Monday, November 9, 2020

Trials of Mana, Part 10 - Jungle of Massacre

Prepare the battlefield...for Massacre.




Headless statues right before the final area. Metroid 2 called, and it wants its ambiance back!

All three of these characters are, as the kids say, Thirst-Traps.

The Darkstone is the nomadic mana stone. It doesn't have a home like the others. Maybe that's why it's so dark about it.

This leads directly into the chilling fight with Zable-Fahr, the God-Beast of Dark. This thing is actually a series of heads floating in a void, like something out of Actraiser.

The final head shows up after the others are "defeated", and promptly revives them. Multi-part bosses like this that revive their sidekicks... feel very Chrono Trigger ish.

Being the God-Beast of Dark, it attacks with a lot of PURPLE LASERS. Rune Master Angela's primary attack Dark Force is basically useless here, too.

AH! JESUS!

I finally win the fight. That thing was a beast, literally.

Here's the actual battle. I still like that this one has its own music. I wish there were a bit more explanation as to what this thing actually is, though. These heads could be like, the rulers of Mavolia or something. They're not, but something like that would have been cool.

Yeah, getting the Mana Sword for the bad guys and then immediately handing it over to them helped them. Whodathunk it?

After clearing the jungle (which is a bit of a hassle given its maze-like structure) and defeating Zable-Fahr, all that's left is the final area: Mirage Palace.

But first! Goremand. The former Deathjester has been lurking around all game, now it's time to take him down.

"I'll swallow your souls!"

This guy is a real punk, as purple lasers return. All of these lategame dark-elemental enemies are really crimping the style of Rune Master Angela's ability to dish out damage.

"GET IN MY BELLY"

Another fight. Get those buffs out ASAP at the beginning of every fight. It's so nice that they last for the entire fight, provided you don't let people die.

With him out of the way, NOW it's onward to the Mirage Palace. This is where we'll find Belgar the Masked Mage, this game's version of Thanatos. And don't forget his sidekick Heath, this game's version of Magus.

And speaking of Magus, the Mirage Palace was a bit of a cosmic twin to Magus' Castle in the original SD3. Here it still has that vibe.

The main reasons for this: Multiple paths that have to all be "cleared" to progress from the center room. Characters showing up that are people you know, only to turn on you before long and become monsters. And lastly, an area boss who happens to be an ultra-powerful magician with blue hair.

Several bosses return for redux-fights in the final areas. Which bosses return depends on which characters you play as. Each character doesn't have their own set of bosses, though, and there's a lot of overlap between character scenarios. For example, the ghost ship boss appears in at least two scenarios.

Battling poison/earth dragons as dark energy fills the room. Pausing the game with ring menus can result in sweet pictures.

Here's an example of an illusory person who isn't what they seem, as he quickly becomes a monster.

Dancing shopkeeper. IS HE FRIEND OR FOE?

Oh come on. Seriously? KARL TOO? Yep, illusion Karl is here, and he too attacks our heroes. That's just low.

One particularly noteworthy boss-redux fight: Zehnoa. One of the toughest fights in the game for the point that you originally fight it, this redux isn't easy either. However your party should be waaaay better put-together at this point.

Video of that fight, mainly because the music is funky and fresh.

Mirage Castle has some gorgeous floors. All of the final dungeons of this game are interesting and gorgeous in different ways.

Here's the ghost ship boss, which seems to be the most re-occurring boss redux in the final areas, as noted. It's dark-element, once again gimping players who went full dark path with Angela.

Here's the Masked Mage, Belgar, the fallen priest. He's definitely got that Thanatos resemblance down.

He's got the Mana Sword that we gave to the bad guys, and it seems to be getting stronger as we defeat God-Beasts. So...everything we're doing is helping him?

Belgar takes off to the Mana Sanctuary, leaving Heath to deal with our heroes.

Kevin pleads with Heath to see reason.

He doesn't. Well, at least he doesn't have a scythe.

Yet another dark-elemental boss. He sees Angela's Dark Bomb and goes "MINE'S BIGGER" like that gang member in Predator 2.

This is a strange battle. There's a lot going on, and somber music throughout. It can also take a while, depending on your party.

Heath is defeated, tragically. At least Charlotte isn't here to see this.

He tells the story of Belgar and how he fell from the side of good. Turns out Heath is also Belgar's son. This is very similar to the original story of Thanatos in SoM. He was intended to be a priest who flipped to the dark side shortly before the events of the game, which got the ball rolling on turning the Emperor and his generals evil as well.

From there, it's back to the Mana Sanctuary, which is now full of these shadow-enemies that morph into other enemies.

Thanatos is all evil and causing the Mana Tree to wither. At least he didn't bomb it this time.

He talks

and talks

and talks

Nice Geshtar reference with him saying he'll turn us into mindless undead thralls.

And HERE'S DARK LICH. Man. This thing looks completely sick in a modern form.

He quickly incapacitates our heroes. However, they draw strength from...

...the Planet and Mana and the birds and the bees n' shit, Spirit Bomb style.

Dark Lich doesn't mess around. As tough as he is, Heath was a bit tougher. I'll say this though: Charlotte had a much easier time with this fight due to Turn Undead.

Yet another boss immune to dark-element, so Angela was at a disadvantage here. Luckily my high levels pulled me through the fight, even if my setup was the opposite of optimum for this.

Dark-element be damned, here he is launching waves of light beams like a maniac.

PURPLE EXPLOSION. I've fought this guy four times over four games now.

LUCENT BEAMS. Ideally, Angela would be a class that could fire back Lucent Beams of its own.

That's a final boss down. Absolutely nuts. The music changed correctly midway through the fight, unlike the buggy new port of the original SFC version.

Faerie bids our heroes farewell, then becomes the new Mana Goddess.

...and gets hot. Kevin has already gone through puberty multiple times from being around these women all game. HAS HE NOT BEEN TORMENTED ENOUGH?

Angela returns to Queen Zeal, who is now back to normal. Everyone pretty much lives happily ever after in this game, unlike SoM.

Riesz goes home to Laurent Kingdom.

Good Lord, Liza is hot.

While most of the positivity of these endings are well-earned, Kevin's is more on the "Everything turned out fine! Disney's Doug!" end of the spectrum. Karl...just shows up, and he's alive.

wat

OH, Goremand's illusions just made us think Karl was dead.

Remember how Kevin literally buried Karl? The game doesn't. Disney's Doug! Yeah, this is a real cop-out of an ending, but whatever.

Hey, at least it's kind of nice to see the pup actually get to exist and be all fuzzy with his new friends.

That's it for the game. Or is it? Nope, there's some new endgame added for this version that I still have to do. We've also got some final boss videos to go through:

DARK LICH (Kevin/Charlotte) - This is what I consider the real final boss of this game, hence the character choice. That's just because of SoM though.

DRAGON LORD (Duran/Angela) - Picking one of the two "main character" types gets you this final boss. In the original, this was definitely the toughest of the three endbosses. Here, not so much because you can stack damage (it has like five points that can be attacked, so AOEs will hit multiple times). I think that this guy, much like Land Umber, was a holdover from SoM's "omitted boss" list. Always struck me as odd that the game only had 3 dragons at the very end of the game without any of the other elements covered, or a big boss dragon to rule them all. Just those first three elemental dragons and we're all outta time folks

I particularly like the final dungeon for Hawkeye and Riesz. Dark Castle is a very interesting area with a lot going on.

Angela looking Hot AF in one of her tier-3 classes on the light side.

ARCHDEMON (Hawkeye/Riesz) - This guy is probably the "canon" final boss. He's supposed to be the prince of Mavolia.

Tune in next time when I do the new postgame.




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