Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Seiken Densetsu 3, Finale - Vicious Spiral Dive

This is it, the culmination of Seiken Densetsu 3. Seen here in the alternate universe where it got a western release in 1995 or 1996.


We left off with our heroes FINALLY getting their third class change...just in time for like, the last part of the last dungeons. From there, we find the long-missing Darkstone in the Jungle of Illusion.

The Darkstone shatters, giving rise to the God-Beast of Dark. No matter what, it's the last one you fight.

Zable Fahr is my favorite God-Beast. It's so eerie, and looks like something out of Actraiser.

AOE special attacks are your best friend here, as you have two targets (soon three) to damage. The third classes were just in time, because they've got AOEs in abundance.

After lots of slashing and hacking, the true face of Zable Fahr emerges. This fight is where Charlotte finally gets to shine as an offensive caster if you took the Light path, especially if she's a Sage with Lucent Beam (Saint Beam in the original Japanese version, which I always liked the sound of more).

OH MY GOD.

Since I went with Bishop for Charlotte, she doesn't have Saint Beam. However, Holy Ball is no slouch either. Here's the fight. Creepy and unnerving, this one. It's worth noting that it has unique battle music that no other battle has: A slow and methodical beat that tells you you're dealing with something otherworldly here.


Win that fight to get this mirror that reveals the true form of the nearby Mirage Castle. It's a place of illusions and dark sorcery.

It also reveals this bugger lurking nearby.

He's the first of the three final bosses unique to Charlotte/Kevin. It's interesting how much Chrono Trigger slipped into their final phase of the game: Tainted Soul resembles Magus, Mirage Castle resembles Magus' Castle, and Goremand here attacks with a scythe. It's like Magus' genetic code got split between Goremand and Tainted Soul.

Once again, Saint Beam would clean up here...if I had it. Instead, Holy Ball has to suffice.

Another good fight, though this one did drag on a bit. Some fights, like this one and Lightgazer, just took a lot longer than they needed to.

After slaying that guy once and for all (can't believe I thought he was Thanatos) we arrive at Mirage Castle.

Styled very much like Magus' Castle, this place is a series of unavoidable enemy challenges and creepy illusory rooms where you encounter people you know who proceed to turn into monsters and attack.

Here's what appears to be the Priest of Light from Wendel, one of several monsters disguised as people who mean something to your party members.

Where are Slash and Flea at?

...Glad you asked. While they aren't in this game in any referential way, we DO have a branching path early in this dungeon where you have to go down multiple hallways to activate the main portal in the center hall, just like Magus' Castle. Some of them have minibosses, some just have a switch or a couple of regular fight. There are six altogether and finishing a hall causes the sphere for that hall to light up on this screen.

This is a weird one. You get warped to the town the beastmen destroyed (Astoria) and have to fight ghosts in houses until you eventually get warped back.

One of the halls ends with a boss fight against Gildervine, seen here at its most Queen Metroid like.

Charlotte learns the Bishop's greatest attack, Turn Undead as it was known in the original Japanese version. I mention this because that was the translated version we had access to from about 1999 to 2019, so the names from it are engrained at this point. Not sure why so many names got changed for the new release.

In any case, Turn Undead only works against undead enemies...but when it works, it WORKS. Does 999 damage and hits everything onscreen. A huge amount of the enemies in Mirage Castle are flagged as undead, so this spell absolutely decimates. I don't even think Angela would be able to decimate this much here. It's a situational attack, and this is the one situation for it to say the least.

Here it is in action. The only downside to it is that the animation for it gets a bit tedious after a while, as you have to watch a bunch of zombies dance for a couple seconds.

Through another portal at the end of the next hall gives us another boss...

...that bastardly wall-face from earlier. Probably the toughest regular boss in the game for the time that you fight it, outside of the final fights and so forth. It isn't as bad here. All of these boss reduxes are obviously beefed-up in the stat department, but not as much as your characters are.

At the end of another hall, we find...a box with what appear to be Tainted Soul song lyrics. After this you just get warped back with another crystal lit up in the main room.

Turn Undead completely cleaning up. These dragons are flagged as undead. While Saint Beam would have been better against the previous couple of bosses, Turn Undead's usefulness in this final dungeon has made me very glad I chose Bishop as a class. Too bad I didn't get this a lot earlier.

After lighting up all of the crystals, you can finally continue down the center path of the castle. This gets you to a dark room where blue fires light your path (….yeah, it's definitely Magus' Castle now) leading to...

...the next phase of the castle, which is more of a standard castle. Here's Hawkeye dishing out his own new move: Dark Rain, the strongest Nightblade attack. It's an AOE that does a lot of damage to everything except dark enemies, which makes it not very useful here. Oh well.

The second phase of the castle is a bit confusing, and it's easy to go in circles until you notice these obscure switches on the wall. They control various pits in the various rooms, which allows you to progress once you set them right.

Another confusing and easy-to-miss path forward is in this room. The part of the wall without a shadow in front of it is actually the door to the next area.

Right before the big boss of the castle, we get a third miniboss: A rematch with this ghost.

He's got Hawkeye's Dark Rain attack, and they forgot to flag him undead so Turn Undead doesn't work here. I break out the chain-casting of Holy Ball until he croaks, and it's on to...

...Thanatos and Dyluck, or rather Belgar the Masked Mage and Heath the Tainted Soul.

While Belgar used to be a holy priest, he fell to the dark arts when he tried to tap into necromancy that'd let him revive lost loved ones. From there he started wearing a mask and buddying up to various authoritarian regimes to gain power. Within him dwells the ancient spirit of a lich, as is tradition.

He then teleports away to destroy the Mana Tree. All of this is so familiar. It's why I chose this particular scenario to play: The SoM similarities.

Heath is left to play the Magus role and stop us here at the castle. He's every bit the badass that Magus is. Difference is, he's under mind-control.

What follows is a sad battle where Charlotte must defeat her best friend.

He's got every spell there is, and unleashes a constant barrage of damage. The main issue with this fight: The status effects, like midge seen here. This is one of those situations where the penultimate boss (this guy) is tougher than the final boss...or any other fight in the game. Heath is no joke.

His best move might be this Seraph summon, which is Riesz' best attack as a Starlancer. More on that in the remake.

He also summons this dragon turtle to dish out punishment...a lot. There are times when you can barely get a heal off in time, even with the game's most powerhouse healer, because Heath's attacks are so relentless. It doesn't help that spells freeze the game in this version.

After a 20-minute fight, I sustain my first loss in AGES. Time for me to break glass in case of emergency and go use the rest of my accumulated Gear Seeds.

...and I'm really lucking out so far. Here's Duran's best weapon, Ragnarok.

Pretty good stat gain there. I managed to get a few other upgrades as well from the very few Gear Seeds I had from this playthrough (four). I tend to use them as late as possible. You need to have your third classes in order to get the top-tier gear.

The rematch with TAINTED SOUL. How did it go? A little bit better. Just needed the weapon upgrades for Duran and Hawkeye, plus new armor for Charlotte.

Heath comes to his senses at the last minute after being defeated by us. Get ready, because he's about to tell the story of Thanatos that was likely meant for SoM:

This sounds pretty close to the scraps of omitted text from SoM that pertain to Thanatos: He was a light priest who fell to evil, and joined The Empire late in the game's history.

A quick Flammie jaunt over to Mana Holyland and things look very different and apocalyptic now. No flight music change, unfortunately. This part could really use Star of Darkness.

The second run through Mana Holyland has the place in ruins and crawling with shape shifters (much like the Dark Stalker in SoM, or Yakra in CT). They seem to be a popular minion of the era.

Here's Belgar, fresh off destroying the tree and the goddess. What a bastard. At least it isn't the hero's mom this time.

Do I?

I mean, suffice to say I've been waiting about 20 years to finally see this fight, ever since I read about the game in the 90's.

Belgar becomes Dark Lich, seen here in his new SD3 Giant Form.

He's ready to possess the bodies of the heroes, when they get a message from the mana goddess.

For this fight, it's fitting that the final battle theme of this game is so similar to Dark Lich's theme from SoM.

The really, really good news: Charlotte's ultimate attack WORKS on this fight. 999 damage a cast, and you can spam it.

He still has enormous amounts of HP, so even spamming 999 damage takes a while to bring him down. Duran and Hawkeye are no slouches either with their big class-3 attacks.

He's got some nasty AOEs and is definitely a stronger foe than he was in SoM (the much-larger HP pool he has here makes a big difference in your odds). However I found the fight overall to be easier than Heath, likely because of Turn Undead's effectiveness.

Later in the fight, he floods the battle space and it just sorta stays like that. Not sure what this does, or why.

"DOWN HERE, WE ALL FLOAT" he says.

Here's the whole fight, and it's a good one. If you watch one boss fight from the game, give this one a whirl. The "Dark Lich" style theme never changed over into the "Meridian Dance" style theme midway through the fight, which is either a bug or the designers just decided to let Dark Lich ride the wave of his own theme all the way through. Either way I liked it more this way, as the theme was absolutely made for this guy.

Win the fight, and it's time to GET DEPRESSED.

...except not, because the Faerie turns into the new Mana Goddess and everything is okay. This game has a much more positive ending than SoM, and best of all it feels earned rather than something they just threw out there at the end that un-did every impactful thing that happened, like so many other properties do.

Hawkeye returns to Jessica, who is absolutely thrilled that he's okay...as he looks right past her and goes "Daaaamn, who is SHE" before realizing he's looking at Neko. Homie took some concussions on our journey.

Leave him, Jessica.

Flamekhan: "...After all, my daughter is dating Hawkeye."

The Nevarl army is ready to start the War on the Environment since their attempt at world domination was foiled. Okay. Maybe this place becomes Kakkara. I don't know what any of the Mana series "timeline" is supposed to look like at this point.

Meanwhile, Heath used the last of his power to project himself over to Wendel and cure the Priest of Light of his blindness.

Our young sprite is pretty sad to lose him, though. Well, it's been a pretty happy ending overall, but not everyone could surv-

-oh, there he is. Well, this one thing is a bit "Disney's Doug!" but I'll allow it, since it makes sense that the first thing Faerie would do as a goddess is revive Heath before his soul deteriorated.

The new Tree of Mana sprouts next to the destroyed old one...

...and roll credits. Everybody lived happily ever after. What about Duran, you ask? He returned to Valsena and just kinda went back to being a knight. We'll see more with the other three characters in the remake.

Fin. Historically SD3 has always been the end of the Mana series for me, though now I've got the remake to finish as well. Really though, I never got into any of the Mana games released after this one. To me it might as well be a trilogy. This game can be hit-or-miss for me, but it's great to see so many of SoM's concepts be fully-realized. It's a spiritual twin to Chrono Trigger in so many ways too.

Bonus Round: The Black Rabite is the game's optional super-boss, and it's a doozy. Here's my clash with this deceptively-strong death-machine.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, the Darkstone changes location depending on your path. I guess that's why it was lost.

    Charlotte's big dungeon here sounds like of like the remake's post-game.

    I'll say this for "Turn Undead", it's not a good description of what it does the way "Undead Away" is.

    Whoa, cool to see Seraph here.

    Great job finishing this!

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