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Video Game / Illusion of Gaia

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Psychic Kid Hero and friends can breathe in space.

An Action-Adventure game with RPG Elements for the Super Nintendo, developed by Quintet. Enix (now Square Enix) published the game in Japan, and Nintendo published it worldwide, with release dates of November, 1993 (Japan) and September, 1994 (North America). It was released in Europe in April, 1995 under the title Illusion of Time. The game revolves around the adventures of Will, a boy with Psychic Powers who winds up having to Save the World from an ancient evil that wiped out the legendary civilizations of the past. The game never met the levels of success that Secret of Mana or Chrono Trigger did, probably because it is short, but it is still well-remembered by many.

Illusion of Gaia describes its setting as the "age of exploration". In practice, it's that special blend of Medieval European Fantasy and Victorian Britain that Eastern RPGs are fond of mixing up, with an emphasis on Landmarks of Lore and world explorers. The father of Will is one such explorer. Sometime in the recent past, father and son went on an expedition to the Tower of Babel, but a completely mysterious something went wrong. Only Will made it back home, but with only vague memories of the journey there and back, and adding to the mystery is his newly-awakened Psychic Powers.


Aside from the ESP, Will is an ordinary schoolboy. At least, he is until the day he meets two people - Gaia, the spirit of the earth... er, "source of all life", and Kara, a runaway princess. Before long, Will is on the run from Kara's sovereign parents and trying to stop a doomsday comet under Gaia's direction, all while trying to reunite with his missing father. Will's journey takes him through an assortment of (16-bit renditions of) real-world sites, such as Macchu Picchu, the Nazca lines, Angkor Wat, the Great Wall of China, and Egyptian pyramids.

The game was once planned to be localized under the title of SoulBlazer: Illusion of Gaia back when Enix's U.S. subsidiary was planning on publishing the English version themselves. Despite this, Soul Blazer and Illusion of Gaia are not actually related to each other storywise, unless you count a certain enemy character from Soul Blazer having a cameo in Illusion. Later on, Nintendo planned to localize Terranigma (originally titled Tenchi Sōzō) as Illusion of Gaia 2, leading fans to treat all three games as part of a loose trilogy.


This game contains examples of:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The Firebird ability from Will's Fusion Dance, as well as the ability to travel into space to stop the comet.
  • Accidental Truth: When the king demands the Crystal Ring the player can chose to have Will respond, "I don't have it." Will genuinely has no idea where the ring is, but all the way at the other end of the game, you find out that Will does have it — it was on his flute all along.
  • Advertised Extra: The descriptions and marketing of the game, and even the instruction manual, all give the impression that Lance, Erik, and Seth had larger roles in the game than they actually do.
    • Shadow as well, since he's only playable for about the last two hours of gameplay.
  • After the End: It's said that the comet's light brings The End of the World as We Know It. A Moon Tribesman tells you that this will be the FOURTH time it has done so.
  • All There in the Manual: As literally as you can get. The manual actually has a walkthrough in it, including Red Jewel locations and help for most of the Guide Dang It! moments.
  • All Up to You: Will has a large entourage of sidekicks; none of them ever participate in the actual gameplay (until the Fusion Dance at the end), but they manage to show up everywhere Will goes nonetheless.
    • Lilly acts as an Exposition Fairy of sorts during Mu. Not so much in The Great Wall.
  • Always Know a Pilot: As soon as Will's quest for the Mystic Statues starts to really get underway, it's revealed that he has an inventor cousin who just so happens to be working on building an airplane.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Will's third form, Shadow. Justified in that there's visibly no difference between the sprite's right and left sides.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Subverted. Including the Nazca Lines suggests this trope, but the spaceship is replaced by a flying city, and instead of aliens there are Sufficiently Advanced Mutants.
  • Anger Born of Worry: After Will rescues Kara from nearly being lost forever in a painting in Angel Village, he gives her a furious earful for wandering off on her own without caring about her friends' feelings. After this point in the story, she is much more humble.
  • Anime Hair: The Jackal, of all people, has a blond, spiky, and ridiculously tall hairdo. Some might have interpreted it as an Aztec-styled hair ornament, due the readability of the sprite itself.
  • Anti-Grinding: The only way to increase your maximum health, attack power or defense is to clear all of the enemies from a room in a dungeon, at which point one of the three stats goes up. If you completely ignore the enemies and just rush through, you still get the power-ups anyway, discouraging a Low-Level Run.
  • Anyone Can Die: Subverted when it's revealed that Seth isn't actually dead. note  Played straight later on, with Hamlet's death being a major surprise.
  • Artificial Gravity: Seen on the Sky Garden, where you can jump off the edge and wind up walking upside-down on the underside with gravity pulling everything upward.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • The game states that the comet causes rapid evolution by speeding up time, so that organisms mutate faster. However, organisms cannot evolve, only populations — once your chromosomes combine, you're stuck with that DNA. Granted, this could potentially work if it was mutating the organisms, similar to radiation, which is probably the original intent. Of course, in that case, it would not be the biological superweapon the spirits claim it to be, since it's extremely rare for radiation to result in positive mutations.
    • The game claims that a camel's hump contains water. It does in the sense that all organic matter contains water, but a camel's hump is actually a storehouse for fat.
  • Astral Finale: How do you deal with a Comet of Doom? You go into space and kick its ass, of course.
  • Atlantis: Actually Mu Continent, the Pacific Ocean equivalent. The developers were fond of depicting Mu in their games; it appears again as a side quest in Terranigma.
  • Back for the Dead: Hamlet, who was left behind in Edward Castle when Kara ran away with Will, unexpectedly turns up much later in the game and accompanies what's left of the party to the next destination, an impoverished village that has lost many to the labor trade. He winds up throwing himself into their fire, so he can become food for the remaining villagers.
  • Battle Couple: Jack and Silvana, the Dual Boss vampires of Mu. Though not all is well in paradise. If you kill Jack first, Silvana will say she's glad he's gone. That said, she'd not surrendering just because you did her that favor.
  • Beta Couple: Lance and Lilly. A subplot features their relationship blossoming, which gives Will reason to go to the Great Wall Of China when Lilly temporarily abandons the group after Lance confesses his feelings to her.
  • Big Bad: Dark Gaia, the malevolent entity using the comet for its own ends and Gaia's antithesis.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The comet's light has an unnatural effect on the evolution of the planet itself. By defeating Dark Gaia, Will and Kara stop the cycle of destruction, enabling the world to assume its proper shape (real-life Earth of the 1990s). Will and Kara go there to live new lives, with no memory of their adventures or feelings for each other. Happily, Will and Kara vow before returning to Earth to find each other - and the final scene of the game shows Will, Kara, Lance, Erik, and even Seth (but not Lilly, for some reason) together again, in a modern-day school. Furthermore, while the people of the Earth are happy, their lack of awareness of the spirit of the earth makes it sad.
  • Black Knight: Will is the Knight Of Darkness, but his Freedan form is a more direct embodiment of the trope, being a broad-shouldered knight in strong, black armour with a broad sword and long, flowing blonde hair. A subversion of the current use of the trope, though not as originally written in ancient legend, since Will is the hero.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: This game's English translation is particularly bad. While the basic story is intact, a lot of subtext, jokes and even crucial plot information are gone. The dialogue often can't tell if the subject of its sentence is singular or plural. A few lines that were meant to be someone's thoughts are spoken out loud instead. There are more than a few proofreading fails, like when Kara is referred to as "Karen" (which was her name in a draft of the translation), or the spot where "violinist" was misinterpreted as "violent". The game even has a few lines said by the wrong character. Some more accurate translations in areas containing particularly bad grammar (as well as the censorship issues) can be found here.
  • Bonus Boss: Solid Arm, a.k.a. Metal Mantis, the first boss from SoulBlazer, the true form of Gem the Jeweler.
  • Bookends: The game begins and ends with a scene of the hero and his friends at school.
  • Boss Rush: The end of the game forces you to fight every boss you've faced so far in succession, though you can still heal and save after a couple of them. At least the earlier ones are easier now that you're (a) using Shadow, (b) more powerful and carrying more health, and (c) presumably better at the game than you were when you first fought them all.
  • Bowdlerise: Slaves are never called slaves, they are laborers or servants instead. References to the cannibal tribe eating people were written out to the point that players might not suspect they're a cannibal tribe. Most suggestions of polytheism are obscured.
    Kara: It's as if we've become spiritsnote ...
  • Bragging Rights Reward: While you gain various rewards for reaching certain milestones in Red Jewel collection, you gain absolutely nothing for collecting all 50 of them aside from access to the Bonus Dungeon and its Bonus Boss. Oh, and you have to fight him using Will (instead of the stronger Freedan or Shadow) so it's probably a longer fight than most of the others put together. Since you have to reveal the whereabouts of an escaped slave to an incredibly sinister hooded slave trader to get all 50 gems, you could say that this is just Laser-Guided Karma!
  • But Thou Must!: If you tell King Edward that you didn't bring the Crystal Ring, he'll throw you in prison for having the nerve to refuse him. If you say yes, Will hesitates, and the king will throw you in prison for lying. Granted, Will doesn't know that the ring was on his flute all along, and King Edward can't seem to comprehend that the ring was never "found" in the first place, considering what it took for Will to finally add the damn thing to his inventory.
  • Calling Card: The Jackal carves a picture of... well, a jackal, to mark the places where he's been. An easy-to-miss NPC ends up foreshadowing his return to the plot.
  • Catch a Falling Star: Double-subverted. Neil uses his airplane to save Will from freefall, but only on the second pass.
  • Chekhov's Gun: An NPC in the Pyramid tells you that the hieroglyphics room is rigged with a sound-triggering booby trap. Just before that level's boss fight, Will sets off this trap by playing his flute, killing the Jackal who had taken Kara prisoner.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Jackal himself, who exists to demonstrate the evil in the hearts of King Edward and Queen Edwina by hunting down Will and Kara. His chasing you is referenced in a throwaway line when you first meet the Moon Tribe not that long afterward. Then in Euro, someone mentions seeing the Jackal, noting his seeming evil and that he seemed to be chasing someone, and just before you leave, you're told someone has come to see you, and the player would expect the Jackal, come to finally end his role in the plot, only for it to be Hamlet in an accidental Bait And Switch, but only in-universe. Then you reach Dao, there's a young lady in an alcove who quietly gives Will a piece of paper, and suddenly the BGM cuts off as Will notices the picture of a jackal, the Calling Card of the notorious mercenary. Sure enough, just as you're about to finish the Pyramid, the Jackal shows his face, having taken Kara hostage as you were collecting that last Hieroglyph.
  • Collection Sidequest: The red jewels. Finding all fifty is a real pain, since at least ten of them are Permanently Missable after leaving a continent, and the game provides no hints about where they are. However, finding them grants various bonuses like buffs to special attacks, and any more than thirty just gets a Bragging Rights Reward.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Subverted for most of the game, then double-subverted at the last minute.
    • The Rainbow Speak also works like this with character speech. Will's text is yellow, Kara's is pink, Lance's is green, Lilly's is blue, Erik's is orange, Seth's is purple, and Neil's is gray. Everything else uses white text.
  • Controllable Helplessness: There's nothing you can do to get out of the prison cell in Edward Castle faster, even though you can walk around and examine things. The same is true of the shipwreck sequence.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Grandma Lola's cooking has gotten weird lately, according to Grandpa Bill. In the Japanese version, it's merely strange combinations, like fish curry or meat pie with whipped cream. The localization punches this up to outright weird things like snail pie and mouse fritters. Oddly, Bill still eats "half the pie", despite earlier stating he "can't stand it anymore".
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: To say that Rolek engages in shady activities is to say that the ocean is damp. That said, it may be because Neil's parents were replaced with demons.
  • Crapsaccharine World: On the surface it's a typical 90s JRPG, all bright colors and friendly neighbors, but there's impending doomsday, famine, slavery, and human trafficking lurking around every dark corner. Pointed out in-game that the nicest looking towns tend to have the seediest underbellies.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The names of most of Will's transformations and attacks indicate that his powers are darkness-based.
  • Dead All Along: Neil's parents were killed by their servants on the Moon Tribe's orders, and Seth dies somewhere between Angel Village and the Pyramid, as his spirit turns up on the roof of the Tower Of Babel, and Will's father Olman is found long dead in room just before the roof.
  • Defiant to the End: The Jackal, who's been chasing after Kara for the entire game, spends his last moments crawling across the floor after her as he's burning alive.
  • Dem Bones: A couple of the early enemies are versions of this, with much more dangerous flying skulls turning up later on.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Kara, who gains a great deal of humility the longer she spends away from the castle.
  • Descriptive Ville: Many towns are Exactly What It Says on the Tin. South Cape is located on a southern cape. Freesia is full of flowers. Watermia is built on a river.
  • Difficulty by Region: In the Japanese version, herbs fully recover your health. Also, you don't have to attack the first boss's hands to hurt him, and the earthquake attack can be used to stun a boss.
  • Dream Melody: Will has his grandmother's lullaby, which turns out to be the key to revealing her village of origin and an identifying call. Also, a couple dungeons have background music that turn out to be versions of other melodies.
  • Dub Name Change: Several character names were changed in localization — fairly late in localization, as a leaked prototype shows. Will was originally Tim, Kara was originally Karen, Hamlet was originally Peggy, Lance was originally Rob, Seth was originally Morris, and the Jackal was originally the Black Panther. Why these names were changed is not clear, beyond Hamlet obviously having been for the pun, and Black Panther likely incuring legal issues. Hamlet is also called Becky in her introduction in this version, then never again. Erik however, stays Erik in both versions.
  • Dwindling Party: A (mostly) non-fatal version. Will's group grows to six members at some points, but they leave one or two at a time as the game nears its conclusion.
  • Earth All Along: After the comet is defeated, the world assumes its natural shape, which is that of present-day Earth.
  • Easy Amnesia: Lance suffers this after a shipwreck. His family has bad luck with this, as his missing father turns up half a world away with Identity Amnesia courtesy of a different shipwreck.
  • End of an Age: As the spirit of Angkor Wat foretold, Will is destined to usher in the modern, industrialized world. He has mixed feelings about leaving the world as he knows it, and players will likely sympathize with the fantasy world giving way to life as we know it. The closing narration points out that the new world may not be as open or as wild, but it has good people in it, and that makes it worthwhile.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The Comet of Doom that drives the plot is responsible for the fall of many of the civilizations whose ruins Will explores. Will has to prevent it from happening a FOURTH time.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Jackal, a ruthless bounty hunter, notes that the King's plans for using the ancient bio-technology for power means that "He might be more evil than a mercenary like (the Jackal)." That said, the Jackal's willing to follow the King's orders for money.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep":
    • Your opponent in the drinking game is simply called "The Opponent".
    • The Jackal is also never referred to by any other name. Unless you play the beta version, which calls him the Black Panther, even though he's a white man wearing blue.
  • Evil Counterpart: Dark Gaia to Gaia.
  • Expy: The Flasher enemies that appear in Mu are pretty much identical to the Wizzrobe enemies in the Legend of Zelda series, attack pattern and all.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death:
    • Hamlet, then later the Jackal, both of which get burned alive. The latter's is particularly gruesome.
    • Dark Gaia's face melts off when you defeat her.
  • Fantastic Medicinal Bodily Product: Unspecified body fluids from the Sand Fanger are thought to cure diseases. Lance uses some to cure his father's memory loss.
  • Fetch Quest: The journey to Mt. Kress is one of these, as there's nothing about the quest or its objective that seems relevant to finding Mystic Statues or advancing to new areas. And when you do advance, you wind up going to Ankor Wat on another fetch quest... only this time the game doesn't even tell you that it's a fetch quest.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: There's an NPC in Dao that you have to go out of your way to talk to. She silently (to the point that the BGM cuts off) shows you the Jackal's Calling Card, after a throwaway reference to him chasing you from a Moon Tribesman and an (in-universe) accidental Bait-and-Switch (clearly intentional on the devs' part) courtesy of Hamlet in Euro. Sure enough, we finally meet the Jackal in person at the Pyramid.
    • When Will bids what's left of his friends one last farewell and parachutes out of Neil's plane over the Tower or Babel, a second parachute can be seen drifting down just before the scene ends. A few minutes later Will bumps into Kara, and she explains that she followed him because she had a feeling she'd never see him again if she didn't.
  • Floating Continent: The Sky Garden is a small one of these.
  • Follow the Plotted Line: Will's journey is fairly linear, although he does have at least an idea of where to go next.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Will's original band of friends form one of these.
    • Will - Choleric
    • Lance - Sanguine
    • Eric - Supine
    • Seth - Melancholic
  • Fusion Dance: The endgame, where Kara and the spirits on the roof of the Tower Of Babel join with Will to grant Shadow his one ability, the Firebird.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Inverted in that Illusion of Gaia is conscious of the Green Aesop, but Gaia is helpful, not vengeful.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: The scene where Will is trapped on a raft. He gradually gets more and more hungry and the narrative tells us that Will's feeling weak from hunger. Look up at his health and you'll see that he's gradually losing health, too.
  • Genius Loci: The game appears to subscribe the the Gaia Hypothesis concept of the Earth as a living organism. Organisms exposed the comet's light mutate, and the Earth is no exception. This ends up being the explanation for why the game world is unlike the real Earth.
  • Hitodama Light: Will talks to dead people quite a bit. They take the form of tongues of spectral fire.
  • I See Dead People: Will can talk to dead people. They take the form of tongues of spectral fire.
  • Giant Hands of Doom: The first boss attacks with these and Frickin' Laser Beams.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Bosses seldom have much in the way of context. The major exceptions are the vampires and the comet, who are discussed quite a bit in advance of their actual appearances. Sand Fanger is mentioned ahead of time if you happen to talk to the right NPC in Watermia, though it's described more as a dangerous beast than a malevolent antagonist.
  • Guide Dang It!: Finding the fifty red jewels, almost half of which are Permanently Missable. The red jewel in the fisherman's pot is a double example; the manual has a guide, which tells you that's where the jewel is, but it fails to mention the condition for the pot appearing — it's randomly decided each time you enter the area.
    • Worse, no one and no 'thing tells you the Red Jewels can be automatically sent to Gem by "using" them in the field. Pity the people who threw out herbs just to make room for a Red Jewel.
  • Healing Checkpoint: Save points also restore your health.
  • Healing Herb: The game's only healing item. Not to be used lightly, since there's a strictly limited number of them in the entire game.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Viper (the Sky Garden boss), and the vampire couple both help you get to the top of the Tower of Babel.
    • Bonus Boss Solid Arm compliments Will's strength upon defeat and (seemingly) transports him back to the Tower Of Babel to save the world.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: At the beginning of the game, Seth tells you to stand in front of the statue and use the L/R buttons.
  • Heroic BSoD: Poor Neil briefly goes through this after his parents are revealed to be Moon Tribe spirits who impersonated the real ones after having them killed.
  • Heroic Suicide: Hamlet the pig throws himself into a fire in order to feed a starving village. In a re-translation of the game from the original Japanese, his sacrifice makes more sense; the tribe was cannibalistic, eating its own people to survive, and Hamlet willingly becomes food for them so that the tribe doesn't eat the party... or more of their own.
  • Honor Before Reason: The opponent in the Russian Glass game drinks the only remaining (and therefore fatally poisoned) glass rather than forfeit the game. It turns out he's terminally ill and trying to go out with a bang while putting his family on easy street with his winnings.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The game occasionally likes to remind you that humans destroy the environment, mercilessly kill each other, and think themselves superior to giant man-eating fish. Furthermore, while the ending does show you saving the human race, it does take pains to remind you that "(T)he Earth was the only one that looked sad."
  • 100% Completion: Collecting all fifty red jewels grants access to the game's Bonus Dungeon.
  • I Fell for Hours: There's a part where you jump from near the top of the Great Wall and plummet all the way down to a basement level. The drop takes almost ten seconds, and somehow Will lands completely unharmed.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Will apparently bashes in his enemies' brains with a flute.
  • Indian Burial Ground: The major dungeons in the game are all ruins of ancient civilizations.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Will can carry no more than sixteen items, and as you fill those slots with precious, finite Herbs, freeing up space for new quest items gets tricky late in the game. The 50 Red Jewels seem like a headache waiting to happen, but fortunately they can be sent off to the Jeweler at any time. Sadly, not many players figured this out. leading to many clearing their inventory of *irreplaceable* herbs in order to make room for the Red Jewels.
  • Invisible to Normals: Itory Village is like this, invisible to the human eye until a song from the village is sung (or played on a flute, in Will's case). Interestingly... 
  • It Must Be Mine!: Kara is drawn to the ring worn by the Incan Queen's mummified corpse. As the reincarnation of the Light Knight, she needed that ring to be able to get inside the Tower of Babel.
  • It Was with You All Along: Remember that Crystal Ring Kara's father wanted so badly? Turns out it's part of Will's flute. It gets knocked off when Will is repelled by a barrier in the Tower Of Babel, allowing him to finally "acquire" and equip it, which lets him pass through.
  • Jews Love to Argue: Rofsky and Erasquez, those Einstein-looking old men in Euro, are supposed to bicker and trade insults with each other but the translation butchered their dialogue even worse than it usually does.
  • Kid Hero: All of the protagonists appear to be in the neighborhood of 12-15 years old. Will is a bit taller than his friends, so presumably he is a little older, but definitely no older than 15. Will's cousin Neil is the only exception, appearing to be in his late teens or early twenties. Lilly celebrates her 15th birthday at one point in the game, so it can be assumed that the ages of the other kids are in that area. Erik is likely the youngest, and Will is just a tad taller, so possibly older.
  • Lady in Red: Silvana wears a red dress underneath her cloak, fitting for a vampire woman.
  • Landmark of Lore: The game's dungeons include real locations like Angkor Wat, the Nazca paintings, the Great Wall of China, and the Great Pyramid, as well as mythological locations such as Mu and the Tower of Babel.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: It's implied that many of the comet's victims were horrible people who effectively lost their own souls through their evil deeds.
  • Law of 100: Collect 100 DP to earn an extra life (up to 9). If you die with any extra lives, you respawn in the same room where you died. If you don't have any lives, you'll still respawn, but at the beginning of the dungeon. Also, if that death was as Freedan or Shadow, you respawn as Will, forcing you to hunt down the nearest Dark Space that will allow you to transform.
  • Legacy Boss Battle: With Solid Arm, a boss originally from the first game in the series, SoulBlazer, can only be fought if you collect all fifty Red Jewels.
  • Light Is Not Good: The comet's light is The Corruption in this game. The Moon Tribe, the people of Mu, many of the demons you encounter in the game, Shadow, and Will's own father, are all victims.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: King Edward and Queen Edwina are both horrible people, who look so alike that they could pass for fraternal twins. Their daughter Princess Kara looks nothing like them, and ultimately proves to be a much better person.
  • The Load: Kara often makes a nuisance of herself early in the game, but improves as her character arc advances.
  • Love at First Note: Grandpa Bill mentions that this is how he fell in love with Grandma Lola.
  • Ma'am Shock: Will addresses Queen Edwina this way, pleading for her help while being dragged away by the king's men. She is not amused. Will doing so is a bit less outlandish than it sounds, considering that in Real Life, you're expected to call the Queen of England "Ma'am" after first addressing her as "Your Majesty" (as mentioned in The King's Speech), so it may be that the first "Ma'am" should have been a "Your Majesty" if Edwina was expected to aid him.
  • Man on Fire: The Jackal's fate.
  • The Maze: Mountain Temple. The manual even suggests drawing a map as you explore the area. That said, experienced players learn to instinctively intuit where they are in the area and where to go from there.
  • Message in a Bottle: Ironically Will and Kara find one while adrift at sea themselves. You eventually get a chance to help the people who wrote the note when you storm the Diamond Mine and set them free. In return, they give you a song to restore Lance's memories.
  • Missing Secret: There's a hole next to the second dungeon's entrance that looks like you can Psycho Slide through it, but you don't get that ability until quite a bit later after crossing multiple Points of No Return. There's no way to try sliding through this hole without hacking, and with hacking you find it's just decoration, as solid as any other wall.
  • Musical Assassin: Again, Will and his flute. Becomes a literal case when playing the one melody you still have at that point triggers a booby trap that kills the Jackal.
  • Mysterious Mercenary Pursuer: The Jackal chases Will throughout the game, but only shows up once near the end. Given Five-Second Foreshadowing if you fully explore Dao before going to the Pyramid.
  • Never Say "Die": You "lose your life" instead. And then there's an Angel Tribeswoman you can find standing where the sun is shining. Will compares it to "sleeping, as if the spirit's drawn out" if he examines her. Another Angel Tribesman flat out tells Will that if they stay out in the sun for too long, they'll "perish."
  • Nice Hat: Your opponent for Russian Glass wears one.
  • One of These Doors Is Not Like the Other: In some areas, there appears to be no door at all, but paying careful attention to the wind, or else the sound made by striking, reveals the secret.
  • One-Winged Angel: The Final Boss has two forms.
  • Organic Technology: The endgame reveals that the comet is a Lost Super Weapon created by an ancient civilization that mastered biotechnology and altered organisms to suit their needs. Shadow is another one of their products.
  • Our Angels Are Different: A whole colony of them live in a secluded place underground. They apparently die if exposed to sunlight for too long, and they're rumored to be the form into which humans will evolve. They're the descendants of the survivors of Mu.
  • Palette Swap: Most enemies have more powerful versions with a different colour scheme (and sometimes different attacks), but it's most noticeable in the Sky Garden. There, every enemy on the underside is a tougher Palette Swap of those on the top.
  • Permanently Missable Content: The game's highly structured plot results in several points where the characters take one-way trans-ocean trips, making backtracking to collect items you might have missed (mostly those Red Jewels) impossible. The last of these occurs around the midpoint of the game, so after that you can actually skip something and go back for it.
    • Defied regarding stat gains. Defeating a boss nets you any stat gains you would have gotten between it and the last one. You will face the Final Boss with the same stats regardless of whether or not you cleaned out the enemies in a specific room.
  • Phantom Zone Picture: Ishtar's paintings are lovely to behold, but have the unfortunate side effect of trapping their models inside them.
  • A Pig Named "Porkchop": Hamlet. Sadly, unlike most instances of this trope, it becomes all too literal.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: The staff credits, of all places, seem to be written like this.
  • Platforming Pocket Pal: Lilly's dandelion transformation ability lets her take cover in dungeons by hiding in Will's pocket.
  • Plot Coupon: The Mystic Statues. You Gotta Catch Them All!, but they don't do anything gameplay-wise.
  • Press X to Die: You at one point have to win a game of Russian Glass to advance the plot — you and your opponent take turns drinking from a row of glasses, one of which is spiked with a deadly poison. Of course, Will is psychic, so if you actually pick that glass, he freaks out and makes you confirm drinking it with a yes/no dialogue, which you don't have to do if you picked one of the safe glasses. But if you say "yes"...
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Kara seems to be a particularly egregious example of this trope, seeing as both of her parents wear blue.
  • Punny Name: The pig's name is Hamlet. He ends up turning himself into "roasting Hamlet" to save the party from being eaten.
  • Put on a Bus: Seth, who disappears abruptly when a giant sea creature attacks the Ghost Ship. He does reappear briefly later on, but in dialogue only, as he transformed into the same creature that sank the ship. Eventually, all the characters leave the party forever, and only Will and Kara see the quest through to its end.
  • Psychic Powers: Will's friends make a big deal out of his telekinetic powers early on. He also has some sort of ill-defined, seldom used predictive power that only comes up three times in the whole game. And they are: (SPOILERS) 
  • Rainbow Speak: Every named character speaks in a text color different from the default blue-white text, as do a few nameless, but prominent, characters. The color of the speech text also largely depends on the character in question.
  • Ransacked Room: After Will and Kara escape from Edward Castle, they return to South Cape to find Will's entire house completely trashed.
  • Rebellious Princess: Kara, who appears to have made several unsuccessful attempts to run away from Edward Castle before the start of the story.
    "I too am a prisoner — in a prison of silk and gold."
  • Regional Bonus: Beyond the increased difficulty, the international versions of the game have bug-fixes and graphics alterations. Some are for Bowdlerization purposes, but others add flavor to the game. For instance, the second boss went from run-of-the-mill giant bird to winged Babylonian-style statue. Here for those who want to see the bird in action without the statue on its head.
  • Reincarnation Romance: Will and Kara, apparently.
  • Ret-Gone: Defeating Dark Gaia erases the comet from history, reversing the damage it caused.
  • Russian Roulette: The Russian Glass game. Your opponent is playing to lose.
  • The Sacred Darkness: Will's powers use Gaia's "Dark Energy", and there are no negative connotations associated with them. Not that there aren't bad darkness powers; the Final Boss is called "Dark Gaia".
  • Schrödinger's Gun: When presented with multiple choices, Will guesses correctly thanks to his psychic powers. No matter what option the player picks, the outcome is the same.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Getting rid of the comet.
  • Shapeshifting: Will has two different forms (apart from his usual one) he can assume, and Lilly can transform into a dandelion seed.
  • Shout-Out: Several to Enix's other SNES games.
    • The dog that rescues you after the shipwreck is named Turbo.
    • The Skeleton head enemy from ActRaiser is in Angel Village.
    • The Moon Tribe looks like a spirit enemy from SoulBlazer.
    • Just watch a Let's Play of ActRaiser and count the number of enemies, themes, and other such goodies that were later used in Illusion of Gaia. For example, a statue that is somehow connected to a Crystal Dragon Jesus and its form being used to get through a level. Heck, even many of the sound effects are re-used between this game, ActRaiser, SoulBlazer, and Terranigma.
    • There's a scene in SoulBlazer where a man and a woman are extremely close to each other and facing each other, then when you enter the room, they suddenly face opposite directions and deny the obvious, claiming the woman was trying to get dust out of the man's eye. This scene is repeated almost verbatim in the town of Freejia.
  • Shows Damage: The Mummy Queen initially starts out as a beautiful woman, but her skin slowly starts to rot as you deal damage to her.
  • Show, Don't Tell: Will narrates the story in some of the more plot-heavy bits, but the translation has an unfortunate habit of turning his narration into dialogue and his dialogue into narration.
  • Skewed Priorities: Kara won't let Will eat fish on the raft at first because the fish are "innocent creatures" - and Will doesn't press the issue until he's almost dead. In this case, part of her Character Development is learning that there really isn't much choice, and that it's just the way things work. Intriguingly, this is still treated as a good thing, and evidence that Kara, like Will, is an "evolved human" immune to the Comet's light. Some time afterward, the raft is surrounded by sharks, but they don't attack;
    Kara: I got it! They're not hungry! My grandpa said that only humans attack living things when they're not hungry.
    Will: Then what we're doing isn't normal human behavior. We didn't eat the fish until we were starving…
  • Space Elevator: The Tower of Babel. Possibly.
  • Spell My Name with an "S":
    • Angkor Wat is spelled 'Ankor Wat' in the game.
    • For humans, it's 'Lilly' rather than Lily. Although... 
  • Spin to Deflect Stuff: Will's flute can block incoming attacks by spinning it. But then again, he does have telekinesis.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Soul Blazer (to the point where a leaked early translation was titled Soul Blazer: Illusion of Gaia). And Terranigma is one to this.
  • Strapped to a Bomb: Happens to Erik during a Time Limit Dual Boss fight. It only explodes if you haven't defeated the boss yet. If you have, it's a dud, but only if you let the time run out after winning. See Schrödinger's Gun above.
  • Swiss Army Hero: Will has three forms he can change between.
  • Sword Beam: Your 11th-Hour Superpower is functionally this. Sort of like in another Quintet game, and even more like the Phoenix magic.
  • Tagalong Kid: Erik is younger than the other members of the seaside gang, and stays with Will the longest. While he is not very capable, he does attempt to fight the slave trade in Freejia and tips Will off about the Diamond Mine.
  • Taken for Granite: An effect of exposure to the comet encountered in the Natives' Village (and referenced in Mu).
  • Team Pet: Hamlet, Kara's preternaturally smart pet pig.
  • Threatening Shark: Subverted - there is a tense moment with a school of sharks during the shipwreck, but they don't attack.
  • Three-Point Landing: Will (as well as his other forms) always lands like this whenever he jumps from one platform to a lower level.
  • Time-Limit Boss: You have about 140 seconds to defeat the Vampire Couple before the bomb they've tied Eric to explodes (why they felt the need to do this is unknown).
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Of the two girls on the team, Lilly has a boyish attitude while Kara is stereotypically feminine and under-prepared for the rigors of adventuring.
  • Took a Shortcut: Muggle secondary characters can and will show up wherever the plot demands, no matter what extraordinary abilities Will has to use to achieve the same results. One of the kids that is established as being rather weak (both physically and mentally) is able to walk in through the very same door that Will had to use spin-dash jumps to reach. Lilly, at least, can turn into a dandelion seed and drift past any danger; but the others have no such capabilities.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: Pointedly averted, surprisingly; while a lot of JRPGs see the cast walking across the world in a matter of hours (or minutes if you have a Global Airship), and even if this isn't meant to be literal they don't draw attention to it, Illusion of Gaia features multiple story sequences where the characters spend weeks traveling across the world, whether sailing across the ocean on a raft or passing through an undersea tunnel hundreds of miles long on foot.
  • The Unfought: The Jackal is killed by a booby trap triggered by Will's flute in a cut-scene just before the actual boss battle of the Egyptian temple.
  • Urban Segregation: The town of Freejia, with a well-to-do neighborhood facing the road... and a very poor slum and a slave market on the other side.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You want all the Red Jewels? Hope you're okay with telling a slave-trader where his escaped slave is hiding. At least you can take comfort in knowing that you'll soon break into the slave camp and free all the slaves, presumably including the one you turned in.
  • Waiting Puzzle: A puzzle early on has elements of this. One room in the Larai Cliffs has a floor of gold tiles, and when Will plays his flute, one tile glows. Will must then stand on that tile for several seconds before a door opens in the southern wall.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Seth, who is left behind in South Cape with Lance and Erik until all three suddenly show up on the Incan Gold Ship, then apparently gets eaten by the giant sea monster that destroys the ship. He's not exactly dead, though, having turned into the same sort of sea monster. He's eventually able to communicate a message to the party explaining that this means he cannot return to them. And then he dies between Angel Village and the Pyramid, as his is one of the many spirits encountered on the roof of the Tower Of Babel.
  • White Sheep: For all her flaws, Kara is a much better person than could be expected of someone raised by the amoral and power-hungry king and queen of Edward Castle. The same goes for Neil, the child of parents who ran a company involved with the slave trade, though that's another story.
  • Who Dares?: If you tell the King that you didn't bring the Crystal Ring, he will say "How dare you say such a thing to me!!"
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The approaching comet grants humanity amazing power, causing them to be driven mad and change into demons.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: In the end, Will (the Knight of Darkness) and Kara (the Knight of Light) perform a Fusion Dance to become a souped-up version of the Dark Knight Shadow, with a new move, the Firebird.
  • "You!" Exclamation: Jack, if you kill Silvana first when fighting the vampire bosses in Mu.
    You! You did that to my wife! I'll never forgive you!

Alternative Title(s): Illusion Of Time


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