Video Game: World of Mana
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:
- Final Fantasy Adventure (1991, Game Boy)
- Secret of Mana (1993, Super NES)
- Seiken Densetsu 3 (1995, Super Famicom; Japan only, though a fan translation is available via emulation; commonly nicknamed Secret of Mana 2)
- Legend of Mana (2000, PlayStation)
- Sword of Mana (2003, Game Boy Advance, remake of Final Fantasy Adventure)
- Children Of Mana (2006, Nintendo DS)
- Friends of Mana (2006, mobile phone, Japan only)
- Dawn of Mana (2007, PlayStation 2)
- Heroes of Mana (2007, Nintendo DS)
- Rise of Mana (2014, 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)
in the series include:
- Seiken Densetsu Legend of Mana (2000, by Shiro Amano, based on the game of the same name; later collected into a two-volume set in 2008)
- Princess of Mana (2007, five-volume work by Satsuki Yoshino, set 300 years after Children Of Mana and 310 years after Dawn of Mana)
Novels in the series include:
- 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.
- Accidental Hero - Final Fantasy Adventure starred an escaped slave who gets caught up in a fight to save the world. The hero of Secret of Mana appears to be this—he originally only needs the titular sword to cut tall grass—until his identity is revealed.
- Awesome but Impractical - Charging your attack as of Secret of Mana onward.
- 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.)
- In Legend of Mana, some charged attacks do become worth the effort, as it's the only way to inflict Massive Damage on the harder difficulty levels.
- Beneath the Earth: Gaia's Navel.
- Bittersweet Ending - If the ending to a game in this series isn't a Downer Ending, changes are good that it'll be a Bittersweet Ending. Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3 are great examples.
- Black and White Magic - The Girl and Sprite from Secret of Mana, Angela and Carlie from Seiken Densetsu 3.
- Black Magician Girl - Angela is a great example.
- Blade on a Stick - The Spear and Javelin in Secret of Mana; Riez wields one in Seiken Densetsu 3; the Spear is also a weapon type in Legend of Mana.
- Body Horror - Amanda's fate in Final Fantasy Adventure, and the effect of the Echoes in Dawn of Mana.
- Book Ends - A recurring trope.
- 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.
- Childhood Friend Romance:
- 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.
- Crowning Musicof Awesome - Sacrifice Part III from Seiken Densetsu 3
- 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.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu? - The Final Boss of most games is generally a sufficiently terror-inspiring Eldritch Abomination; in Seiken Densetsu 3 you fight eight God-Beasts and the final boss absorbs all of their power, as well as that of the Mana Sword; and in Legend of Mana, you even have to kill the Mana goddess' Super-Powered Evil Side.
- Doomed Hometown - In Dawn of Mana, the Hidden Elf Village where Keldy is raised gets invaded; the Girl from Secret of Mana hails from one of these as well, and in Seiken Densetsu 3 all six protagonists hometowns get invaded/taken over by bad guys at one point or another (the order thereof depending on who you picked to be your Power Trio).
- Downer Ending - Secret of Mana. Two of the three arcs leading to the endgame in Legend of Mana also end this way.
- 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.
- Elemental Crafting - The crafting system in the later games follows this trope.
- Elemental Powers:
- 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.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies - All over the place as minor Mooks
- The Evil Empire - Your main enemy in most of the games.
- Evil Sorcerer - Generally The Dragon to the Big Bad
- Fighter, Mage, Thief - Your party in most games.
- Five-Man Band: Your party in Heroes Of Mana. There are exactly five main characters.
- Floating Continent - The Mana Fortress in Secret of Mana and the Holyland in Seiken Densetsu 3.
- You need to ride Flammie through a portal to reach the Mana Holyland. However, it's unclear as to whether the Holyland itself is airborne.
- Giant Enemy Crab - A boss battle Final Fantasy Adventure, Seiken Densetsu 3, Legend of Mana, and Dawn of Mana.
- Global Airship - Flammie, in the games where you get him.
- Go for the Eye - The Demon Wall in Secret of Mana, and the Full Metal Hugger boss in Seiken Densetsu 3 (although it had two eyes).
- Good Old Fisticuffs - The Fist weapons in Secret of Mana and Legend of Mana; Kevin fights like this in Seiken Densetsu 3.
- The Goomba - Rabites.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All - Unlocking/restoring the mana stones in most games; getting all of the Weapon Orbs in Secret of Mana; collecting all of the artifacts and getting all of the Cactus Diary entries in Legend of Mana.
- Götterdämmerung - Most (if not all) of the Mana games feature the destruction of the Mana Tree along with the loss of the world's magic (they both get better, eventually.)
- Guide Dang It:
- Good luck figuring out how to trigger some of the subquests in Legend of Mana or how to master Item Crafting.
- Knowing which enemies to farm for the third job class unlocking item or the best weapons/armor in Seiken Densetsu 3 is also a massive pain in the butt even with a Guide.
- Unlocking secrets in Dawn of Mana can be stumbled upon by accident if you explore every inch of the stage, but still just about impossible without a guide.
- Harder Than Hard - "No Future" mode on Legend of Mana and "Ultimate" mode on Dawn of Mana.
- Hello, Insert Name Here
- Heroic Sacrifice - So many times in Final Fantasy Adventure that it gets to be like a punch in the gut. Averted in the remake, which leaves some grumbling.
- Hidden Elf Village - In Seiken Densetsu 3, hidden in The Lost Woods; in Dawn of Mana, on its own remote island.
- There is one in Secret of Mana as well: the Sprite's home town, but sadly it's destroyed by the Empire just before you arrive.
- Hiroki Kikuta - Composed the entire soundtracks for Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3, as well as scattered tracks from the post-Legend of Mana games.
- Holy Hand Grenade - Light magic is one of the elements, with the patron spirit Wisp; in most games it only has one or two offensive spells, focusing instead on healing and defense.
- Honest John's Dealership - Niko/Niccolo, who sells overpriced items in most games and bilks quite a few people out of their hard-earned money (including the player character) in Legend of Mana.
- 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.
- Hyperactive Metabolism: Various kinds of sweets serve as healing items in this series.
- Improbable Hairstyle - Quite a few of the characters. Legend of Mana hangs a lampshade if you choose the female protagonist.
- Inexplicable Treasure Chests - Where was the Rabite keeping that thing?
- 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.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja - Recurring enemies in the series, and Hawkeye can become one.
- 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.
- Interface Spoiler - in Children Of Mana with your empty weapon slots and to a lesser extent, the gems.
- 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.
- Kenji Ito: Composed the entire soundtrack for Final Fantasy Adventure/Sword of Mana and some of the tracks for the post-Legend of Mana games.
- Killer Rabbit:
- Item Crafting - Legend of Mana and Sword of Mana both allow the player to forge much better weapons than they can buy in stores.
- It's All Upstairs from Here - The tower in the City of Gold in Secret of Mana and the Luna Tower in Seiken Densetsu 3; the Tower of Leires in Legend of Mana isn't quite all going upstairs, but it may as well be.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia - Sprite from the Secret of Mana and Pearl from Legend of Mana.
- Legendary Weapon: The Sword of Mana. Even more legendary because it is ALL the legendary swords that have ever existed, just with different name on each occasion.
- 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.
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards
- Lost World: The Mana Holyland.
- 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.
- Nature Spirit - The Mana Sprites.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero - In Secret of Mana, releasing the sword from the stone on the waterfall spawns Rabites outside of town, eventually leading to the hero getting kicked out of the village forever.
- 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.
- New Game+ - A feature in both Legend of Mana (carries over items, levels, and equipment) and Dawn of Mana (carries over earned badges and acquired pets).
- The Obi-Wan - Bogard in Final Fantasy Adventure and Sword of Mana.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same - Except for the one in Sword of Mana who wants to "quit" being a Dwarf. He goes back to the mine in the end.
- The Mana series is notable, though, for having dwarves that rather than looking like short Scotsmen are pitch black and all wear cool looking war helmets.
- Our Dragons Are Different: The Chibi-looking dragons (to which Flammie is related) are helpful and friendly, whereas the scaly varieties as presented as hostile and warlike.
- Our Fairies Are Different: The sylph magic.
- Our Liches Are Different: The Big Bads of the 16-bit games.
- 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.
- Point of No Return
- 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.
- Quicksand Box - In Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3 you could theoretically travel to any spot on the globe, but realistically it'd be a lot easier to take the path recommended by online walkthroughs and there are multiple choke points where you can't get past unless you have the right kind of magic.
- 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.
- Rapunzel Hair - Just about every female character in all of the games; Hawkeye in Seiken Densetsu 3 is a male version.
- Rebellious Princess - Purim from Secret of Mana, (comes from a noble family, and is not actually royalty but otherwise fits perfectly,) and Angela (and to some extent Carlie) from Seiken Densetsu 3.
- Recurring Location: The Mana Holy Land, which is routinely blown to smithereens.
- Recruit Teenagers with Attitude
- 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.
- Ring Menu - a staple of the series since Secret of Mana.
- Saintly Church - The Churches of Mana
- Scenery Porn: The series as a whole sports a very unique art style and color palette. Load up a rom of Seiken Densetsu 3 some time and boggle at how seamless the tilesets can be.
- Squishy Wizard - Most of the caster classes in all of the games.
- Standard Status Ailments
- The Starscream - Fairly frequent in occurrence, in fact, as several games have one.
- Spiritual Successor - The Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles series.
- Summon Magic - the spells in Secret of Mana all involve calling up the respective Nature Spirit and having them blast the enemy or buff the party.
- Thematic Series - Although the more recent games are tied together more closely, the first four games have little (if anything) tying them together.
- Ultimate Blacksmith - Watts in most games; in Legend of Mana, he teaches the player character to be their own Ultimate Blacksmith.
- Unnecessary Combat Roll - Both in super moves and as its own normal ability in Legend Of Mana.
- And in Dawn of Mana, it might be marginally faster than running, so it's abused in Speed Runs; there's even a badge that lets you roll longer.
- Unwinnable - You'll need at least two Interchangeable Antimatter Keys to get through the final dungeon of Final Fantasy Adventure. If you don't have them, or use them in the wrong spot, then you can't advance to the Final Boss.
- 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.
- 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.)
- The Virus - What causes Amanda's Body Horror in Final Fantasy Adventure; the Echoes in Dawn of Mana have a similar effect.
- World Tree - The Mana Tree in its various incarnations.
- Yoko Shimomura - She composed the music for Legend of Mana, Sword of Mana and Heroes of Mana. For Sword Of Mana, she arranged Kenji Ito's original compositions.