Tag Archives: Capcom

Breath of Fire IV (PlayStation & PC)

Developer(s) – Capcom

Publisher(s) – Capcom & SourceNext

Designer – Makoto Ikihara

Producer – Hironobu Takeshita

ELSPA – 11

Released around the same time as Final Fantasy IX, and when Squaresoft and Enix were considered the two most prominent RPG video game development companies, Breath of Fire IV was still met with positive reviews and a great reception from fans of the series, and has since become a cult classic among gamers today. However, after playing it for a fair amount of time, whilst not thinking it’s a bad game, I don’t believe that it really lives up to all the hype I’ve heard about it since I watched that video. Though people believe it to be unjust that this game was overshadowed as much as it was at the time, I can’t say I agree with that.

Graphics – 7/10

The scenery and style of the game were very well designed. It reminded me a lot of the game Grandia, whereby 2D character sprites would inhabit a fully 3D world. In particular, I enjoyed walking through the village of Chamba, which is very atmospheric and gloomy, and added an extremely unexpected level of tension for a time. But unlike Grandia, the level design is not as diverse, and a lot of the other villages and towns later on in the game can seem very repetitious after a while. I remember whilst I was playing Grandia, I was very much taken in by how unique places like Parm and the Zil ruins looked. But for me, there just seemed to be much less of that level of captivation in terms of conceptual design.

Gameplay – 7.5/10

As a turn-based RPG, it is pretty satisfying to play the game and level up the player characters, gaining more and more skills and powers as the game goes on. But the problem lies in the fact that there’s not as much variety in Breath of Fire IV in comparison to other big name RPGs at the time, such as Final Fantasy. I also find that despite it’s criminally sort lifespan, South Park: The Stick of Truth had more variety in gameplay than this. There are a few side quests present, such as fishing and so on, but there is nowhere near as many side quests as a lot of other games of it’s caliber and world size. I find it especially surprising, as Capcom wouldn’t have been on a budget at the time following sales of Resident Evil 1 and 2, so I think the only limitations involved would have come in the form of developer’s imaginations.

Controls – 9/10

There are no issues with the controls, save for the fact that the camera angles can be awkward at times and that having to often adjust it can be a bit of a hassle. This would be another advantage that other RPGs of the time would have over Breath of Fire IV; some of them would simply use hand-drawn graphics, making entire settings one big picture for players to traverse across. But because Breath of Fire has a fully 3D environment, camera angles do consequently often have to be adjusted for players to be able to tell where they’re going.

Lifespan – 5/10

I’ve since found out that this game can be completed in just over 20 hours, and whilst that isn’t as short a lifespan as South Park: The Stick of Truth, It’s still very short for a turn-based RPG. Although that may have been considered somewhat long for a game in most other genres at the time, there were still games at that time, which were made to last three, maybe even four times longer.

Storyline – 8.5/10

Despite this game lacking substance in gameplay compared to its competitors at the time, one thing I can’t criticize too much about it is its story. After it starts off a little slowly, it does get progressively better as it goes on, dealing with a number of adult themes and alluding to many real-life political occurrences. Breath of Fire IV follows the story of a dragon god called Fou-Lu, who formed an empire years prior to the start of the game, but became weary of humanity, and put himself into stasis. He awakens at the start of the game to rule again, but he finds he is split into two people; one being himself and the other being an amnesiac called Ryu, who is taken in by a girl called Nina and her friend Cray, who have set out to find Nina’s sister, Elina, who went missing on a diplomacy mission. It does turn into something much deeper overtime, and it does certainly make for a very exceptional story in a time when gameplay stories were first becoming much more prominent than they had been previously.

Originality – 6.5/10

At the time, there didn’t seem to be that many stories in games, which touched on political instability and alluded so elaborately to nuclear war, but more annoyingly to me, it severely lacked innovation in gameplay compared to other RPGs of it’s time, and to me, it shows how Capcom seemed to focus less on gameplay in general in the midst of the release of Resident Evil, which again focused more on story as well as horror.

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In summation, Breath of Fire IV isn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but I couldn’t help but feel that it could have been an infinitely better game than what it turned out to be. After playing it, I feel as if people do indeed give it too much credit, and I do believe that it’s overshadowing by Final Fantasy IX wasn’t unjustified by any means.

Score

43.5/60

7/10 (Fair)

Aladdin (Super Nintendo)

Developer(s) – Capcom

Publisher(s) – Capcom

Designer – Shinji Mikami

Rating – N/A

Part of Capcom’s repertoire of licensed games, Aladdin for the Super Nintendo was in fact in direct competition with a counterpart for the Sega Mega Drive developed by Virgin Games, which were both mat with critical and commercial acclaim; with the Mega Drive port becoming the third best-selling game for the system behind Sonic 1 and 2. The Super Nintendo game was developed by Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil fame, who went to say that he actually preferred the Mega Drive version, but in my opinion, the Super Nintendo version is much more challenging, and more enjoyable by proxy.

Graphics – 10/10

With what technology was available at the time, the developers captured the feel of the film perfectly. The city of Agrabah is shown in every different time frame, ranging from day to sunset to night, and the Cave of Wonders has the same dark and ominous atmosphere, along with some pretty elaborate level designs. There was also even a level added in the form of the Desert Temple, depicting Aladdin attempting to rescue his companion Abu, after he falls of the carpet whilst riding back to Agrabah, which doesn’t happen in the film.

Gameplay – 7/10

The game is a traditional 2D side scroller, which were commonplace at the time. Players are required to adapt to the structure of each level in order to get around as best as they can; similar to the Lion King video game, but with a great element of challenge in my opinion. Shinji Mikami stated that the reason why he thought the Mega Drive port to be better was because of the fact that Aladdin wields a sword, but in my opinion, not only does the lack of a weapon make for a heightened sense of challenge, but it also better adheres to Aladdin’s character in the film, since he likes to improvise.

Controls – 10/10

There are no issues with the games controls whatsoever. Its actually quite interesting to witness how well the developers were able to modify the 2D platforming formula by giving Aladdin so many different acrobatic abilities in order to over come all the different obstacles in each level. The level whereby this factor is at its most prominent is in the Cave of Wonders, with the player having to make very careful precision jumps over narrow rock and skipping stones.

Lifespan – 5/10

The game can take just over an hour to complete, which at this time was just about the average lifespan of a 2D platformer. With the advent of Super Mario World, Nintendo had proven that 2D Side scrollers could be made to last considerably longer, whilst also having much more substance in gameplay, so at this point, Aladdin’s lifespan was made to seem underwhelming in comparison.

Storyline – 6/10

Depicting the story of the film, it follows a young street urchin named Aladdin, who comes across a magic lamp, and uses the genie inside to change the course of life for the better. As was customary in video games at the time, there wasn’t a great of emphasis on the story, with the developers merely sticking to the broad strokes. They added another sub plot to it in order to in turn add a new level, but of course, its much better to simply watch the film to get the best feel for the story; the comedic element is much stronger, as it is provided by the late great Robin Williams as the genie.

Originality – 5/10

Unfortunately, since this game followed the trends and tropes of what most games did at the time, it’s a clear sign that this game was rushed out to retail to coincide with the film to a certain extent. But regardless, the game isn’t without its charms; it’s a challenging title, in lieu of Capcom tradition, which isn’t too inaccessible, and presents players with an experience that stands out among a fair few other side scrollers released at the time.

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Overall, Aladdin was a fairly well developed licensed game, made in a time before the medium of games based on pre-existing license would generally become frowned upon within the industry. Batman: Arkham Asylum would go on to break that notion many years later, but Capcom made good use of many Disney licenses, and this game is no exception.

Score

43/60

7/10 (Fair)