“Terranigma” is an action-adventure RPG released for the Super Nintendo in 1995. The game was developed by Quintet as the final entry into the loosely-related group of games that included “Soul Blazer,” “Act Raiser,” and “The Illusion of Gaia.” It published by Enix, who would later go on to merge with Square Soft, becoming what is currently known as Square Enix.
You assume the role of Ark. Ark can travel the world and interact with its inhabitants, be they plant, animal, or human (depending on where you are in the game’s story). You can buy items from shops, including powerful magic spells fueled by Magirock (found in the game’s various dungeons). Throughout your journey, you’ll find various items that you give to notable people, Like Thomas Edison and Wilbur Wright.
Armed with a spear found in Pandora’s Box, Ark can run, jump, and attack throughout the game’s various levels. Combining these actions is the key to unlocking Ark’s fighting potential. Jumping and slashing makes Ark do a spinning attack, running and attacking gives you a powerful lunge, and attacking, running, and jumping has you diving into enemies and sliding after you touch the ground. Mastering combat might take a bit with the sometimes sticky controls, but you’ll do fine once you get the hang of it.
The planet has two sides: Light and Dark. These powers eventually become known as “God” and “Devil,” respectively. Ark is a mischievous boy from the Darkside village of Crysta. After opening Pandora’s Box, Ark is tasked by Crysta’s Elder to travel to the Lightside of the planet, revive life on the lifeless husk above, and watch over humanity’s evolution.
What sets “Terranigma” apart from other RPG’s is combining action elements with a surprisingly deep and moving story. Ark literally battles what’s holding evolution back, and even experiences what happened when evolution goes too far. Ark travels to locations based on real places on the Lightside of the planet, such as Colorado, Scandinavia, and New Zealand. These travels also lead him through various stages of human development, from prehistory, to medieval courts, to the near future.
“Terranigma” is often referred to “Illusion of Gaia 2,” as it features many stylistic similarities to the other successful RPG. It even features a secret location from the game, Mu, where Ark can find a host of legendary weapons. One can see the theme of creation prevalent through all games in this rough series.
The game was very positively received, yet never made it to the US, as Enix’s North American branch had closed by the time of its release. As a result, not many American gamers even know about it and can usually play it only through emulation. The game’s creator has expressed that he’d love to see the game make it to Nintendo’s Virtual Console, but that has yet to be seen.