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"I'm not really sure where 'here' is, to tell you the truth ."
An action RPG modeled heavily from the SNES' surprise hit, Secret of Mana. Despite rumors to the contrary, Evermore is not the sequel to Secret of Mana, but was made from whole cloth by Square USA (now part of Square Enix), and is one of the company's few games to have been developed entirely in the United States. It also featured a highly atmospheric soundtrack from newcoming composer Jeremy Soule, who went on to provide soundtracks for such classic games as Dungeon Siege, The Elder Scrolls III and IV, Guild Wars and the Total Annihilation series.
The game stars a B-movie-loving boy and his dog, who stumble upon an abandoned mansion in the middle of Podunk, USA. After a mishap with a mysterious-looking device, the boy and his canine companion get transported to Another Dimension, and find out that four other people have been trapped inside for decades, the disastrous result of the Evermore experiment 30 years ago. His goal becomes to explore this strange new world, learn the history of the Evermore project, and find a way to get everyone back to Earth. While the story isn't nearly as involved as it might sound, the game isn't without its highlights, the aforementioned soundtrack being one of them, the subversions of some path-of-least-resistance video game economic tropes being another.
The game itself is rather short, compared to Secret of Mana and other Square-Enix titles; it's also extremely linear, with no side-quests and a straightforward 'defeat the villain' premise. Otherwise, Secret of Evermore is fairly entertaining, with the boy constantly comparing his predicament to various (fictional) movies, and the dog shape-shifting into different forms, depending on which part of the game-world they're in.
Over the course of the game, you gradually learn more about the world of Evermore and its inhabitants; specifically, that Professor Ruffleburg designed Evermore as a realization of its inhabitant's 'ideal world', each area catering to their own personal desires. For one resident, Evermore is a prehistoric jungle, while for another it becomes an archaeological dig.
Each 'environment' in Evermore seems to exist in its own biome; each is separated from the others in some way (Fire Eyes' village is on a massive plateau, some areas are only reachable by travelling through sewer pipes, and the final area of the game isn't part of Evermore at all). Likewise, each area has its own distinct life-forms, which are unique to the region and do not appear in other locales.
A long-dead post in the 'Secret of Evermore' Game FAQs forum featured an extended (and very interesting) discussion with one of the game's programmers who happened to stumble upon the conversation -- topics covered before the thread 'died' ranged from what the programmers did after work, to an explanation of what the Gourd does (it doesn't do anything, incidentally), and even some personal anecdotes regarding the design process itself.
Secret of Evermore is the Trope Namer for:
Secret of Evermore provides examples of:
- Abandoned Laboratory / Big Fancy House: Ruffleberg's derelict mansion.
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: There are several of these, and each is a maze that must be successfully navigated to proceed.
- Adipose Rex: A female variant -- Queen Bluegarden, whose derrière is the size of a Buick.
- Adventurer Outfit: Horace.
- Air Vent Passageway
- AI Is a Crapshoot: Ruffleberg outfitted Carltron with an intelligence chip so he would play chess with him. Bad idea.
- Analogy Backfire: Before facing Vigor the Indestructible, the Boy is reminded of a fight scene Dirt, Swords, Sweat and Togas:
I think the hero got pummeled in that picture."
- Attack of the 50 Foot Whatever: Verminator.
- Badass Normal: The main character. No, stop and think about it for a little while: this is a young man who has been transported to an unknown world, who has no real skill in weaponry to begin with, but reacts to every threat to his progress through this unknown world by CLUBBING IT TO DEATH WITH A SEVERED HUMAN FEMUR.
- Bad with the Bone: See above.
- Bamboo Technology: Gomi appears to be building a skyscraper using whatever junk he has lying around, and some twine. Averted in the primitive worlds
- Battle Butler: Carltron.
- Bazaar of the Bizarre: Located in Nobilia, and itself the subject of many a FAQ. It's possible to make lots of money with smart trading... or lose lots with the dumb variety.
- BBW: In the real world, Queen Bluegarden isn't afraid to flaunt it. Good grief.
- Beard of Evil / Evil Redhead: Carltron.
- Bee-Bee Gun: The notoriously inconspicuous "Sting" spell. It launches a small swarm of bees at opponents.
- Bonus Boss: "The Faces".
- Boss Arena Idiocy: The first phase of the final battle consists of destroying some Fans and Speakers, which are virtually indestructible unless you hit bombs at them.
- Boss Rush: The final area is one, in lieu of a final dungeon.
- Brick Joke: In Antiqua, you find a boulder suspiciously similar to the ones you levitated in Prehistoria. Do the same here, and Tiny comes out and demonstrates his superior strength by picking up the boulder and throwing it away. Far away. When you inevitably end up at the southern end of the desert again, the boulder will land and form a bridge for you to cross. Lampshaded by the Boy.
Boy: Wow! That boulder was flying for a long time!
- Broken Bridge: There is an actual broken bridge in Crustacia cutting off access to the west bank of the river. Only the dog can jump across. There is also a raised drawbridge in Gothica cutting off direct access to Ebon Keep.
- The Butler Did It: As anyone who's read old crime novels would expect. Seriously.
- The Cameo: Cecil Harvey from Final Fantasy IV shows up as a shopkeeper in Ebon Keep, and even makes references to his adventures from that game.
- Canine Companion
- Chain of Deals: Used in the desert city, Nobilia. You start out buying small items, and trade your way up to items that give you permanent stat boosts.
- Charged Attack: Like in Secret of Mana, each weapon has multiple levels of charge. At first, you only have a choice between a piddly little swipe and a full swing, but as your skill with a weapon improves you can charge up to two power meters into a single blow.
- Chekhov's Volcano
- A Child Shall Lead Them: Elizabeth.
- Climax Boss: Aegis is one for Nobilia; he's not the last boss, but he's unleashed by the villain's plan.
- Cognizant Limbs: Thraxx, and later his stronger Palette Swapped offspring, Choleoptera. Their ribcages shield their hearts from damage.
- Commonplace Rare: Some of the alchemy ingredients. How is water so expensive?
- Most likely, it's pure water, which would be pretty rare in the first two civilizations (and the last two don't sell it).
- Ingredients are priced according to where the seller is located, and the patterns are fairly logical. Water and Clay are cheapest when bought from the man who gives you Acid Rain, and he lives next to a river. The alchemist in the Bugmuck has the cheapest Oil and Wax, and he lives next to tar pits full of bugs and skeletons. Limestone can only be bought from Blimp, and he lives near what looks to be a limestone cliff. Aside from Omnitopia, the best price on Ethanol is a merchant who lives near a pirate city (keep in mind what ethanol is used to make).
- Darker and Edgier: Pre-production materials and commercials imply that the game was supposed to be moodier than the final product, but was changed up near the end of development.
- Degraded Boss: Robot raptors and Rimsala Eyes are crawling all over Omnitopia.
- This theme extends even to the scenery; Aegis's face is built into the basement walls.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Give the Boy a name that ends in S? His status screen will correctly refrain from appending an S in the header. For instance, "James' Stats"
- Diagonal Speed Boost
- Dinosaur Doggie Bone: "Well, it's not exactly a stick, but it'll do."
- Dolled-Up Installment: The game's original title was just "Evermore"; "Secret of" was tacked on to cash in on the success of Secret of Mana, as well as the recycled use of the ring menu system. However, this plan worked against the game's favor when Square decided not to produce an English localization of Seiken Densetsu 3, causing Mana fans to believe that the decision was made to avoid competition with Evermore.
- Eleventh-Hour Superpower: Energize. See Game Breaker on the YMMV page.
- Empathic Shapeshifter: The Dog, whose appearance is determined by what area the Boy is exploring. Feral wolf for Prehistoria, sleek jackal-esque dog for Antiqua, pampered poodle in Gothica, and mechanical Toaster-Dog (with Frickin' Laser Beams!) in Omnitopia. He looks like a fairly normal terrier breed in the real world.
- Establishing Series Moment: The game opens with the boy having just seen a cheesy movie, and he makes many references to similar movies.
- Eternal English: All four lands use the same language. Justified in that they're artificial constructs, not "real" locations.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Most egregious in the desert area, where the player is attacked by a malevolent tumbleweed. This stuff doesn't just defy the laws of physics by rolling against the wind; it actually chases the boy and absolutely will not turn aside until it has collided with him. After it has either landed a hit or been blocked, it blows away in random directions.
- Evil Knockoff: Elizabeth, Horace, and Camilla each have robotic clones of them running around and making trouble. Clones of the boy and his dog are encountered during the Final Boss fight.
- There's also a battle on a bridge, where the Boy has to fight three clones of himself. Which leads to the line, "According to my calculations, you're three times stronger than yourself!"
- The third to last battle involves a clone of the Boy (no harder thsm any of the three aforementioned ones) and the Dog (who is a much stronger opponent)
- Eye of Newt: The alchemy ingredients, often taking the form of chemicals, minerals, or various flora.
- The Ferry Man: There is a desert ferryman who will ferry you across the desert to the Nobilia Trading Market... at the cost of one Amulet of Annihilation. He's chatty for a skeleton, constantly remarking on the desert scenery like a tour bus captain.
- Fireballs: At least four different spells have this effect in varying degrees. Most are very effective with a little leveling.
- Fisher Kingdom
- Flashback Effects: The prologue is told in Deliberate Monochrome.
- Follow the Leader: Designed as an Earthbound killer, and released four months after that game did.
- Foreshadowing: After taking out the Guardbots with his bazooka and descending down a floor iris, the Boy runs into his dog again, which barks a greeting at him. At first, you notice something off about it, but you figure maybe it's just all the metal around where the Boy's currently located distorting his barking. Turns out that it was an Early-Bird Cameo of the Toaster Dog.
- Garden of Evil
- Girlish Pigtails: Fire Eyes.
- Global Currency: Averted. Each world the boy visits has its own form of currency, and there's a steep exchange rate for each of them.
- Global Airship: Tinker's flying machine. Later one of the Omnitopian escape shuttles.
- Guide Dang It: Good luck finding some of the Alchemy formulas without one. Sting, the formula in the desert, is probably the most annoying one.
- Guns Are Worthless: Averted; the bazooka easily equals or outmatches the various melee weapons you put to use.
- And even if it somehow runs out of ammo, the Boy can still wield it like a club.
- The bazooka does have some drawbacks. The recoil forces the Boy backwards quite a bit, which can be disadvantageous, and using it like a club is woefully underpowered. That being said, ammo (even without the infinite ammo glitch) is very cheap, so you'll likely never run out once it becomes available. The hand-to-hand weapons are more fun, but certainly less useful.
- Actually the Neutron Blade wins out for highest damage potential if you know how to use it. Trap an enemy in a corner and use a Level 3 attack and you can potentially hit the enemy three times for 1000+ damage. That's enough to one-shot almost any non-boss enemy in the game.
- Hedge Maze: Chessboard Plateau.
- Heroic Dog
- Hello, Insert Name Here
- Hollywood Acid: The Acid Rain and Corrosion spells, which call down a bubbling, burning raincloud and a slow-acting deluge respectively.
- Hope Spot: Thanks to Prehistoria's volcano, the heroes are catapulted high into the air. Luckily, they fall into an upended turtle shell that floats them gently downstream. And then dumps them over a waterfall.
- Hurricane of Puns
Announcer: "And the challenger!...some loser with a stick!" (Then the crowd hurls garbage at the player...)
- The announcer says (slighty) different things depending of the weapon you have equipped.
- The Boy lampshades the ridiculousness of being in the tournament before it begins.
Boy: I'm about to go up against a bloodthirsty gladiator armed with a bone, a claw, and a stick! This isn't going to end well.
- Inevitable Waterfall: What first greets you after escaping Prehistoria.
- Instant Plunder, Just Add Pirates
- I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The Desert of Doom.
- Ironic Nickname: Tiny the Barbarian.
The Boy: You know, it's ironic that you're called "Tiny" as you're actually very large.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: There was one chest in which there was a subversion; you would get an alchemy spell and a new place to buy ingredients if you walked up to it and didn't open it. It was fair game after said transaction took place, though.
- Lampshade Hanging: As a result of growing up on cheesy B-movies, The Boy is very Genre Savvy. Combined with the fact the world is actually made from the imaginations of humans who may be a few decades out of touch but are still educated and familiar with the common tropes of their respective themed worlds, and you've got a lot of this.
- Late to the Party
- Lean and Mean: Carltron.
- Little Miss Badass: Elizabeth, Professor Ruffleburg's geeky, pre-adolescent granddaughter. When she offers her assistance and the hero dismisses her as a little girl, she calmly and explosively demonstrates why the local villagers call her "Fire Eyes".
- Load-Bearing Boss: Several, but Carltron is the most outstanding example -- offing him causes Evermore to begin breaking up due to the lack of Balance Between Good and Evil.
- Long List: In Nobilia, one guard will inform you of all the things he will not permit you to do in the city square. These include laughing, crying, moose-calling, juggling mummified cats, eating pancakes on Monday - and of course, barking like a seal. (It upsets him.)
- Lost Forever: There's a lot you can miss in this game without even realizing it, a lot of the optional Alchemy formulas and trade items are a case of Guide Dang It. Probably the worst offender is Gothica as a whole: the alleyway shops close once you kill Mungola, the castle doors once you return the worker's key, and if you open the wrong chest in Lance's house you won't meet Lance or get the Alchemy formula of the same name.
- The various trade items can be acquired in multiple places if you miss them, but it's still very easy to accidentally trade the wrong item away and never see it again. Furthermore, the merchants around the world who trade you these items will offer you something different if you already have what they'd normally offer (Merchant A normally trades the Jade Disk, if you already have it he'll trade the Silver Sheath, thus Merchant B who normally trades the sheath instead trades the Chocobo Egg, and so forth). So not only can certain trade items be lost forever, but which ones you can lose depends on which ones you already have.
- Lotus Eater Machine
- Mad Scientist: Sydney Ruffleberg and his surface counterpart, Tinker.
- Man of Wealth and Taste / Man in White: Carltron dresses like a boss, with a white tuxedo and tailcoat.
- Marth Debuted in Smash Bros: The above-mentioned cameo of Cecil and several FF6 characters for Europeans, since Final Fantasy games were a No Export for You until the seventh game.
- The Maze: The desert south of Nobilia, where east and west eventually wrap around to each other. A tame example, compared to the trope's use in other games, since you only have to run straight north or south to reach your destination; but this one contains a difficult-to-find alchemy spell named Sting.
- Gothica is chock full of these. Among them: the hedge maze around the chessboard, the Dark Forest (complete with a boss fight in the center, and another at the end), and the sewers under both castles to a lesser extent. This isn't even taking into consideration that you have to go through a teleporter maze to even get to Gothica!
- Meaningful Name: Each of the game's 'worlds', not to mention the protagonist's hometown.
- Fire Eyes.
- Tinker's brother, Gomi. Gomi means "garbage" in Japanese, an appropriate name considering the ramshackle tower he lives in.
- Meganekko: Elizabeth makes her coke-bottle Nerd Glasses look cute.
- Mirror Boss: Bad Boy and Bad Dawg. And Dark Toaster
- Money Grinding: Lampshaded in one case, where a shady character is offering the amulet you need to get a ride across the desert and charging an outrageous price for it. To come up with the money in the local currency, you'll most likely have to do a lot of this. When you actually do return with the money, the shady character says something like "You must have been out fighting lots of bad guys to get it!"
- NameTron: Carltron.
- New World Tease: The Boy's first visit to Omnitopia.
- No Export for You: This game never was released in Japan, but if it did it would have been named Seiken Densetsu USA: Evermore.
- No Name Given: The Boy and the Dog. But the player is given a ridiculously huge amount of character spaces to work with, to the point that it's possible to give him a first, middle, and last name, which everyone will then say after meeting him.
- Non Lethal Bottomless Pits
- They would be lethal, but the boy exclaims "Boy, I'm glad we missed those spikes at the bottom!". They also don't do any damage and serve nothing more than either a Broken Bridge or an annoyance for those timed bridges.
- The Nose Knows: The Dog can be used to hunt out alchemy ingredients with a touch of a button.
- Not Rare Over There: Annihilation amulets. 10,000 gems to get one if you don't want to cross the desert on foot, and once on the other side you can easily buy a couple others in the marketplace.
- Ominous Multiple Screens: The hidden room behind Omnitopia's shopping mall.
- Our Founder: A statue of Carltron decorates Nobilia square.
- Perverse Puppet: Mephista and Old Nick, a pair of enormous, staring marionettes from the land of Gothica. The king just loves to watch them dance . . .
- Power-Up Letdown / Useless Item: The Magic Gourd, which serves absolutely no purpose other than to deprive you of a valuable Chocobo Egg.
- There's a spot in the Desert of Doom where you can get free 99 Rice and Spice. Trade this for something profitable in Nobilia and you can accrue the 10,000 Jewels a monk is asking for to buy an Amulet of Annihilation in Crustacia (the shipwreck place). He also throws in a Chocobo Egg, as he probably feels guilty about selling you a piece of crap. You can use this to trade for The Magic Gourd, and you can get your Chocobo Egg back when you reach Ivor Tower in Gothica.
- The Present Day: Released in October of 1995, takes place a non-specific date from that same year.
- Puzzle Boss: Tiny
- Quicksand Sucks
- Reality Warper: The different worlds are manifestations of each of the inhabitants' personal utopias, as are the superhuman powers each one's developed during their stay.
- Recurring Boss: Stronger copies of the game's bosses appear in Omnitopia, where their originals were built.
- Ribcage Ridge: Bugmuck Swamp is named after a giant exoskeleton buried there.
- Ridiculous Future Inflation: Sort of; the Omnitopian Credit is the least valuable currency in the game via the exchange rate between civilizations, but to compensate items are ridiculously more expensive.
- Ring Menu: It's based on the Mana engine, after all.
- Robot Master: Carltron. Who better, right?
- Ruins for Ruins Sake: Literally, since Antiqua -- a land based on a pastiche of Ancient Egypt, Mayincatec, Ancient Grome and Pirates -- is created from Horace Highwater's ideal utopia, which involved archaeology.
- Running Gag: In Nobilia and Crustacia, mummified cats. They're part of the desert tour, they're on tapestries, in juggling acts, and in the Great Pyramid they even show up as enemies.
- Scary Shiny Glasses: Elizabeth's Call bead animation.
- Scenery Porn: The game is surprisingly beautiful in certain places. Especially Gothica. The music helps add to the atmosphere, as well.
- Schizo-Tech: Evermore was specifically designed to be so.
- Shifting Sand Land: The Quicksand Field.
- Shout-Out: When the Boy and Dog are exploring the Rufflebergs' dilapidated mansion in the introduction, he finds "a chainsaw, a mummy, and a balloon animal". A chainsaw and mummy are also found in Maniac Mansion.
- Simple Score of Sadness: The music for "Abandoned Ebon Keep".
- Sprint Meter: Shared with the Charge Meter. If you power up any weapon to level 3, you can use the sprint button to run almost indefinitely.
- Sprint Shoes: The Jaguar Ring
- Squishy Wizard: In an interesting twist, the main character is one in this game. Although there is no actual magic in this game, the boy is the only one who can use Alchemy. He also takes a lot more damage than the dog from enemy attacks.
- Magic Knight: Once he's been outfitted with better armor; and his weapon selection always qualifies.
- A Taste of Power: The Boy starts out with a bazooka, but it's quickly lost when his space pod lands. Cecil gives it back to you in Gothica.
- Temporary Bulk Change: The Atlas spell causes your hero to spontaneously bust out in ridiculous muscles for a moment. It's anyone's guess how his clothes survive.
- There's No B in Movie: The main character is a big fan of these.
- Third Person Person: Tiny.
- Token Minority: Horace.
- Too Awesome to Use: Call Beads, so long as you don't exploit a glitch (see YMMV).
- Tomorrowland: Omnitopia.
- The Unfought: Ruffleberg comes to the rescue and switches off Cartolron before he can fight you properly.
- Useless Useful Spell: A couple
- Reflect: It reflects magic. The problem is, by the time you get it, it's only useful on the optional boss. And almost immediately afterwards, you can get the Game Breaker spell Barrier, which negates all damage anyway.
- Explosion: More in the sense of its in-game description. Supposedly it can cut through barriers. The problem is, nobody in the game uses barrier spells. And you can get a more powerful version, Nitro, within an hour.
- Super Cure: It combines Cure (removes status ailments) and Heal (restores HP), however by the time you get it, status ailments don't pose much of a problem and Super Heal (completely restores the HP of both characters) has been a staple alchemy spell.
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Go ahead. Taunt those chickens. We dare you.
- Video Game Settings:
- Big Fancy Castle: Gothica and Ebon Keep.
- Blackout Basement / Underground Level: Oglin Cave.
- Bleak Level: Ebon Keep, though it is more melancholy than anything.
- Bubblegloop Swamp / Noob Cave: Bugmuck Swamp. Lovely.
- Build Like an Egyptian: Great Pyramid.
- Circus of Fear: Mungola and his puppets.
- Decade Dissonance: Evermore was designed with this in mind.
- Down the Drain / Hailfire Peaks: The Volcano Core.
- Down in the Dumps: Omnitopia's garbage heap.
- First Town: Fire Eyes's village.
- Gang Plank Galleon: Crustacea. Yar.
- It's All Upstairs From Here: Gomi's tower.
- The Lost Woods / The Maze: Dark Forest.
- Medieval European Fantasy: Gothica.
- Noob Cave: South Jungle
- Tomorrowland / Where It All Began: Omnitopia.
- Toy Time: The chessboard.
- Womb Level: The giant skeleton in Bugmuck Swamp.
- Warmup Boss: The Raptors.
- Which ends with an inverted Heads I Win, Tails You Lose boss battle. If you're successful in fighting off the raptors at the end, you get some free stuff, but if you fail (and you likely will fail), you just continue on with the plot.
- We Will Spend Credits in the Future: Omnitopia's local currency is the credit.
- Where It All Began: The Boy is jettisoned from Omnitopia in the prologue, and it takes him the entire game to get back.
- Who Names Their Dog "Dude"?: Elizabeth's reaction to your dog, regardless of what you've named him.
- Year Outside, Hour Inside: Prof. Ruffleberg's initial experiment with Evermore took place in 1965. Thirty years later, when the Boy finds them, they're not any older, and even comment in the ending that life will be much different now.
- This may be more of a case of Who Wants to Live Forever? as everyone is well aware of exactly how much time has passed since the experiment, but none of them have aged a day. This makes them want to return home all the more.
- You Must Be This Tall to Enter: Comes in three varieties. First, the weeds that your starting bone weapon can't cut down until you get the Spider Claw. Second, the switches in a dungeon have to be hit from a distance, and your spear is too light to do the job so you have to find the heavier Bronze Spear. And then there's stone barriers and blocked doorways that your current Axe is too weak to demolish so you have to find an upgrade.
- "femur" if you've got the Bone Crusher, or "claw" if you're using the Spider's Claw