World of Mana, also known as the Seiken Densetsu (Legend of the Holy Sword) series, is a group of (mostly) action RPGs, most of which also tenuously share a setting. Most of the games center on a Mana Tree, the source of magic in the world, and the eponymous Mana Sword.Games in the series include:
Rise of Mana (forthcoming, iOS/Android; only officially announced for Japan thus far, although the fact that a trademark has been registered under this name in Europe suggests that it may be released elsewhere as well)
Seiken Densetsu Legend of Mana - Amata no Tsuchi, Amata no Hito (2000, by Hiromi Hosae; a novelisation of Legend of Mana)
Unfortunately, to some extent the Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles series have usurped the place of World of Mana in the Square Enix pantheon, with the aforementioned games featuring the 3D version of the three-character action RPG gameplay for which the World of Mana series was once known. This has caused Square Enix to start scrambling to find a different genre for the World of Mana series, such as the RTS Heroes of Mana and pure action game Dawn of Mana, the latter of which was extremely poorly received and criticized. A trademark for Circle of Mana was filed in September 2012. As it turns out, it's a casual social RPG in the same vein as Final Fantasy X GREE and The World Ends With You Live Remix.The Square USA game Secret of Evermore is sometimes confused for being part of the World of Mana, but while it was obviously inspired by Secret of Mana (it has a ring-based menu system) it doesn't have any of the World of Mana story elements in it, and magic effects are based on alchemy formulas rather than, well, mana.
In Seiken Densetsu 3 the attack charging is changed from holding down a button to filling up the meter by hitting the enemy with melee strikes. (As far as pure DPS goes, though, it's still much more practical to just use the first level charge.)
Broken Bridge - You have to pull the Mana Sword out to chop down the plant blocking your way back home in Secret of Mana; you similarly need the Axe to break through rocks and the Whip to jump certain gaps.
In Seiken Densetsu 3, you can't even access the Moonlight Forest (where the Luna elemental is hidden) until you've gained Salamander, Undine, and Sylph, nor can you access where Dryad is hidden until you use the Luna elemental on the row of trees blocking your path.
Cap - Every inventory item in Secret of Mana is capped to four. In Seiken Densetsu 3, you can hold up to nine of each item in the ring menu, with more storeable in an inventory menu that's only accessible outside of battle. What's more, the number of items in the ring menu is also limited.
Charged Attack - Characters in Secret of Mana can charge their weapons up to their skill level with the weapon. Unfortunately, charging, especially to higher levels, takes a while, and also slows down your movement significantly, for an inconsiderable increase in damage. Some weapons inflicted additional status effects when charged, making this useful in limited situations.
Much more useful in Final Fantasy Adventure, where you could level up how quickly the meter would charge, and could reasonably spam them in the final battle.
In Seiken Densetsu 3 and Legend of Mana, the charge meter builds by successful attacks, and in Legend certain NPCs have synchronization effects that can help build said meter faster.
The Chosen One - Also present in several iterations of the game. Its presence in Sword of Mana is one of the major plotline differences between it and its original release.
In Seiken Densetsu 3, the chosen one is whoever the Fairy chooses to inhabit.
Cool Sword - Generally the Mana Sword, but other equippable swords in various titles are also pretty impressive.
Co-Op Multiplayer - Secret of Mana was the first RPG to feature a co-operative multiplayer gameplay mechanic where a second or third player could drop-in and drop-out at any time. Seiken Densetsu 3 used the same form of co-operative multiplayer.
Angel's Fear aka the Secret of Mana Theme. Yes, that's all done with a SNES chipset.
Dark Is Not Evil - Shade, the Spirit of Darkness. While he may be a creepy floating bat-eyeball, and is the only one to actively pit the heroes against monsters to prove themselves, he is still very much on the side of good.
Final Fantasy Adventure also ends this way: All of the hero's friends have been killed (with the exception of Lester, who the hero leaves behind in Jadd to mourn his dead sister...who the hero had to kill when she turned into a monster), and the girl he worked so hard to protect is giving up her existence to become the new Mana Tree.
And if you consider Secret of Mana to be the chronological sequel to Final Fantasy Adventure, she ends up dying anyway when Thanatos destroys the Tree with the Mana Fortress.
Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors - Undine (water) opposes Salamander (fire), Sylph (wind/lightning) opposes Gnome (rock), Luna (moon) opposes Dryad (plant), Lumina (light) opposes Shade (dark) and vice versa. Some games also have the Aura (metal) element replace Luna as Dryad's opposite.
Human Cannonball - Cannon travel. Thank goodness your characters don't take fall damage!
Hyperspace Arsenal - Most obvious in Seiken Densetsu 3, where you have a second "bag of holding" that can hold quite a bit more than the main inventory, but all of the other games has your party carting around quite a bit of stuff. Even more so in Legend of Mana, where you can carry a ridiculous amount of Vendor Trash, weapons, armor, instruments, and magical artifacts in your pockets.
Inexplicably Identical Individuals - The unaccountably dancing, turban-wearing merchants. Presumably they are all part of a very powerful guild, because their reach extends across all time periods and dimensions.
Insurmountable Waist High Fence - Bushes, rocks, or even just mildly rough terrain can prove impassable; in Seiken Densetsu 3, the entrance to the dwarf cave is blocked by an insurmountable optical illusion that cannot be bypassed unless you talk to an NPC and then use the Wisp elemental to remove said illusion.
In-Universe Game Clock - Seiken Densetsu 3 has both a Day/Night cycle and a weekly cycle tied into character stats, types of monsters spawned, and which NPCs are active; Legend of Mana has a weekly cycle whose only obvious effect is which teachers are in session at the Geo academy and whether you can recruit Pearl or Blackpearl in the Bejeweled City after you've finished the Jumi arc.
Light Is Not Good - Several of the games have light-elemental monsters, including Secret of Mana's, Dread Slime and Terminators, Seiken Densetsu 3's Full Metal Hagger and Lightgazer and Sword of Mana's Light Cyclops.
Luck Stat - Determines the appearance and quality of what Randomly Drops, and also how many "safe" squares are present in a trapped box.
Mascot Mook: Rabites are the series' signature monster, present in every iteration. A few others (like the Chobin Hood enemies) are recurring as well, and monster design in general is extremely consistent across the series.
Mook Maker - Eggplant Men have a tendency to summon zombies, whereas Slimes can reproduce and at least one boss in Seiken Densetsu 3 and Dawn of Mana can summon Mooks to attack the party; several of the games also have destructible enemy spawn points.
In Seiken Densetsu 3, once the heroes finally complete their goal of rounding up all eight spirits in order to open a gate to the Holyland, it turns out that their efforts allowed the Mana Stones to be unsealed, opening a gate that every faction other than the heroes is able to use.
And then, after stopping an apocalypse by defeating the eight God-beasts, you realize that by defeating them, you released their power into the Sword of Mana. Too bad you let The Dragon take the sword, hero.
Keldy and Ritzia sneak into the ruins that they're not supposed to enter, and Keldy kills the Giant Enemy Crab guarding the area when it tries to attack Ritzia...and then Ritzia gets possessed by the spirit of an evil sorceress, who wants to unleash the Echoes of Malvolia onto Illusia. Oops.
Our Werewolves Are Different - Werewolves show up in most of the games. They are called Beast-Men in Seiken Densetsu III but they only look wolfish at night. During the day they resemble camels for some reason. Kevin, one of the playable characters, appears more human as he's a Half-Human Hybrid, but he can go full-on werewolf at night.
Palette Swap - Almost every early enemy has a harder palette-swapped version. The player characters themselves in Seiken Densetsu 3 are usually palette-swapped for their class changes.
In Dawn of Mana, you can backtrack to just about any point in any stage except for the last one, where a large, unclimbable drop keeps you from Level Grinding for better stats before the second-to-last boss.
Randomly Drops - Several of the orbs necessary to power up the weapons on Secret of Mana can only be obtained by random drops from certain enemies in the final area. The items necessary to upgrade character classes in Seiken Densetsu 3 are similarly tricky to get.
Meanwhile, in Legend of Mana, you can have a pet that, if you're synchronized with it, guarantees an enemy killed will drop something, but what gets dropped is still randomly determined.
Respawning Enemies - Killing all the enemies on a screen in Sword of Mana causes them to respawn after a few seconds. This is annoying, but can make farming random drops easier, and since the game has both a healing spell and a technique that lets you recover MP, it stops the player from completely recharging after every battle. In the other games, enemies respawn if you leave the area far enough and return, making Level Grinding fairly easy for areas where you can just keep going in a circle, killing things along the way.
Until you realize some of the enemies there can drop keys.
Additionally, if you didn't grind enough stat boosts before the save point before the second-to-last boss in Dawn of Mana, you are probably going to have to restart the entire chapter.
Vaporware - Seiken Densetsu: The Emergence of Excalibur was a Famicom Disk System game that started development in 1987. Its goals were too big for its britches, and the game collapsed under its own weight. A completely unrelated title named Gemma Knights was then renamed and released on the Game Boy as the series-starting game we're all familiar with; the creators thought the name Seiken Densetsu was too slick of a trademark to lose. More info can be found here.
Video Game Remake - Final Fantasy Adventure was upgraded into Sword of Mana, bringing it more in line with the rest of the series, ditching the carryover Final Fantasy influences for more familiar Mana references. (Chocobos replaced with cannon travel, for instance.)