Part 1: Chapter I: I Hate Sand.
Let's dive right in, shall we? I'll warn you this first update's gonna be pretty huge, because the game frontloads a lot of plot and cutscenes in the early part of the game.
We're given the option to name our hero, but we're going to stick with Ryu. After confirming it, we get a black screen with a soft mechanical whirring.
A shooting star streaks by.
Cray is unresponsive.
We get a pretty cool shot of the sandflier emerging from behind a dune in a shimmer of heat. The graphics in this game are actually pretty damn good for being on the PS1.
The roar of the sandflier scares this poor lizard off its perch.
The glowing column in the back slowly comes up from the bottom.
: "I was just thinking that it's probably better if we don't move around during the day...Let's find some shade and wait until the sun goes down."
: "Really, I'm all right, Cray. Besides, I want to find my sister as soon as possible!"
: "Calm down...we've come this far, it won't hurt to rest for a while - not much of a change if we get there today or tomorrow..."
Suddenly, there's a rumble from up ahead.
During recording, I noticed that this guy sort of looks like he has the Riddler's ? on his chin, and now I can't unsee it.
: "I'd heard there was a dragon in the desert, but I was hoping we wouldn't be lucky enough to find it!"
: "Here it comes!"
Cray screeches the sandflier to a halt and turns it on a dime.
Unfortunately, Mr. Shai-Hulud here is right on their tail.
Cray swoops off to the side, and the dragon doesn't give chase.
The dragon dives in and out of the sand a few times.
This was something considerably stronger in the original version.
Well, that was a short game!
Sounds of screws being tightened and wrenches hitting things play in the background.
The engines give it their best but gutter out in seconds.
: "I can't fix it...not without any spare parts."
: "Do you think that dragon attacked us on purpose?"
: "Hard to say...we haven't seen it since then, either..."
: "Well, whether it did or not, we should be thankful that we crashed near the edge of the desert, and not in the middle. Here, we're in walking distance of the towns along the desert border."
: "Do you think we can find the parts we need at one of them?"
: "Probably...But there's one small problem."
: "If we leave our sandflier here, we run the risk of it getting stolen by bandits."
: "Not much point in going into town and coming back with spare parts if there's no sandflier to use them on!"
: "But, Nina...!"
: "I can't live my whole life with you looking out for me. For starters, what would my sister think?"
: "All right, all right. You win, Nina."
: "If I remember right, there's a town called Sarai to the south of here. You might be able to find some spare parts there. Good luck, Nina. I'm counting on you."
: "Don't worry. I'll be back before you know it!"
Ding, item get noise. Items, money, etc are in blue text, while places and important things are usually in red.
: "I hope you won't need to use it, but better safe than sorry, right?"
: "See you when I get back, Cray."
: "Safe trip, Nina. You watch yourself, hear?"
R1 and L1 (or is it R2/L2?) rotate the camera. Some areas don't let you rotate it at all, some only let you rotate it certain amounts because of the geometry. Since we're in a wide open area, we can rotate it freely. The world of Breath of Fire IV is isometric with both 3D geometry and 2D sprites. As a kid, this was the coolest thing on the planet. Also, quite a few of the monsters - and almost all of the bosses - are rendered in glorious late PS1 era 3D.
Here's the menu. If you've played any RPG ever, you know how this works. Also, there's a running clock in it, as well as one on the overworld.
Four of the six characters we will get have special actions they can use by pressing triangle outside of battle. Nina's is niche, but useful. She flies up into the air and hovers, letting you get a zoomed out look at your surroundings. While she can't do it anywhere with a ceiling (like most dungeons) it's often handy to get your bearings in big areas or for looking around for sneakily hidden items.
So here's the world map. Dotted paths appear to show you routes you can take, and a little compass shows you the area each direction will take you. This is very nice late in the game where it becomes a positive maze of possible routes. So, let's just head for the cliffs, then.
Whoops, looks like we're being interrupted. ! marks on the map generally mean "Story Here" and you can't move off of them once you hit them. We'll check this out next time.