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Video Game / Sword of Mana

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Sword of Mana, released in Japan as Shin'yaku Seiken Densetsu (新約 聖剣伝説) or The New Testament: Legend of the Holy Sword, is a Video Game Remake of the first game of the Mana series with many of the Final Fantasy references removed and many added details from the later games inserted. It was released for the Game Boy Advance in late 2003. Faithful remakes of the original 1991 video game were released in 2006 exclusively for Japanese mobile phones and in 2016 for iOS, Android, and PlayStation Vita.

Not so very long ago in the kingdom that would become known as Granz, a knight and sorcerer named Vandole stumbled upon the Mana Tree, inadvertently absorbed its power, and (of course) proceeded to slowly lose his mind and sense of self. He established an empire that abused Mana to power its technology, had a reign of terror, and was eventually vanquished by a small but powerful band of heroes. A bit of time has passed since, and those heroes had begun to settle down and stabilize the world, when trouble (naturally) reemerged. Stroud ...oh, please excuse me, Dark Lord (son of Granz, one of the previous generation's heroes) and his... um, friend Julius staged a bloody coup of the Granz regime and began a vicious persecution of the Mana tribe. In so doing, two young children—the son of one of the Granz aristocrats and a girl of the Mana tribe—have their lives very violently disrupted: the Mana tribe is wipled out and the girl is forced to go into hiding, while the boy's parents meet a similar fate. He isn't as lucky as her, and is forced to fight as a gladiator for Dark Lord's amusement.


Ten years later, the boy makes an escape and the girl starts out on a journey to find other Mana tribe survivors. They bump into each other again, and destiny ensues.

Like many of the other "old-school" Seiken Densetsu games, Sword of Mana allows the player to choose whether to play as the hero or the heroine. Unlike other Seiken Densetsu games, though, there are significant differences depending on who you choose to play—the hero's route has slightly more focus on dungeon gameplay; in the heroine's story, the characters (particularly the villains) are MUCH more well-developed.

Also like many other "old-school" Seiken Densetsu games, Sword of Mana's story is wrought with angst, and a great many main characters die. Good luck not getting attached to any of them, though.


Sword of Mana contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Accentuate the Negative: In the end, Julius's shadow shows the protagonist the main characters' vices.
  • Action Girl: The heroine, primarily in her route. She's Chickified a bit in the hero's. Amanda and Isabella also count to some degree.
  • Adaptation Name Change: In the Japanese version of Final Fantasy Adventure, Vandole was spelled バンドール (better translated as "Bandol"). To go along with the newer Mana series references, Sword of Mana changed it to ヴァンドール (Vandole), suggesting a greater connection to the Secret of Mana character of the same name.
  • Adapted Out: Julius' third form, traded for a fight against three yellow Gray Oxen before his original first form.
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: The Prickly Desert, naturally.
  • Anti-Villain: Dark Lord is just bitter over his father's refusal to save his mother; Julius is slowly succumbing to his Vandole blood (that's if he's not Vandole himself). Even so, they're both psychopaths who kill many innocent people and settle at ruining many other lives just as badly to obtain their own goals without hesitation.
  • Anyone Can Die: It's a wonder anybody actually survived this game.
  • Artificial Stupidity: It's best to let your partner die rather than waste healing items on them. If you actually try to keep them alive, the entire game can become an Escort Mission. Except in Dime Tower, where you are best off simply playing as Marshall and blasting everything to pieces with laserbeams before your main character has a chance to get themself killed.
  • Ascended Extra: All the characters' roles were expanded and given more depth, but especially Willy stands out for this trope. He didn't even manage to survive the first ten minutes of Final Fantasy Adventure, and here he actually makes party member status! Along with being one of the markedly few characters to actually survive the game.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Mooglemorphis turns you into a Moogle! Along with BubbleBoat and Shadow, these spells make the player invisible to all monsters except those that can track you by smell, sight, and sound respectively. However you can't attack, move very slowly, and probably will still be surrounded by monsters if you were trapped before.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Lester, and several other minstrels in Devius' manor. Inverted with one of them, who actually liked being a bird.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Dark Lord, in the Hero's opening sequence.
    Willy: H-he stopped the sword with one hand!?
  • Bare Your Midriff: Isabella.
  • Breaking and Bloodsucking: Despite warnings and misgivings, the Hero and Heroine stay the night at the Vinquette Hall, and this time both the Heroine and Isbella are taken by the vampire in the night. However, because of Adaptational Heroism, Count Lee is a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire trying to protect the women of the Mana Clan.
  • Canon Name: The hero and heroine have several. To avoid confusion, they are not used here, and are referred to as "the hero" and "the heroine" respectively.
    • In Final Fantasy Adventure and Adventures of Mana: Hero and Heroine in Japanese, and Sumo and Fuji in English.
    • In Sword of Mana: Duke and Elena in Japanese material, and Matt and Rose in the English strategy guide and official promotional comics.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Amanda is an Unlucky Childhood Friend for the hero, while Willy had a crush on the heroine. Sadly, Pair the Spares doesn't work out since Amanda is forced into a Mercy Kill because of Medusa's venom.
  • The Chosen One: The heroine is a woman of the Mana clan, and thus is able to sacrifice her body to sustain the Mana Tree and in doing so become the next Mana Goddess.
  • Class and Level System: You can select to level up according to 6 different archetypes; mixing and matching how you level can result in 42 different final classes.
  • Collision Damage: Rare monsters deal one point of damage and knock you flat on your back upon collision. Medusa's snakes inflict poison upon collision, but don't knock you down.
  • Continuity Nod: Each of the six class trees from Trials of Mana show up again here. Isabella (in appearance only; her real name of Belladonna is not used in this game) and Goremand have expies here as well.
  • Continuity Porn: Aside from Goremand and Isabella, we have Li'l Cactus, Niccolo, Dudbears, the Seven Wisdoms, Durac and Popoi's Notebook, and one of Julius' One-Winged Angel forms, which is an expy of Irwin.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: Julius is bordering on this, what with the painted nails, hot pink cape, and brightly colored robes. He doesn't present as trans, though.
  • Cthulhumanoid: Devius's One-Winged Angel form is a large mollusk-like humanoid with a nautilus for a head and tentacles for limbs. Li'l Cactus even calls him Old Squidface.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Come on. His name is Dark Lord.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Once the player character seriously injures Devius, Julius offers to heal him. Incensed at the very prospect, Devius refuses... and then stabs himself.
  • Dragon Their Feet: Despite the fact that the three surviving members of his team are nearby and doing perfectly well, Dark Lord still fights you on his own, outnumbered two to one. May be a case of This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself on Julius and Isabella's part; definitely a case of dickery on Goremand's.
  • Elemental Crafting: The game uses surprising variety of materials for equipment. There are eight classes of materials and two broad gear categories: fighter-type heavy armor and mage-type light armor. Any given piece of equipment can be made from several different material classes, leading to the hero wearing a bone breastplate and metal gauntlets while the heroine wears a cloth robe and wooden sandals. A given material class isn't "better" than another but they give different properties to the equipment they make. The full material list follows:
    • Cloth: Cotton, silk, hemp, felt.
    • Wood: Oak, holly, boabab, charcoal, ash, dion, mistletoe, fossil.
    • Leather: Animal hide, gator, centaur, pegasus.
    • Bone: Animal, elephant tusk, black bone, fossil.
    • Metal: Bronze, iron, steel, alloy, iron, alloy, lead, mythril silver, orihalcum.
    • Scale: Fish, lizard, snake, dragon.
    • Meteorite: Jake aerolite, hal, ankh, vinek.
    • Stone: Marble, obsidian, pedan, crystal.
  • Elite Mooks: Kill 1000 of a specific enemy and the black version replaces them. This applies to ALL enemies. For example the standard Rabbite becomes a Black Rabbite (though not the Seiken Dentetsu 3 version). Said monsters also drop high end materials required for the best equipment.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Due to Dark Lord and Julius banning the use of Mana power alongside worship of the Mana Goddess, the Mana Tree is dying yet again, and only the heroine's sacrifice can stop it, once Julius is defeated.
  • Era-Specific Personality: The antagonists are given much more development than in Final Fantasy Adventure. The heroine also has her own storyline, instead of being a Damsel in Distress.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Devius and Dark Lord are furious when the hero kills Medusa, not caring that Medusa had had an episode, forcing the hero to act in self defense. Devius even kidnaps Bogard to force a fight to the death as revenge.
  • Evil Redhead: Julius has red hair in this game, and is still quite evil.
  • Expy: Goremand is based on the character of the same name from Trials of Mana, being a soul-eating Monster Clown.
    • Isabella is a more straight example for Belladonna from the same game, with "Isabella" actually being her name instead of an alias to pass as human, in addition to being from the Bigieu clan and her interest in Dark Lord mirroring Belladonna's obsession with His Dark Majesty.
  • Fantastic Racism: In many flavors. Ordinary humans against the Mana tribe, humans in general against Mavoles and vice versa, and everyone and everything towards the Vandole family, whose body composition has been altered so much by Mana energy that they're no longer said to belong to any preexisting race.
  • Final Boss, New Dimension: You get sent to one of these for the third and last phase of the final boss fight against Julius. It's kind of an abstract blue area with a shimmer effect serving as the floor. You're confined to a small area in the center while he constantly flies around. The location box in your menu just refers to the place as "Limbo."
  • Flunky Boss: A few bosses fight alongside smaller minions. Medusa summons her snakes, which inflict poison upon collision and Kraken summons aggressive fish. Julius starts the first phase of his battle accompanied by four yellow oxen and periodically summons another if you slay them. Like the bosses themselves, these enemies don't appear in the bestiary.
  • Flying Face: Medusa's One-Winged Angel form is a giant floating head with snakes for hair and the third eye that she can fire a petrifying beam from.
  • Generation Xerox:
    • Like every Vandole, Julius has distinctive red hair and green eyes.
    • The heroine apparently looks just like her real mother, too.
    • The legendary Gemma Knights were Gemma: a sword-wielding hero, Bogard: a man from the Mana clan, and Granz: a minstrel. What are the hero, Willy, and Lester again? And all of these characters are more or less doomed to re-enact the adventures of the previous generation. The heroine and Julius in particular have a pretty raw deal, as destiny has arranged for the former's self-sacrifice and the latter's loss of humanity, not helped that the same happened to their predecessors, Emperor Vandole and the heroine's mother Mana, as well.
  • Girl in a Box: Lee has a whole basement full of them. Turns out Granz told him to keep them there so that they wouldn't be slaughtered out of Fantastic Racism.
  • Godhood Seeker: Julius/Vandole's goal.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Usually not overtly so, but it does make the bowdlerised English versions of scenes that originally had impassioned swearing a little Narmtastic. See the entry for Narm itself below.
  • Guide Dang It!: Sword of Mana takes a lot of cues from Legend of Mana. Unfortunately, this was one of them. Gardening is much more complicated than it looks like if you're trying to get certain kinds of produce, and trying out all the combination without a guide would be a ridiculously time-consuming expenditure. There's also the process of getting crystal weapons, Niccolo's special deals, and oh yes ALL of the advanced classes, especially the ones that require you to specialize in a weapon before you have access to it!
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Medusa's children, Dark Lord and Devius, fathered by Lord Granz.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: The heroine to Watts re: the hero, in the scene where she gets the Kusarigama.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: You have to enter names for both the hero and the heroine regardless of whose route you're playing.
  • High-Speed Train Reroute: The abandoned mine is a Minecart Madness level where you have to do this several times to reach the boss and advance the plot.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: There is foreshadowing for this as we already know that Julius is a Vandole before he gets hijacked by the Vandole, but the swerve is still pretty abrupt.
  • Homing Projectile: The staff turns your attack magic into this, making it the heroine's default form of magic. If an enemy is close enough, it can come back around for a second hit. The knuckles cause a variant where you control the spell to send it in the direction of your choice. You can have it stop on top of an enemy for another hit as well.
  • Identical Stranger: Julius has the same face and hairstyle (aside from skin tone or hair color) as the minor character Prince Durac of Lorimar. Marley notices this, but the reason why they look so similar is never explained.
  • Infinity +1 Sword:
    • Crystal equipment. We're talking MASSIVE stats in all categories, not counting the number of times you can temper them. Crystal weapons even have a chance to deal ALL-(yes, that's what it actually says) elemental damage, while crystal armors resist ALL elements and make you immune to Charm. However, you may find that a mix of other types of armors that resist other Status Effects may be better than just straight-up pure defense. Also however, you'll notice that the heroine can only have crystal weapons and gloves. That's where Altena Felt comes in—does the same job as crystal for fabric equipment, but grants immunity to Confuse instead.
    • The secret Brownie Ring, which increases all of your stats by 55.
  • Informed Attribute: The game booklet claims that Julius is a master swordsman. We never see him pick up a weapon.
  • Interspecies Romance: Mavole law forbids marriage and interbreeding with humans. Sometimes couples try anyway; when the geas kicks in for the Mavole member of the couple, the results are never pretty. Poor, poor Medusa. As for the children of such a union, there doesn't seem to be a taboo against relationships, but we never see one take its course without the half-blood dying midway through. Children of such a union do tend to lead very messed-up lives. Poor Devius and Dark Lord.
  • Karma Houdini: Goremand. Possibly only to be expected as, he's an Expy of — or possibly even the same character as — Goremand from Trials of Mana, who was never killed there either. But at least in Trials you could punch his smug face in. Here he's The Unfought.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Medusa's incurable memory loss—essentially the magical version of Alzheimer's—devastates her spouse and children, and eventually causes her family to splinter.
  • The Lost Lenore: Mana to Bogard.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Bogard is the heroine's father.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Julius is manipulating Dark Lord's resentment over how the Mana Clan refused to aid his mother to serve his own goals.
  • Mini-Boss: The Ebony and Ivory Butlers act as this in Vinquette Hall, leading up to Count Lee, and are variants of the Werewolf enemy. Which one you fight depends on which route you're playing. A guardian dragon serves as this at the halfway point of the Mana Sactuary.
  • Morality Chain: Dark Lord to Julius. True to type, he completely succumbs to his Vandole blood right after Dark Lord's death and makes a beeline for the Mana Tree. Alternately, if "Julius" is an assumed identity of Vandole, he dropped his "Julius" facade because Dark Lord is no longer a threat.
  • Mystical Waif: Julius to the villains' side, although Sword of Mana is far more vague on how he and Dark Lord wound up together than the original Final Fantasy Adventure, where Dark Lord was significantly older and Julius was an orphaned child he found in a cave. This does not seem to be the case here, as the two of them are roughly the same age.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The heroine's mother was not named in the original Final Fantasy Adventure or in its more faithful remake Adventures of Mana, but is named "Mana" in this game.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Humans treat them like traditional vampires and werewolves and so on, but Mavoles are very, very much not. See also Fantastic Racism.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The Werewolf and Wolfiend enemies look like standard werewolves and attack with moon-elemental magic. Count Lee's butlers also take on werewolf-like forms with the same abilities when fought as mini-bosses.
  • Permanently Missable Content: A number of treasures in can only be acquired at certain points of the game. If you didn't realize you were supposed to backtrack to an earlier town at just the right time, tough luck.
  • Pet the Dog: Devius in the heroine's route. Very much, considering his birds, Medusa, and the way he treats the heroine herself.
  • Planimal: Inverted. Many of the crops you can grow in the hot house resemble animals.
  • Please Kill Me If It Satisfies You: This is the protagonist's reaction to seeing their counterpart corrupted.
  • Plot Coupon: The heroine's pendant, the titular sword... the heroine herself...
  • Point of No Return: Dime Tower.
  • Posthumous Character: Vandole and Mana. Granz too, but this eventually turns out to be subverted, as Julius secretly kept him alive to siphon off his magic behind Dark Lord(who has been shown to publicly shun magic)'s back.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Mana Tree, after losing its power, must be "recharged" by the self-sacrifice of someone from the Mana tribe.
  • Power Floats: Julius can, and does when you fight him. Before he goes One-Winged Angel on you.
  • The Power of Love: How the player character gets past the ugliness of his/her friends' darkest secrets; particularly apparent in the heroine's route.
  • Punny Name: Goremand. In case you don't get it, consider that it was called Deatheater in the Japanese version.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: The Mana Clan could use the power of mana to save innocent lives such as Medusa's, but won't, because it would "throw off the balance" to help only one person, and/or because it's a slippery slope that leads down to an Evil Empire abusing Mana power and using it as a weapon.
    • Julius even calls the Mana Clan out on this very early in the story, perhaps in parody of the Green Aesop in Secret of Mana. "This wouldn't be happening if you'd stop keeping your powers to yourselves, you know." "Huh? But Mana is everywhere, how could we be hoarding it?" "...Wow, talk about completely missing the point."
  • Robot Buddy: Marshall, a robot found in the Tower of Dime, and is your companion in both routes.
  • Save the Villain: The heroine to every major antagonist you fight. Her route only. It never works.
  • Sequential Boss: Julius has a three-part battle. He first fights alongside a number of yellow Palette Swaps of the Gray Ox. Then his second phase has him do a Doppelgänger Spin before each attack. Finally, he goes One-Winged Angel using the power of the Mana Tree and sends you to an Amazing Technicolor Battlefield where he frequently flies out of your attack range.
  • Ship Tease: Hero/Heroine, Hero/Amanda, Devius/Heroine, Willy/Heroine, Dark Lord/Isabella, and Dark Lord/Julius all get implied at some point or another. Which pairings are hinted and how strongly often depends on whose route you're playing.
  • Shipper on Deck: Li'l Cactus, it appears, ships Dark Lord and Isabella. And maybe the protagonists.
  • Sidekick: Even out of the NPCs, the protagonists wind up with particular characters more often than not—for the hero, his designated backup is Lester; for the heroine, this is Willy.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: The hero and heroine can't stand each other early on, but eventually fall for each other.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Willy, who dies shortly after the beginning of the original Seiken Densetsu, gets a lot more characterization and screen time in Sword of Mana and survives the entire story.
  • Spread Shot: The axe causes your attack magic to hit an expanding area, though only the fire, water, and earth spells visualize it as spreading projectiles. Moon, wind, and wood spells are visualized as expanding waves, light as two projectiles that zigzag around each other and them move outward, and darkness as an expanding sphere.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Pretty much every single love story turns out this way: The protagonists in the hero's route, Dark Lord and Isabella, Pamela and Durac, and in the backstory, Bogard and Mana, and Granz and Medusa.
  • The Stoic: Devius. Except when you mess with his mother.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: Dark Lord and Julius. Depending on their class growth, the main characters can also count.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: The titular sword, though it's really more of a Plot Coupon—you can't use it, and it's rusted, so even if it was usable, it wouldn't do you any more good than your other weapons. Even at the climax of the game, where the sword is restored to its proper glory, you still can't use it.
  • That Man Is Dead / Do Not Call Me "Paul": Gurnda and Stroud prefer to be known as "Devius" and "Dark Lord" respectively. You can only get away with calling them by their names from their "old lives" if you're very close to them. The latter corrects the hero's parents when, not knowing about the name change, they address him as Prince Stroud.
  • This Is Your Brain on Evil: Vandole and Julius who might be Vandole.
  • Transflormation: What the heroine must undergo in order to save the Mana Tree.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: Good ol' Watts is your man/dwarf for forging equipment. He can also temper them too.
  • The Virus: Medusa's venom inflicts Body Horror on Amanda; the Vandole family's addiction to Mana power eventually gets the better of Julius(of course depending on whether he's Vandole himself or not he may be the one who got the Vandole family addicted to Mana power in the first place).
  • Weapon of Choice: Swords for the hero, staves for the heroine. They can use other weapons, but these pairings are used in official art.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: Your partner is free to bite it, and in some cases might be recommended, but if the one you're playing as at the time bites it, it's Game Over.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Goremand. A scene where he spoiled the ending and got a proper exit was Dummied Out.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Dark Lord thinks the Mana clan's non-interference policy is stupid and makes his displeasure VERY clear.
  • World Tree: The Mana Tree, as per the series staple of it providing the very life force of the world which is manipulated as magic.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The heroine is doomed to become the new Mana Goddess to save the Mana Tree, which was dying even before Julius started draining it, due to Julius and Dark Lord trying to phase out the world's use of, and reliance upon, the power of Mana. Worst of all, the heroine had passively sensed that this was true, but consciously acted to Screw Destiny until it was clear that if she doesn't do it, it'd cause The End of the World as We Know It.