Title: Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter
Developer: Capcom Entertainment
Publisher: Capcom Entertainment
Date Published: February 18, 2003
Platforms: Playstation 2
ESRB Rating: Teen

So. I think it's worth mentioning that this game made me claustrophobic if I played it for too long. Although, that's not really a complaint. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, read on.

First of all, the entire game takes place underground. This game is suprisingly different then the other BoF games, and the underground thing is just the start of it. There are no random encounters, and monsters don't respawn (with a few exceptions for the undead). You can restart the game whenever you want and keep most of your stuff, and then there's the whole matter of the SOL system. The basic idea of the SOL system is that you don't get to see most of the plot the first time through the game. If you see a certain plot scene, it then unlocks a previous scene that you missed, that is now viewable next time you restart.

Also worth mentioning is the battle system, and it's subsections. Whenever you 'touch' a monster, a battle starts. If the monster runs into you, they get an extra turn at the beginning of the battle. If you attacked them first, the character you attacked with gets an extra turn. Also, considering most of the creatures you encounter will rush towards you whenever they notice you, there are also ways of distracting them. You get traps. Fresh meat attracts most monsters to it, and they will then ignore you, and chow down. Rotten meat repels most monsters, occasionally herding them into corners. The actual traps you get are usually bombs of some sort, with a few food-related exceptions. The rather silly name for that is PETS, standing for Positive Encounter and Tactics System.

Once you actually start a battle, it is turn-based and slightly reminiscent of Xenogears. There are three levels of attacks: 10AP, 20AP, and 30AP. You can fit a maximum of nine abilities on a weapon, but most only have certain slots available. Your characters have AP, and they use that to move (within their max move radius) and attack (with whatever abilities they have equipped on their weapon). If your AP gets to exactly zero, your turn automatically ends. You can combo attacks, as well, and with each new ability used in a combo, the damage goes up by 10%.

And then, of course, the Dragon Transformation. You only have one transformation this time, but it is all you'll ever need. If you use it correctly, you can kill the final boss with it in four or five commands (only two of which are attacks). However, such power does not come without a price, and the price in this case is a small counter in the corner of the screen. It starts at 000.00%, but after you use the powers for the first time (in a scenario fight) it could be anywhere from 1% to 10%. When this counter (D-counter) gets to 100%, you die. Also, it can never go down. Every twenty-some steps, it goes up by .01%. Also, at the end of every battle round it also goes up .01%. Using dragon skills makes it go up much faster. Simply turning into dragon form raises your D-counter by 1%. Using the dragon attacks raises the D-counter by 1%, 1.25%, or 1.50%, as well as using up the normal amount of AP. Also, there are two more Dragon moves that do not use AP. D-Charge increases your D-Counter by 2% and boosts your attack power an incredible amount (it is also cumulative), while D-Breath is a constant stream on damage that makes the D-counter scroll up for as long as you have the O button pressed. Some of the challenge of the game is trying to avoid getting the D-counter up too high, while still attempting to not die and be powerful enough to best the next big boss.

And on top of all that other stuff, there is your D-ratio, which is a ranking of Ryu's 'latent abilities'. Ryu starts with a D-ratio of 1/8192, the lowest ever mentioned in the game. Every time you beat the game, your D-ratio is recaclulated based on a number of things (average level, map completion, treasure chests opened, etc). With a higher D-ratio Ryu can then open up certain doors that were locked before. It seems that the highest D-ratio door is locked with a ratio of 1/256, I have no clue what the use of getting up to 1/4 is.

You get four characters to play with:
Ryu: Ranger grunt, main character. Personal action: D-Dash (avoids fights) Special command: D-Dive (dragon transformation)
Bosch: Ranger grunt. Personal action: None Special command: None
Nina: Creepy little girl. Personal action: Item Vacuum (pulls in items) Special command: Remove Magic Circle
Lin: Trinity member. Personal action:Charge Shot (pushes enemies away) Special command: Profile (enemy information)

Sources: the game, the game's manual