a halt. Simply because it's nearly impossible to see.

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Camera problems aside, the art design in BoF IV is positively breath-taking. The simple, and occasionally pixelated, cel-shading-styled sprites in a brightly-colored landscape build a world that is completely gorgeous. There is not a single town, song, or individual in BoF IV that doesn't just ooze with personality. Each town has a story to tell, each merchant, passer-by, or character a reason to be there. Matched with a highly-stylized soundtrack produced by Yoshino Aoki. Every track has some personality, and matches to the T with every single map.

This style pervades into every other facet of this game, including the storyline. The story is about Nina, the princess of a kingdom called Windia. With her body-guard, she's going out to rescue her kidnapped sister, the younger princess of the Windia. In her travels across the desert, her transportation is destroyed. She encounters a naked man, Ryu, in the wreckage of a merchant's cart. They join together in order to repair Nina's transportation, which ultimately leads them onto a dizzying adventure across multiple continents.

The game has a healthy host of mini-games and side missions to explore, including stat and skill-altering masters for each character, "blue magic"-style learning skills from enemies, and a combo-system which links and combines elemental attacks into newer and stronger ones that change the properties of the skills cast. As well as that, achieving a total number of points total (from mini-games, map discovery, fishing, and other such things) will allow you to upgrade the protagonist's dragon forms to newer levels. All of this, despite it being a very linear title, adds a lot of replay value for people looking to sink many hours into gaming.

Bottom Line: Breath of Fire IV is a graphically simple, artfully designed, and subtly complex title that should be a delight for jRPG fans, and may even contain a few treats for those who aren't interested in the usual turn-based affairs.

Recommendation: Buy It. A diamond in a sea of mediocrity, only hampered by its own inability to be as light, airy, and approachable as its art direction.

I would buy it quick, fast, and in a hurry if it was on PC. I loved Breath of Fire III, it had a nice balance of Hack n Slash, story, and puzzles.

It should be mentioned that all BoF games (apart from 'DragonQuarter', which isn't really part of the series IMHO) should be played at least once. BoFIV is an often forgotten game due to the misunderstanding of the fifth game's title Dragon'Quarter'.

Rei from BoF3 makes a comeback in 4 and is Nina's 'partner' as brought up in the review. Everyone likes Rei (and all incarnations thereof). How can you not? He is a large cat-guy.

There are certain aspects of the game that doesn't make it as good as 1-3, but it's still okay and something to own if you like JRPGs, especially the Breath of Fire series. And if you played 1-3, you'll probably pick up the aspects/differences I'm talking about. Even so, it's definitely worthy enough to be called a Breath of Fire game.

Sadly, I can't go into vague specifics as I haven't played the game in a decade. There were certain parts I absolutely hated, such as the plains travel area, as well as how the map was set up. But my memory only goes so far. I was intending to play it again, and this review is the coincidence I needed that says, "Go ahead, replay it."

Guestowel:
I would buy it quick, fast, and in a hurry if it was on PC. I loved Breath of Fire III, it had a nice balance of Hack n Slash, story, and puzzles.

There is a PC version that was released in Europe in 2003. I believe you can find torrents of it.

Hazzah!

I wonder how much this might cost on amazon...

I found one! Thanks

Maybe it's because it's the middle of the night and my homemade treatments for my restless leg have me hopped up or something. Maybe it's because I've had so much sleep since yesterday night. But this review was awesome. It floowwwweeedddd so nicely, I don't know if you purposefully crafted that or if the word choice was just a coincidence, but that was a really easy read. sweeeeet

Nice review
still contemplating over buying it

This is a Playstation game, correct?

Ahaha. I want to play it now. Damn it, there is no chance of me finding it. Well-written review; it was nice to see a reference to a JRPG archetype in there~

The game is great! It follows the concept of two-sides-of-a-coin quite nicely through. The only thing I didn't like was the mute hero, but that shouldn't stop you from playing.

So glad I never sold this one of the few gems on the playstation!

Fantastic review, although that's to be expected.

I'm very, very glad I didn't sell my copy of Breath of Fire IV, and I'm probably going to have to play it again now.

Quaidis:
It should be mentioned that all BoF games (apart from 'DragonQuarter', which isn't really part of the series IMHO) should be played at least once. BoFIV is an often forgotten game due to the misunderstanding of the fifth game's title Dragon'Quarter'.

Rei from BoF3 makes a comeback in 4 and is Nina's 'partner' as brought up in the review. Everyone likes Rei (and all incarnations thereof). How can you not? He is a large cat-guy.

There are certain aspects of the game that doesn't make it as good as 1-3, but it's still okay and something to own if you like JRPGs, especially the Breath of Fire series. And if you played 1-3, you'll probably pick up the aspects/differences I'm talking about. Even so, it's definitely worthy enough to be called a Breath of Fire game.

Sadly, I can't go into vague specifics as I haven't played the game in a decade. There were certain parts I absolutely hated, such as the plains travel area, as well as how the map was set up. But my memory only goes so far. I was intending to play it again, and this review is the coincidence I needed that says, "Go ahead, replay it."

I actually preferred IV to the rest of the series for different reasons, mostly the purely stylish world that I prattle on about so much during this review. Structurally speaking, the first title in the series was also the most bland. As an SNES jRPG, it had very little that set it structurally unique from a slew of other RPG titles. If it wasn't one of my most nostalgia-filled memories, I probably wouldn't have played it as much as I did.

The second was much more personal with each character's ability like Guts and Wake and such. The customization of the town was really the coolest feature, and the fishing minigame was upgraded to the point that the series was beginning to really set its feet firmly.

The third title, on the Playstation, was where they capitalized the most on the Dragon system. The fact that you could combine genes was a wonderful idea, but sometimes got a little too "to do this correctly, look up proper combinations on GameFAQs." I'm of the belief that systems should have no 'best options', but other than that quirk, III had a lot of personality. Honestly, though III was even more clunky than IV when it came to controls. Also, the 'Kaida Effect' (the second composer for BoF III's soundtrack" made the entire game seem a little elevator-music-y. Not terrible, but really didn't have the same atmosphere it could've.

Obviously, my opinion on IV is pretty clear. Although I'd like to point out Rei and Cray aren't the same person, though they are of the same race. As well as a few others which have carried over from series to series. Like every merchant in IV, and the Gobi people from BoF I.

BoF IV is certainly another of my favorite for the same reasons. The PS2's cel-shading and Hitoshi Sakimoto's work on the soundtrack was phenominal. If it weren't for the fact that the game was so bleak, I probably would've labeled it as my favorite because of the unique battle system. But between that, and no party diversity, I had to hand it over to IV.

MrBrightside919:
Hazzah!

I wonder how much this might cost on amazon...

Depending on where you get it online, it runs about $30, though anywhere from $90~ to $30~ if you want new or used on Amazon.

Headshot Gamer UK:
Nice review
still contemplating over buying it

I'd highly recommend it. There are few games out there that I'd really suggest over this one. If you can even stomach turn-based games, then this one's a don't-miss. Honestly.

Caimekaze:
This is a Playstation game, correct?

Ahaha. I want to play it now. Damn it, there is no chance of me finding it. Well-written review; it was nice to see a reference to a JRPG archetype in there~

Actually, since you're in Aussland, you have the option of going PC, which I don't. I tried looking something up for you, and the best I could pull was a single eBay auction. If you can't go that route, I apologize, but the link's here. I really hope this helps, as I want everyone who can to play this game. It really is that good.

Say Anything:
Maybe it's because it's the middle of the night and my homemade treatments for my restless leg have me hopped up or something. Maybe it's because I've had so much sleep since yesterday night. But this review was awesome. It floowwwweeedddd so nicely, I don't know if you purposefully crafted that or if the word choice was just a coincidence, but that was a really easy read. sweeeeet

SAy, my lovely friend. You are posting as if you are slightly drunk, so I'm guessing it's because you're hopped up. I'll see you in the morning, but thank you for the comments. I was really trying to make this one of my more colloquial and smoother reviews. I'm glad it translated as well onto the page.

I thought BoF IV was the best one by far. Never beat it though. I got stuck in a dungeon of some sorts it think? Was just a big ass room and nowhere to go. Been awhile.

I absolutely loved 3 and would buy a PS1 just for that game alone. Thanks for bringing back good memories!

Out of the Breath of Fire series, I've only played 1 and 2, and only completed 2. Unfortunately, Breath of Fire 1 has the dubious position of being the only computer game ever to have made me feel physically sick, so I was never able to get very far in it. I loved BoF2, though.

Great review, as always. Fantastic aesthetic layout, nice paragraph flow, and altogether very professional, yet approachable. If I get a chance to get this game, I'll strongly consider it.

Besides the fact that I own this game and agree that it owns and is excellent I find this review...well...great. There are no major flaws in it. It's a great review, as usual.
Good on ya' Nukelazzix.

Buy it? What crazy universe where late life PS1 games are easily available do you live in?

Anyway, you missed one of my personal favorite aspects of BOFIV, the Mini Games, there's a mini-game for EVERYTHING, from fishing to haggling with an information broker. I loved this aspect of the game, it made the "by the numbers" combat a non issue and makes this one of my favorite PS1 titles.

In total agreement here man, BoF was the most memorable and enjoyable series i have ever played - particularly 3 and 4. And the truth agrees: all of the games have been re-realeased 1+2 on gameboy advanced , 3 on PSP (strongly recommend), and 4 on PC.

Naturally i don't include the throughly disappointing cry-yourself-into-the-reality-that-a-once-amazing-francise-may-now-be-dead-forever pile of wholly inconsistant tosh that Dragon Quarter was.

>inhale<
>exhale<

BoF 3 & 4 are ingenious classics that i cannot be praised highly enough for their cleaver twisting-but-consistant plots, lovable deep characters and ingenous artistry.

Both hold high place in "Games to play before you die from lack of sleep"

If Yhatzee played them i think the inability to complain could kill him...

On the by, this review reminds me that there may be a BoF VI (or V if you completely remove Dragon Quarter from the series line-up) in the near future.

RAKtheUndead:
Unfortunately, Breath of Fire 1 has the dubious position of being the only computer game ever to have made me feel physically sick, so I was never able to get very far in it.

I'm having some doubt here on either the game you played or if you made a numerical typo. BoF 1 was never released for the computer (only 4 was, legitimately), and it had the exact same elements as all other 'look down' rpgs that came out back then. If anything, it had the same map, layout, and fighting style as 2, just a little more old-school.

I'd understand you getting ill if this were a game from, say, the Spyro or Doom series. But I have no conceivable idea of how you got sick from one game and not the other when both are too much alike.

Quaidis:

RAKtheUndead:
Unfortunately, Breath of Fire 1 has the dubious position of being the only computer game ever to have made me feel physically sick, so I was never able to get very far in it.

I'm having some doubt here on either the game you played or if you made a numerical typo. BoF 1 was never released for the computer (only 4 was, legitimately), and it had the exact same elements as all other 'look down' rpgs that came out back then. If anything, it had the same map, layout, and fighting style as 2, just a little more old-school.

I'd understand you getting ill if this were a game from, say, the Spyro or Doom series. But I have no conceivable idea of how you got sick from one game and not the other when both are too much alike.

First of all, it wasn't a numerical typo; I played the original BoF and its sequel. I refer to any computerised games as "computer games" rather than "video games", and I know that BoF wasn't far removed from 2, but there was something about the interface in the SNES original that fucked my head up badly.

I haven't really got a conceivable idea on what exactly the problem was, because there should have been no reason for me feeling unwell, but that's the way I felt.

RAKtheUndead:

Quaidis:

RAKtheUndead:
Unfortunately, Breath of Fire 1 has the dubious position of being the only computer game ever to have made me feel physically sick, so I was never able to get very far in it.

I'm having some doubt here on either the game you played or if you made a numerical typo. BoF 1 was never released for the computer (only 4 was, legitimately), and it had the exact same elements as all other 'look down' rpgs that came out back then. If anything, it had the same map, layout, and fighting style as 2, just a little more old-school.

I'd understand you getting ill if this were a game from, say, the Spyro or Doom series. But I have no conceivable idea of how you got sick from one game and not the other when both are too much alike.

First of all, it wasn't a numerical typo; I played the original BoF and its sequel. I refer to any computerised games as "computer games" rather than "video games", and I know that BoF wasn't far removed from 2, but there was something about the interface in the SNES original that fucked my head up badly.

I haven't really got a conceivable idea on what exactly the problem was, because there should have been no reason for me feeling unwell, but that's the way I felt.

Perhaps the rom was jerky or you were too close to your computer screen. I've often gotten headaches from accidentally staring transfixed at the computer monitor not on computer games, but my work. It usually happens in a dark atmosphere with an exceptionally bright monitor.

PedroSteckecilo:
Buy it? What crazy universe where late life PS1 games are easily available do you live in?

Anyway, you missed one of my personal favorite aspects of BOFIV, the Mini Games, there's a mini-game for EVERYTHING, from fishing to haggling with an information broker. I loved this aspect of the game, it made the "by the numbers" combat a non issue and makes this one of my favorite PS1 titles.

Honestly, I was spending all of my time in this review going out of my way to not get long winded, so I ended up clipping hedges on parts I could've gone into more detail on, especially the side stuff like the learnable skills, the Fairy Village, the dragon forms and upgrades, and the mini-games.

Quaidis:

Rei from BoF3 makes a comeback in 4 and is Nina's 'partner' as brought up in the review. Everyone likes Rei (and all incarnations thereof). How can you not? He is a large cat-guy.

Apart from both being Woren (The name for the tiger people in the Breath of Fire world), Rei in Breath of Fire 3 and Cray in Breath of Fire 4 couldn't possibly be more different as characters. The only character who is actually the same person throughout all of the games is Deis.

First of all, it wasn't a numerical typo; I played the original BoF and its sequel. I refer to any computerised games as "computer games" rather than "video games", and I know that BoF wasn't far removed from 2, but there was something about the interface in the SNES original that fucked my head up badly.

The interface was all changed for the GBA version. Though Breath of Fire 1 is by far the weakest in the series (and is actually pretty simplistic even for a SNES RPG), and other than as a devoted fan of the series it's not really worth much consideration.

Eh, I played the original and BoF2 a little and didn't care for them, but I've heard good things about BoF4.

Still, I LOVED BoF: Dragon Quarter. As mentioned, Sakimoto's work on the music is really incredible, the game has a great sense of progression (I always felt like I was working towards a goal and getting closer and closer with every step I took), the levels are very atmospheric and vary quite a bit stylistically, the characters felt very human and the Antz minigame was both hilarious and addictive. Oh, and yeah, the battle system is amazing. Alongside Chrono Trigger, it's probably the best RPG battle system I've ever seen.

NewClassic:
I ended up clipping hedges on parts I could've gone into more detail on, especially the side stuff like the learnable skills, the Fairy Village, the dragon forms and upgrades, and the mini-games.

While I have no idea how large a part those things have in the game, was it really worth leaving out? I understand you were trying to avoid being long winded, but it just doesn't strike me as an ideal attitude towards games that have as much content and deep combat systems as the typical RPG tends to have. As I haven't played the game, I can't comment on anything you may have missed out, and what you've written about is done well, but I'm not sure how good an overview of the entire game it is. The people who've actually played the game who've posted comments seem to think the review was good, so I'm probably imagining issues because it's not as long a review as I tend to like.

Good review, and I thought the first paragraph especially was fantastic, except perhaps the last line. "Drudging through the desert landscapes" has an unheralded negative connotation that seems completely at odds with the rest of the paragraph. Was "drudging" really the best verb choice? Or have I just completely missed the point?

pigeon_of_doom:
Good review, and I thought the first paragraph especially was fantastic, except perhaps the last line. "Drudging through the desert landscapes" has an unheralded negative connotation that seems completely at odds with the rest of the paragraph. Was "drudging" really the best verb choice? Or have I just completely missed the point?

Should be "trudging", as far as I know.

A decent review: it doesn't flow as well as some of your other ones, but it's still pretty good.

I'm interested in this game now, and with the hilarious discovery that my brother's PS3 can play PS1 games, I might give this title a shot.

 

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