|Long one here... Again.
BoF 3 versus 4 continued.
Spoilers - don't read without having played both games. Let's pro/con this thing. I'll try to be as objective as possible here.
Ryu versus Ryu/Fou Lu
BoF 3's Ryu is a character forced to grow up and realize his true nature at the same time and deal with his growing pains as well. In BoF 4, Ryu is forced to deal with the fact that he has two identities, and is only half a man/dragon. Neither game has a better character; both are highly conflicted characters, though I like Fou Lu a lot more in BoF 4 than either of them.
System: I prefer BoF 3's mutation system to BoF 4's for dragon transformations; it allowed a lot more experimentation. Beyond dragon abilities, they are essentially the same characters though. 1 point to BoF 3.
Nina versus Nina.
BoF 3's Nina grows up with the hero, and seems to have a more involved relationship with her family and Ryu. BoF 4's Nina is more of a hero though, trying to save her sister from the empire. 1 point to BoF 3. System: BoF 3's Nina is a defensive liability and her offensive magic is dwarfed severely by dragon transformation, beyond transfer she's practically useless. BoF 4's Nina is somewhat better defensively, and she adds healing spells to help with this. Her offensive spells also are more powerful with combo attacks. 1 point to BoF 4.
Rei versus Cray
Rei is definitely cooler. His ability to Were transform is pretty cool late in the game. His laid back style is definitely a lot cooler too, but totally conflicts with him later in the game. I still like Cray's big bat, and with ShadowWalk he can lay down some serious punishment in BoF 4. It's kind of odd that Cray has such a strong relationship with Nina and her sister Elina. He was forced to do a horrible, but honorable deed late in the game because of his love for both of them. BoF 3, 2 points.
Onion boy versus Ershin/Deis
Well, let's just say both are counter freaks, they love doing it. But onion boy really lacks power on all levels. He also has less personality than most characters; even Honey in BoF 3 has more. Ershin once Deis is revealed to be the true power behind it becomes such a force with its power spells and powerful damage. I also like Ershin's personality and Deis is cool in the dream world. It's also hard to dislike having Living Armor as a character. Plus Ershin's sound effects are cool. 2 points to BoF 4.
Garr versus Scias.
If I remember correctly, Garr was a Guardian whose destiny it was to kill all dragons for their God. In other words, he was supposed to kill Ryu, but instead stops and begins to question his beliefs after traveling with them and decides to meet his god to understand why he must kill Ryu. Scias joins the party as a warden/spy and grows to enjoy traveling with the party as they struggle to save Cray on trial for trying to save Elina. Scias repels his mercenary nature and joins them in their struggle, throwing his money at his former employer and pledging to help Ryu in his quest. Both are two characters trying to rebel against their own dark side to help Ryu. No advantage either way.
Garr has a Pyrokinesis power. And some heavy attack power but misses almost as much as Momo. Scias is packing a lot of power. He has both healing and offensive ice spells and a cool samurai sword attack special. 1 point to BoF 4.
Momo versus Ursula
Momo is the best thing out of BoF 3; she has the same goofball perspective as Ershin. She also has onion boy and Honey following her around. Ursula joins the party for the same type of reason as Garr/Scias, seeing the brutality of the empire, but unable to shirk her duty she helps them get to the capital to turn them into her commander, her father. After this is done, she helps Ryu in order to save the empire's people at the request of her father. Ursula has more motivation to help Ryu, but Momo is so much more entertaining. 1 point to BoF 3.
Momo has a crappy hit rate and some good healing magic. Ursula has a good hit rate, mass attack weapons, and some good offensive magic. No advantage, as Momo is one of BoF 3's best characters.
Plot: BoF 3 had a strange plot with a master goddess trying to wipe out the dragons as the last force that could stop her grand design for the world. In BoF 4, the dragons were summoned from another plane by humans to try and shape the world with their great powers, then forced to observe the changes brought about by their involvement. Whether a goddess or a dragon, or other Weremonsters, the worlds of BoF previously are never shaped by humans but forces outside their control. In BoF 4, the humans use the dragons instead of the dragons using them. I personally like BoF 4's plot better, as humans dealing with forces they don't
understand and are insanely powerful and can have disastrous consequences has a real life correlation (Nuclear arms/plants). 1 point for BoF 4.
Skill System: 1 point to BoF 4. The ease of getting skill inks is a major factor. But also under consideration are battle skills, where you can now see what skills your enemy may possess, then guard and get them, rather than standing and examine for all eternity. The guarding increases defense too. Plus the success rate is greater in BoF 4. Getting skills from masters is much easier is BoF 4, see below why.
Master System: BoF 4 1 point. BoF 3's master system was horrible. You had to level up ten times under a master sometimes to get their best powers, forcing you to have characters greatly changed by that process, as the master's strengths and weaknesses become the same as your character. In BoF 4 you get special conditions that don't require you to be under most masters, except Momo (Which is ok, since Drowsy is sometimes helpful and HP +8 is an advantage without disadvantages). Getting special conditions like
increased combo damage, multiple combo hits, multiple items, and etc. was very fun. Unlike BoF 3, I was able to get almost every master's abilities, except the merchant, since I missed a treasure at some point. Being able to switch masters at camp rather than traveling all over the place is a major advantage for evening out your characters in BoF 4, or addressing specific needs like HP or AP.
Fishing mini-game. I really disliked BoF 3 forcing me to fish to get AP to fuel Ryu's transformations, until I could steal Wisdom Seeds near the infamous desert at the game's end. However, BoF 3's fishing mini-game is a lot easier than BoF 4's complicated mess. Getting rare fish in BoF 4 is practically impossible without some serious time investment. BoF 3 1 point
Hunting mini-game: I always liked hunting over fishing. It brings a little Oregon Trail to BoF. Since BoF 4 has it, 1 point to BoF 4.
Faerie village mini-game: The faerie village can be reached from camp in BoF 4, not just in flower fields like in BoF 3. The amount of functions the faerie village has in BoF 4 is increased, plus the amount of control you have over the town is vastly improved. Plus more personalities made for more shopping selections, and more cool rare items. 1 point to BoF4.
Shift: BoF 4, 1 point. Great idea.
Plot mini-games: -1 point for BoF 4. Super annoying.
Battle system: BoF 4 1 point. BoF 3's only really cool features were Dragon mutations and gene slicing and Rei's uncontrollable Were transformations. Unfortunately, BoF 3 puts it's healing on Momo and Ryu. If Ryu is a dragon, you have lost your best healing character. This also pretty much makes Momo a requirement in party unless you have a lot of healing items. In BoF 4, Nina and Scias heal, so Ryu can Dragon change and you lose nothing in healing capacity. BoF 4 also has a great tactical battle system where all characters can be involved, which is pretty rare (Dragon Warrior IV Chapter V has this, as well as FFVI's end battle). This also allows you to rest and heal wounded characters in the back row and continue your attack, or you can heal them back there with front row characters. It allows for a lot of options. The combo system is a huge plus, as non-dragon characters can deal some massive damage by combos, meaning that Ryu can be a non-dragon and you can still win against bosses, even Fou-Lu. Which
means you win as a team in BoF 4 not as one man (Ryu) mauling the enemy. I prefer to win as a team. It's also why I like BoF 4 over BoF 3.
Graphics: I like BoF 4's more pure anime style personally, but overall the games where not really different in graphical quality. No advantage.
Sound: BoF 4 has better sound. There are many more tracks, especially cooler eastern themed ones. 1 point to BoF 4.
Play Control: BoF 3 is a lot simpler on many levels, and although I like a lot of the special features of BoF 4, its menus area bit more complicated. 1 point to BoF 3.
Opening: BoF 4 had an annoying Japanese voiced opening scene with no subtitles. BoF 3 1 point for its cool depiction of past BoF games in the intro.
Ending: BoF 3 and BoF 4 leave a lot open and to the imagination. No advantage.
Total: BoF 4: 11 points BoF 3: 8 points
BoF 4 is better because of its vast systemic improvements over BoF 3. However, I must agree despite my strong liking of Ershin/Deis and Fou Lu, BoF 3 has somewhat better characters in Rei and Momo (Momo is a lot better because of Honey and Onion Boy though, a character who isn't much on his own, but complements Momo well). BoF 3 won characters 5 to 4 too. And you are right about Nina and Cray in BoF 4, they needed some more work on those characters especially their relationship, and why they continue
on after Elina's ‘salvation' (Capcom's dragon path excuse is really lame in BoF 4). Ursula is a fairly interesting character in BoF 4 too though; she has a lot of motivation to help Ryu to save her empire. Scias has very little reason to be there, but a dog samurai/mercenary is pretty cool. And Garr should have just destroyed Ryu so many times.
About the Grass Plains versus Desert. The Grass Plains are so much less annoying. The compass in conjunction with better directions in town, plus the rock landmarks, and birds, make it a ton easier to navigate. Plus, once you reached a place it was easy to get to via the short map. The Desert is a nightmare, with no landmarks except the moon. The directions were pretty bad too. I also think the desert encounter rate was a lot higher as well. The overall boredom was unbelievable.
Finally, everyone has a right to his or her own opinion. And no one's opinion is ever a fact.
Steven ?The Old School' Gamer.