Part of the World of Mana series—a Video Game Remake, in fact, of the first game with many of the Final Fantasy references removed and many more details in keeping with the Seiken Densetsu continuity inserted. It was released for the Game Boy Advance in late 2003.Not so very long ago in the kingdom that would become known as Granz, a knight and sorcerer named Vandole stumbled upon the Mana Tree, inadvertently absorbed its power, and (of course) proceeded to slowly lose his mind and sense of self. He established an empire that abused Mana to power its technology, had a reign of terror, and was eventually vanquished by a small but powerful band of heroes. A bit of time has passed since, and those heroes had begun to settle down and stabilize the world, when trouble (naturally) reemerged. Stroud ...excuse me, Dark Lord (son of Granz, one of the previous generation's heroes) and his... um, friend Julius staged a bloody coup of the Granz regime and began a vicious persecution of the Mana tribe. In so doing, two young children—the son of one of the Granz aristocrats and a girl of the Mana tribe—have their lives very violently disrupted: the girl's family is killed and she is forced to go into hiding, and the boy's parents meet a similar fate. He isn't as lucky as her, and is dragooned into gladiator training by Dark Lord.Ten years later, the boy makes an escape and the girl starts out on a journey to find other Mana survivors. They bump into each other again, and destiny ensues.Like many of the other "old-school" Seiken Densetsu games, Sword of Mana allows the player to choose whether to play as the hero or the heroine. Unlike other Seiken Densetsu games, though, there are significant differences depending on who you choose to play—the hero's route has slightly more focus on dungeon gameplay; in the heroine's story, the characters (particularly the villains) are MUCH more well-developed.Also like many other "old-school" Seiken Densetsu games, Sword of Mana's story is wrought with angst, and a great many main characters die. Good luck not getting attached to any of them, though.
Sword of Mana contains examples of the following tropes:
Anti-Villain: Dark Lord is just bitter over his father's refusal to save his mother; Julius is slowly succumbing to his Vandole blood (that's if he's not Vandole himself). Why are we fighting them again? Oh yes, because they're too stubborn to back down when the heroine begs them to in her route.
Because they're both psychopaths who kill many innocent people and settle at ruining many other lives just as badly to obtain their own goals without hesitation.
Artificial Stupidity: It's best to let your partner die rather than waste healing items on them. If you actually try to keep them alive, the entire game can become an Escort Mission.
Except in Dime Tower, where you are best off simply playing as Marshall and blasting everything to pieces with laserbeams before your main character has a chance to get themself killed.
Ascended Extra: All the characters' roles were expanded and given more depth, but especially Willy stands out for this trope. He didn't even manage to survive the first ten minutes of Final Fantasy Adventure, and here he actually makes party member status! Along with being one of the markedly few characters to actually survive the game.
Awesome, but Impractical: Mooglemorphis turns you into a Moogle! Along with BubbleBoat and Shadow, these spells make the player invisible to all monsters except those that can track you by smell, sight, and sound respectively. However you can't attack, move very slowly, and probably will still be surrounded by monsters if you were trapped before.
Elemental Crafting: The game uses surprising variety of materials for equipment. There are eight classes of materials and two broad gear categories: fighter-type heavy armor and mage-type light armor. Any given piece of equipment can be made from several different material classes, leading to the hero wearing a bone breastplate and metal gauntlets while the heroine wears a cloth robe and wooden sandals. A given material class isn't "better" than another but they give different properties to the equipment they make. The full material list follows:
Elite Mooks: Kill 1000 of a specific enemy and the black version replaces them. This applies to ALL enemies. For example the standard Rabbite becomes a Black Rabbite. (Not the Seiken Dentetsu 3 version though) Said monsters also drop high end materials required for the best equipment.
Fantastic Racism: In many flavors. Ordinary humans against the Mana tribe, humans in general against Mavoles and vice versa, and everyone and everything towards the Vandole family, whose body composition has been altered so much by Mana energy that they're no longer said to belong to any preexisting race.
Generation Xerox: Like every Vandole, Julius has distinctive red hair and green eyes.
The heroine apparently looks just like her real mother, too.
The legendary Gemma Knights were Gemma: a sword-wielding hero, Bogard: a man from the mana clan, and Granz: a minstrel. What are Sumo, Willy, and Lester again? And all of these characters are more or less doomed to re-enact the adventures of the previous generation. The heroine and Julius in particular have a pretty raw deal, as destiny has arranged for the former's self-sacrifice and the latter's loss of humanity.
Genre Savvy: Dark Lord is fully aware of all the implications of his being Julius' Morality Chain, and apparently knows exactly who and what Julius is. Eventually, while dying, he tells the protagonists that they'd better go stop Julius because there's no longer any incentive for him to resist his Vandole blood(or if he is Vandole himself then there's no incentive to hide his true nature).
Girl in a Box: Lee has a whole basement full of them. Turns out Granz told him to keep them there so that they wouldn't be slaughtered out of Fantastic Racism.
Guide Dang It: Sword of Mana takes a lot of cues from Legend of Mana. Unfortunately, this was one of them. Gardening is much more complicated than it looks like if you're trying to get certain kinds of produce, and trying out all the combination without a guide would be a ridiculously time-consuming expenditure. There's also the process of getting crystal weapons, Niccolo's special deals, and oh yes ALL of the advanced classes, especially the ones that require you to specialize in a weapon before you have access to it!
Hijacked by Ganon: There is foreshadowing for this as we already know that Julius is a Vandole before he gets hijacked by the Vandole, but the swerve is still pretty abrupt.
Identical Stranger: Julius has the same face and hairstyle (aside from skin tone or hair color) as the minor character Prince Durac of Lorimar. Marley notices this, but the reason why they look so similar is never explained.
Infinity+1 Sword: Crystal equipment. We're talking MASSIVE stats in all categories, not counting the number of times you can temper them. Crystal weapons even have a chance to deal ALL-(yes, that's what it actually says) elemental damage, while crystal armors resist ALL elements and make you immune to Charm. However, you may find that a mix of other types of armors that resist other Standard Status Effects may be better than just straight-up pure defense. Also however, you'll notice that the heroine can only have crystal weapons and gloves. That's where Altena Felt comes in—does the same job as crystal for fabric equipment, but grants immunity to Confuse instead.
And then of course, the secret Brownie Ring.
Informed Attribute: The game booklet claims that Julius is a master swordsman. We never see him pick up a weapon.
Interspecies Romance: Mavole law forbids marriage and interbreeding with humans. Sometimes couples try anyway; when the geas kicks in for the Mavole member of the couple, the results are never pretty. Poor, poor Medusa. As for the children of such a union, there doesn't seem to be a taboo against relationships, but we never see one take its course without the half-blood dying midway through.
Children of such a union do tend to lead very messed-up lives. Poor Devius and Dark Lord.
Morality Chain: Dark Lord to Julius. True to type, he completely succumbs to his Vandole blood right after Dark Lord's death and makes a beeline for the Mana Tree or(if "Julius" is an assumed identity of Vandole)..... he dropped his "Julius" facade because Dark Lord is no longer a threat.
Mystical Waif: Julius to the villains' side, although Sword of Mana is far more vague on how he and Dark Lord wound up together than the original Final Fantasy Adventure, where Dark Lord was significantly older and Julius was an orphaned child he found in a cave. This does not seem to be the case here, as the two of them are roughly the same age.
Posthumous Character: Vandole and Mana. Granz too, but this eventually turns out to be subverted, as Julius secretly kept him alive to siphon off his magic behind Dark Lord(who has been shown to publicly shun magic)'s back.
Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Mana Tree, after losing its power, must be "recharged" by the self-sacrifice of someone from the Mana tribe.
Punny Name: Goremand. In case you don't get it, consider that it was called Deatheater in the Japanese version.
Rapunzel Hair: So very, very many offenders. The heroine somehow manages to pull this off with curly hair; Lester, Isabella, Medusa, Dark Lord, and Julius all count as well.
Reed Richards Is Useless: The Mana Clan could use the power of mana to save innocent lives such as Medusa's, but won't, because it would "throw off the balance" to help only one person, and/or because it's a slippery slope that leads down to an Evil Empire abusing mana power and using it as a weapon.
Julius also calls the Mana Clan out on this very early in the story, perhaps in parody of the Green Aesop in Secret of Mana. "This wouldn't be happening if you'd stop keeping your powers to yourselves, you know." "Huh? But Mana is everywhere, how could we be hoarding it?" "...Wow, talk about completely missing the point."
Save the Villain: The heroine to every major antagonist you fight. Her route only. It never works.
Ship Tease: Hero/Heroine, Hero/Amanda, Devius/Heroine, Willy/Heroine, Dark Lord/Isabella, and Dark Lord/Julius all get implied at some point or another. Which pairings are hinted and how strongly often depends on whose route you're playing.
Shipper on Deck: Li'l Cactus, it appears, ships Dark Lord and Isabella. And maybe the protagonists.
Sidekick: Even out of the NPCs, the protagonists wind up with particular characters more often than not—for the hero, his designated backup is Lester; for the heroine, this is Willy.
Star-Crossed Lovers: Pretty much every single love story turns out this way: The protagonists in the hero's route, Dark Lord and Isabella, Pamela and Durac, and in the backstory, Bogard and Mana, and Granz and Medusa.
Sword and Sorcerer: Dark Lord and Julius. Depending on their class growth, the main characters can also count.
Sword of Plot Advancement: The titular sword, though it's really more of a Plot Coupon—you can't use it, and it's rusted, so even if it was usable, it wouldn't do you any more good than your other weapons. Even at the climax of the game, where the sword is restored to its proper glory, you still can't use it.
That Man Is Dead: Gurnda and Stroud prefer to be known as Devius and Dark Lord respectively. You can only get away with calling them by their names from their "old lives" if you're very close to them.
The Virus: Medusa's venom inflicts Body Horror on Amanda; the Vandole family's addiction to Mana power eventually gets the better of Julius(of course depending on whether he's Vandole himself or not he may be the one who got the Vandole family addicted to Mana power in the first place).