Friday, August 16, 2019

Sword of Mana, Finale - Evoke

We're in the endgame now! Tune in as I climb Dime Tower, most likely with my AI ally kaput the entire time due to their propensity to stand around getting hit even though a stiff breeze takes them out.

A HUGE BEAM OF LIGHT warps our heroes up to the tower. It's like being beamed up by Scotty, only twice as pleasurable.

This is it, Dime Tower. It got a bit of a remake to turn it into a technological marvel. With a gold statue right at the beginning, it's a good place to catch up on levels if necessary.

It's a relic from the old Era of Vandole, the time of technology and war.

The time of...ROBOTS. Here's the one robot that still works, and nearby are a pile of robots that died off long ago. least, that's what the surviving robot says happened.

Have I ever mentioned why lobsters in lobster tanks have their claws rubberbanded? Because if even one (male, always male) lobster manages to get a claw free, the first thing they'll do is attack all of the other male lobsters until they're the only one left and can claim the entire territory for themselves.

And on that note, I'M WATCHING YOU, MARSHALL.

Dime Tower's lower floors actually break off of it as we climb it. Is this place really floating in the sky? That's quintessential "last dungeon in a Final Fantasy".

Whoa, it's the chess knight enemies from Secret of Mana, as well as the armored knight enemies from Seiken Densetsu 3. It's a Megapowers Team-Up, but unfortunately for them... we have a warbot.

I like this dungeon a lot. With the easily-disassembled floating architecture it's a bit similar to the final area of Final Fantasy XIII (though the technology level of that place was thousands of years ahead of this area).

Marshall is easily the best ally in this game, and attacks with powerful lasers. ...when he attacks. A lot of the time he falls prey to the same AI as the rest of the ally characters and stands around with his hands in his pockets like Orange Cassidy.


"I vas sent here to protect yoo" says Marshall in an Austrian accent as he takes a hit for our hero.

This is the only battle in the game where I switched to controlling the ally character and let the AI control Britty. I had to switch back to her often to heal and keep her going. For the most part though, I was able to do a lot more damage by playing as Marshall and wailing on the boss. Sorta like the final battle of Secret of Evermore, where you're better off switching to The Dog and blitzing everything with lasers.

Here's the fight as The Boy. I'd like to have seen more Vandole robots in the game.

"...and he's on his way."

Unfortunately The Boy shows up here, so chances are I'll lose Marshall. Dammit.

Julius says something about his tower achieving liftoff. So...he got all evil-looking. He proceeds to shatter more of the floor and trap everybody.


Marshall saves Brit by throwing her across to where The Boy is. It'd be easy enough to make a "nobody tosses a dwarf" reference since Brit is 4'10''.

However, I'm too busy being sad. That's it for Marshall, who gets buried in the tower as it falls away. Before this, he lied and told our heroes that he could fly just so that they wouldn't protest him throwing Brit to safety.

The Last Robot... no more.

And on that legitimately sad note... We get beamed up by Scotty, which means Scotty has now beamed our heroes up twice.

As Dime Tower falls apart, we beam into this tranquil place. It's...

...the Mana Temple, site of the Mana Tree and our final battle.

Conveniently, there's a Hot House over here. Lil' Cactus really is a cactus, he can show up ANYWHERE.

Let me tell you about this Lil' Cactus guy. He's basically the Shy Ronnie of the Mana universe. He never says anything to you and just sorta listens to your characters talk, then writes down these zany (and often vaguely sexual-sounding) poems about what they're doing. He's pretty out-there, but you wouldn't know it from talking to him. All of that's actually fun to read these blurbs about the adventure. Unfortunately you have to tediously reload the Hot House over and over to add one blurb at a time to the list, and there are a TON of them. If it just updated the entire list from talking to him once I'd be a lot more likely to read all of them. Still, I've grown to appreciate this guy.

Next thing I do is forge as many weapon upgrades as I can with the random ingredients I have laying around at this point.

Then, I laugh at "Ash Hat" for a bit. It's nice to finally have enough random debris to actually get some equipment upgrades. They're needed by now, too, because the difficulty / mob level skyrockets towards the end of the game. Pretty much everything after Dark Lord is just one level leap after another.

After that, I admire my full spell circle. The gang's all here, except Lumina got replaced by this Wisp guy. I'm pretty sure it's the same character, just retranslated.

Here's the full weapon set. Every weapon from Final Fantasy Adventure is here (with a Sword equivalent). Interesting that the Ball n' Chain and the Sickle didn't make the cut for Secret of Mana. They're both kinda redundant attacks (they travel in a circular pattern) that tend to not get much use as the game goes on, so I get why they didn't make the cut. The Harpoon and Boomerang were much better replacements.

And now, what we've all been waiting for... Pre-final-battle Lil' Cactus diaries!

He didn't "mean well-a", he killed a lot of innocent people. This game just loves to flip things around after you defeat a bad guy and try to make you feel bad about it.

It's certainly right that the guy should have married Isabella though. She seemed super-into him, but he was too busy bombing people and being all Dark Lord.

That's kinda deep. Lil' Cactus seems like an okay guy.


Cody: "I don't need a partner. I don't need a friend. I need...MAYOR MIKE HAGGAR!"

Here's the thing though. That entry is actually one of the sadder ones, because it's the entry about that random plant boss I defeated earlier. I think the insinuation is that Lil' Cactus knew him and called him Haggar. This's got a lot to it.


The good news is...if we can't stop Julius from making love to the Mana Tree and ushering in an era of darkness, well, the splinters will.

Finally we arrive at the Mana Tree roots.

Julius retreats for now and we fight this awesome-looking dragon. It's one of the easiest fights in the game. Stand here and swing away and that's about it.

Here's the fight as The Boy. It does have some nasty status effects.

Inside the Mana Temple, pitchfork-throwing fish men attack.

Final save of the game. Under 12 hours and wasn't even trying to speedrun it. It isn't a long game at all, but it takes a couple more hours than the original FFA does. Especially if you have to stop and build levels towards the end. Level 41 is a bit on the low side for the endgame.

Final equipment stats. I mainly relied on the Fists. The Sickle got like no use. And speaking of getting no use... how about magic in this game? Casting heals with Wisp is pretty much the only requirement to get through the game. The attack spells are all the same and a waste of mana, and the buffs wear off so quickly that they're barely worth using. The exception is Salamando's attack buff, which doubles your damage output for about 10 seconds. If you get a good window to wail on a boss, that one's worth using first.

::the door to the final battle room swings open, engulfing Brit in clouds of steam::

::Julius steps out in a bathrobe, puffing on a pipe::

Jules: "Brittany! So good to see you baby! Martini?"

He then possesses everybody and sics them on Brit. Even The Boy gets possessed. Yikes. I hate this kind of thing. The final battle of Vanguard Bandits on the PS1 does the same thing, where you're forced to fight your own characters due to possession. It was lame then too!

The good news is, the cast refuses to attack Brit. Turns out Julius' mind magic isn't as powerful as he thinks.

Cut to Britty's former lover, Isabella. She's lurking somewhere and praying for our victory, Earthbound-style.

Cibba runs in and tells everyone that Bogard is actually Britty's father. Is this really the time for this?

Does this mean Bogard already had relations with the Mana Tree, since it's The Girl's mom?

In other news, this whole scene goes on for like half an hour before the final boss fight starts. Lengthy cutscenes right before a difficult boss are a peeve of mine, right up there with level-requirement spikes.

Cibba called him by his real name! OHHHHHH!

Granz, the founder of the current empire, actually returns to life for this part just to save everybody. I'm lost at this point, but it is what it is.

The entire cast (except the two mains) fight Julius at once and he easily staves off all of them.

We cut to the Mana Tree, which is being drained of energy Tree of Might style.

"What does EVERYBODY want?" he bellows.

I don't know.

OH. Well, that's true, everybody does want the Mana Goddess. She's hot as hell. All of that...that bark!

This all sounds like a lot of euphemisms for mating. She isn't interested! LEAVE THE TREE ALONE!

.......okay, we get it.

"IN FIVE POSITIONS!" yells Julius in the background. WE GET IT

The Boy now realizes that if they defeat Julius, Brit will have to stay behind and become a new Mana Tree.

Next thing we know, The Boy REVIVES THE MANA SWORD. That rusty thing Britt has been lugging around, known in FFA as Excalibur.

The Mana Sword is the best weapon in the game...and only The Boy can wield it since they made that weird decision to divide their main weapons into Sword/Staff. So if you were playing as The Girl for the rest of the game...congrats, time for a last-minute main switch! Well, if you want to actually use the Sword of Mana.

Time for one of the weirdest final battles ever. It's very different from its FFA form, as Julius immediately summons a herd of...rams?

They trundle around on the battlefield! My God! IT'S A MADHOUSE!

Whenever Julius appears, that's your chance to go all-out with punching.

Julius powers up like he's going to do a Kaioh-Ken Attack.

...and my ally is knocked out for the 870th time all game.

Forget the rams, now he's attacking with a swarm of Julii!

Julius' big attack is a meteor swarm summon. It's a bit Final Fantasy-ish.

The Girl knocks Julius down with a Hadoken as the fist weapon continues to dominate and The Boy and his Mana Sword continue to be a ghost. Oh well, would have been great to have better AI, or two-player.

Now he's mad, and powers up. Like the original FFA, he has multiple forms.

This is the final and toughest fight in the game (no tree-merge this time for some reason).

He summons the FREEZA DEATH BALL.

Brit tries to block it with a punch!

MY. GOD. This attack WILL one-shot you if you aren't careful.

It's a fairly basic fight, though. Keep HP topped off, punch him in the ovaries when he gets close enough. Right in the ovaries!

Generic supervillain speech, and that's it for Julius. What happened to his third form? It's not here, for whatever reason. It's just as well because his second form was always the badass one. We'll see him again in Adventure of Mana real soon here.

The final battles as The Boy. It's really odd that his third form from FFA is omitted from this remake. It's like if FFVII Remake doesn't have the one-on-one fight with Sephiroth at the end and he just poofs after the Seraph fight.

Our heroes gather at the tree to say their farewells.

Britt ascends to the heavens and becomes the new Mana Tree. It's sad, but at least she doesn't die.

Everyone else lived happily ever after, and Willy married...that hot engineer girl from earlier? I didn't expect THAT. Seems like Willy always had all of the luck with women. Damn you, Willy!

Meanwhile, The Boy just sorta F's off, as in the original.

Credits roll. It's great that they have a guy named "ribs".

We get a nice shot of the new Mana Tree, and it turns out that Britty is one sassy tree. If Bogard and Julius are any indication, the men of this world are going to be camping out to ask the new tree out on a date.


We get a shot of the Mana Sword at rest. and that's it for this game.

Leave the game idol for a few minutes at the Fin screen and you get this shot of Boco, He was conspicuously absent from this version of the game, replaced with Cannon Travel. It's cool that they included him for a second at the end here. Will he turn up in AoM? We'll find out soon.

One more note, we all know this but I should also say something about how FFA's real name was Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden (Legend of Holy Sword: Final Fantasy Tale), so calling it "FFA" isn't really a misnomer. Secret of Mana dropped the FFG and was simply Seiken Densetsu 2 (Legend of Holy Sword 2).

What I just found out today: The original name of Sword of Mana was Shinyaku Seiken Densetsu (New Testament Legend of Holy Sword) which is a completely epic-sounding name.

1 comment:

  1. His name is Marshall?

    At least in the final battle of Tactics Ogre when you have to fight your own characters, they're just duplicates, and you still have your own peeps.

    Julii... how terrifying.

    Onward, to Adventures of Mana!