The world is facing dark times, to say the least.
The Dark Lord's empire has near-total control of the world, he's only searching for the Tree of Mana to complete his dominance of the world, and the protectors of the tree and the Mana Tribe devoted to it, the Gemma Knights, are nowhere to be found. It seems that the Dark Lord's plans are all in place.
This player-named slave, and his friends Willy and Amanda, have dreams of escaping from these pens — Willy to meet up with the Gemma Knights, Amanda to see her brother Lester, and the player-named slave just wants freedom — though when the pits end up costing Willy his life, the slave agrees to look for Bogard, last of the knights, for his friend.
Things quickly spiral out of hand, as the newly escaped slave quickly finds himself at the epicenter to prevent the Dark Lord's final victory.
Originally a Gaiden Game on the Game Boy for the pigs-flyingly popular Final Fantasy series, it instead became the first game in the Mana series. This is why there are several elements of the former series (like Chocobos, Moogles, and a standard inventory system) present, while several of the latter (Cannon Travel, Mana Spirits) are absent — many of the latter weren't actually introduced until Secret of Mana, when the series split from the Final Fantasy franchise.
It was eventually remade thrice — the first as Sword of Mana for the Game Boy Advance in 2003 to retroactively remove the Final Fantasy elements and make it more in line with the original game's immediate sequels, and the second in 2006 much more faithfully for mobile phones (but only in Japan). A third remake was released in 2016 for iOS, Android and PlayStation Vita for the series' 25th Anniversary. This 3D version includes minor gameplay updates from Sword of Mana and is retitled Adventures of Mana in Western markets, but is otherwise far closer to the original game, taking fewer liberties than Sword of Mana.
Final Fantasy Adventure is known in Japan as Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden (聖剣伝説 ～ファイナルファンタジー外伝～ Translation ), and in Europe as Mystic Quest (not to be confused with a similarly named SNES game, which is called Mystic Quest Legend in Europe). Also not to be confused with The Final Fantasy Legend, which is a whole other can of worms (a thinly Dolled-Up Installment of the first SaGa game, as it's known in Japan).
This game has examples of:
- Absurdly High Level Cap: The game can be beaten below level 40 with the right tactics and equipment; more than that just makes it easier. The level cap is 99, which takes many wasted hours of grinding since the final boss might as well just fall over at that point.
- Ambiguous Gender: For some reason, the citizens of Ish refer to the Chocobo as female in Adventures of Mana, although the local, friendly Mad Scientist and the hero both refer to it as male. This inconsistency didn't exist in the original text. Until the PlayStation Vita release, where the chocobo is consistently referred to as female.
- Big Bad: The tyrannical Dark Lord of Glaive enslaved the hero before the events of the game. After the hero escapes, putting an end to the Dark Lord's reign becomes his main goal. The game pulls a bait-and-switch after the Dark Lord's defeat, when the real main villain turns out to be Julius, who was initially said to be the Dark Lord's second-in-command.
- Bittersweet Ending:
- The hero, after losing just about everything, finally defeats Julius, but the Mana Tree is destroyed after the battle. The heroine, as the sole surviving member of the Mana Tribe, must stay and become the new tree, and the hero is the sole Gemma Knight left to protect her. Sure, the land is at peace, but remember, the heroine is the only one left who can become the object that keeps the world stable. And all of this is set to possibly the saddest and most beautiful 8-bit music in existence. A glimmer of hope appears at the very end of the credits, though, with a shot of the seedling of the new Tree.
- It is implied that the parents of Secret of Mana's hero are the hero and heroine of this game. However, in this game, the heroine became the Mana Tree before any serious relationship happened so how the birthing happened is anyone's guess.
- At the end of Secret of Mana that seedling of hope is literally incinerated, with Ascended Fridge Horror confirmed in Legend of Mana. The world descends into chaos and the hero's quest was ultimately All for Nothing which pushes this more objectively to a Downer Ending in retrospect.
- The last we see of the hero, he is sneaking away from his Chocobo after reuniting it with its real mother..
- Bodyguard Crush: It's implied at the end of the game that the hero and heroine fell for each other along the way, which makes the ending even sadder.
- Breaking and Bloodsucking: You get a free room at the Kett Tower, too bad no good ever comes of a free inn in a video game. You wake up to find that the girl is gone and clues send you to the marsh to find a magic mirror. The mirror reveals that the staff are monsters serving the vampire Mr. Lee, who snatched her in the night and stuffed her in a coffin.
- Charged Attack: There's a meter at the bottom of the screen that automatically charges; the amount of charge determines how much power your attack or spell has. Moreover, choosing to improve your Will score upon level up increases its speed — by the end of the game, the meter fills up so fast, your max charge attacks go from Awesome, but Impractical to cornerstones of your offense.
- The Chosen One: The girl you rescue at the beginning is the final scion of the Mana Tribe, and becomes the Gemma of the Mana Tree when the original one dies.
- Disc-One Final Boss: The guy named "Dark Lord" sure sounds like the Big Bad, doesn't he? After his defeat, Julius, who was previously said to be the Dark Lord's underling, becomes the hero's primary enemy.
- Due to the Dead: Lester goes into mourning after you kill Davias, and stays in Jadd to play requiem for his sister.
- Early Game Hell: With your extremely small HP pool and abundance of enemies that can poison and/or do high damage to you, it's not uncommon for a casual player to experience a lot of deaths early on. Once you learn magic and attain more levels, the game eases up.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: The game contains several nods to the Final Fantasy series, especially the Chocobos, due to being a spinoff of that series. Secret of Mana, the game's sequel, is when the series branched off.
- 11th-Hour Superpower: Excalibur/Xcalibur (the Mana Sword), given to you about four screens before your final showdown with Julius.
- Fire, Ice, Lightning: Three of the four attacking spells are based on fire, lightning, and ice, not unlike in the mainline Final Fantasy games. The last attack spell is Non-Elemental instead.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: You can fling yourself across the screen and hit enemies anywhere on a straight line from you with a fully charged sword strike — but you still can't jump or squeeze your way past many obstacles.
- Get Out!: Bogard throws one of these against the hero after the latter saying he can't save the world. This being right after their raid on the airship to save the heroine failed and they both got thrown out from midair.
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Several bosses are really just there to interfere with you — part of the goal of the remake was to shoehorn them into the plot.
- Guide Dang It!: The figure-eight palm tree puzzle. Many gamers have said it took them years before they figured out the solution.
- Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Originally it was just Hero and Heroine officially, although screenshots in the English version instruction booklet call them Sumo and Fuji respectively. This caught on to the point that the Adventures of Mana translation changed these to the in-game default names, but the Japanese version still dryly dubs them Hero and Heroine.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: Amanda can't fully control herself while undergoing her curse... forcing you to kill her.
- I Lied: A heroic example. Marcie the robot offers to throw you to safety when the Tower of Dime starts to collapse, and says that she will jump the gap after throwing you. She tosses you over the gap, but then admits that she lied, she can't make the jump, and she knew you would waste time trying to save her if she had told you earlier.
- Interchangeable Antimatter Keys:
- Invaluable in this game. They are also very cheap, so many should be bought before each dungeon. However, if you run out, getting more can range from easy to very difficult depending how far you are from a Skeleton room or the nearest item shop.
- Mattocks, used for clearing rocks, are similar, but the morningstar obtained late in the game makes them obsolete. Fortunately, they are dropped by a common enemy that is present in most dungeons that you need them.
- Kaizo Trap: The bosses can still deal damage during their death animations, so it's actually possible to die after defeating them. In fact, if you're a melee-type character, you're almost guaranteed to take damage from their giant death explosion, which can kill you if you were an inch from death when you killed them. The Adventures of Mana remake changed boss defeat mechanics to be more in line with later Mana games; the game renders the Hero immobile during the boss's death animation and the explosion doesn't go any further than the foe's body, so the Kaizo Trap is no more.
- Lord British Postulate: The citizens of towns actually do have health and can be killed. However, unless you are at a high level, it takes a very long time. They also regenerate as soon as you leave the screen, and make you listen to their talking message the moment they die.
- Love at First Sight: The Adventures of Mana remake makes the Heros affection for the Heroine much more obvious and shows it much earlier than what it was hinted at in the original game.
- Made of Iron: You tend to advance the plot by falling from great heights, then getting right back up or at most after a short rest.
- Magic Knight: The Hero bears a similar appearance to the Fighter class of the original Final Fantasy, wears armor, and fights primarily with various melee weapons, but can also cast a variety of both offensive and curative spells.
- Magic Music: Lester's music clears up the poison gas blocking the path from Jadd to Glaive.
- Mascot Mook: While many elements of the series weren't added until later, the game does have Rabites (though they weren't actually named until Secret of Mana).
- Meaningful Name: The vampire early in the game is called Mr. Lee.
- Mercy Kill: The hero is forced is perform one on Amanda after she is poisoned by Medusa and slowly begins transforming into one herself.
- The Mole: Oh, that friendly man who helps you out at a couple of points? Julius, trying to get closer to the girl.
- Moses in the Bulrushes: Julius is a villainous version, as the sole survivor of the evil Vandole empire.
- No One Could Survive That!: You benefit from this twice — perhaps because you're just a slave, Dark Lord and Julius don't really put that much effort in ensuring your demise.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: While Watts is a bit more proactive than his brethren, he's no different (charging you for goods in the middle of the dungeon you agreed to help him with). In fact, he's even worse in that particular regard; later on he charges you a lot of money for equipment he makes out of the silver you risked your own life to get for him, probably because he knows you can't continue the game without it. Adam Smith would be proud.
- Peninsula of Power Leveling: Occurs shortly before finding the Chocobo egg. Wolves are all lined up in front of the player when you enter the screen? Check. The latest and strongest weapon has a full-screen range when charged up? Check. Wolves instantly respawn upon leaving the screen? Check.
- Permanently Missable Content:
- One treasure can only be reached if you use a fully charged attack with the Flame Whip. It's not necessary to beat the game, but it can be left behind.
- Many treasures in this game are permanently missable the instant you reach the Tower of Gemma (the last dungeon), since there is no way back to the overworld after the bridge from the Tower of Dime collapses. However, the final dungeon contains enemy-dropped items and equipment that surpass everything else in all categories, so it isn't really a big deal. It isn't possible to carry all of the unique equipment in the game at once anyway.
- Pet the Dog: When Julius betrays the hero, he thinks to ask, "Why did you help me, back there?" Julius responds that he wasn't sure whether or not the girl the hero was trying to save was the one he was looking for — meaning at the very least he can show some bit of altruism.
- Point of No Return: The end of the Tower of Dime. Be sure to stock up on keys before you finish this dungeon.
- The Professor: Von Boyage, who reappears in Trials of Mana but is given a completely different role in Sword of Mana (since his main accomplishment in the original game's storyline is the Chocobot; he maintains a cannon travel system in Sword of Mana, akin to the ones in Secret of Mana and Trials of Mana), is known as a professor in the English translation of Adventures of Mana (which unintentionally makes Marcie's reference to her creator confusing). In the English translation of Final Fantasy Adventure, he was known as Dr. Bowow, while he's called Professor Bomb in the English translation of Sword of Mana.
- Robot Buddy: A robot named Marcie appears in the Tower of Dime. She heals all of your MP whenever you ask, making her the most valuable NPC ally.
- Spanner in the Works: The main character is a nobody that turns out to be the one element Dark Lord (and later Julius) cannot account for.
- Spell My Name with an S: Certain names were given different spellings or were retranslated between Final Fantasy Adventure and Adventures of Mana, such as Iflyte to Ifrit and Marcie to Marcy.
- Three-Quarters View: The game's main visual perspective is mostly top-down, with objects like buildings and cliff faces having their fronts or sides visible, preventing it from being truly top-down. The game hybridizes this type of view with a side view at points; climbing is done in a manner reminiscent of side-scrolling games, with the climbable vines on cliffs in either dungeons (such as the Cave of Marsh) or the overworld limiting the hero's movement more than ordinary ground travel, with the hero's ability to move up, down, or sideways being limited by whether there's something to grab onto in those situations.
- Unintentionally Unwinnable:
- If you save and leave the game at certain points while out of keys, you can load and be stuck between two locked doors with no way out. Running out of keys in the final dungeon will also leave you screwed, as the last place to buy keys was two dungeons ago and cannot be returned to. The game actually goes to certain lengths to avoid this problem — keys are only required to progress forward in a dungeon; you can never become trapped in any area this way. Also, most dungeons have certain rooms populated with Skeletons and Bubbles. If you kill enough of them, you will find that the Skeletons drop Keys and the Bubbles drop Mattocks. In the final dungeon, skeletons are your only source of keys, so it is a good idea to keep track of where they are.
- The map is on a grid, and eventually you can travel around on the sea when you get a Chocobo. There is one (maybe more) square on the map in which there is no land at all, just sea. Do not save here and turn off the game, as when you start it back up, you can't start riding the Chocobo, so there has to some land for you to stand on. Otherwise, the game will just crash and you have to restart your file.
- It is technically possible to save your game into a permanently unwinnable position with poison. If you save the game with 1 HP and poison, no matter what your stats are, you will instantly die as soon as you load the game. The HP check comes before the input check, so no matter how fast you are with the buttons, you will lose. Also, poison damage depends on your stamina; high-stamina characters take more damage from poison in general. So to be safe, do not ever save while poisoned!
- The Virus: Medusa's poison acts as a type of curse — whoever gets bitten begins turning into another Medusa. Amanda ends up experiencing this, so she ends up asking for a Mercy Kill from the hero.
- You All Look Familiar: Despite being a named character and the Hero's best friend, Will is not given a unique appearance in Adventures of Mana; he is a generic gladiator slave/warrior, akin to the ones seen many times later in the game. His extremely small role apparently couldn't grant him special treatment.