An Action Adventure slash RPG for the Super Nintendo, and also a Spiritual Successor to Illusion of Gaia, which in turn was a Spiritual Successor to Soul Blazer which was a Spiritual Successor to Act Raiser. Still with us?The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic Earth. After the forces and Light and Darkness fought a fierce war with no winners, all life was wiped-out from the surface and the continents were sunk in the oceans. Life could only endure underground, where everything got covered by a crystal-like mist.The story centers around Ark, a mischievous little scamp who, bored with life in the quiet underground village of Crysta (the only human village left) decides to ignore the orders of his village elder and Open That Which Should Not be Opened, which results in the entire population of his Doomed Hometown (except the Elder) turning into crystal. From there, Ark is then tasked with not only restoring his hometown, but also reviving the world above them.This quest takes Ark to resurface all the continents and start the circle of the evolution of the species, from plants, to animals and finally human being. And from there, recreate all of human history, including events like the discovery of America or inventions like Edison's light bulb, among many others.So similar in play style to its predecessor, Terranigma has often been confused as, and even referred to (in-game, no less) as Illusion of Gaia 2. A fantastically enjoyable game, but was generally crippled in sales due to being released very close to the end of the Super Nintendo's life, as well as being released practically everywhere in the world except America due to the bankruptcy of Enix America and not being able find an American publisher due to the Nintendo 64 literally being right around the corner (it was already released in North America when Terranigma was released in Europe). The multiple themes of religion (as you might guess, this game doesn't make any Creationist happy...) and death present in the title probably had a role too.Known as Tenchisouzou, the original Japanese name of the game, it also got a short Manga adaptation by the same name.
Alternate History: A bit hard to avoid because of the Decade Dissonance. Also, in the town expansion sidequests, the player can change history. For example, if you lie to Bell about his girlfriend dumping him, he won't invent the telephone.
An Interior Designer Is You: Ark can design his own house in Loire, but it doesn't serve much purpose. You can save your game and rest for free in it, though it costs so much compared to inns that it's unlikely you'll ever make a profit.
Possibly parodied, as Ark remarks that he doesn't have any use for much of the furniture when he buys it.
You basically recreate the evolution of the species, which is supposed to take MILLIONS of years, in what in-universe doesn't look more than a couple of months.
It's explained late in the game that Beruga created a vaccine to cure people of a deadly virus. However, vaccines are useless once you're infected. All they can do is train your immune system to kill the virus faster in case you're infected. A scenario that would have made more sense would be for most people to have already been infected by the time the vaccine was completed, making it nigh-useless.
In the ending, it's revealed that Yomi is LUCA, the last universal common ancestor for all lifeforms. Except that he's multicellular, so that can't possibly be true. Even if we assume he's supposed to be the LUCA for Kingdom Animalia, he has bilateral symmetry, which only appeared midway through animal evolution.
During chapter 2, you revive birds, then all animals, then humans. While the last one can be excused due to Humans Are Special, birds are animals too. They're not even in a different phylum than the animals in the Safaritorium! You also never revive fungi or microorganisms, despite them being just as (if not more) important to the ecosystem than plants.
The order of revival is patterned after the order of creation in the Genesis narrative. First Land, then plants, then birds (and sea creatures), then the rest of the animals, then man.
Fungi show up near the Ra Tree after it's revived. Its possible that fungi and microorganisms are lumped in with plants.
Batman Gambit: The Elder manipulated Ark into resurrecting life and leading mankind's evolution for one purpose - to release one of the antagonists.
Background Boss: Subverted with Gossie. The enormous, fire-breathing two-headed dragon looks quite menacing, but it's actually a friendly creature. The real boss are the Hitoderons, the smaller starfish monsters in the foreground.
Badass Cape: Ark has a really nice-looking traveling cloak that he sadly doesn't wear except for when he's traveling the overworld.
The aforementioned Illusion of Gaia 2 reference should've said Illusion of Time 2, because the English version of Terranigma only came out in Europe, and not America.
Another example: four evil dolls circle Ark singing a Japanese children's nursery rhyme, the last line of which is a clue to which doll is the "real" one that Ark should attack. The dolls' circling is timed so that they stop as soon as the nursery rhyme is finished. Now, to be fair, this is a very tricky thing to translate. There are a few ways one could go about this:
1. Try to make an English nursery rhyme that uses the same number of characters as the original Japanese, so that the nursery rhyme would still end in the right place. This would be almost impossible due to the extreme verbosity of the English language as compared to Japanese.
2. Write an English nursery rhyme that's as short as you can get it, and collaborate with the coders to lengthen the dolls' spin time to match the length of the new nursery rhyme.
3. Write an English nursery rhyme that's as short as you can get it, and collaborate with the coders to speed up the rate at which the text appears so that it matches the length of time that the dolls spin.
4. Be unfathomably lazy and just do a literal word-for-word translation of the nursery rhyme, leave the dolls' spin length alone so they stop spinning right in the middle of the song, before the last line that gives the hint to the identity of the "real" doll has shown, and call it a day.
Comic Book Time: The time in Terranigma is much more confusing than Comic Book Time. People and animals are not born but come into existence (when Ark resurrects them or when a town expands). Assuming the game spans hundreds of years, all of the characters are immortal (and not aging Except Leim). Assuming the game spans only a few years, every event (towns developing, King Henri's invasion of Storkholm) takes place incredibly fast and the overworld characters do not have a history prior to their "resurrection".
Compressed Adaptation: The two volume Japan-only manga, which is currently being translated by Glacial Rebellion on Blogspot.
Collision Damage: Can be confusing at times, as many enemies have weirdly-sized hitboxes.
Cute Mute: Lightside Elle, before she regains her memory.
Dark Is Not Evil: Ark is the dark counterpart to the light world hero, but it's more complicated than that. While Ark and everyone from Crysta are nice and kind people, they were also created specifically to fulfill evil goals. For instance, Ark is a well intentioned kid in good spirits, but he's also destined to revive Beruga, which he does.
Decade Dissonance: Justified because most of the development is created during the game, and the ones that weren't are either from before the plane (thus making it hard to share the technology) or from before the end of the previous world, being property of Beruga.
There is also Decade Dissonancewithin a city itself — one of the characters, Perel, is a stereotypical black 90s skateboarder kid. You first meet him in a village that's around the seventeenth or eighteenth century in terms of technological progression.
Depopulation Bomb: Asmodeus, the virus that devastated the previous generation of humans that Beruga belonged to is the same virus that wipes out *almost* all the people in Neotokio. (See The Plague)
Eat The Dog: Ark is offended when snowed in with a mountain goat whose avalanche survival plan involves eating her dead husband.
Engagement Challenge: There is one in Loire, although it's subverted; King Henry doesn't care about his "daughter", he just wanted her to regain her memory so that she could tell him where Storkolm's treasure is.
Escort Mission: At one point in chapter 2, you have to help Leim do a test that all lions have to do. It's quite frustrating.
Eternal Recurrence: An important plot device. Not everything would be exactly the same each time, though. It's heavily implied that this is the first instance that Dark Ark got as far as he did (by merging with Light Ark later on, and not just simply being killed once his purpose to restore the world was done), and destroyed his own creator for a time. Despite being a part of Dark Gaia himself, Dark Ark is not able to be fully controlled by him.
Fission Mailed: When Dark Ark meets the spirit of his lightside counterpart, he falls over dead. A cutscene later, it's shown that they were both reincarnated together as the same child. This also happens when Beruga kills Ark after being released.
Forced Level Grinding: Mostly because gaining levels increases your power exponentially, and when you're even slightly under-leveled, you won't be able to deal more than a scratch with each hit. Even against common Mooks.
For Doom the Bell Tolls: In two tracks, Setting Off On A Journey (the Underworld theme) and Wandering Spirits (the "creepy" theme).
Good Bad Translation: The somewhat good translation begins to fall apart near the end of the game, and it's debatable whether it completely shatters or magically redeems itself with Beruga's infamous "I thank you for arousing me" line.
Gory Discretion Shot: Every time someone dies, the screen just turns black and, at most, flashes red. Which is surprising, considering how often this trope was averted in Illusion of Gaia.
In Yunkou, a sidequest requires you to cross all the way back through the Taklama desert and give a flower to the mute girl in the nomads' camp. In fairness, the game does tell you that flowers will cheer up a mute girl. Unfortunately, there are also red herrings clouding the issue. The mute girl in the nomads' camp? Not the only mute girl in the game. Earlier in the plot, there is a mute princess in the castle that you were told to fix. The flower doesn't work on her.
Due to Forced Level Grinding mentioned above, most people seem to think that you're meant to gain a good 5-10 levels before fighting That One Boss Bloody Mary to be able to do more than single-digit damage to her. However, what you're meant to do is to use your various spell-casting rings to deplete most of her HP. The only problem is that you're only allowed to use them against specific bosses, the game never tells you which ones and it's easy to forget that it's even an option.
The Final Boss only becomes vulnerable if you turn your back to it. The game does not give you any hints to this.
Happy Ending Override: Ark wonders what he was fighting for after he gets "killed" by the man he was told to resurrect, and in the ending upon realizing that he has been fighting for a world he was never a part of.
Holding Out for a Hero: The entire world does this, requiring a hero to restore the continents and further human evolution.
Hollow World: The game starts out in one before you head to the world.
Human Popsicle: Beruga, and the humans who he has granted immortality.
Humans Are Bastards: If you return to Evergreen after resurrecting humanity, you will notice that it has taken a change for the worse. Also, if you expand Suncoast (Australia), the animals you helped earlier will be captured and put in a zoo.
I'm a Humanitarian: One goat in chapter 2 doesn't think anything of eating her dead husband.
Immortal Hero: Ark seems to die three times in the game, only to be brought back, generically. This only makes his "death" after the defeat of the final boss all the more moving.
Impassable Desert: The Taklama desert cannot be crossed without first getting directions from the nomads. Even if you know the way from previous playthroughs, you'll still get kicked out if you haven't cleared the desert town.
Improvised Weapon: A lot of things Ark gets his hands on could be used as spears or rods. Even spiky plant branches.
Inn Security: Every time you get a free night at the inn, expect something relevant to the plot to happen.
Interface Screw: The Confused status ailment that randomly rotates your directional controls either 90 or 180 degrees. Taken further, in that every time the game reminds you that you're confused, the controls are re-randomized.
Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: A lot of famous people appear in the game with different names. Sven Hedin and Christopher Columbus are two examples.
Leitmotif: Characters with their own theme songs include Yomi, Elle, Leim, Royd, Fyda, Perel and Beruga.
Lost Forever: A bunch of the civilization growth bonuses should you elect Louis as mayor of Loire or lie to Bell about his girlfriend dumping him. Or even if you screw up the construction of the Big Mick.
You can also miss raising Polynesia and Mu from the ocean in the first chapter.
There are also numerous magirocks that can be permanently missed if the areas where they are located in get changed.
The Lost Woods: Norfest Forest. Particularly aggravating in that trial and error is a necessity because your pathfinding item only indicates whether you take a correct turn, and there's also a section that's quite dark.
Love Makes You Evil: The reason Meilin helped Wong was because she had a crush on Ark, who liked Elle instead of her.
Never Got To Say Goodbye: Meilin, Meihou and Perel. Even though Ark never even thinks about them after leaving them in the switch rooms.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The plot practically revolves around this trope. Hell, the game starts off with you opening Pandora's Box. But near the end it turns out to be a subversion. In fact, not only have you not broken it, you actually... well, look at the next entry.
Nintendo Hard: A few of the bosses are made exponentially more difficult by having Collision Damage coupled with weird hit detection, an Instant Death Radius that forces you to use an attack that gives you a few frames of invulnerability with a possibility of getting caught up on the boss and taking massive damage, or has absurd attacks that deal damage faster than you can heal.
Yet, at the time of its launching, the game was heavily criticised for being far too easy. Go figure.
Even by today's standards this game is pretty easy. The "few frames of invulnerability" are pretty much the whole attack that you're using almost exclusively because it does the most damage in almost every case. The game just gets difficult if you miss one or two levels and so cause minimal damage. When you come back after 15 minutes of Forced Level Grinding most fights are trivial.
No Export for You: The game was only released outside of Japan to Pal territories, likely due to it's heavy religious themes, violent deaths and family unfriendly scenes, and various events that are a little too similar to touchy real world issues, which would never had gotten through the US-Nintendo's strict censorship policies at the time. It also didn't help that Enix, who published the previous two games, closed its North American branch at the time so it didn't have a publisher.
A small theory was that it couldn't have gotten a publisher because it came very very late in the Super Nintendo's lifespan, (When it was finally released in PAL territories; the Nintendo 64 was only three months away.)
No Sneak Attacks: Averted when The Elder orders Elle to kill the recently reincarnated hero while he's still a newborn.
In a letter, lightside Elle admits to having killed King Henri while he was sleeping upon seeing what he did to her parents and their home. He deserved it.
Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Dr. Beruga's robot-filled labs and airship are fairly mundane technology once you think about it, though obviously really expensive equipment. But he is one hell of a Morally Ambiguous Doctorate slash Evilutionary Biologist - he's cracked immortality, resurrection of the dead, and biological weapons so powerful they can kill off the entire human race.
Scenery Porn: Just look at some of the images of Earth during the resurrections during the first part of the game.
Schizo Tech: Since the game covers some 2,000 years of human and technological evolution over the space of a few (in-game) years, it's hard to avoid this in places. Also leads to Decade Dissonance when some cities advance before others.
Science Is Bad: ...Maybe. On the one hand, technological and scientific progress helps the people in the game grow and prosper, but on the other hand, one of the primary antagonists is a Mad Scientist... Perhaps the moral is "some science is good, but too much is bad"?
It's more like a Positivist view on science, meaning that science is more like a neutral... thing, and that depending on the use people give to it, it can be good (most of those who invented something) or bad (Beruga, hands down).
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: It turns out that Ark is one of two chosen ones and his quest has merely been to perform his role in turning the cycle of the dual world, by resurrecting one and destroying the other... the exact same role role he fulfilled in his past life, and the one before that, and for an unknown number of cycles. And he'll keep on doing it until the end of time, or until the day the cycle is broken by the defeat of one of the two chosen. And every single time he will die once his duty is done, because the last step of it is to destroy his own world, himself included.
Subverted; it may be a Shaggy Dog Story to Ark, but it literally means the world to everyone else.
In some ways, the ending itself is one. Sure, it's more of a Bittersweet Ending when you take The Stinger into account, but even then, despite everything that he's been fighting for, the world that Ark saved is one he'll never be allowed to be a part of and his precious hometown is nothing more than a gentle illusion that's fated to disappear after one more day allowed to him by the gods as a "reward" for his sacrifice. That's harsh, no matter how you cut it.
Social Darwinist: Dr. Beruga, who only wants those who he deems necessary to exist, as hideous undead.
Spam Attack: Rapidly tapping the attack button will cause Ark to go into a flurry of jabs with his spear.
Speaks Fluent Animal: And plant too , until humans are revived. Well, there are a few you can still talk to, but that's presumed to be a glitch.
The Stinger: Following Ark's dream of becoming a bird and presumably dying, lightside Elle appears in Storkholm when someone (or something) knocks on the door; it is widely assumed to be Ark. Throughout the years some theories have evolved concerning how this is possible (not counting "it just happened"). They include:
The one who knocked the door is the hero from the light world who was separated from Ark and sent back to the light world after defeating Dark Gaia. In the light world Ark lives through him and is reunited with his eternal love. This theory is a bit problematic because unless you believe Ark and the light world hero are two parts of a single person, it means that the love between Ark and darkside Elle was not genuine but a simple copy of the destined love between their duplicates, and a guy you know nothing about gets to be happy.
The dream was real and the bird from it knocked on the door, supported by the fact that right before the stinger, the bird is seen stopping above a forest, and Storkholm is inside a forest. Also, during the stinger you can hear birds squeaking, but that might be because of the early hour. Basically, this means that God reincarnated darkside Ark as a bird so he can live with his loved one...as a bird...
Strawman Political: The Dirty Communist candidate in the Loire election is literally dirty - a notorious deadbeat drunkard. Not so much in the moral sense, though. However, if you vote for him, the town does not evolve.
The second form of Dark Gaia could be considered either this or just plain Idiot Ball, as well. It's flying, so you can't hit it unless it comes close to you, which it presumably does to attack you better or...something. You'd think it would wise up to this after the second time you whip around and smack it, though.
Three Laws Compliant: Beruga directly references all three laws, then points out that his robots don't actually follow those, but just obey and protect him.
Thriving Ghost Town: Louran, a prosperous and thriving town in the middle of the desert... that turns out to be a mirage over a destroyed village filled with shambling zombies that are the remains of the people that you were talking to yesterday.
Throw the Dog a Bone: Played to a ridiculous extent in the ending as a compensation for Ark's expected death: darkside Ark gets one more day to live in the ilusion that used to be his life before dying. He then dreams one last happy dream about being a bird wandering in the upperworld, watching it as it evolves.
Too Awesome to Use: Ironically, not the magic rings. Magic rings can't be used on (most) bosses, so there's really no reason not to use them recklessly in the dungeons. Rather, it's basic healing items that are too awesome to use. Yes, you're in danger now, but you'll need a lot of healing for the upcoming boss, won't you? So, it is more likely that the player will stock up on Grass Pins to heal, and leave basic mundane healing items for boss encounters.
The Unfought: Beruga gets killed before you get the chance to fight him.
Useless Useful Spell: The only time you'll use spells is when fighting Bloody Mary, because every other boss fight flat-out disables your magic for no real reason. A shame, because the magic you get is actually pretty darned powerful.
Videogame Geography - both the underworld and the overworld maps are in fact toroidal. Although in the case of the underworld map, a lava sea prevents you from travelling all the way around in any direction. But yeah, the overworld is completely toroidal, you can get to the South Pole by travelling north from Greenland.
Was It Really Worth It?: Ark wonders this after he gets "killed" by the man he was told to resurrect, and in the ending upon realizing that he has been fighting for a world he was never a part of.