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The world is facing dark times, to say the least.
The Dark Lord's empire has near-total control of the world, he's only searching for the Tree of Mana to complete his dominance of the world, and the protectors of the tree and the Mana Tribe devoted to it, the Gemma Knights, are nowhere to be found. It seems that the Dark Lord's plans are all in place.
This player-named slave, and his friends Willy and Amanda, have dreams of escaping from these pens - Willy to meet up with the Gemma Knights, Amanda to see her brother Lester, and the player-named slave just wants freedom - though when the pits end up costing Willy his life, the slave agrees to look for Bogard, last of the knights, for his friend.
Things quickly spiral out of hand, as the newly-escaped slave quickly finds himself at the epicenter to prevent the Dark Lord's final victory.
Originally a Gaiden Game for the pigs-flyingly popular Final Fantasy series, it instead became the first game in the World of Mana series. This is why there are several elements of the former series (like chocobos, moogles, and a standard inventory system) present while several of the latter (cannon travel, mana spirits) are absent - many of the latter weren't actually introduced until Secret of Mana.
Known in Europe as Mystic Quest. Not to be confused with a similarly named SNES game (which likewise was released in Europe with a different title which also has the words "Mystic Quest" in it).
- Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Watts might be the physical incarnation of this trope - see below.
- Big Bad: Julius turns out to be the game's Big Bad.
- Bodyguard Crush: It's implied at the end of the game that the hero fell for the heroine, which makes the ending even sadder.
- Chain-Reaction Destruction: The first thing you fight, dies in that way.
- Charged Attack: There's a meter at the bottom of the screen that automatically charges; the amount of charge determines how much power your attack or spell has. Moreover, choosing to improve your Will score upon level up increases its speed - by the end of the game, the meter fills up so fast, your max charge attacks go from Awesome but Impractical to Awesome but Practical.
- The Chosen One: The girl you rescue at the beginning is the final scion of the Mana Tribe, and becomes the Gemma of the Mana Tree when the original one dies.
- Disc One Final Boss: The guy named "Dark Lord" sure sounds like the Big Bad, doesn't he?
- Downer Ending: The hero, after losing just about everything, finally defeats Julius, but the Mana Tree dies after the battle. The heroine, as the sole surviving member of the Mana Tribe, must stay and become the new tree, and the hero is the sole Gemma Knight left to protect her. Sure the land is at peace, but remember, the heroine is the only one left who can become the object that keeps the world stable. And all of this is set to possibly the saddest and most beautiful 8-bit music in existence. God damn.
- Dragon with an Agenda: Julius. Eventually Dragon Ascendant.
- Dronejam: Brutally averted, if an NPC is in your way, you can simply kill them
- Eleventh-Hour Superpower: Xcalibur/The Mana Sword, given to you about four screens before your final showdown with Julius.
- Evil Sorcerer: Julius
- Fridge Horror: The heroine is the sole surviving member of the Mana Tribe and the only one left eligible to become the Mana Tree. She actually has to become the tree after the final battle, despite her falling in love with the hero. Keep in mind that the Mana Tree is the source of all peace and life in that world, and did I mention she's the last of her race?
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: You can fling yourself across the screen and hit enemies anywhere on a straight line from you with a fully charged sword strike - but you still can't jump or squeeze your way past many obstacles.
- Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: Several bosses are really just there to interfere with you - part of the goal of the remake was to shoehorn them into the plot.
- Guide Dang It: The figure eight palm tree puzzle. Many gamers have said it took them years before they figured out the solution.
- Hello, Insert Name Here: Although the game booklet calls the hero and heroine Sumo and Fuji respectively.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: Amanda can't while undergoing her curse... compounding the Player Punch below because you have to kill her.
- Interchangeable Antimatter Keys
- Mattocks, used for clearing rocks, are similar, but the morningstar obtained late in the game makes them obsolete.
- Kenji Ito
- Lord British Postulate: The citizens of towns actually do have health and can be killed.
- Lost Forever: One treasure can only be reached if you use a fully charged attack with the Flame Whip. It's not necessary to beat the game, but it can be left behind.
- Mascot Mook: While many elements of the series weren't added until later, the game does have Rabites (though they weren't actually named until later).
- The Mole: Oh, that friendly man who helps you out at a couple of points? Julius, trying to get closer to the girl.
- Moses in the Bulrushes: Julius is a villainous version, the sole survivor of the evil Vandole empire.
- Never Say "Die": Averted hard for a Nintendo game, a Game Boy game released in 1991 nonetheless (during the iron-fisted censorship happy era for Nintendo). Were Nintendo's censors' radars off or something?
- Nice Hat: Since he's a monochrome Palette Swap of the red mage from Final Fantasy III, the disguised Julius also has his famous Pimp Hat. Betrayal has never looked so stylin'.
- No One Could Survive That: You benefit from this twice - perhaps because you're just a slave, Dark Lord and Julius don't really put that much effort in ensuring your demise.
- One-Winged Angel: Julius, once again, embodies the trope.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: While Watts is a bit more proactive than his brethren, he's no different (charging you for goods in the middle of the dungeon you agreed to help him with).
- Point of No Return: Tower of Dime. Hint: stock up on keys before you go.
- Robot Buddy: Marcie, in the Tower of Dime.
- Spanner in the Works: The main character is a nobody that turns out to be the one element Dark Lord (and later Julius) cannot account for.
- The Virus: Medusa's poison works like this... poor Amanda.
- Three Quarters View: A hybrid of this, side view and an overhead view.
- Unwinnable: If you save and leave the game at certain points while out of keys, you can load and be stuck between two locked doors with no way out. Running out of keys in the final dungeon will also leave you screwed, as the last place to buy keys was two dungeons ago and cannot be returned to.
- The map is on a grid, and eventually you can travel around on the sea when you get a chocobo. There is one(maybe more) square on the map in which there is no land at all, just sea. Do not save here and turn off the game, as when you start it back up, you can't start riding the chocobo, so there has to some land for you to stand on. Otherwise, the game will just crash and you have to restart your file.