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Video Game / Mystic Ark

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You wake up as a wooden figurine.

The Creator-Driven Successor game to Enix's infamously difficult RPG The 7th Saga, released in 1995. Released only in Japan, Mystic Ark is both similar to and different from its predecessor at the same time. Though retaining the GPS-map and combat system as well as a similar art style, the overworld gameplay is very puzzle-oriented and almost like a Point-and-Click Game.

Our hero is alone on an island, talking to a goddess. The island is filled with wooden figurines. How did our hero get there? What power has turned these people into wooden figurines? For what purpose? Where is this island, and why does it hold so many gateways to other worlds? Why is the fireplace talking to you? If you desire the answers to these questions then strap yourself in, because you have an exceptionally surreal journey ahead of you.

This work contains the following examples:

  • All in a Row — Only if your party member has been infused with an Ark, however.
  • Apocalyptic Log — Scattered around the house in the Dark World... and revealed to have been written by The Dragon.
  • The Big Bad Wolf: The lupine himself in Fairy World.
  • Choice of Two Weapons— The game uses a curious system where individual weapons have different statistics depending on the person equipping them. For example, while both the hero and Kamiwoo can equip the Black Iron Scimitar (classified as a katana-type weapon), the hero will receive two points more attack from it than Kamiwoo would. The Gourd Smasher however, though also a katana-type weapon, would give Kamiwoo a three point advantage over the hero if both had it equipped. The same penalties system also applies to armor. Doubles as a Guide Dang It!, since these differences often seem arbitrarily assigned, and there's no way to check them without having everyone try to equip the weapon in question.
  • Cunning Like a Fox — The gang of foxes, and especially their leader.
  • Duel Boss — The "Beast," which can easily become That One Boss due to how hard it hits.
  • Enemy Without — Both Darkness and Malice are stated to be this to the hero.
  • Exposition Fairy — This position is filled by a fireplace. No, really.
  • Eternal Engine — The underground city of Metallimo.
  • Forced Level-Grinding — Shockingly averted, considering its predecessor. The game even goes so far as to allow any figurines you're carrying to level up along with you, no Ark infusion required.
  • Forever War: Although more humorous than most examples, the war between the Gunboss and Bloodhook definitely qualifies.
  • Gainax Ending: More like Gainax Everything; while individual worlds sometimes have a degree of coherent plot (though not always), at no point does the player understand what's actually going on, and the ending certainly isn't explaining anything for you.
  • Game-Favored Gender — Ferris has slightly lower speed and power than Remeer, although higher magic. The two also have slightly different spell sets. Ironically enough, Reeshine's attack power blows Remeer's out of the water despite her also being female. This may have something to do with the fact that Reeshine is a grappler. Physical prowess is all she has going for her.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere — In addition to the many bosses who simply say stand in one place blocking your path who do nothing but say "GAAAA!" or "GRAAAH!" and then attack you, near the end of the Fairytale World you will be greeted with a message of "Suddenly a Water Dragon attacks you!" with no context at all besides the fact that you happen to be walking behind a waterfall at the time.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang — Sly
  • Heroes Prefer Swords — Particularly grating considering the wide array of weapons available. Your hero can equip katanas, knives, axes, staves, boomerangs and bows, but it is the European-style arming sword that will almost always be their best weapon for any area.
  • Heroic Mime:
    • Taken to extremes. Even your party members don't say a word once infused, making it seem as if you aren't working with them so much as you are animating their body like a golem.
    • The game pokes fun at your own character's silence, with barkeep NPCs asking why you never say anything.
    • Machine World does play with this as the only way to communicate in a soundless environment, including the purchase of goods is through sign language, so the protagonist isn't absolutely silent
  • Homage — To Myst: Both games take place on an island and both have objects that take you to different locations. Even the fireplace which played a role in one puzzle acted as a doorway
  • Hub Level — The Island.
  • Jack of All Stats: — Remeer/Ferris; strong attack power yet not as strong as Reeshine's, and with magic that's effective yet pales in comparison to Miriene's or Meisia's. Tokio and Kamiwoo could also be considered this, although their attack and magic are both less effective than the hero's.
  • The Man Behind the Man Darkness, a humanoid figure that looks like Cell would if he died and was mummified for a few hundred years, is initially introduced as the mysterious figure that is traveling between the several worlds, turning people into figurines, and bringing each world's Big Bad to power. However, after you defeat Darkness near the end of the game, it turns out that he's being controlled by an even worse entity called Malice, an Eldritch Abomination who lives in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • Mythology Gag — The game's intro shows a spinning tile capturing the protagonists in the same way King Lemele recruited the heroes of The 7th Saga. The male hero, Remeer, also shares the same name as King Lemele from 7th Saga (Lemele is the translated version of Remeer), although there's nothing to suggest they're the same character. One of the party members is also a Tetsujin named Lux.
    • And that is in the localized version of Elnard/7th Saga. The name Remeer comes from the protagonist of Brain Lord, another Enix title. While Lemele is the town name in the Japanese version of 7th Saga. Ferris is the sorceress/wizard in Brain Lord.
    • Even the Goddess being broken into the 7 Arks is similar to Gorsia's power being broken into the runes, and even then they were called Arks in the Japanese version of 7th Saga too.
  • Noodle Incident — Whatever it was that started the longstanding feud between the crews of the Bloodhook and the Gunboss. It's a Noodle Incident because no-one actually remembers after all the centuries of fighting. Except perhaps Matoya, and she's not telling. The only thing that can be inferred is that it was over the Power Ark.
  • Nothing Is Scarier — For being in a game where "cutscenes" are just two or three images with added text, the Dark World is creepy. There's actually very few monsters in it; instead, it's a huge, creepy, endless house where touching or interacting with anything is dangerous. Oh, and you can't summon any companions while there. Or leave until you've beaten it.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise — How do you infiltrate a ship full of pirate cat people? Easy, just pin a rank insignia on, and walk right up to the guards - even if they've never seen you before, they won't give you any trouble.
  • Party in My Pocket — Literally: Your allies remain wooden figurines inside your inventory until you infuse one of them with an Ark.
  • Permanently Missable Content — Items from the Ship World caves if you missed them, The Guard Figurines from the Children's World (Undead Hearts), and all items from the World of Darkness (including a Magic Buckle).
  • Rare Candy — Much like Dragon Quest, another Enix franchise, there are stat boosting seeds as well as figurines you can get from the Arena that boost your stats.
  • The Red Mage — Despite being black and white style mages respectively, both Miriene and Meisia have access to both schools of magic. The main difference is Meisia learns healing spells faster and can multi-cast them, while Miriene has the strongest attack magic.
  • Solve the Soup Cans:
    • At multiple times during the game, an NPC will ask you to solve a sliding tile puzzle or capture all the pieces on a chessboard using a knight for no apparent reason, then give you an item if you succeed.
    • Subverted by a pot which asks you to solve three puzzles, each time saying that "If you can't solve this puzzle, it will have no impact on your journey at all, so don't worry..." then, after you solve all three, says simply "Prize? There's no prize."
  • Spoiled by the Manual: The freaking box has a picture of Darkness Ark on the front and the Malice battle on the back.
  • Turned Against Their Masters Malice, the Big Bad of the game, was originally just one of the many dungeon bosses the Goddess created to test the hero. However, he grew too powerful, imprisoned the Goddess, and started running things himself.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight — Whether it be a world full of cats or a world full of children, you're never that out of place.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Chimera in the Children's world, it's the first boss which can use Kill (Instant Death).
  • Where It All Began: You know the room with that Giant Crystal Pillar, where the figures of you and the other heroes were: Guess where the gate to the last dungeon is?
  • Whole-Plot Reference: To The Final Fantasy Legend, right down to the Gainax Ending. The difference is that the Goddess is treated as well-intentioned unlike the Creator, and the Hero chooses to go through the final door instead of rejecting it.
  • You All Meet in a Cell: You are the first to break free from captivity as a figurine, the others you have to free later on and they will join.