Breath of Fire IV
Game Info
ESRB Rating
The Good

• Great move into 3D towns and dungeons
• Great battle system
• Wide variety of side games

The Bad

• You can lose your characters without moving the camera a lot
• Without side games, this would be a short game
• Game is much easier than most RPGs


The sequel to ongoing RPG series by Capcom, Breath of Fire IV follows other recent Capcom offerings by introducing 3D polygon elements. Though, not totally. Much like Xenogears from Square, BOF mixes 2D sprites set in 3D polygon based worlds with the occasionaly polygon monster or dragon spell effect.

Breath of Fire IV tells the story of Ryu, an amnesiac boy with the ability to turn into a dragon who befriends Nina and Cray, who are in a foriegn land searching for Nina's sister. At the same time, Fou Lu, the first emperor of the Fou Empire awakens from his sleep only to be attacked by soldiers from the current emperor, who doesn't want the first emperor to regain his throne.

Breath of Fire IV is a firm leap forward from III and shows development in both the story and quality of gameplay. Story segements are more interesting and developed without being overdrawn and lengthy. The scenery and spells look good and for the most part are short and concise.

The battle system shows some great leaps, allowing all six characters in your party to participate in any given battle. While only three people can actually chose battle commands, you can switch between party members during any given round by selecting a member in the back row of your party. Learning new skills has also been improved: instead of standing there and "watching" your enemy, you can learn skills just by defending. The combo spell system is also a nice addition, allowing new spells to be discovered by casting spells of different types one after another (Example: Ryu casts Burn, followed by Nina casting Sever, which turns into Firewind, an area attack fire-wind spell not learnable from enemies or masters).

One of the nice things about BOF is the large variety of mini-games and diversions available. The sim-city-esque Fairy Village and fishing games are both standards in the series which have been developed even further. There are sandflier races and even a stock-trading type game available. There's just about anything a gamer mind want to try their hand at. One game that's especially fun is the hunting game where you aid the fairies by attacking animals on the field for food for the Fairy Village.

On the down-side, the 3D dungeons sometimes are difficult to navigate, something that could have been remedied by altering the camera angle ever minutely. Also, Ryu's dragon transformations leave a little to be desired. unlike BOF III, in this game, he transforms into the same dragon hybrid every time and then changes into the various dragon types when you cast a certain spell.

Unlike Final Fantasy and Vagrant Story, Breath of Fire is overtly Japanese in influence, from the Japanese voice-overs in the manga intro to eastern-style weapons and armors available. Don't expect CG-rendered cut-scenes and grand sweeping graphics, a la Final Fantasy. If you want a fun game with a lot of side games and things to do, then go out and get Breath of Fire IV.

- - Kinderfeld

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