The Mana Tree is dying (again), so the Mana Goddess sends a number of its fairies to the world below and find someone worthy to restore it. All but one perish on route due to the steady loss of magic, and the Fairy that does make it settles for the first person it can find. Naturally, that happens to be the character that the player chooses.Seiken Densetsu 3, released in 1995, is the third game in the World of Mana series and is the first one that never made it Stateside, though fan translations do exist via Emulation. It plays very similarly to its predecessor Secret of Mana, but instead of being able to charge attacks, the meter builds with a successful hit on the enemy.Seiken Densetsu 3 also differs from other games in the series by offering a cast of six characters, of which any three can be chosen to make the party. Most notably, the lead party member determines which of the three Big Bads the heroes take on.
Accidental Pervert: Hey, it's Angela! And she's sleeping at the inn! Let's go talk to her...
She doesn't take as much offense if you're playing as Lise, though (or any female for that matter)...
Actually A Doom Bot: A non-villainous example. Kevin didn't really kill Karl at all, merely an illusion of him. He apparently buried him without even verifying that his dog was dead, and his father dug him back up later, alive and well.
Adjective Noun Place: Many of the location names follow this format (at least in the Fan Translation) - Castle City Jad, Magic Kingdom Altena, and Sand Fortress Navarre (Nevarl is the official English translation as seen in Heroes of Mana), to name a few.
Always Night: Duskmoon Forest (Moonlight Forest in the fan translation), also encompassing Mintas (Mintos in the fan translation) and the Beast Kingdom. Since Kevin switches to werewolf form at night, this is his preferred terrain.
Two of the game's final dungeons (Mirage Palace and Dark Castle) are constantly enveloped in darkness. This doesn't count as moonlight, though; Kevin gets no bonus.
Amazon Brigade: The kingdom of Laurent (Rolante in the fan translation) of which Lise is the princess and the kingdom of Altena.
Annoying Arrows: Hawk's traps—in particular, fittingly enough, the "arrow" trap.
Another Side, Another Story: Out of six playable characters, you can only choose three to build your party for any given playthrough, and only one of them can be the main character (which gives them additional screen time and determines who the final boss will be). The rest become NPC's who you may or may not run into at various points. Thus, every playthrough with a different party combination can become this.
Though you do get most of the story in each route as long as you have both characters for each route.
Anti-Magic: The Anti-Magic spell, of course. It removes all magic effects.
Awesome, but Impractical: Level 2 and 3 techs. While they do have awesome attack animations and some damage every enemy on the screen, a lot of late-game enemies (and some bosses) will answer them with an equally devastating tech in return, which (if it's something that hits the whole party) can easily spell Total Party Kill.
Bittersweet Ending: No matter who the Big Bad ends up being, he always murders the Mana Goddess before you defeat him, and while the Fairy becomes the new Goddess, it's stated that it will be a thousand years before Mana fully returns to the world. On the plus side, the world is saved, and each of the heroes make peace with their respective troubles. (Angela and Kevin make peace with their parents, for example).
Blond Guys Are Evil: The Wizard of the Crimson Lotus, the blondest one in the game, is a complete chode. The blond werewolf, Lugar, is no boy scout either.
The Dark Lord upon his resurrection, fulfilling this trope by default.
Boring, but Practical: In contrast to Awesome, but Impractical above, level 1 techs. They may just be a slightly-more-damaging normal attack, but they won't be countered, they will be enhanced by elemental sabers, and can still hit multiple enemies if they are bunched together.
Book Dumb: Angela keeps dodging her studies, to the point that her own mother believes she has no magic talent.
Brainwashed and Crazy: Heath is forced to follow orders from his father, Masked Mage, the Big Bad from Carlie and Kevin's story, and if you have Carlie in your party, the fight becomes a bit of a Tear Jerker.
Also the Queen of Reason, Valda, who is Angela's mother.
Most of the ninjas and thieves of Nevarl are under Bigieu and the Earl of the Evil Eye (shortened to Jagan in the fan translation)'s control.
Brought Down to Normal: The Alteans by the end. With the Mana Tree dead by the end, the mana and magic will cease to exist for at least a thousand years.
Inverted with Nikita, as the cat pops up several times during Hawk's story to break him out of prison, lend him a vital hand against Bigieu, and take care of Jessica so Hawk could carry his mission without worrying for her.
Character Development: It is highly recommended that you play the three routes with both of each route's central characters (Duran/Angela, Kevin/Carlie, and Lise/Hawk) for this purpose.
Combat Pragmatist: Hawk's Nightblade class utilizes poison, blow needles, and bashing the enemy's face in with a wrench.
Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: An unspoken variant - the occasional pre-eruption tremor from the volcano on Bucca serves to add a bit of urgency to the fact that you're supposed to be finding a way off the island before it erupts. Mercifully, there is no time limit; there's even a town with stores and an inn!
Deal with the Devil: The Wizard of the Crimson Lotus offered part of his soul to the Dragon Emperor in exchange for becoming the world's greatest wizard. (Previously, the Wizard of the Crimson Lotus was a nobody, just like all the other men in Altena.) The Darkshine Knight did the same thing after falling into a bottomless pit.
Deconstruction: One of the earliest examples of RPG deconstructions, and as a result a very subtle one; many of the tropes are played straight, but the main characters are minor twists on traditional archetypes—
Kevin and Carlie are Half Human Hybrids with all of the baggage that entails and very few of the upsides: Carlie acts like she's somewhere around five years old (though she's 15), Kevin was (literally) Raised by Wolves, and both suffer being shunned by Fantastic Racism.
Duran is a knight seeking revenge on a wizard — the most clichéd of any of the heroes, and at first glance a typical RPG protagonist, especially a Squaresoft one. Unlike Cloud or Cecil, though, Duran acts exactly like a mercenary would—he's a hairy, smelly, selfish, uncouth alcoholic brute.
Angela is a haughty princess who rebels against her family and wants to experience the outside world...because the queen is being manipulated by one of the game's dragons and Angela is almost sacrificed by her to revive an evil god, then almost freezes to death in the wilderness trying to find help. She is also a mage that can't cast magic (at first), which certainly doesn't help her cause much.
It also deconstructs the Chosen One. Whoever is your character becomes the hero that has to save the world literally because he/she was standing at the wrong place and got hijacked by a distressed fairy. Oh, and screw whatever goal you had before that; the priest you were searching for will just tell you "save the world and it might resolve itself on the way". Thank you, we totally needed that.
It's also amusing how the Fortune Teller will tell Angela to "Go to Wendel..." and then the other person nearby says "Hey! That's the same thing she told me! I just wanted to know if my child was going to be a boy or a girl, and she told me 'Go to Wendel...'"
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: When the party stays at an inn, they all shift into their respective "sleeping" animations. In normal gameplay the only thing the player sees of these are the characters' heads peeking out from under the sheets of the beds, but by toggling sprite layers using an emulator you can see that not only are the rest of the characters' bodies there, they have panties or boxers as well — and that those panties change color depending on the character's class.
Also, the game is very famous for this by making you meet the characters you didn't choose every now and them. Exclusive scenes may happen too depending o! what character you have in or out of your party.
At one point in the game" you need to get some gunpowder to get to your next destination, Valsena (Forcena in the 'fan'' translation). The only person who has any is Watts the dwarf, who offers to sell it for an obscene price that you almost certainly can't afford. After you save him from the boss of a dungeon, picking up one of the Spirits you were looking for (and going to Valsena to ask its king about) along the way, he gives it to you as a gift. But if you have managed to kill enough monsters to get the money Watts asks for, you can agree to pay his outrageous price and buy the gunpowder, thus bypassing the dungeon and going straight to Valsena. In that case, the King will direct you to the dungeon you bypassed and tell you about a shortcut to the boss room via a strange statue (which does nothing if you went through the dungeon in the 'normal' way), so you still find the spirit.
Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Not only do you kill the eight God-Beasts (note that the Japanese characters used to represent this are the same ones used to represent the Mana Beast in the previous game, although the Japanese name, Kami Kemono, probably is more accurately translated as God-Beast), ancient evils that predate the world, but the final boss has the combined powers of all eight of them, and the Sword of Mana, which is what sealed them away in the first place and was used to help create the world.
Double Entendre: When playing Hawk's intro, if you talk to one of the guards at the door of the throne room, he says about the Laurent amazons "I bet they're all cute ladies. I want to poke them with my dagger." Think about it...
Dracolich: Dragon Zombies. You encounter them in the Dragon Hole. More ominously, they also appear in the Mirage Palace, implying that the Masked Mage has reanimated the slain Dragon Emperor's troops.
The Dragon: Deathjester for the Masked Mage, the Wizard of the Crimson Lotus for the Dragon Emperor, and the Earl of the Evil Eye and Bigieu for the Dark Lord. Funnily enough, Deathjester, the Wizard of the Crimson Lotus, and Bigieu are far better developed as characters than their bosses are.
Arguably, there are three pairs of Co-Dragons, with Bigieu/the Earl of the Evil Eye, Deathjester/Heath, and the Wizard of the Crimson Lotus/Darkshine Knight.
Eldritch Location: The Dark God-beast knows how to make an entrance. You arrive just in time to witness the shattering of the Dark Mana Stone; once this happens, the heroes are sucked into an empty void where Zable Fahr waits.
Empty Room Psych: Every room in the Chartmoon Tower (Moonreading Tower is the fan translated name). Behind one door is the staircase; the other three are enemy nests.
Everything's Better with Princesses: Angela is the princess of Altena, Lise is the princess of Laurent, and Carlie is the princess of Diorre by blood even if her situation potentially leaves her with no legitimate claim to her maternal grandfather's position.
Eviler than Thou: The protagonists have to fight three different factions of enemies - Altena, Nevarl, and the Beast Kingdom - who also oppose each other. Depending on which character you choose first, one faction will slaughter the other two in the Disc One Final Dungeon.
Evil Sorcerer: The Wizard of the Crimson Lotus, The Masked Mage, and Heath, Carlie's best friend and supposedly her mentor.
Exclusive Enemy Equipment: Ultimate equipment — to say nothing of the Lv. 3 class changes — can only be obtained via "???" seeds dropped by specific enemies.
Exposed to the Elements: Your team can go from the Burning Sands (Desert of Scorching Heat in the fan translation) to the Frostbite Fields AKA Sub-Zero Snowfield in the fan translation (and both deserve their names) without so much as a coat. Originally averted as Angela comes close to freezing to death in the latter, but played straight when she can waltz right through it later in the game.
Fantasy Character Classes: And how! Amongst a cast of six characters, all of them boast Light and Dark paths, with an additional two master paths, leading to a total of 36 classes, starters not included.
Fast-Forward Mechanic: If you stop at a Trauma Inn during the day, you have the option to be awakened in the evening or next morning, though this is rarely a concern for progressing through the Story Arc.
Carlie gets one even if you didn't select her as a teammate at all.
Flat Character: The Earl of the Evil Eye and the Dragon Emperor are easily the least developed villains in the game. Although, really, all of the arch-Big Bads suffer from this to a fairly large degree, due to being in the background for so long.
Grand Theft Me: despite what some websites say most certainly not Elliot's fate, provided the Dark Lord is the Big Bad (Elliot is seen lying on the ground next to the Dark Lord).
Guide Dang It: The game doesn't tell you this, but certain spells can't be learned unless you've leveled up a particular attribute. This stat differs depending on the character; for instance, Hawk learns new moves by leveling up his Speed.
Also, getting items for the second class change isn't hinted at nor are you told where you can get them, meaning first-time players frequently don't even get them.
Another evil moment is while fighting enemies which counter skills and spells. Good luck dealing with Darkshine Knight on your first try after you thought you were invincible raiding entire screens with your special attacks of No MP cost.
Some of the most devastating enemy attacks in the game are only used as retaliation to higher-level techs. This isn't mentioned anywhere in the game, to this troper's recollection.
Idle Animation: They've all got one. Carlie rocks back and forth, Angela plays with her hands, Kevin stretches, Hawk taps his foot while holding his head, Lise touches her hair ornament and Duran scratches his head.
In-Universe Game Clock: The days of the week are named according to the Mana Spirits, thus affecting the strength/weakness of their corresponding magic. It's also free to sleep at an inn on Holy Mana Day.
This may be subverted after all; if you challenge any beastman during the Jad raid, they knock the hell out of your character (except Duran, who seemingly is the only one smart enough to notice picking a fight isn't a good idea now) with a single attack, and to add insult to injury, they aren't even in their wolf form.
Inn Security: Twice. Sleeping at an inn is required to make the fairy appear, and later on in a free boat ride leads to the characters being trapped on the Ghost Ship.
Dangerous Inn: Sleeping in one room in the middle of the Ghost Ship will make monsters spawn and attack you right away, and oh, you don't get the recover you were expecting.
Interface Spoiler: The game leads you to believe that opening the gate to the Mana Holy Land and acquiring the Sword of Mana will be the game's big finish. It's somewhat undermined by the fact that unless you've spent an inordinate amount of time level grinding, you're nowhere near the level needed for your second class change, and at that point in the game, have no way of getting the MacGuffins needed for it anyways.
Double since the Wanderer and Rogue class allude to when Nevarl wasn't a desert.
Kaleidoscope Hair: The heroes can become blonde (or blonder) through class changes, too. Carlie, Lise, and Kevin are already light-haired, but Angela and Hawk are both dark-haired, and their class-changes with blond hair are both dark-dark.
Limit Break: Three levels of them, the second and third being learned after the class changes. The second and third limit breaks are different depending on the class chosen.
Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Averted. Seems to fall into this trope in the early game, where the male characters (and Lise) have to rely solely on their weapons and have to use healing or magic items, while the two spellcasters can make excelent use of their MP. After the first class change, however, everyone begins learning spells and skills of their own.
Living Shadow: The Ninja Master attack 'Shadow Dive'. The character merges with their shadow, moves around as it, then pops out to surprise the enemies.
Angela, King Richard is your father. Alluded to in the original game, but confirmed in the prequel.
Magic Knight: Duran's Sword Master class is the best example from this game; he can imbue his and the other party members' weapons with magic. His Paladin class only gets the Saint Saber imbuement in addition to a healing spell, but it's quite useful against Zable Fahr, the God-Beast of Darkness. The Duelist class can cast Dark Saber, which is not quite as useful in the long run, and the Lord class is basically just a healer in plate armor. The other character that exemplifies this trope in SD3 is Lise, who gets summon spells and status magic (her Light classes are more about buffing the other party members, while the Dark classes cast debuffs on the enemy).
Magikarp Power: Angela's Delvar class is rather unimpressive compared to the Sorceress class, but taking it allows her to eventually gain access to the Rune Master class, which has a spell capable of delivering 999 damage to any enemy at her level or lower. Even the final bosses, really.
Master of Illusion: The Masked Mage. Fittingly, he makes his home in the Jungle of Visions (Jungle of Illusions in the fan translation) and hides his mansion under the veneer of an Invisibility Cloak.
Maximum HP Reduction: The spell Lunatic reduces the target's maximum HP by 20%. It's very good when used at the beginning of boss fights, where it can knock off upwards of 10,000 HP.
Meet the New Boss: The Masked Mage is definitely heir to the previous game's Thanatos. In fact, his final boss form is named Dark Lich.
Mirror Match: Kevin and the Beast Kingdom's troops all share the same werewolf sprite. The latter use the same techs as Kevin's top-tier classes. Needless to say, this gets very confusing if he's on your team.
Each class the heroes can take has a enemy parallel. Duran has knights. Angela magicians. Kevin with werewolves. Light Carlie are potos, while dark Carlie shamans. Light Hawkeye with Chobins and dark has ninjas. Finally Reise has the bee women and goblins.
My Rules Are Not Your Rules: The levels for class changing are specifically delineated at 18/38. You'll start encountering class-changed enemies (a few with full-screen techs) at level ten. Your party also has to fill a tech gauge before unleashing their special attacks, but enemies of the exact same class can slam your party with their abilities right off the bat (they will also frequently use them as counterattacks after you hit them with a spell).
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: An example which isn't really relevant to the main plot line in the long run occurs early on in the game: the Faerie takes down a magical shield at the entrance of a cave so the party can reach Wendel and talk to the Priest of Light. The shield is intended to protect the city from invasion, and after the heroes get rid of it, the Beastmen get their chance to attack. The Priest of Light manages to cast another shield and keep Wendel safe, but he falls seriously ill as a result of the strain.
Also, a pair of plot-important things go bad as a result of the party's actions:
Oh, you found all the Elementals, and now you can create a portal in order to enter the Mana Holyland! Oh yay! You made a portal... in the sky. And you don't have an airship. But it won't go to waste, because every evil faction in the game CAN fly.
Oh, you killed the eight God-Beasts to stop them from destroying the world! And their excess, incredibly strong Mana is going to go back to the Holy Sword, where it belongs... Oh right! You let The Dragon get his hands on the Sword!
Official Couple: Duran and Angela if the player choose either as the main character and choose the other character as one of the three characters.
Older Is Better: Much like with Chrono Trigger's 12,000 B.C., Ancient City Pedan is the best place to shop: Short of the "???" items, their weapons and armor are second to none.
One Curse Limit: An exploitable Good Bad Bug. Using the Chibikko Hammer will make your team miniature, replacing whatever status effect they have, and using it again will invert the miniature status effect turning them to normal.
It's also invoked by the plot with Jessica — she was cursed to die if she learned the truth, but that made her immune to magical brainwashing later on.
Our Were Wolves Are Different: The Beastmen, who are a race of their own but very clearly inspired by werewolf mythology. They transform at night, gaining a sizeable attack bonus. This includes Kevin.
Orcus on His Throne: All the Big Bads lounge around in their hideouts for most of the game and let their minions do the work until they're either killed by one of the other enemy factions are the heroes storm their fortress near the end of the game. In fact, you don't meet them until you've completed the respective final dungeons.
The Dark Lord wasn't totally idle behind the scenes though. He's the one who raised the Dark Mana Stone from the Underworld.
And the original Japanese name for one of the bosses in Legend of Mana fought in the Underworld is identical to the name of the God-Beast trapped inside this stone, hinting at a link between the two games after all! (The boss doesn't look much like its namesake, though, and the name was changed in the NA release, so aside from a similar case of Dual Boss there isn't any way you'd know it - you don't even get to see the Mana Stone).
Pause Abuse: It was discovered that the charge-up time between selecting a skill or spell and its actual execution continues to elapse even when the player accesses a menu; thus the player can select a spell then switch to their menu so the character doesn't take damage before the spell executes. However, this also works on enemies preparing spells to attack you with....
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: An Enforced Trope. Hawk and his feline pal are the only thieves seen doing any stealing: under Isabella's influence, the thieves' hideout of Navarre is gearing up for cavalry assaults on whole cities.
Pointy Ears: Angela has them, but the rest of the citizens of Altena don't.
Power Trio: Any three of the six heroes (selected by the player) can be one.
Prestige Class: Each character has four classes based on whether they choose the Light or Dark path on each upgrade level (i.e., Light-Light, Light-Dark, Dark-Light, or Dark-Dark).
As well as the Mana series' "Mana Tree" theme, two of the boss themes ("Nuclear Fusion" and "Obsession") borrow snippets from the final boss theme of Secret of Mana (the main melody and the intro, respectively.)
Also, the track "Electric Talk" contains a callback to both "Into the Thick of It" and "Did You See The Sea" from Secret of Mana if you listen to it long enough.
"Meridian Child" also vaguely hints at the track "Meridian Dance" from Secret of Mana.
"Long Goodbye" is an expansion of the track "Close Your Eyelids" from Secret of Mana.
The track "Secret of Mana" can be considered both a Shout-Out to the NA name of Seiken Densetsu 2 as well as a stylistic callback to "The Child of the Sprite Tribe", a track from that game, albeit in a minor key.
The journey to fight the Dark God-Beast will contain some, regardless of which path you pick.
Hell, the entire game, why not. It's considered by many to have some of the finest graphics on the SNES.
Schrödinger's Gun: Whoever you selected as the main character is going to be the one that ends up hosting the Faerie. Whoever you selected as the second character is going to join you outside the Cave of Waterfalls, and whoever you selected as the third will join you after they bust you out of the Beastman-occupied Jad's dungeons. Selecting Carlie as your second or third character kinda throws that off (if chosen and not the hero, she always joins you somewhere between where the other second and third choices join), but the dev team thought of that.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The Dark Lord was feared and hated, which hints that he had been prophesied as a harbinger of doom. His status as something to be feared invited demons from the underworld to tempt him over to their side, thus dooming his kingdom (revealed to be Lorimar in Dawn of Mana), which the Dark Lord promptly destroyed.
Turns out in Dawn of Mana that he was feared and hated for trying to drown his little brother, for eliminating all rivals to declare himself emperor of Lorimar and for being an absolute tyrant. His deal with the demons was actually to open the door to Mavolia/the underworld and his Archdemon form is the result of merging with multiple Thanatos masks. His killing of the previous ruler of the underworld Medusa/Anise is also revealed to be from striking her host down with the first Mana Sword (it's also revealed that she secretly survived unbeknownst to the Dark Lord).
Self-Imposed Challenge: There are a number of challenges that can be done with this game, such as Single Character, or No Class Changing.
Ship Teasing: If you take Lise but not Hawk to re-take Laurent, he asks her to go easy on Bigieu (as Jessica is cursed to die with her) and plants a kiss on Lise when she agrees, causing her to blush.
Angela is also shown to consider her romantic prospects in her ending, though her preference is not stated.
Shout-Out: Bill and Ben. If you're from the UK, the name instantly screams out Weed!
Sorting Algorithm of Evil: In regards to the three potential Big Bads, the Dark Lord is widely considered the strongest, the Masked Mage the weakest, and the Dragon Emperor in the middle.
The Masked Mage's boss Dark Lich form is also pretty weak design- and spooky-wise as compared to his predecessor in Secret of Mana. Kamen-no-Doushi is, as a boss, really not that scary. In fact he looks rather goofy. Thanatos, on the other hand...ugh, speaking of hands, this troper still has flashbacks to THE GRABBING FROM THE FLOOR.
This also applies to the nations each one acts as The Man Behind the Man for. With the exception of Lugar and the Beast King, the Beast Kingdom is absolutelypathetic. Altena is much more organized and effective, and poses a bigger threat, and their villainous actions are limited to the assault on Valsena. Now Nevarl...their footsoldiers have severe Lack of Empathy, they slaughter literally everyone in Laurent castle during their takeover, and the mooks you fight in their areas are among the toughest you'll face.
Spell My Name with an S: Is the Amazon princess supposed to be named "Lise", "Liese", "Riese", "Reis", or "Riesz"?note With every single one of these being perfectly valid options from various European countries. The world may never know.
Carlie is "Charlotte" in Japan, changed on the translation for space reasons.
Similarly, Hawk is "Hawkeye" in Japan, also changed on the translation for space reasons.
Bigieu was likely originally either Bijou ('jewel' in French) or Bijuu ('lovely beast' in Japanese). Or both, as they're phonetically identical.
Lugar, whose name works out to 'rugaaru' in katakana, is a semi-pun on loup-garou ('werewolf' in French).
And then there's the locations - Forcena/Forthena/Folcena/Valsena. Rolant/Rolante/Laurant. Navarre/Navall/Nevarl. Althena/Altena (each one's last translation is the official translation found in Heroes of Mana. *gasp* And that's not even everything).
Averted with the Dragon Emperor, a screen-filling Final Boss who defies expectation by leaping into the foreground.
Stripperiffic: Practically the entire female population of Altena, includingespecially Angela. Nobody freezes to death because Altena is kept temperate due to magic, but Angela comes close to actually freezing to death after being chased out of the castle. Laurent's amazons also fit this to a lesser degree except Lise, who is in full armor, though in official art she still has a very low-cut chestplate and doesn't wear pants.
Actually, Angela has arguably the most Stripperific outffit in the game. In her magus class, while she wears a chestplate and cape, there's nothing but a thong around her waist◊.
Suspicious Video Game Generosity: If you are given a gold statue (which saves your game and heals your party), you will need it. It usually means there is a painful boss fight just around the corner.
Sword of Plot Advancement: An interesting case. It's a subversion of how things worked in Secret of Mana. In that installment, the heroes obtain the Mana Sword and power it up by reforging it with orbs gathered from defeated bosses. This time around, you are forced to give it to the villain almost immediately after obtaining it, and you discover that, as you slay the God Beasts, the sword gets stronger.
Also, in Secret of Mana, the only person in the whole world who used it for anything purposeful was the Mana Knight. In Seiken Densetsu 3, not only do none of your characters use it themselves, it seems the villains are both capable of using it and can also destroy it!
Also, Lord Flamekhan, Valda, and Heath. To a lesser extent, Bill and Ben.
Useless Useful Spell: Energy Ball. In theory it should up your critical attack rate, but because of a programming bug critical attacks are practically non-existent. Same goes for spells that affect agility or hit rate, for the same reason.
Averted by Angela's Rune Master skills. Stone Cloud will petrify every single normal enemy who isn't resistant to earth damage, which equates to instant death. For enemies who are immune to earth, there's Stun Wind which silences the enemy in addition to doing massive damage. Silence may not sound that useful, but a number of regular enemies in the game react to techs and spells (such as Stone Cloud or Stun Wind) with powerful abilities that can trash the party, making them effectively immune to anything but normal attacks. Silence stops those party-wiping reactions.
Well, it's the first town common to ALL the characters when any of them are the lead. Let's not forget most characters have to make a stop in Jad before they ever reach Astoria, with, iirc, the exception of Carlie. It's also the first town shop-wise, as Jad has no functional item shops.
Gusty Glade: Gusthall. Does it really count as a glade if it's half made out of caves, though?
Hidden Elf Village: Corobokkle Village and Diorre. Also, the ancient city Pedan exists in some kind of weird temporal flux: It's just empty ruins when you first arrive, but staying at the inn warps you back in time to the first Dragon war.
High-Altitude Battle: You'll need to take to the skies to fight Dangaard. The fight takes place on top of Flammie.
Zable Fahr. How fitting that the darkest of the god-beasts would be three Monster Clowns.
Virgin Power: Supposedly the Father of the Winged Ones only allows virgins near him, which is why only the Amazons can guard him. Actual events in-game may throw this claim into dispute (for one thing, the "father" turns out to be a girl).
Wake-Up Call Boss: Full Metal Hugger. Most first-time players fall victim to this guy. He'll slap you upside the head and let you know that bosses cast undodgeable attacks and you better heal after every last one. And if you picked an all male team, chances are, Jewel Eater will be this too.
Tzenker has the nasty habit of keeping away from your party while casting potent spells. Without the help of coins, magic or claws the fight can become quite a chore.
Jenova can be quite difficult for underleveled players as he is a Mook Maker, cast some really strong spells and if one is unlucky the mooks (which happens to be shapeshifters) will morph into something that will constantly Poison the party.
The Machine Golems fought in the Sub-Zero Snowfield or Bill and Ben in Desert of Scorching Heat will make short work of players who abuse of Level 2 Techs. Keep in mind that these bosses tend to counterattack with a Tech or magic of their own if struck by a Level 2 Tech or a magic. While Bill and Ben are doable, as they might focus in a single character with Shadow Dive, the Golems are not, they will utterly destroy a party using Level 2 Techs by counterattacking with all-party high level spells and you fight three of them at same time. Players should take these battles as a warning that spamming Level 2 Techs or magic will not work on bosses as well as it did in the last game.
We Have Reserves: The Dark Lord reacts to Bigieu's demise as though he just bounced a check or something. But to be fair, she is a card-carrying member of the I Am Legion union if the usual tropes applying to Demons are observed in this world.
White and Grey Morality: Mostly. There are a few flat jackasses (mostly the Earl of the Evil Eye, Deathjester and the Dragon Emperor) but the three villainous nations have legitimate reasons for their actions (the homelands of two of them are becoming inhospitable, and the third has a generations-long history of being discriminated against by humans) and most of the villains have tragic back stories or motivations.
Yandere: Bigieu/Bijou/Bijuu the demoness is only evil because she is madly in love with the demon king of Mavolia. However, he does not care for her in return, claiming that her death is acceptable should she be killed.
You All Meet in an Inn: Played with. You can find every potential party member except Carlie at the tavern in Castle City Jad, but nobody actually joins your party until later.
You All Meet in a Cell: Also played with. If you didn't pick Carlie as your third party member, you'll pick up your third after being thrown in the Jad prison upon defeating the first boss. Subverted if Carlie is your third party member, in which case your party is already full and your would-be fourth member just helps you break out of jail and is left behind when your party gets on the boat.