The Sun: My dear Gaia! Please listen to me. From this time forward, every 1 billion years, you will have children called "Life". One of them will be able to help you to build a new era. Each child will must endure a difficult trial. You might think it's too severe, but it is necessary. The trial is a test of Nature: "The survival of the fittest". If he passes, I will allow him to be your partner and to enter Eden.
A very unusual and highly obscure Action RPG for the PC98 and SNES, in which you play a creature which evolves in order to survive the dangerous prehistoric world and eventually to join Gaia, a personification of Earth, in Eden. However the evolutionary process has been disrupted, and it is slowly revealed that there is an overwhelming force behind this.The game received little attention upon its release, but has since become a cult classic and a pioneer of the evolution gaming genre. It is noted for its unique gameplay system, sprawling world and its epic, eon-spanning scale.It was developed by a small company called Almanic, under the publishing of Enix.Has a developing character sheet. Please contribute, especially if you've played the original.
Ancient Astronauts: A throwaway line early on mentions some kind of alien interference in seeding the crystals. Later on they apologize for screwing evolution up by doing so.
Anime Hair: Gaia, and how. Not much because of the odd shape, but rather because it's the ocean itself. The rippling light underwater is used on her hair. You can take a look here. Oh, and extra points for it being blue.
The first miniboss arena of the Ice age consists of three mammoths.
The Final Boss, Bolbox, is a minimal threat on his own. He is immortal with his eight crystals, six of which summon powerful enemies that are strengthened versions of previous enemies and the second boss, Debustega. The fight with Bolbox is more against these monsters, while dodging his occasional tentacle attack. Bolbox can only be defeated only when he can't summon any more monsters.
Braggart Boss: Many of the bosses are like this, especially Debustega.
But Thou Must: Making it worse, the game also likes to show you just how much damage you did when you do what Thou Must. The game makes clear that you're repeatedly committing genocide against multiple other species to clear the road for your own evolution. While it's shown to be necessary in many instances, or else an act of self-defense, evolution is still an extremely unforgiving mistress.
Class Change Level Reset: EVO points are lost on a new body, which starts on the weakest form. However, the green crystal lets you borrow an earlier form to make recollecting some EVO points easier.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Dying in the game only results Gaia resurrecting you at the cost of half of your saved up EVO points. Not much of a penalty when you don't have very many saved up.
Degraded Boss: The King Kuraselache, boss of Chapter 1, reappears in Chapter 5 as a regular (but rare) enemy.
Also, the Tyrannosaur/Tyrasaur group, the boss of Chapter 3, appear in normal areas in the next two eras. Also, the Queen Bee is not degraded from boss to enemy, but from Era Boss to a normal boss.
Demoted to Dragon: The Queen Bee and the Tyrasaurs become loyal followers of Bolbox after he brings them back in the end.
Difficult but Awesome: Dinosaurs, fittingly, have a lot of trouble with the Ice Age (though in this case, it's because they slip on the ice, not because it's too cold for them). However, they retain their EP from the Dinosaur Age (which are lost if you evolve into a mammal), and have a slight edge over mammals in raw power and defense, which can be helpful in the final age.
Dying Race: A small group of peaceful dinosaurs survive the Ice Age, hidden away in a forest on North America in Chapter 5. All they ask is to be left in peace and let nature take its course. You are part of nature's course, so you can kill them if you want. Don't worry, they respawn when you come back in.
Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: A lot of the main areas are pathetically easy, but most of the bosses are excruciatingly difficult.
Flunky Boss: Mother Prime Frog spawns baby Prime Frogs to help her fight you. Killing them provides meat, which can be used to regain health during this battle.
Gaia's Lament: During the Age of Amphibians, much of the world has turned into a barren wasteland due to the insects' overeating of the plants. Fortunately, the world gets better.
Gainax Ending: If you think about it, yes. Era 1 is the most accurate of the Eras and is the most normal, but after that, things get... odd. It climaxes in Era 5, which features monkeys with wooden elevators, mutant fish riding mutant sharks and wielding guns, and ultimately a giant cell with the name of a type of algae (volvox, translated as Bolbox). Oh, and Martians were responsible for the whole thing by creating a Crystal that might really have been eight Crystals the whole time and sending it/them to Earth, only for Bolbox to eat them and turn them into living creatures. Yeah...
Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The Rogons. Most of the rest of the enemies have some kind of foreshadowing, even if the plot's a bit thin and unconnected, but the Rogons are both required and have nothing to do with anyone else.
The final boss definitely qualifies as well. You have zero idea of what's awaiting you as you head through the final dungeon/area.
Hopeless Suitor: Bolbox, a hideously mutated single-celled organism, wants to be the one to enter Eden with Gaia.
Hyper Destructive Bouncing Ball: The Trilobites from Chapter 1 and the Nautiloids from Chapter 3 can morph their bodies into a round shape and bounce around to attack. If you happen to be close to the ground and one of them does this beneath you, they'll basically ricochet between you and the ground until you die.
Instant Death Radius: Cro-Maine can hit you from almost halfway across the screen when he swings his club. Not only does it do a lot of damage, it'll send you flying right out of the level, and you'll have to start all over again. Meaning that he will have full health again, but you won't unless you went and ate some T-Rex meat to recover.
Interspecies Romance: You and Gaia (especially if you're not human). Bolbox also has an interest in Gaia, for a more extreme example.
Irony: Bolbox proclaims itself to be the pinnacle of evolution. When you finally see it, it turns out to be something resembling a giant amoeba. Single-celled organisms being the beginning of life/evolution.
Bolbox was "Volvox" in the original Japanese, and volvox is an extremely basic green algae. Algae is trying to kill you!
Leap of Faith: Jumping off the top of Mt. Brave is the only way to evolve into a bird.
You Cant Thwart Evolution: These endings all show that humans become the dominant species on Earth with or without you, which means that Bolbox's own plan ultimately fails anyway.
Of course, Bolbox was a caveman at one point, he still thinks he is...
LEGO Genetics: E.V.O. runs on this trope. Every time you add or remove a part, the change is done instantly. This can be exploitable in boss battles by changing one's neck from short to long or vice-versa whenever you get low on health, completely refilling your health. The neck is the cheapest part to change, but you can substitute any part and do the same thing.
A better tactic - and an even stranger example of this trope - was to grow a cheap horn, which would also refill your health. The horn would 'break' after attacking with it 3 times... and this would somehow count as an evolutionary change, which would refill your health again.
Admittedly, EVO isn't exactly clear on whether or not it's supposed to represent real evolution. There's substantial hints that the whole process is being hijacked by aliens, at least in the case of certain enemies, and many creatures berate you for not evolving "the proper way".
Level Grinding: You will need to farm EVO points to improve your base body (especially when it gets reset to zero on a new species type). Even after the necessary evolutionaty steps, you still need to do it if you want to build the EVO to health buffer for extended battles.
Lighter and Softer: Compared to the original PC-9801 game. It's still fairly dark for an SNES game, mind.
Magnet Hands: Tool-based creatures don't drop their weapon when hit.
Mama Bear: Prime Frog Mother gets angry at you for scaring off the children tormenting a reptile.
Nintendo Hard: This game can be quite challenging. Prepare to grind a lot, or be destroyed by some more aggressive bosses.
The key to boss battles is to go in with a lot of EVO points so you can restore your HP. However, you're bound to run out eventually and die; and your punishment for dying is to lose those very same EVO points. This leads to tons of grinding or forced Save Scumming.
Our Mermaids Are Different: The secret mermaid evolution seems to be a human head and arms on a fish body. And you attack by sneezing... or, depending on your interpretation of the animation, kissing.
Palette Swap: Later incarnations of bosses do this, but one changes its skin entirely.
Parabolic Power Curve: Some upgrade paths are a bit more unwieldy (e.g. humans may have trouble in the Boss Rush); and one path entirely loses the ability to heal using evolutions until you complete that section.
Point of No Return: Normally contained only across eras, but the first world has a one-way path.
Prestige Class: There are two hidden evolutionary paths you can reach: evolving into a bird in Chapter 3, and evolving into a human from a mammal. There's also a third route you can take in Chapter 5, which lasts for exactly one level: evolving into an aquatic mammal, which culminates in a mermaid form.
Secret Level: In Chapter 3, the cloud level and the River of Asteroid.
Self-Imposed Challenge: Beating the game as a dinosaur, mainly because the Ice Age is slippy-slidey for them, and unlike birds they can't get around that by flying. Also, they're somewhat weaker than mammals, and far less agile.
Spell My Name with an "S": This occurs due to text constraints and regular letter mutation, e.g. dinichthys to zinichthy, stromatolite to strolite, cladoselache to kuraselache, ichthyostega to ikustega, brontosaurus to brosaurus, tyrannosaurs to tyrosaurs, volvox to Bolbox.
Starfish Aliens: The final boss is a gargantuan mutant single-celled organism.
Stock Dinosaurs: Pachycephalosaurus, Styracosaurus, Brontosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Plesiosaurus, Pteranodon, Rhamphorhynchus, Ankylosaurus, Allosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus rex all appear in the Age Of Dinosaurs chapter. Some even appear later, claiming they have difficulty surviving.
Tech Points: You acquire EVO Points and spend them as you wish to evolve body parts.
This does not occur if you have evolved so that one jump on each will kill them.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Whispers/Dino People/Martians, who wanted to help Earth civilization out a little bit by completely messing up the evolution process so it's sped up and, if a mistake is made, undo it with the green crystals. They are responsible for the giant insects, the Bird Men, Rogons, and Bolbox. They apologize if you can find them high above the mountain in the final era and attack them.
Wolfpack Boss: The third major boss, the Tyrannosaur/Tyrasaur Clan.
Wrap Around: In World 4, you're somehow able to travel down from Australia and end up at the North Pole.
Tropes related to the original PC-9801 game:
Atlantis: A visitable location during Chapter 5, which is shown to be a Lunarian colony. Their current target is the continent of Mu, also a Lunarian colony.
Family-Unfriendly Death: Is seeing small dinosaurs being swallowed by carnivorous plants bad enough for you? How about seeing dead dinosaurs with blood coming out of their eyes?
Kaiju: One of the bad endings has you evolved into this.
Multiple Endings: The game has a couple of bad endings that are usually achieved by making "wrong" evolution choice. It's not too hard to figure how to trigger them. Some others are triggered by making wrong choices in the game.