Breath of Fire IV

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One, two, three, four, five, s- hey! Where's our hero?

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-book nature 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 ancient emperor 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.


Tropes used in Breath of Fire IV include:


  • Adaptation Distillation: The manga adaptation, mainly because it averts the Heroic Mime trope. Arguable still, something is missing in IV when it doesn't go with the soundtracks.
  • 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, he became a White-Haired Pretty Boy, while in the game he became blond.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The manga adaptation of IV, again. Arguably a case of Adaptation Expansion resulting from a double-dose of Adaptation Distillation, in fact (from both the original Breath of Fire IV and Expanded Universe material from its official artbook).
  • All in a Row
  • All There in the Manual: This is pretty extensive; huge amounts of backgrounder info only appear in the artbook.[1]
  • Ancient Tomb: The Emperor's Tomb.
  • 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.
  • Battle Theme Music: Two, actually (for the Eastern and Western continents respectively).
  • Beautiful Dreamer
  • BFS: Myrmidon is big already, but his sword dwarfs him. And it grows even bigger when he attacks!
  • Big Bad: Fou-Lu, to the party. The man responsible for almost everything behind the scenes, including Elina's abduction, is actually Lord Yuna.
  • Big Damn Fire Exit: Fou-Lu's escape from the burning forest.
  • Big No: Cray, after seeing just what Yuna did to Elina.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Names rendered in kanji were renamed to their Korean hanja readings for international versions. The puns still stay intact. Also, both the original Japanese name Master and the Dub Name Change to Ershin count (in fact, the reason for the Dub Name Change was to preserve the Bilingual Bonus—in another language; the original Bilingual Bonus was in English).
  • Blood From the Mouth: In one of the few notably controversial scenes not censored, Fou-lu has Blood From the Mouth in an overt bloody Vomit Indiscretion Shot after his Hex Cannoning. It's implied this may be actually a bit of Fantastic Radiation Poisoning.
  • Body Horror: Elina reaches nightmarish levels. She is kidnapped, turned into an artificial endless by Yuna, and used as the engine for the Hex Cannon.
  • Bonus Boss: Angler, a mutated fish monster in North Chamba. It is far from the most difficult opponent (and reveals a new fishing spot upon its defeat).
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Rider.
  • 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.[2] 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).
  • Broken Bridge
  • Bubblegloop Swamp
  • The Cameo: Momo, Bunyan(which show up as masters), Rei and Teepo.
  • 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 genuine Trauma 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.
  • Comic Book Adaptation: Of note, the sole Breath of Fire-related Comic Book Adaptation ever licensed outside of Japan (in Cantonese and French, though not yet in English).
  • Combination Attack
  • 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.
  • Con Lang: The PabPab language in IV (which is also used as a Cypher Language in a sub-plot).
    • 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.
  • Convection, Schmonvection
  • Conspicuous CG: Most enemies are sprite-based, but some of the bosses use 3D models.
  • Cooldown Hug: Nina to Ryu during his Unstoppable Rage.
    • 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 Cooldown Hug and Fade to Black in the game, Cooldown Hug and scene change in the manga.
  • Crapsack World: No thanks to the Empire.
  • Cthulhumanoid: Bollor and its Palette Swap Rollob (or is it the other way around?) in Fane of the Sea God.
  • 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.
  • Dead Hat Shot: How Fou-lu discovered that Mami was the human ammo in the Carronade--specifically by seeing her hair-bells fall out of the sky shortly after he himself had been Hex Nuked. Quite possibly one of the most tragic Dead Hat Shot moments depicted, in fact, because it's also the point Fou-lu goes Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds and decides Humans Are the Real Monsters. And yes, the manga turns it up to a major Tear Jerker that involves Ryu as well.
  • Death Mountain: Mt. Giga.
  • Derelict Graveyard: Sandflier Valley.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Mami's death is the Despair Event Horizon that throws Fou-lu to being a full-blown Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds; the death of the Chek summoners is the Despair Event Horizon that throws Ryu into a Heroic BSOD that unleashes the Kaiser Dragon.
  • Down the Drain: The party infiltrates an Imperial base via aqueduct, which the Empire normally uses to keep the Carronade from overheating when fired.
  • Dragons Up the Yin-Yang: Dragons are the YinYang. Literally.
    • This is not counting the "Static Heaven" bagua in the final stage, nor is this counting designs in Fou-lu's clothing. Suffice it to say that IV is about as subtle as a brick with this trope.
  • Dramatic Wind: Various characters' battle sprites, including their victory animations.
  • Dream Land: Fairy Village resides here. Also the Deis' dream levels.
  • Dronejam
  • Dub Name Change: From Master to Ershin (to preserve a Bilingual Bonus).
    • 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).
  • Duel Boss: Nina vs. Joh early in the game.
    • Every boss fight which Fou-lu fights.
    • And the short battle between Ryu and Fou-Lu during the game's climax.
  • The Empire
  • Everything's Better with Chickens: There's a minigame where you have to chase chicken to their coop.
  • Everything's Better with Platypi: The Cap enemies which appear frequently in the early parts of the game.
  • Evil 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 IV where 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.
  • 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 final 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.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Flying Seafood 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.
  • Full Boar Action: Bilbao and its ilk.
  • Gaiden Game: Two separate sidestory games in IV's universe exist (Breath of Fire IV - The Sword of Flame & the Magic of Wind and Breath of Fire IV: Faeries Light Key) along with two other GaidenGames: a spinoff of the fishing game from IV (Breath of Fire: Dragon Fisherman) and a "Great Dalmuti"/"Millionaire"/"President"/"Asshole" game featuring characters from IV (Breath of Daifugo).
    • 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 Fighter Gaiden 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.
  • Game Breaker: As per tradition, the Kaiser is almost completely broken, what with an infinite supply of Wisdom Seeds.
  • Giant Enemy Crab
  • Gory Discretion Shot/Shadow Discretion Shot: The Japanese PSP's depiction of Fou-lu's decapitation of Soniel, specifically via a "washi screen" variant showing a black-on-red silhouette.
    • 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 itself Bowdlerised 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.)
  • Green Hill Zone: The areas around Ludia and Wyndia.
  • Gusty Glade: The caves beneath Wyndia.
  • Headless Horseman: There are two of them in this game. One's called "Horseman", the other's called "Rider."
  • Healing Factor
    • 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)
    • The Rider 20,000 HP per turn. It is the most powerful enemy in the game.
    • The Dragonne boss cannot be killed until it stops regenerating its HP.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords
  • Heroic Mime
    • Heavily averted in the manga and novelisation for purposes of character development.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Fairy Village.
  • Hot-Blooded: The Woren tribe. Cray tries to suppress his urges, as his position as leader requires a cool head.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Fou-lu's main motivation.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence
  • 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.
  • Interspecies Romance
  • 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.
  • I Ate What??: The frog prince's sidequest has you collecting bugs for him to cook, and then eating the resultant dishes. Then Ryu starts to think about what was in them....
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: Pung' tap.
  • Item Crafting: The Blacksmith on Mt. Glom can make special armors if you bring him the materials needed to make it.
  • It's Quiet... Too Quiet
  • Jungle Japes: The jungle around the Pabpab village.
  • 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.
  • Keep It Foreign: The Dub Name Change of Master to Ershin.[3]
  • Kill the Cutie: Mami. Even worse, she is captured, broken by Cold-Blooded Torture, and ultimately killed by being used as Human Resources in a Fantastic Nuke that is Powered by a Forsaken Child (with connections to the target).
    • 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...
  • King in the Mountain: Subverted to the point of deconstruction. In essence, Fou-lu would have been the Fou Empire's prototypical King in the Mountain if The Empire had kept up its end of the bargain. Instead, Fou-lu's entire storyline in the game can be best described as "What Happens When A Country's Government Sees The Return Of Its King in the Mountain As An Unwanted Revival". It goes poorly for all involved.
  • Lazy Backup: You'll get Game Over when your main fighters die, even if you're extra three party members are behind you doing nothing.
  • Leaked Experience: It is actually split evenly between the characters after the battle.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Mt. Glom.
  • 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.
  • Love Hurts: 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The Wind Dragon which is combination of a dragon, an elephant and a whale.
    • Pretty much all the NPC dragons/Endless fall into this category; justified in that each dragon is the Physical God of a specific element or force.
  • My Greatest Failure:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Novelization
  • Now Where Was I Going Again?: Your party members will remind you where to go when you talk to them in a camp.
  • One Steve Limit: Deis specifically asks Ershin to call her by her real name, instead of calling her "Ershin".
  • Owl Be Damned: Khafu and Kamyu, two of Yohm's summonable monsters.
  • Palmtree Panic: Tidal Flats.
  • Physical God: Fou-Lu, the other dragons, and Ryu.
  • Port Town: Shikk.
  • Power Copying
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: Scias if his health gets dropped to critical and he actives his Glass Cannon mode.

Scias: You will feel my blade...

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. The original name was too much of a spoiler in English, so the character was renamed Ershin--Chinese for "Two Souls"--to preserve the Prophetic Name.
  4. 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.