Breath of Fire IV is a JRPG set in a world based on European and Japanese Folklore designed by Tatsuya Yoshikawa. The world is divided by two main factions: the Western Fou Empire and the Eastern Kingdoms. The first is modeled on Eastern Asia and feudal China, and the second on Arabia and Medieval Europe. At the start of the game the two factions are in uneasy peace after years of War, but this is under threat thanks to Military personnel on both sides.
The world is filled with many different kinds of races and humans, all drawn in a detailed anime sprite style. Many of the races are based on real world animals but with human traits.
The game is mainly viewed from an isometric view very similar to Breath of Fire III the player is able to rotate the camera around any area 360 degrees. But is unable to tilt a feature that was in Breath of Fire III. Battles take place in the area the player is exploring, there is no separate battle area in which the characters fight.
Players help Ryu (and in some cases Fou-lu, see below) explore the gameworld, using various methods, to discover their destiny.
In Breath of Fire IV the battles take place in an approximation of the area the player is exploring (much like in the previous title Breath of Fire III), teams of up to three characters fight enemies in a turn based style attacking with magic and physical means to reduce their HP to zero. However the 'back row' contains all the other characters and in place of another action the player can 'swap-out' characters much like in a tag team match; whilst characters are in the back row they regain health and magic power.
A combo system, new to the franchise, enables the player to combine spells and actions from different characters to create a more powerful attack. For example if two players cast lighting on an enemy the their spells are combined to create a more powerful electric attack; combining different kinds of spells an also wield devastating results. Some single attacks, having multiple effects can have the same effect as a combo.
Breath of Fire IV's story starts as Nina is in search of her older sister, Elina, who went missing on a diplomatic mission. As Nina searches towns along the 'great desert' with Cray in tow she happens upon a crater scarred in the ground where an abnormal object has fallen. Investigating more she is confronted by a large Dragon whom transforms into Ryu before her very eyes. Naked. Ryu, remembering nothing of his origins is persuaded to join Nina in her search for her sister.
And so the story begins, and it unfolds the focus is drawn more to Ryu and Fou-lu as the player switches between control of both characters at completely different sides of the world. The struggle between these two characters and there drives are at end and this element creates a compelling and interesting storyline.
The player mainly plays as Ryu. Ryu at the start of the game is found naked and with no memory of who is is or where he came from. This is a staple in the Breath of Fire series most of the titles have a similar beginning. Ryu discovers quickly he has the power to transform into Dragons gaining different forms as the game progresses.
The player also takes control of the antagonist, Fou-lu at certain points in the game. Fou-lo is the founder of the ' Western Fou Empire', which he founded centuries ago. Fou-lo is referred to as the God-Emperor, because he seems never to die, and seeks to take over the world and rule it as a god. However he needs Ryu to attain this goal.
Note: Both Ryu and Fou-lu are actually of the same creation. Originally one being summoned from the realm of gods, they were split in a incantation ceremony when it went wrong; cast across the world and misplaced in time.
Nina, a white winged human, is the Heroin of Breath of Fire IV and joins Ryu early in the game, sharing her name and subtle likeness with the Heroines of the previous Breath of Fire games; she is a great magic user and is princess to the .
Cray joins Ryu in his quest and is a member of a cat like race of the Woren tribe. He is of heavy build and carries a large wooden post concentrating on physical attacks and skills. A subplot involves Cray's affection for Nina's sister: Elina.
Ershin is another of Ryu's supporting cast and is encased in a mechanical suit of protective armor. She always talks in the third person, her attacks are very explosive.
Scias, another of Ryu's potential party members, is a wiry merc with a proficiency for swords. Harkening from a dog-like called the Grassrunner Clan, he lives for money.
Ursula is the granddaughter of a great military commander. Kitsune (fox like) in appearance she is a shadowy character with a great proficiency for guns and speed.
Dragons, like in the previous Breath of Fire games, are heavily tied to the story. In Breath of Fire IV the world is watched over by 'the Endless' immortal gods in the form of Dragons, whom control the elements and watch over the people. The plot is heavily tied to these beings and as their interactions with the people and the player.
Appearances in Other Games
Ryu and Nina appeared in SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters 2 'Expansion Edition', as cameo guest characters.
Dragon forms and transformations
Both Ryu and Fou-Lu can transform into dragons, for a limited time, in battle, dependent on how much MP they have left. Multiple forms are unlocked as the game progresses, at varying levels of strength and cost.
Breath of Fire IV treats dragon forms slightly differently than Breath of Fire III, moving away from the dragon 'Gene' system, Breath of Fire IV instead has an 'upgrade' system. As Ryu (and Fou-lu as their dragon forms are connected) gain experience they also gain 'game points' and at certain increments the player can ask to 'upgrade' a dragon form to a superior state, this change is permanent. Certain forms do not upgrade, however these forms are already quite powerful.
Another difference from the last game is how the dragon form is displayed and how it's actions are performed on screen. Turning into a dragon form causes Ryu (or Fou-lu) to become a Human/Dragon hybrid, with wings and horns and different colored skin. This form (depending on the form and if the player is currently Ryu or Fou-lu) can cast all the spells and actions that the un-transformed version can with certain additions. One of these additions is breath attacks. Breath attacks cause a full transformation and a summon animation (much like summons in Final Fantasy VII) these attacks cost no 'AP' and can be cast every turn until the either the battle is over or the form reverts.
In order to keep some sort of balance, dragon forms cost AP to envoke and maintain. For example Ryu's first dragon form 'Aura' costs 1AP per level of the player, so at level 10 it would cost 10AP to transform and would cost 2AP per turn (1/4 of the transformation cost rounded down - this is the same for all forms).
Here is a list of Dragon forms and their upgrades:
- Aura - Upgrade: None
- Wyvern - Upgrade: Weyr
- Behemoth - Upgrade: Mammoth
- Myrmidon - Upgrade: Knight
- Mutant - Upgrade: Punk
- Kaiser - Upgrade: None
- Astral Dragon - Upgrade: None
- Serpent - Upgrade: Peist
- Behemoth - Upgrade: Mammoth
- Tyrant - Upgrade: None
- Infini - Upgrade: None
Development and translation
Breath of Fire IV was developed by Capcom's Production studio 3 immediately following work on Breath of Fire III. The scenario and overall story arch were written and developed by Makoto Ikehara, who took the game in a 'new direction' leaving the story arch of the previous three games. An extended ending involving the death of 'Yuna' was cut from the final version due to lack of development time.
Cameo appearances of Breath of Fire III character include: Momo, Rei and Teepo. As well as a variety of enemies from previous titles.
The English translation was a rushed, the North American version was localized in seven months to coincide with a holiday release in 2000, this left small portions of the game un-translated: mainly the title graphic and end credit sequence. This was fixed in the European release.
The skill 'Analyze' which allowed Scias to get detail information and stats on enemies during battle was removed completely to avoid translating the large amounts of text.
Some of the spells and names were changed from English to Korean text for visual effect.
In the North American and European versions of Breath of Fire IV some text was lightly altered to remove mild profanity, and a small handful of suggestive images and content were toned down or removed:
- During a scene in which Fou-lu kills the Emperor Soniel, death by decapitation is shown in a lightly censored manner in the Japanese version. In the European and American editions this censored decapitation is removed entirely during the death sequence.
- Three minor scenes which contained hints of female nudity or sexual harassment (an optional "peeping tom" sequence where Nina and Ursula are bathing, Ursula removing her pants to prove she is female to sailors, Ryu "accidentally" groping Ursula) were removed entirely in the North American and European versions.
- In the Japanese version Scais has a drinking problem and his dialogue and speech patterns are slurred. However in the North American and European versions his drunken slurring was translated as a habitual stutter.
Both an Art book and a soundtrack CD were given limited release (both released in August 2000). Mostly available in . With a very limited release as import in English speaking countries.
A novelization of the Breath of Fire IV story was released in 2000 and was written by Yayoi Jourmon
01 - Breath of Fire IV ~ Opening Animation ~
02 - Endings and Beginnings ~ Main Theme ~
03 - Run Straight
04 - The World Beneath Your Feet
05 - It's an Easy Win
06 - 2000 Treasure if You Win
07 - Relessed (Relaxed & Stressed)
08 - Endings and Beginnings
09 - NONONO
10 - Airily
11 - First Emperor
12 - Men of War
13 - Take the Winnings and Run
14 - A Warring God
15 - Tiny Village in the Desert
16 - Gotta Turn it Around, Gotta Turn Around
17 - Under Pressure
18 - Bastard Sword
19 - Working Today, Too
20 - Out of His Mind
21 - Unbearable Atmosphere
22 - Truth and Dreams
23 - Watch Your Step!
24 - Darkness
25 - ...Yet the Merchants Will Go
26 - ~ A Man ~
27 - Sound of a Little Zenny
28 - Brave Heart
29 - Dying Wish
30 - Maybe I'll Even Buy a Sheep
31 - Freefall
32 - How Long Will the Rain Last?
33 - Whirlpools Inside (The Frog's Song)
34 - Flutter (Butterfly)
35 - Shima-shima at Your Back (Buzz Buzz Buzz)
36 - Unfading Ones
01 - Song of the Plains
02 - Echo
03 - Thousand Wings
04 - The Sacred Ground Far Away
05 - Tototon Toton To
06 - What the Samba?
07 - Get the Fish!
08 - I Caught a Big One!
09 - Landscape
10 - Like the Sun, Like the Moon
11 - I'm a Faerie!
12 - Game Over
13 - Prayer
14 - Even Towards Death, Valiantly
15 - Curse
16 - Turismo
17 - Replay
18 - Seagull Flies
19 - Go By Ship!
20 - Pabu-pabu Puka-puka
21 - Pavane for a Dead Princess
22 - Destruction
23 - A God's Beast
24 - A Raging Emperor's Banquet
25 - Dragon's Blood
Music for the Ending
26 - I. A Wing From the Sky
27 - II. Relessed
28 - III. Endings and Beginnings
29 - A Raging Emperor's Banquet ~ Remix ~
30 - Pabu-pabu Puka-puka Song
31 - A Little After the Dream