Click here to see the animation the game opens with.
Ahh, Breath of Fire IV. Quite possibly one of my favorite games, it was an RPG that came out at the end of the PS1's life cycle - three months before the PS2 was released in Japan, and several months after it in the USA. The localization for the US/PAL regions was rushed, both because they wanted to release the game before the holiday season (like KotOR 2 several years later), and because Capcom was in serious danger of going bankrupt at the time. For a seven month job, it's pretty damn impressive, but there's still a few rough spots, and some bizarre choices when it comes to censorship.
The game is not as obscure as many others, but it's overlooked more than it should be. It's an incredibly solid jRPG with a surprisingly good story, a sense of humor backed by crushingly depressing story elements, and some amazing stylistic direction. While the English versions sort of had some of the subtleties of the story stripped out due to the hectic release schedule, an artbook was released in Japan shortly after the game came out with quite a bit of extra information about the setting and plot to cover what the development cycle had to cut. Sadly, there's never been an official English translation or release, and I've never found a fan translation of it, so I'm going off of second-hand information about what it says. However, the art itself is damned pretty.
In addition, Capcom made the odd choice of creating a manga adaptation of the story called Utsuruwazarumono [The Endless], which distills the game's storyline into five volumes starting in 2007 and ending fairly recently. From what I can find, fan translations are most of the way through the story, and what I've read is surprisingly good. It incorporates bits and pieces from the artbook's setting explanations, and actually lets the protagonist, Ryu, talk. That one little detail makes it an interesting read. It also has a few nods to the English version of the game's...differences.
Unlike The Making of a Prophet, this game is actually fun to play. However, it's also long and complicated. The game will be mostly in screenshot format, with videos for boss battles, a few cutscenes, and other assorted stuff I think should be in video format, whether to show off motion, music, or whatever.
Table of Contents
- Chapter I: I Hate Sand.
- Chapter II: Ha Ha! Dangly Parts.
- Chapter III: Cliff Diving And Something Completely Different
- Chapter IV: Fetcheth Ye Olde Thesauruse
- Chapter V: Fishing For Answers
- Chapter VI: Sandflier Graveyards and Imperial Fruitcakes
- Chapter VII: The Chamba Mambo
- Chapter VIII: Hex Ed
- Chapter IX: Dream On, Dream On
- Chapter X: Dam-nation
- Chapter XI: It's A Trap! Guest Starring THAT FUCKING PARROT
- Chapter XII: I Fucking Love Apples
- Chapter XIII: Kids Are Assholes
- Chapter XIV: The Magnificent Marlok
- Chapter XV: The Empire Strikes Back
- Chapter XVI: In Retrospect, This Plan Was Pretty Terrible
- Chapter XVII: Ershin Is Still Pretty Awesome
- Chapter XVIII: Worent You Glad I Didn't Say Bana
- Chapter XIX: Actions Have Consequences!?
- Chapter XX: A Quest Of Fetching
- Chapter XXI: Jailbreak
- Chapter XXII: Faeries, Continuity, And Royalty
- Chapter XXIII: Huntin' n' Fishin' with Bubba-Ryu
- Chapter XXIV: A Meeting With A God
- Chapter XXV: The Update Everyone Who Has Played This Game Has Been Waiting For
- Chapter XXVI: Sweet Dreams Are Made Of Strippers
- Chapter XXVII: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Plot Bombs
- Chapter XXVIII: An Endless Parade Of Groin Punching
- Fucking Buddhists, How Do They Work?: A Look Into The Metric Ton Of Symbolism In Breath Of Fire IV
- Chapter XXIX: This Game Hates Everything You Hold Dear
- Chapter XXX: I Sure Hope You Like Rooting For The Villain
- Chapter XXXI: The Gang's All Here
- Chapter XXXII: Master Exploder
- Chapter XXXIII: There Is No Plot, Only ZUUL GAMEPLAY PADDING
- Chapter XXXIV: An Update So Manly, It Broke My Emulator
- Chapter XXXV: Never Thought I'd Be On A Boat
- Chapter XXXVI: Fuck The Ocean
- Chapter XXXVII: Bungle In The Jungle
- Chapter XXXVIII: More Filler Than YOUR BODY HAS ROOM FOR
- Chapter XXXIX: Fishing As The World Burns
- Chapter XL: Return Of The King God-Emperor
- Chapter XLI: Daeren Gets Mad About Video Games
- Chapter XLII: This Calls For A Training Montage
- Chapter XLIII: A Grave Situation
- Chapter XLIV: Holy Shit There's Plot In This One
- Chapter XLV: Endings And Beginnings
- Chapter XLVI: Therapeutic Errands
- Chapter XLVII: Rhun To The Hills
- Chapter XLVIII: Castle Crashers, Part I
- Chapter XLIX: Castle Crashers, Part II
- Chapter L: Maybe So
- Chapter LI: Truth And Dreams
- Chapter LII: Of Gods And Men
A mysterious young man found buck naked in the desert. Doesn't talk much. Oh yeah, he can also turn into a dragon. He does not gain any magic naturally, but can learn it from enemies just like the rest of the party. But really, when you can turn into a dragon, you don't really need much else.
A Princess of Wyndia looking for her missing sister. Kind-hearted, gentle, but also a bit of a moron. She's a member of the Winged Clan, a species of people who have semi-functional wings. She will be the main healer of the game, and has a small amount of offensive capability with her wind magic.
A chieftain of Worent and a Woren, a subset of the Grass Runners. He's mostly straight-laced, but has a boiling temper that often flares up. He's a rather one-note character at first glance, but is easily the party member that gets the best character development arc in the game. He is incredibly protective of Nina and has a bit of a thing for her sister. He's the go-to guy when you need something squished, but he's slow and his magic power leaves something to be desired, despite gaining earth magic and some buffs and debuffs.
Some kind of robot or short woman in a big suit of armor, or something. Ershin's just freaking weird. She has a very odd pattern of speech where she refers to herself in the third person and doesn't really seem to understand when people are talking to her. In combat, she's got a suitably weird role: she hits like a truck with both physical and magical attacks, has a load of HP, and regenerates AP in the back row at a mind-boggling rate, but has almost no AP and is wildly inaccurate. Therefore, she needs some specific grooming to come into her own, but once she does, she's a very valuable addition to the party. Secretly has an Endless he referred to as Ershin named Deis inside of his head (thus the speech pattern), and died protecting Chek. He got better, though.
Scias is awesome. In the translated versions, he is a quiet, shy, stuttering mercenary who is amazingly adept with a sword and generally speaks only when spoken to. In the original version? That's not a stutter, that's a drunken slur. Scias is completely and utterly hammered, tanked, sloshed, wasted, and blasted through the entire game. His purpose is to be a Swiss army knife made entirely of lethal weapons. He is fast, strong, durable, is the party's second sword-wielder, starts off with a great balance of magic, and becomes a combination healer/ice mage/thing-stabber by the endgame just from his natural magic progression. With Masters, you can make him even more amazing at the role you use him for most. View all of his dialogue and actions with the knowledge that he does it all while totally plastered, and he goes from bland but sometimes amusing to one of the best characters in the game.
Born as a commoner in the Empire, an imperial general passing through the town she lived in recognized Ursula's talent with magic and recruited her into the army, where she quickly rose through the ranks to Captain due to her magical aptitude, skilled gunplay, and the ability to command under pressure. Haughty, a touch arrogant, and more than a little self-assured, Ursula is rather humorless - which often leads to unintentional hilarity. Her role in the party is interestingly mixed. Her magic is mostly fire and debuffs, but her truly unique point is that she's the only member of the party that has guns. Pistols tend to be +1 hit weapons, while shotguns can hit all enemies at once with normal attacks (which carries over to some physical skills!)
Mysterious man who awoke in a tomb in the West, he's apparently the God-Emperor of the Fou Empire. However, it doesn't look like the Empire is too pleased that he's back. Seems to have some sort of connection with Ryu. When it comes to combat, he essentially points at things and they fall down. Then explode.
doomfunk demonstrates why you'd best show respect for Ershin.
doomfunk is impressed with Ryu's
"Fishing with superworldly horrors as bait, while effective, is not necessarily recommended." ~Shaezerus
Shaezerus demonstrates how badass Ershin is.
Shaezerus explains why people work at the dam if there's monsters there: the dam workers are badass.
doomfunk gives us a horrifying look into parrot psychology. Linked because it disturbs me.
Lotish['s wife] gives us a photorealistic version of Scias.
doomfunk illustrates Cray beating down Kahn wearing Macho Man Randy Savage's glasses. Inspired by something in my brain breaking hilariously and leading to me reading everything Kahn says in Randy Savage's voice.
doomfunk continues flexing his manly art muscles and, taking inspiration from an off-hand comment I made, depicts the time I went completely insane and spent two or three hours fishing for whales, with Macho Man Kahn standing in for me.
Feriowind captures the very essence of (spoilers for Chapter 45)
Feriowind shows an average day in the life of Ershin.
Shaezerus explodes back onto the scene and proves that yes, the people that make me fan art fucking love Ershin.
Feriowind gives us a picture of Ryu having a bad day.
silentbrains smashes onto the scene with a four-part series about how Act III should have ended. Spoilers for Chapter 45.
Part 2 (Kinda for disturbing imagery and gore)
resurgam40 gives us a frighteningly comprehensive analysis of Cray's character development through the whole game and how it relates to the themes of the game at large. It's a huge hunk of words but they're very good words.
silentbrains depicts literally the greatest thing ever.