Friday, September 6, 2019

Adventures of Mana, Finale - The Last Vestiges

Today on the Adventures of Mana finale: I battle dragons, collect weapons, and slay Julius yet again.

Right after defeating Kraken, there's another dungeon in rapid succession. This is the fire-themed one, given that we just went through Ice and Water dungeons.

This is the first point where the game is notably challenging. The floors here can kill you in a matter of seconds if you don't book it from safe zone to safe zone.

The boss here is Ifrit. He was weird in his Sword of Mana incarnation, but here he's back to his annoying self from Final Fantasy Adventure.

His Morph Ball mode is WAY BIGGER now, but with the better AI he doesn't use it for super-long amounts of time like in the original FFA.

Seriously, this fight was obnoxious.

I wonder if Ifrit is sorta a stand-in for the Fire Fiend in this game since Marilith is Ice for some reason.

Next, I find the one shop in the game that sells attack spell items. These can be slung at foes in lieu of using MP. I never had any real need for any of them, though it might be good to have a couple Ice Rockets on hand for those annoying snowman switch puzzles. Items like this are a lot more important in Seiken Densetsu 3. Good news, the inventory is WAY less limited in AoM than FFA, so stocking items you may or may not need is no longer a huge detriment to your inventory space.

With the Rusty Sword recovered, it's time to go after Dime Tower and finish the game. But first! I haven't gotten Nuke from Lich yet. You can pretty much do that fight any time after Dark Lord, but I usually do it as late as possible (now) because Lich can be an extremely nasty boss at low levels.

I take the Chocobot to Lich's island resort. This game is basically a tile-perfect re-creation of FFA, for better or worse.

This Lich isn't Dark Lich from Secret of Mana. I don't even think it's Final Fantasy fiend version Lich. He's basically just the guardian of the Nuke spell and here to test you before he hands it over.

This fight is one of the roughest in the game because he hits so hard and has that scythe protecting him. It's worth noting that they actually drew on Sword of Mana for this fight more than FFA, as he follows the same attack patterns that he did in Sword.

After a knock-down, drag-out bout, I emerge victorious. Then I turned around and fought him in FFA on the Switch!

A challenging fight here, too, though not quite as bad as the AoM version. His scythe isn't a factor, for one.

Nuke has been renamed Flare. It's a nice bit of continuity how Lich gives you the Nuke spell in the original FFA, since Lich's big attack in the original Final Fantasy was Nuke.

Behold! A full spell list! I never used most of these. Cure is the only one you really need for 99% of the game, plus Blizzard for frozen enemy switch puzzles. Maybe Fire for a boss or two that are easier to fight from a distance. That's about it. Flare isn't that powerful considering the MP cost, and barely looks any different from Fire.

While we're at it, the weapon list is looking pretty robust now too. Remember that every weapon in this version has a unique graphic, so Secret of Mana standbys like the Dragon Buster really stand out. Something worth noting is that several weapons in this game are loosely based on the illustrations from Nintendo Power's coverage of Secret of Mana. For example, the Dragon Buster's fanning-out point:

Another AoM weapon that looks like its NP counterpart is...

...the Were-Buster, which has this same double-sided silvery look with a design in the middle. Pretty much any weapon that appeared in both FFA and Secret of Mana is going to have similarities between its AoM version and the Nintendo Power artwork.

And speaking of Secret of Mana... our next stop is the Cave of Ruins, where we have to deal with a lot of electric traps. You'd think this would be where Tiamat shows up, but instead we get THE MANTIS ANT.

This thing is fearsome and exaggerated compared to its Secret of Mana version or even its FFA version. Reminds me of the 'roided-out Ridley in Metroid Fusion.

Here's the original Mantis Ant. He's a simple foe, and a compelling one. The main challenge here is avoiding those damn electric traps around the walls.

Here's something that wasn't in either of the other versions of the game: A Sickle upgrade. Makes perfect sense that it'd be here. This thing is BEASTLY and annihilates everything in a circle around you. It's actually in competition with the Ball and Chain and Flame Whip for best weapon at this point. The Excalibur trumps all of them with its high attack power, but you don't get that until right before the final boss. In the meantime I'll likely use the Mantis Sickle for the most part. A very cool surprise.

Speaking of Excalibur...even though it's still in Rusty Sword form, light is starting to return to it. Step on this switch and...

...Dime Tower rumbles up out of the ground while Val Venis' theme plays.

Marcy is fully-realized, and it's even hotter than fully-realized Amanda.

He's been hanging out here for 50 long years, waiting for more orders from a Vandole Empire that no longer exists.

As usual, he's the best ally in the game, and attacks enemies with potent lasers from a distance. He can also restore MP, which means you have infinite heals at this point. It all makes Dime Tower pretty easy.

MANTIS SCYTHE in action.

The tower is full of these messages from the past, much like Mandala in Secret of Mana. Most of them are about Vandole and the Great War.

Here's Garuda, looking more like the eagle boss from Link's Awakening. Very easy fight here, and over fast.

As is tradition, Marcy throws our hero over to the Temple of Mana before crumbling with Dime Tower.

So, remember how Dark Lord needed to climb a waterfall at the beginning to reach the Temple of Mana? Basically, everything I've done, reviving Dime Tower and scaling it, etc...was to get to the top of that one waterfall via robot throw.

The Temple of Mana is the final area of the game, and enemies here drop the best armors. First, farm Ninjas here to get the Samurai Armor. It's easy with this new Mantis Sickle.

There's an entire boss rush here, unlike Sword of Mana. Here's the Dragon, and you just know they were saving this thing for the final area.

The Game Boy version of the fight. It's similar, just a lot less impressive.

NEXT FARM TARGET: Farm Fiend Heads to get the Samurai Helm, the top helm. For whatever reason some guides say these guys are only damageable with magic, but weapons work fine.

You can get these super-armors on the VERY FIRST KILL...or it might take dozens. It's random. Farming for them is fun, though. Secret of Mana does the same thing, only in that case you've got 3x best armors for 3x characters, plus a bunch of weapon orbs, for a grand total of around 16 drops instead of 3. Combine that with them being rarer and it takes quite a bit longer than it does in this game to farm the best equipment.

PROTIP: If you have a full item inventory when you try to open one of these chests, the chest will stay closed if it's a common item drop (since your inventory is full). Keep trying to open it until the RNG makes it the rare (armor) drop, and voila. So really you only need one chest from each of these enemy types, which speeds things up even more. By this point your inventory should be full of Hi-Ethers as it is.

Rarely-used attribute of the Blizzard spell: You can change the direction it travels in midair. Here's a puzzle where you have to guide the shard until it freezes the enemy on the switch in the corner. These puzzles are just getting weird.

Red Dragon is the next boss, and it's pretty much a more powerful palette-swap of garden variety regular Dragon. DAT BREATH ATTACK THOUGH.

Shortly after that we get -yet another- boss, the Zombie Dragon. It's pretty much the Hydra from the Marsh Cave, only it hits vastly harder.

I unleash the power of the MANTIS SCYTHE at close range to rack up hits.

Here's the Game Boy version of the fight. No Mantis Sickle there, so I used the Whip.

With every boss in the game defeated except Julius, you finally get the best sword. This thing dwarfs all other weapons in attack power.

The last floor of the Temple of Mana is full of these elephant enemies. Not sure what their deal is, or why they're the final vanguard before Julius. You'd think he'd have armored death knights, or Vandole Extermination Warmechs. Instead he has chibified elephant-men.

These guys have the third and final armor drop for the zone, the best shield. Shields in this game don't affect your defense stat, they just block projectiles from the front. This shield blocks pretty much every kind of projectile, including all of the final boss' fireballs. 

Just as importantly, the elephants give more EXP than any other foe in the game, and can be easily dispatched with Excalibur. This is the best spot in the game to level up, and it isn't too difficult to get all the way to 99.

That the AoM remake. The thing is, in this remake they spawn 3 to a room, so it's easy enough to take out two and then leave the screen to make all 3 respawn. In the Game Boy version they only spawn 1-2 to a room, usually 1, which means a LOT of running back and forth across the area to respawn them (have to move four rooms away to respawn them if you clear a room). So in the Game Boy version it's a lot more tedious to level up here, and I only leveled up to 47 in that playthrough. In the AoM version, however...

...I leveled all the way up to 69! That should be enough to slay Julius.

This is the home of the Tree of Mana, and it's full of pools. The only way this could be more Elysium-like is if beautiful, topless women started climbing out of the water. I wouldn't put it past Julius normally, but now...


He's all about this Neo-Vandole thing.

PHASE 1: He splits into a bunch of Julii and attacks. At first I thought only one was damageable, Agahnim-style. Nope, you can take out all of them, and have to.

"That wasn't even my FINAL FORM" he bellows. "I'm only using 20% of my power level!"

Thanks, Akira.

His second form has this awesome cascading waterfall background. This form is very reminiscent of Chaos from FF1.

The key here is to absolutely wail on him when he gets stunned and falls down. It's a pretty easy fight. This was the final battle in Sword of Mana, for some reason. Not sure why, because this version still has one more fight:

Disembodied Hands Julius. This form is the most menacing of all of them, and the most difficult.

The key here is that you have The Girl in the party for this fight, so you can ask her to keep you healed. With Regen effectively applied from that, it's a matter of staying back and...

...using the charged sword attack to dash-strike with Excalibur from a safe distance. This guy hits SUPER HARD and can easily defeat you if you aren't careful. By far the strongest and most interesting of Julius' forms, and just a bizarre omission from Sword.

The Girl's mother explains that The Girl is going to become a sprout and grow into the next Tree of Mana. We know the deal by now.

This is an interesting bit though: It almost sounds like the mother is The Girl from Secret of Mana. The only thing we can really take away from all of this is that the same events keep recurring with similar casts of characters and the same Empire rising up again every so often.

That isn't much of a choice.

After the saddest ending ever, The Girl becomes the new tree and her mom goes back to being a ghost, while the Hero takes up his new role of Gemma Knight. At least until history repeats itself yet again when he's gone, or something.


Kenji Ito is a master of music.

Elsewhere, Boco has made a friend.

The ending screen has the Mana Sprout, soon to be the next tree. For such a sad ending, at least it gives us a hopeful outlook. That does it for all of the remakes of FFA, and it was fun to spend this time with it.

Here's the entire fight with Julius from the Switch version of Final Fantasy Adventure. It's more or less the same fight as the one above, except you can't attack diagonally.

But wait! I have one more thing to do.


After several hours of one-shotting elephants with Excalibur's dash-strike power attack...

...I reach Level 99, which took 999999 EXP. Keep in mind that you only need about 150000 EXP to reach level 55, which is more than enough for the final boss. Luckily the elephants give EXP very quickly. I divided my stat-ups evenly between STR and INT, which gives me 99 of all four stats at the end and 999 HP. Awesome. ...except I only have 98 MP! What the hell, game? I did everything perfectly and I only have 98 MP?? WHY!


  1. Great Nintendo Power shots here.

    Mein gott, those heads are trolls from WoW!

  2. Whoa, that chest exploit is brilliant.

    Urgh, puzzles like that blizzard spike one always drive me nuts.

    Shields are just like in Zelda, then.

    Julius: "This is the new Vandole organization brother!"

    Looking forward to SoM!