The fourth game in the long-running JRPG series Breath of Fire, released on the Playstation in April 2000 in Japan and November 2000 for North America. It's a well-done fan favourite despite its very by-the-booknature due to the fact that the next entry in the series is a noted base breaker and a very non-traditional JRPG.Nina, princess of Wyndia, departs with her childhood friend Cray to search for her lost sister Elina, who's also Cray's fiance. Along the way, they stumble upon Ryu, who doesn't remember a thing besides his name: not who he is, or why he's stranded and stark naked in the middle of the desert.Running parallel to Ryu's story is that of Fou-lu, an ancientemperor who awakens in his burial tomb halfway across the world in the Fou Empire to reclaim the throne that he left behind 600 years ago. Unfortunately for him, those involved no longer want to give the power up to anyone, not even to an ancient god-emperor and founder of the empire.As the story progresses and our heroes travel all over the world, it becomes clear that Ryu and Fou-lu's destinies are intricately entwined and key to Ryu's memories.There exists a character sheet for the series. Place any character-related tropes there.Re-released as "PSOne Classic" in August 2011.
Adaptation Dye-Job: The Grand Finale in the manga, when Ryu fuses with Fou-Lu, but like in the game's Good Ending he is the dominant persona; Nina remarks that his hair is now the same (color) as Fou-Lu's white, while in the game he became blond.
Alas, Poor Villain: Assuming Fou-lu in IV is considered a villain (as opposed to Yuna), he'd qualify in the "good ending". He recognizes he was blind to the importance of humanity, and Ryu realizes all Fou-lu wanted was to separate mortals from the gods, and always felt guilt for Mami's death. Of course, the manga subverts this in its Third Option Adaptation.
All There in the Manual: This is pretty extensive; huge amounts of backgrounder info only appear in the artbook.note The bits not yet incorporated into other media involve who summoned Fou-lu, clan origins, and the fact there have been literally four World Wars with no permanent armistice.
Bag of Sharing: At one point the player gets to control Ershin alone, and she gets the whole inventory even though the rest of the part is out adventuring (and has access to it the moment the player retakes control of it).
Averted with Fou-Lu's segments, where he has his own inventory. Which makes things a bit harder, since he can't buy anything and healing items are incredibly rare in his areas.
Bowdlerized: One of the most infamous cases (if not the most infamous) in the series. The largely unnecessary changes include:
Several scenes were completely removed from the North American version: one where Ursula drops her pants to prove she's a woman, a scene in which Fou-lu decapitates Soniel—which itself was only shown in Japan via a Gory Discretion Shot/black-on-red Shadow Discretion Shot, a filler scene where Ryu spies on the girls while they bathe, and and another where he accidentally grabs Ursula's breast.
Scias is a literal Drunken Master in the original Japanese game, changed to a severe stuttering problem in the English localization.
Fou-lu's Serpent dragon form from "Hellblizzard" (Japanese) to "Waterspout" (international). Explicitly bowdlerized because of the use of the word "hell". In fact, practically every spell, weapon or ability with the words "Death" or "Hell" or making reference to demon names was changed in the international localization.
The massive incidents of bowdlerization in the international version of IV are particularly puzzling (regarding Scias and the Aborted Arc Via Censorship), considering the game was released for a platform specifically known for being friendly to controversial games.note At the time IV was released on the Playstation, there had already been a number of considerably more violent and bloody (and controversial) games that saw print; also, Sony was explicitly promoting itself to developers that, unlike Nintendo, it did not have restrictive "morality rules" on content Worse yet, no other games have similarly been censored (save for Cupid's sex change); most infamously, II got away with practically everything that was censored in IV. In other words, there really is no logical reason why it went through a Nintendo-esque hack job (not even fear of an "M" rating from ratings boards).
Rei and Teepo (also from III) appear as storeowners.
Can't Drop the Hero: Subverted. While Ryu does have to remain in your party while moving around outside of battle, you're not required to use him in battle once you've got more than 3 characters in your party.
Cast from Hit Points: The "Blitz" skill consumes 25% of the user's current HP to inflict damage. The "Disembowel" and "Deathbringer" skills cost 10% of the user's maximum HP, even when they fail to work. (Maximum HP can be restored, but only at a genuineTrauma Inn; resting at camp won't do.)
Chain of Deals: Various characters will exchange "Ball" items (Lead Ball, Copper Ball, etc.) throughout the game. This becomes useful when apprenticing under Marlok, who rewards the player with new skills depending on which ball the player has acquired.
Completely Different Title: the manga adaptation is officially called Utsurowazarumono - Breath of Fire IV in Japan, while the source material is present as a subtitle in the proper official name, many references and print information that the publisher makes to referece the manga only uses Utsurowazarumono, so is not unheard of some people not knowing that the manga known as Utsurowazarumono is the fourth Breath of Fire game's official adaptation.
Per Word Of Capcom the PabPab language is largely comprised of combinations of English prefixes and Japanese suffixes—thus counting as a potential Bilingual Bonus for speakers of both English and Japanese.
Conspicuous CG: Most enemies are sprite-based, but some of the bosses use 3D models.
A straight (if mild) example earlier with Fou-lu and Mami in the same game, a bit more explicitly in the manga. Fou-lu tells of his past and starts to go into a rant on how meeting the wishes of mortals is impossible—and Mami tells him she's clueless about this but can't stand to see him sad. Cue Cool Down Hug and Fade to Black in the game, Cool Down Hug and scene change in the manga.
Curb-Stomp Battle: One mid-game boss, "Ight", feels like a Hopeless Boss Fight, unleasing powerful attacks that can wipe the floor with you in a single turn. But the moment Ryu is knocked out, he instead transforms into the Kaiser dragon, and kills the boss in two turns flat. In other words, both sides took a curb-stomping in the same fight.
Any monster that comes up against Fou-Lu in a random battle will most likely experience this. Even giant dinosaurs are a very minor inconvenience.
Literally all of the NPC dragons with the exception of Deis also suffer this (in an unusual variation in which the Dub Name Change consisted of changing their names to Koreanisations of what type of dragon they were).
Evil Weapon: The Hex Cannon/Carronade. Even as it annihilates the souls of the unfortunate persons used as ammo (who are, of note, literally tortured to insanity first) and corrupts the targeted land and persons, it empowers and simultaneously corrupts those who use it. It's also a literal Fantastic Nuke.
Exposition Cut: Pretty much constant in the first section. Nina explains the situation established in the opening cutscene to Ryu when they seek shelter in a cave for the night using this trope, then they explain things in the same way to Cray when they return to the crash site, then they explain things to the Woren elders when Cray is arrested.
Fantastic Nuke: The Empire's Hex Cannon, or Carronade. It is explicitly powered by a "sacrifice", using all the nightmares, terrors, and fears of a person tortured to insanity as ammunition.
The city of Synesta is said to be (mostly) purified of the magical radiation by the time the game begins, being seen as a rebuilt town with only a few monsters still lurking underground.
The town of Chamba was not so lucky; a team of Purifiers (who must wear full suits of magical armor to protect them from its effects) estimate that the majority of the town will remain utterly uninhabitable for "at least a year". In other words, the player never gets to see Chamba in its proper glory.
And then there's General Yohm's order to use the Carronade against Fou-Lu himself: The revelation that they used Mami to power it was The Last Straw that pushed Fou-Lu over the edge.
Fight Woosh: Normally a blue circular swirl, but also color-coded to indicate when one side gets a free turn at the start of battle.
Flying Sea Food Special: Skulfish, the first boss in the game. Flying...Flyfish are also seen above the clouds when the party visits the Wind Dragon.
Foreshadowing: In Wychwood, some faeries attempt to play tricks on the party, resulting in one faerie receiving a headbutt from Ershin. This surprises the fairies, who claim mortals shouldn't be able to see them. Ershin, we eventually learn, is indeed no mortal, but rather an Endless named Deis.
Forever War: The conflict between the Fou Empire and the Alliance in IV. The two continents have been in a Cold War that has lasted 600 years, punctuated by four world wars and the incipient threat of a fifth.
Unfortunately, due to the platform and carrier these were released for (Japanese smartphones using Qualcomm's BREW OS, and most of these being an exclusive to NTT's DoCoMo mobile phone network) these are, to a one, No Export for You and likely to remain so permanently.
Of note, Breath of Daifugo and Breath Of Fire: Dragon Fisherman were co-releases with a Street FighterGaiden Game (a Solitaire port) and the BREW-phone version of Mega Man 2 respectively, whilst the sidestory games were released at the same time as the Comic Book Adaptation; adverts within Comic Blade Avarus and the volumes published by Mag Garden included adverts for the Gaiden Games.
And this ended up Bowdlerised in the international version. This may well be only one of two known incidents with international adaptations where a violent scene Bowdlerised in the original via Shadow Discretion Shot was itselfBowdlerised out of existence in international adaptations. (The other incident involves dub adaptations of Yu-Gi-Oh for American children's television, and at least makes sense in that context.)
Subverted in Bloodier and Gorier fashion in the manga adaptation, apparently as a very deliberate Take That to aforementioned censorship. (In comparison, Elina's death scene was actually depicted less graphically in the manga.)
An enemy called Trunked regenerates 15,000 HP per turn, but is (quite fortunately) harmless, existing solely to practice combo attacks on. (Its higher-level counterpart, Trean, regenerates 30,000 HP per turn)
Hopeless Boss Fight: A grim variation. If you take Fou-lu's offer to merge with him, Ryu becomes absorbed and then the Infinity Dragon is summoned to battle the rest of your party. Only here, you're controlling the Infinity Dragon, leaving you with maxed stats and overpowered moves to waste your former allies with. After you're finished with them, the bad ending plays. Also subverted in that it's possible to let them defeat you via hacks, but that immediately leads to a standard Game Over, turning this whole thing into a lose-lose situation.
Hot-Blooded: The Woren tribe. Cray tries to suppress his urges, as his position as leader requires a cool head.
Interface Spoiler: Talking to your party in the camp can help give you some idea of what to do next. Doing so at one particular point, however, can spoil a major plot point: Ershin's usual way of ending her statements ("...says Ershin.") instead comes out "...says Deis.")Oops.
Iron Butt Monkey: Kahn is a good example. He is defeated multiple times by the party, shot off of the mast of a ship by Ursula, and his lack of fighting skill is pointed out by Una and Zig's crew. He recovers quickly from each defeat, though, and can even become a master to the party later in the game. Appropriately, his special ability gives his apprentices a chance to survive fatal blows in battle.
Karma Houdini: One of the game's most infamous aspects is that Yuna who was to blame for nearly everything bad that happened, apparently was never punished. There is a bit of background behind this, which can be read in the main entry.note The long and short of it being that the game was rushed out before the ending was fully completed and the comeuppance was never shown (but was planned). However, the manga wasn't under the same constraint, and yet it still played this trope straight...
The manga adaptation turns this Up to Eleven in a major borderline Stuffed into the Fridge moment. Including Mami's literal last words being "An-chan", a term roughly equivalent to "dear" which she uses as an affectionate term for Fou-lu, and the sound of her hair bells after the Carronade fires making it very obvious what happened...
Literal Split Personality: Ryu and Fou-lu thanks to a botched summoning by the Fou Empire's predecessor, and resulting in the god they called forth not only being split in two but the half that became Ryu being temporally displaced six hundred years in the future.
Low-Level Advantage: You'll get better stat bonuses from later Masters if you keep your levels down early in the game.
This is pretty much what the Hex Cannon relies on in order to inflict damage - the closer the sacrifice that was loaded into the cannon is to the intended victim, the greater the damage it causes.
Cray spends most of the game searching for Nina's sister and his love interest, only to kill her to end her misery as she's literally one with the building the Hex Cannon is in.
Magical Eye: Though not technically evil in this case, the Dragon Eyes are depicted as actual non-human, draconic eyes and the people who possess them are fated for either great good or great evil. Ryu is depicted as having Psychic Powers as a result.
Depicted much more blatantly in the Comic Book Adaptation of IVwhere the Dragon Eyes are explicitly depicted as Hellish Pupils; Fou-lu and Deis have them constantly, and Ryu gets them when his Dragon Eye activate. This even goes to the extent of Rhem having Hellish Pupils when she is "ridden"/possessed by Deis, as well as an Affectionate Parody in the "behind the cover" 4-koma comics included in the manga.
Maximum HP Reduction: If someone was downed in battle and still down at the end, they would be brought back with 1 hp and have their max health reduced. Also, both games contain a move called Disembowel which inflicts HP to One at the cost of reducing the user's maximum HP until the next time they rest at an inn.
Memento MacGuffin: Mami's bells she wore in her hair. In fact, the very incident that causes Fou-lu to Go Mad from the Revelation was seeing Mami's bells fall from the sky after he was at ground zero of a Hex Cannoning.
Mercy Kill: Elina pleads to Cray to end her miserable existence, and he has no choice bu to comply.
Metal Detector Puzzle: An early mini-game where you had to find buried parts to repair your sand-ship with. The mini-game could later be revisited to dig up various materials with which you could craft special pieces of armor for Ershin, and abusing this can lead to a Disc One Nuke for her.
Never Grew Up: The entire town of Chek, with the possible exception of the Abbess.
Nice Hat: Yuna, Soniel and Fou-lu, in a Projected Man when he first appears to Ryu. Depicted in the official artbook, and especially in the manga◊.
The cover for Volume V of the manga has fun with this in giving both Fou-lu and Ryu matching Nice Hats.
All this is a remarkable example of Shown Their Work.note As it turns out, the hats are rather similar to those worn by (in particular) Ming and Tang Dynasty Chinese court officials and Korean royal court officials.
No Koreans In Japan: One of the most blatant subversions for this trope in the English localisation; practically every name that appeared in kanji in the Japanese version were changed to Korean hanja readings or renamed to something in Korean (in some cases resulting in frank Dub Name Change of NPCs). Some of the internal mythology in the game is also a subversion of this.
No Romantic Resolution: The manga, for all its worth in giving Ryu an actual character and eventual development, it sevrely tones down the one thing that it was clear in him as a Heroic Mime: his interest on Nina as the game progressed. The Good Ending in the game made him come back after sending The Endless back to their world solely for his love for Nina, the manga however, doesn't touch upon this subject and Ryu comes back for frienship, in fact, Nina wasn't directly mentioned by him during the sequence.
Nominal Importance: Important characters to the plot are recognizable from their in-game portraits when you talk to them.
Peninsula of Power Leveling: Entering the Great Plains forces you to use only Ryu. In the Great Plains, there's a Temple where a lot of Nut enemies are found. Nut Enemies are weak, incredibly hard to hit, but are weak against Fire Spells. The Burn spell costs 1 AP and is capable of killing most of them with 1 shot. Since Ryu is by himself, he gains far more XP per battle than is possible for a very long time with a full party since XP is split by the number of people traveling with you normally. Sadly, only Ryu can be leveled this way.
Royal "We": Used by the Emperor Soniel of Hesperia, as appropiate. Also by Fou-Lu, though for him it's partially justified in that his soul is split in two, the other half being Ryu, so he's sort of two people at once.
Save the Princess: Deconstructed, rather harshly. When you finally find the princess, she's far beyond saving...
Shameful Shrinking: Some of the cast attempt to hijack a vehicle (long story). The merchant who owned it gave them a dressing down (before deciding to lend them the money to buy their own), causing the members of the party who did it to shrink.
Stone Wall: two types of enemies found at the Abandoned Village, the Trunked and the Trean, have a TON of HP and defenses and HP regeneration, but will not attack the party. The perfect punching bags for practicing Combos.
Title Drop: The manga's long Utsurowazarumono - Breath of Fire IV title, Utsurowazarumono can be translated as The Endless or The Unfading Ones, so anytime Ryu, Fou-Lu and the other Endless are mentioned in story it also doubles as this.
Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Princess Elina, who pretty much devoted her life to finding a way to end the war and promote peaceful coexistence between the continents, and consequently, was well loved by the people in the east. She was chosen by Yuna as a sacrifice because of this.
The Comic Book Adaptation actually manages to elevate Mami's bells to a frank Cradle of Loneliness. In chapter 19, Fou-lu is depicted cradling Mami's bells whilst giving a very feral smile; in chapter 25, Ryu even points out that Mami's bells have become Fou-lu's "most treasured possession", which begins the progression from the Bad Ending to the Good Ending.
Trapped in Another World: Occurs in spades and is arguably a major theme of the game with the Endless, who were summoned to this world against their will. The dragon gods have accepted their lot in life, the others are not that pleased.
Trauma Conga Line: Poor Fou-Lu... First, the Empire doesn't want him to reclaim his throne, so they send General Yohm to pursue and kill him. Repeatedly. A cute boar he befriends makes a sacrifice of itself to open an escape path for him, while the only person in the world he may have had any love for is taken prisoner by Imperial forces, then tortured and used as living ammunition for the Carronade, before Fou takes a direct hit from the Empire's magical superweapon. No wonder he wants to Kill 'em All.
Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Ryu gains the ability to transform into a dragon early on in the game, but it takes him seeing Captain Rasso massacre a village full of innocents (and forcing him to duel with a monster shortly afterwards) for him to unlock the more powerful transformation.
Fou-lu in Sonne, who is portrayed by Mami as her brain-injured cousin Ryong. No matter her cousin has horns in one of the few towns in the game not comprised of Petting Zoo People. The landlord is in fact the only one who mentions something amiss.
Played straight and subverting the prior occurence at the same time when Ryu returns to Sonne later in the game, where Ryu is greeted as if he were the missing "Ryong", despite the fact Ryu has blue hair and no horns and a definite lack of Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe. Either Sonne is a village full of psychic farmers, or they possess ridiculously strong facial recognition abilities (in the artwork Ryu and Fou-lu share the same face, but this is hard to see since they have vastly different expressions and features).
Unwanted Revival: Fou-lu. Though technically he never died (he's immortal), General Yohm explicitly states upon first meeting him that the Empire finds his resurrection "inconvenient" and that they'd rather him "rest a little longer" in his tomb.
Useless Useful Spell: Quite a few of them, not counting the ones that are literally useless to begin with (like "Distract" or "Feign Swing").