The world is facing dark times, to say the least.The Dark Lord's empire has near-total control of the world, he's only searching for the Tree of Mana to complete his dominance of the world, and the protectors of the tree and the Mana Tribe devoted to it, the Gemma Knights, are nowhere to be found. It seems that the Dark Lord's plans are all in place.Except for one slave caught in the Dark Lord's gladiator pens.This player-named slave, and his friends Willy and Amanda, have dreams of escaping from these pens - Willy to meet up with the Gemma Knights, Amanda to see her brother Lester, and the player-named slave just wants freedom - though when the pits end up costing Willy his life, the slave agrees to look for Bogard, last of the knights, for his friend.Things quickly spiral out of hand, as the newly-escaped slave quickly finds himself at the epicenter to prevent the Dark Lord's final victory.Originally a Gaiden Game for the pigs-flyingly popularFinal Fantasy series, it instead became the first game in the World of Mana series. This is why there are several elements of the former series (like chocobos, moogles, and a standard inventory system) present while several of the latter (cannon travel, mana spirits) are absent - many of the latter weren't actually introduced until Secret of Mana.It eventually received a Video Game Remake as Sword of Mana, with an updated story and updating the setting to remove the Final Fantasy elements.Known in Europe as Mystic Quest. Not to be confused with a similarly named SNES game (which likewise was released in Europe with a different title which also has the words "Mystic Quest" in it).
This game has examples of:
Absurdly High Level Cap: The game can be beaten below level 40 with the right tactics and equipment; more than that just makes it easier. The level cap is 99, which takes many wasted hours of grinding since the final boss might as well just fall over at that point.
Charged Attack: There's a meter at the bottom of the screen that automatically charges; the amount of charge determines how much power your attack or spell has. Moreover, choosing to improve your Will score upon level up increases its speed - by the end of the game, the meter fills up so fast, your max charge attacks go from Awesome, but Impractical to cornerstones of your offense.
The Chosen One: The girl you rescue at the beginning is the final scion of the Mana Tribe, and becomes the Gemma of the Mana Tree when the original one dies.
Downer Ending: The hero, after losing just about everything, finally defeats Julius, but the Mana Tree dies after the battle. The heroine, as the sole surviving member of the Mana Tribe, must stay and become the new tree, and the hero is the sole Gemma Knight left to protect her. Sure the land is at peace, but remember, the heroine is the only one left who can become the object that keeps the world stable. And all of this is set to possibly the saddest and most beautiful 8-bit music in existence. God damn.
It is implied that the parents of Secret of Mana's hero are the hero and heroine of this game. However, in this game, the heroine became the Mana Tree before any serious relationship happened so how the birthing happened is anyone's guess.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: You can fling yourself across the screen and hit enemies anywhere on a straight line from you with a fully charged sword strike - but you still can't jump or squeeze your way past many obstacles.
Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Several bosses are really just there to interfere with you - part of the goal of the remake was to shoehorn them into the plot.
Guide Dang It: The figure eight palm tree puzzle. Many gamers have said it took them years before they figured out the solution.
I Lied: A heroic example. Marcie the Robot offers to throw you to safety when the Tower of Dime starts to collapse, and says that she will jump the gap after throwing you. She tosses you over the gap, but then admits that she lied, she can't make the jump, and she knew you would waste time trying to save her if she had told you earlier.
Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Invaluable in this game. They are also very cheap, so many should be bought before each dungeon. However, if you run out, getting more can range from easy to very difficult depending how far you are from a Skeleton room or the nearest item shop.
Mattocks, used for clearing rocks, are similar, but the morningstar obtained late in the game makes them obsolete. Fortunately, they are dropped by a common enemy that is present in most dungeons that you need them.
Kaizo Trap: The bosses can still deal damage during their death animations, so it's actually possible to die after defeating them. In fact, if you're a melee-type character, you're almost guaranteed to take damage from their giant death explosion, which can kill you if you were an inch from death when you killed them.
Lord British Postulate: The citizens of towns actually do have health and can be killed. However, unless you are a high level, it takes a very long time. They also regenerate as soon as you leave the screen, and make you listen to their talking message the moment they die.
Lost Forever: One treasure can only be reached if you use a fully charged attack with the Flame Whip. It's not necessary to beat the game, but it can be left behind.
Many treasures in this game are Lost Forever the instant you reach the Tower of Gemma (aka the last dungeon), since there is no way back to the overworld after the bridge from the Tower of Dime collapses. However, the final dungeon contains enemy-dropped items and equipment that surpass everything else in all categories, so it isn't really a big deal. It isn't possible to carry all of the unique equipment in the game at once anyway.
Magic Music: Lester's music clears up the poison gas blocking the path from Jadd to Glaive.
Mascot Mook: While many elements of the series weren't added until later, the game does have Rabites (though they weren't actually named until later).
Our Dwarves Are All the Same: While Watts is a bit more proactive than his brethren, he's no different (charging you for goods in the middle of the dungeon you agreed to help him with). In fact, he's even worse in that particular regard; later on he charges you a lot of money for equipment he makes out of the silver you risked your own life to get for him, probably because he knows you can't continue the game without it. Adam Smith would be proud.
Pet the Dog: When Julius betrays the hero, he thinks to ask "Why did you help me, back there?". Juilus responds that he wasn't sure whether or not the girl the hero was trying to save was the one he was looking for - meaning at the very least Juilus can show some bit of altruism.
Point of No Return: The end of the Tower of Dime. Stock up on keys before you finish this dungeon for the best result.
Robot Buddy: Marcie, in the Tower of Dime. He heals all of your MP whenever you ask, making him the most valuable NPC ally.
Spanner in the Works: The main character is a nobody that turns out to be the one element Dark Lord (and later Julius) cannot account for.
Unwinnable: If you save and leave the game at certain points while out of keys, you can load and be stuck between two locked doors with no way out. Running out of keys in the final dungeon will also leave you screwed, as the last place to buy keys was two dungeons ago and cannot be returned to.
Backtracking usually does not require keys, and in any dungeon that has a danger of running out with no way to get more (like the Tower of Gemma), there will be a room with Skeletons, which drop keys.
The map is on a grid, and eventually you can travel around on the sea when you get a chocobo. There is one (maybe more) square on the map in which there is no land at all, just sea. Do not save here and turn off the game, as when you start it back up, you can't start riding the chocobo, so there has to some land for you to stand on. Otherwise, the game will just crash and you have to restart your file.
The Virus: Medusa's poison works like this... poor Amanda.