, known in Japan as , is a 1995 action role-playing game
for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System
developed by Quintet
and published by Enix
. It tells the story of the resurrection of the world, and its progress from prehistoric times to the near future. Terranigma
by Miyoko Kobayashi
and Masanori Hikichi
; the game's characters were designed by Kamui Fujiwara
The English version of Terranigma was released in PAL territories by Nintendo. A North American release was never made.
keeps an almost constant top-down perspective
view of the world, with only a few brief side-scrolling parts in the game. Instead of turn based battles, which were common for most RPGs at this time, Terranigma
utilizes an action-based combat system that allows the player to perform different attacks depending on whether or not the protagonist is running, jumping, tapping the attack button, or using a combination of these three techniques. Each attack is meant to be suited for dealing more damage to certain kinds of enemies, but most of them will take the same amount from any technique, regardless of the type used. The only form of defense is the X-Guard, where Ark crosses his spear in front of him, forming an X. This can only block small projectiles, such as tiny fireballs. However, it remains ineffective against melee attacks.
On the overworld map, where the player travels between towns and dungeons, the view utilizes Mode 7 graphics and appears wrapped around to convey the spherical shape of the Earth. The player then appears significantly smaller, unlike many other RPGs of its time in which the same sprite is used for towns, dungeons, and the overworld.
Terranigma also has a unique magic system. Rather than using magic points that decrease when casting spells, as most traditional RPGs have, all spells take the form of one-time-use items called "spell rings". Each ring is used up when the protagonist casts the item's corresponding spell. Players can acquire more spell rings by taking items called to the various magic shops found in the game and transforming them into different rings. Once a spell ring is used the Magirocks used to create the spell ring are returned to the user, allowing them to be reused for the creation of new spell rings. New spell ring types are usually obtained after defeating a boss.
, the Earth is portrayed as a hollow sphere
that has both an external and internal face. Since the beginning of the Earth, the external Lightside, the overworld, stood for growth whereas the internal Darkside, the underworld, represented decline. Over the course of billions of years, these two forces came to be called Good and Evil. Regardless of the inner antagonism, rapid progress took root and primitive life forms evolved to plants, animals and humans. Technology and industry revolutionized the evolution, but the fight between Good and Evil was still taking place, more fiercely than ever. The conflict culminated in a final battle at the southernmost point of the overworld. However, neither of the two forces were victorious. The continents of the overworld submerged into the ocean and the underworld was sealed away.
- The protagonist of the game. Mischievous, his disregard of the Elder's authority in opening the sealed door and Pandora's Box causes the release of Yomi and the frozen state of Crysta, the catalyst for the events transpiring in the game. Under the Elder's command, he resurrects the surface world and its inhabitants. His name is an allusion to Noah's Ark.
- Ark's childhood friend , girlfriend and a skilled weaver.
- The Elder of Crysta who has his own agenda behind the resurrection of the surface world.
- A strange pink creature released from Pandora's Box who accompanies Ark on his journey, guiding his actions on behalf of the Elder. The name Yomi is an allusion to the Shintoistic Underworld.
- The Elder of Lhasa who guides Ark on the behalf of Light Gaia.
- A girl of the surface world who has the ability to generate illusions. In a possible previous incarnation, she was a priestess of Astarica.
- The only survivor of the destruction of and a dead lookalike of the Underworld Elle, she was adopted by King Henri in hopes that she might reveal the secret of Storkholm's treasure, thus becoming a princess. However, being traumatized by the massacre, she became mute. In a possible previous incarnation, she obtained power through the rituals at Astarica.
- The bodyguard of Princess Elle, who is actually responsible for killing her parents under King Henri's orders. Always tormented by her guilt, she pledges loyalty to Elle. In a possible previous incarnation, she was an official of Astarica.
- A soldier and mercenary, who appears first as an arrogant suitor for Elle as King Henri offers her hand in marriage to the one who can cure her muteness. After appearing like a minor secondary character at first, he begins to play a more important role towards the end in the game. In a possible previous incarnation, Royd was an official of Astarica and had a love relationship with Fyda.
- An explorer who first sailed to America. There, he discovered the weapon and armor of the hero, which he entrusted to the people of Storkholm. He was imprisoned and tortured by the queen of Sylvain Castle. He is based upon Christopher Columbus, a historical Italian explorer.
- A skateboarding boy from Freedom who, in a possible previous incarnation, was a priest of Astarica.
- A genius whose work on genetics lengthens human life, at the price of becoming a zombie-like creature. The creator of the vaccine to the Asmodeus virus, he lived through the previous apocalypse in his cryogenic chamber. He works under the command of Dark Gaia to bring about the world which it desires.
- The light half of the hero who kills the dark half to make him become the true hero, reborn as an infant.
- Sealed in the box containing the equipment of the hero, it accompanies Ark after Yomi of the underworld betrays him.
At the beginning of the first chapter of the game, "The outset", Ark is a troublemaker of a boy who lives in , the only village in the underworld. After opening a door he was told not to enter and touching a mysterious box inside, every citizen in the village is frozen. The only person not affected by the curse, the Elder of Crysta, guides him to resurrect the continents of the world in order to unfreeze the people. A way out of his hometown appears, and for the first time ever a human being leaves Crysta to explore the underworld which is portrayed as a frozen wasteland of imposing crystal mountains, crossed by rivers of magma. He conquers the trials of the five towers - each representing one continent - and revives the mainland of the Earth. Upon returning to his hometown, the Elder instructs him to travel to the overworld and to resurrect all living beings. With a heavy heart, Ark says goodbye to his lifelong devoted friend Elle and sets out to the Lightside.
In the second chapter, "Resurrection of the world", having crossed a dimensional crevasse that closed itself after his appearance on the overworld, Ark is confronted with the barren land that once was the Earth's surface. His first task is to free the giant tree Ra from the parasite he is afflicted with. This causes the resurrection of all plants in the world resulting in Ark's being able to cross the mountains of Guyana. He travels further into the world, reviving birds, the wind, animals and eventually mankind.
In the third chapter, "Resurrection of the genius", the Elder appears to Ark in a dream and tells him to keep helping humankind grow, as the world is still in the fledgling stages. He continues his journey, traveling and expanding cities, assisting with the invention of groundbreaking technologies and ultimately, freeing the ingenious Beruga from his sleep in a cryogenic chamber. The professor provides Ark with an insight into his personal image of the paradise. He envisions a perfect world by killing all insignificant life with a virus named Asmodeus and turning everyone else into immortal beings. Ark tries to attack Beruga after this revealing twist but is stopped by robots, injuring him heavily.
The Elder once again appears to him, saying that his mission is fulfilled and he may now pass away. Ark realizes that he's been used by Evil to lead the power which created him to world domination. Just as he is about to die, Kumari, a wise human who watched the world's growth through reincarnation, teleports Ark out of Beruga's laboratory. He then instructs him to go search the five Starstones and to lay them at the grave at time's end in order to call the golden child. Ark obtains the stones one after another and sets them into skull statues at Dry Valley, the location at the South Pole where the final confrontation between Good and Evil once took place. This leads to the appearance of Ark's Lightside self, the person Evil - now given the name Dark Gaia - used to create Ark himself. He tells him that he's the legendary hero and then kills him.
However, in the fourth and final chapter, "Resurrection of the hero", Ark is reborn through the power of Good, Light Gaia, and departs to defeat Beruga. After having conquered the professor, he returns to the underworld to defeat Dark Gaia. The victory over that entity brings forth the destruction of the Darkside. In the end, however, a major purpose is served and Ark, although sealing what appears to be his own demise as well, realizes he and all of his loved ones are bound to meet again in future reincarnations. Thus he goes to sleep, after being told that he, as creator and defender, is what the outside world would call a "god". Ark's last dream pictures him as bird flying above the world he created, in an astonishing sequence that plays along with the game's final credits and a surprise end.
Connections with other games
The online magazine Hardcore Gaming 101
(published by GameSpy
) has referred to Terranigma
and a few other Quintet games as the Soul Blazer series
, pointing out a few common themes between the different titles.
Common elements include a dog named Turbo, the presence of Dark Gaia and Light Gaia, and certain locations reappearing such as Mu and South Cape. The ending to Illusion of Gaia suggests a modern world similar to the one in Terranigma, although the few cameos - namely, that of Lily as a plant soul and Nana and Servas ('Sabas' from Illusion of Gaia was a corruption of which) - are not strong ties between the games. (An interesting thing to point out is that all three games in the 'series' had characters named Nana and Servas and all had something to do with the sea, especially ship accidents). Soul Blazer features similar gameplay elements to Terranigma in terms of resurrecting aspects of different worlds, and Illusion of Gaia has a similar combat and message system in some ways, at the same time sharing similar themes about balancing light and darkness. Each of these games used the same font type and interface sound effects as well. Additionally, one of the Quintet staff members in the game's secret area refers to Terranigma as "Illusion of Gaia 2".
Terranigma was released with merchandise which now hold value to collectors, such as the game book featuring artwork by Kamui Fujiwara which reads in the vein of a "choose your own adventure" story. Also, a two volume manga by Mamiko Yasaka was released, retelling the story in a condensed fashion, as well as a novel by Saori Kumi and an atlas corresponding to the game. In Germany, Club Nintendo released a small comic book illustrating scenes from the game separate from any Japanese merchandise.