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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 selected. Interestingly, the lead party member also determines which of the three Big Bads the heroes eventually take on.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.SD3 differs from other games in the series in several ways. First and foremost, by offering a cast of six characters of which any three can be chosen to make the party. Your heroes start the adventure in a default job, but have opportunities to pursue Light or Dark magicks later on. Unlike with most JRPGs, there are no takebacks, and the fruits of your labor may not become apparent for awhile. To sum up, the class system adds huge replay value to a game already overstuffed with party configurations.
Provides examples of:
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 (Charlotte can't talk to her at this point in the game, as she doesn't pass through Jad).
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.
Aerith and Bob: Hawk, Eagle, Bigieu, Lord Flamekhan....and Bill and Ben. Would you believe it's the last two who pose a genuine threat?
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. Tripping the booby trap on a chest might also trigger it.
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. This is to prevent spamming.
Furthermore, Hawk and Kevin can strike twice with their Lv. 1 attacks, which negates the Lv. 2 attack boost. When fighting an immovable boss character, the ability to strike from anywhere in the arena is not as important as conserving energy.
Badass Cape: The Wizard of the Crimson Lotus (title shortened to Koren in the fan translation) is very proud of his cape. He even worked it into his title.
Eagle's cape and shoulder pads are nothing to sneeze at.
Heath dons this after being corrupted.
Bad Dreams: Carlie's prologue starts out with a nightmare of her parents abandoning her.
Big Bad/Evil Overlord: The Dragon Emperor for Duran and Angela, the Masked Mage for Kevin and Carlie, and the Dark Lord (called Dark Prince in the fan translation) for Lise and Hawk.
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 blondest 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. Hawk and Kevin have double-strike capability (Hawk slashes up and down, Kevin delivers a one-two jab and uppercut) which carries over into their level ones.
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. Consequently, any magic-casters in your party are SOL in the epilogue, as well.
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.
Cave Mouth: The entryway to the Dragon Hole. Genova is a weaponized version.
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. It doesn't hurt that each pair tends to complement each other's abilities well.
Chekhov's Volcano: And, of course, it doesn't go off until you've accomplished all you've needed to and you have a ticket off the island. Jagan is there, but he doesn't bother to attack and assumes that all three of you will perish in the eruption. Then he conveniently flees before that becomes the case.
Climbing Climax: You will find the three overlords not in the throne room (they've vacated), but on top of the tallest tower in their headquarters.
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.
Don Perignon. The senile old elf refuses to state his name, then gives up and admits his identity after a minute or two of snooping. This is likely a self-referential gag to SoM's atrocious Sage Joch "quest".
"I just get a kick out of doing that! Ha ha!"
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 on 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.
Grand Divina's Double Magic is not, as the name suggests, a doublecast but instead splits Angela in two, doubling the enemy's pain. This is also the Nightblade's skill.
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.
The Kingdom Laurent, a.k.a. "The Castle That Never Fell." Well, that's tempting fate, isn't it? The Nevarl thieves are too cunning to attack directly, instead spreading a sleeping pollen than puts the Amazons' lights out. The King is struck down in his own throne room without any resistance whatsoever!
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.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Quite a few, including the Priest of Light and the Earl. Two of the main villains (Emperor and Lord) are addressed by title only. However, Land and Heroes of Mana retcon their real names as Drakonis and Stroud, respectively. Belgar is the name of the once-noble priest who degenerated into the Masked Mage.
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.
Dragon Hole. It's a ruddy big hole, and there's dragons in it.
The topographers of this world aren't too creative. Just look at the names mentioned in this page: The Labyrinth of Ice Walls (check), the Cave of Darkness (check), Valley of Flames (check, also yeeowch!), the Gemstone Valley, the Moonlight Forest...
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.
Final Boss: Comes in three flavors depending on what character was your first pick.
Duran and Angela: Dragon Emperor, a tyrant thought to have been slain by Duran's father, but was just hiding. He's been marshaling his dragon armies to try and take over the world again.
Hawk and Lise: Archdemon aka Dark Lord, a Lucifer archetype and arguably the worst of the whole rotten lot. Owns a sweet castle.
Carlie and Kevin: Masked Mage, or rather, Dark Lich, a fallen cleric who has bathed himself in dark magic, losing any semblance of humanity he once had.
Final Boss, New Dimension: The final God-Beast, Zable Fahr, apparently exists outside of the physical realm. When his stone cracks, the party is pulled into a weird blue void.
Fission Mailed: Kevin can't win the training battle against Karl. Losing his HP transforms him into a werewolf for the first time, which gives him a fighting chance. Karl's death inverts the trope by playing the Game Over melody.
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.
God Save Us from the Queen!: Valda has gotten it into her warped brain that Altena isn't quite overpowered enough — that her kingdom is entitled to each of the world's Mana Stones. When glimpsing the full scope of her plans, King Richard spits back, "The Queen of Reason!" with maximum irony.
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 mention this, but certain spells can't be learned unless you've leveled up particular attributes. Hawk learns new moves by leveling up his AGL and LUCK, but dumping points into his INT is mostly useless. However, Duran (the no-frills tank) must raise his SPIRIT at least a little if he wants to learn his light class moves. The requirements aren't always intuitive, and you may waste a level or two trying out new combinations before you see a result. Thankfully, the game rewards every spell you've missed along the way (without any fanfare, just a quick message box) once you meet the desired requirements.
Also, getting items for the second class change isn't hinted at nor are you told where you can reap 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.
Have We Met Yet?: If you take Angela or Duran's path, the party will run into a younger version of the King of Valsena.
Hypnotize the Princess: Koren and Bigeiu, posing as evil chancellors of sorts to the north and south, work independently to provoke fighting with their neighbors. Koren reveals that he hypnotized the Queen of Reason into becoming a warmonger, and Bigieu basically prostitutes herself out to Lord Flamekhan. By the time Hawk notices something's amiss, she now has mind control powers over the entire ninja clan, including Eagle and Bill/Ben.
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.
Justified Save Point: The HP/MP replenishing statues of the Mana Goddess are tributes to the deity, usually placed in the vicinity of Mana Stones to ward off outsiders. There are one or two statues in the final villain's lair... but they're headless, placed there in direct mockery of the Goddess. They also don't refill your energy.
The Goddess is a human totem. The Village of the Dark Priests does not worship the Mana Tree, but they have a HP/MP restoring totem pole, regardless. The Masked Mage keeps his own save statue at the nexus of his base (it's shaped like a skull).
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.
Lady Land: Laurent and Altena. Both armies are comprised of all-amazonian soldiers, though Laurent still retains a male monarch. We also learn that Koren's original motive was to show up his female classmates at Altena. Once the red-haired stepchild of that realm, he's now the world's most powerful sorcerer.
Laser-Guided Karma: With the winds turned off, Laurent can't be retaken by the amazons. You need the power of Jinn to spread the thieves' pollen and knock them all out; a fitting end to their treachery.
Light Is Not Good: Lightgazer, the God-Beast of Light. Also, there are several enemies which use Light-based attack spells to destroy your party.
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.
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: This seems to be the characteristic of the Light path. The Dark classes spits out a higher volume of attacks and maximum strength levels. The Light classes, comparatively, have little to offer until about 10+ hours in, when Light-Light finally yields big dividends — especially in the final areas of the game. Hawk's first Light class, Ranger, is rather underwhelming: No buffs/debuffs, no elemental attacks, and mediocre stats across the board. If you survive long enough to promote him to Wanderer, he'll learn Counter magic — effectively neutering Koren, who won't be able to lay a finger on your trio. It gets ugly real fast.
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.
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 heir to the previous game's Thanatos, with a similar boss form and attack animation (HANDS HANDS GRABBING FROM THE FLOOR). The Lich, along with the Lord, is a recurring villain in the World of Mana series.
If you look closely, each of the main adversaries has a component or two of Thanatos. The Priest of Dark is a necromancer who hides behind a mask. The Dark Lord shares his body-stealing ways. The Dragon Emperor coverts a fallen warrior (Geshtar in the original, Loki in this one) into an undead knight. Bigieu is also a pro at mass hypnosis.
Mirror Boss: The Darkshine Knight is a former Knight of Gold; Koren is a hopeless student of magic who fast-tracked his abilities due to outside influence; Heath is the orphan ward of Wendel's top priest; Lugar is the sneering Beastman general who somehow thinks the throne is rightfully his (in contrast to Reluctant Ruler Kevin); Bill/Ben are, or at least used to be, laid-back master ninjas; Heath is full-fledged summoner in addition to his necromancer abilities, granting him all of Carlie's dark magic.
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.
In addition to Shapeshifters (mostly-harmless balls of wax that morph into various monsters), you may encounter their underground monkey equivalent, Shadow Zero. (You mean the hellishly annoying clones from SoM? Yes, the very same.) They'll mimic your class changes along with their special attacks; the problem is that they aren't affected by Health/Damage Asymmetry; their attacks do the same boss-killing damage as yours, to your party's still-PC-level hit points.
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).
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 and let their minions do the work — until they're either killed by one of the other enemy factions or the heroes storming their fortress. In fact, you don't even 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. He also sacrifices his first body to rip open the Holyland entrance. The reason he doesn't confront you is because he's waiting for his cronies to resurrect his form.
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.
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).
To an extent, the top enforcers of each of the world's kingdoms. See "Mirror Boss", above.
A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Like Angela, Koren toiled under Jose's tutelage at the magic school but got nowhere. The Dragon Emperor offered him true power in exchange for selling his people out.
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.
Rule of Three: You have three heroes; there are three invading kingdoms, creating three unique final scenarios with three unique final bosses.
The Ruins I Caused: After you beat Bigieu, her section of the Dark Castle collapses, and the party flees across a connecting bride to the adjacent tower. If Hawk is with you, he'll stand over the gap and announce that vengeance is his at last.
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: If Carlie's on your team and thus you already have three characters by the time you get locked up in Jad, the person in the other cell who busts you out will be a fourth hero who never joins your team (if Duran's not on your team it'll usually be him), and your party leaves the person behind when they escape on the ship, but fortunately the person is able to escape the city off-screen.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The Dark Lord was feared and hated as a child, 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 and king 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.
Seppuku: Heath and The Wizard of the Crimson Lotus after their defeat.
Unless your protagonist is Hawk or Riesz, the Navarl faction loses big in the Mana Sword sweepstakes. The Dark Lord loses his corporeal form in exchange for opening the way to the Mana Tree, but his enemies steal the body and destroy it before he can be properly revived. The Earl insists they can still keep to the plan by taking back the sword and unsealing their underworld armies, but Bigieu is unable to go on without her love. Rather than live in disgrace, she murder-suicides herself and the Earl.
Sequel Difficulty Spike: This is the hardest of the Seiken Densetsu games ever. The enemies hit hard and often. In the final dungeons, where no healing statues or merchants are available, you will be forced to fight to your fullest. Fortunately, there is no real item limit (You can only carry nine of an item in battle, but your backpack holds endless reserves), and the merchants at Byzel sell sword/armor buffs in the form of Scales and Claws. A well-stocked team will be prepared for anything.
Shout-Out: Bill and Ben. If you're from the UK, the name instantly screams out Weed!
The Gigantes (wielded by the Wizard of the Crimson Lotus) holds the exact same Japanese name with the Mana Fortress from Secret of Mana and is likely to be it's Start of Darkness.
Show Some Leg - Angela's line when trying to set a trap for a guard.
"Could you help me change my clothes?"
And one of her classes gives her a Limit Break that is essentially her showing some... leg... and charming the enemy.
Simple Yet Awesome: Hawk's "Ninja Master" class gains the ability to multi-target his Shuriken ability. This means you have a fast-casting ability that hits all enemies on the screen, does significant damage, knocks enemies back, and lowers their evade. All for only 1 MP. Fans have dubbed it the "1 MP Wonder".
Sinister Scythe: Deathjester. The hooded statues adorning the walls of Dark Castle are also sporting these.
Something about a Rose: The dapper Wanderer wears all-white and holds a rose stem in his mouth like James from Team Rocket(!). For the Lv. 3 tech, Hawk offers a rose to his enemy...before dicing him to pieces in a blizzard of petals.
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. This is purely subjective and only related to gameplay purposes: in a genocide contest, it's a toss up who is worse: the Satanic body-snatcher seeking to reclaim the planet for demonkind, or Pope Judge Death who has deemed all life unworthy of existence. Drakonis is just a warmonger, but he was prophesied by the tablet in Pedan to bring about the end of the world, too; presumably he goes mad after absorbing too much power.
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 (despite some early-game success). 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 show a severe lack of fair play (putting the glamazons to sleep rather than engage them directly, a crushing blow to morale), 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.
Storming the Castle: We have met the enemy. It's time to take the battle to his home address. You can't enter the Glass Desert, Cave of Darkness, or Jungle of Visions (apart from the countryside surrounding Pedan) until the Mana Sword is robbed and taken to the villain's respective hideout.
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◊.
Sugar Apocalypse: The Mana Holyland gets hammered pretty bad. Upon your arrival, the landscape is still verdant, with the only enemies being Rabites. In subsequent visits, Holyland has already begun the wither away, and the wildlife is replaced with creepy Shapeshifters.
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!
Talk to Everyone: Don Perignon won't spill the beans on Laurent until you've found all of the huts and spoken to their inhabitants.
During the Mirage Palace segment, the party reawakens in Astoria (or do they? — like everything the Masked Mage touches, it is unclear what is real and what is not). The townsfolk are all mute and loitering around the same areas as before, apart from the merchant... talk to all of them, and the merchant reveals himself to be a ghost; he attacks you in the same house where the party first materialized.
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.
All The Worlds Are A Stage: The Mirage Palace is full of bogus doorways leading to places you've seen before, including the ruins of Astoria with the dead townsfolk left staggering around as ghosts(!). Consequently, this might be the only justifiable boss rush in the game. As for Gorva, he's already ghosted, so a little thing like death won't stop him.
Later, the Dark Lich signals his barrier changes by shifting the background to various environments, each corresponding to a different God-Beast. (As opposed to the other two archvillains, who simply change their color.)
Many doors in the game can't be unlocked without supernatural help. You need Gnome to enter the Dwarf city, Jinn to spread pollen over Laurent, Wisp to get into Lampflower Forest, and Dryad to reveal a path in the Jungle of Vision.
As mentioned below, the Mirage Palace is invisible to the naked eye. It won't appear without the help of a mirror, won by defeating Zable Fahr.
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?
Hailfire Peaks: Bucca contains a huge underground spring. A good thing, too, since Booskaboo is able to swim inside and ferry you off before the mountaintop blows!
Lost World: The Ancient Ruins of Light and the Jungle of Visions. Somewhere deep in the forest, the Masked Mage is assembling his army like a regular Colonel Kurtz.
Marathon Level: The final dungeons are inaccessible by sea or air. To reach the final boss, you must first comb through an alien landscape (Glass Desert for the Emperor, Jungle of Vision for the Mage, and Cave of Darkness for Archdemon), defeat the Dark God-Beast and a sub-boss, scour the dungeons for three past bosses, and then fight another sub-boss. There are no gold Goddess statues (just headless ones...shudder), only a long, hard slog back to civilization if you run out restoratives/MP.
The Maze: Labyrinth of Ice Walls and Moonlight Forest are bare-bones examples.
Lampflower forest requires that you visit it at night, which signposts the exit with glowing flower bulbs.
Chartmoon Tower offers up a game of "Hunt the Staircase" with each floor.
Dragon Hole is an web of similar-looking caverns that loop on themselves, with headless statues blocking the paths to Koren. Detours open up once you've located and killed the past bosses lurking around the cave.
Just getting to the Mirage Palace is a hassle. The jungle is a Zelda-style maze (listen for the chime), leading to Zable Fahr and a chest containing a magic mirror which reveals the Masked Mage's location. The courtyard is protected by a Portal Network leading to various puzzle rooms. The palace itself is smaller but no less horrendous: false switches, deadfalls, and a disguised door.
Monster Town: Bucca Island plays home to a tribal village of Tomato Men. Unlike their brethren scattered about the island and elsewhere, these guys are peaceful and willingly fork over equipment and health.
Once again, Mana Holy Land is the place to visit for cheap EXP gains. Following the invasion by Nevarl, Beastman, and Altenan forces, the realm is overrun with Shapeshifters that reap 900 EXP each. (In the previous game, it was Griffin Hands.) Unfortunately they don't come out to play until just before the last boss.
Shifting Sand Land: Nevarl and the Dragon Hole's outer reaches (Glass Desert is the COOLEST name for a desert, hands down).
Ship Level: The Ghost Ship, where Shade is recruited and you temporarily lose one of your party members due to a curse.
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.
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.
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.