Terranigma is an action RPG for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System released in 1996 for PAL regions by Nintendo.
The first chapter of the game, "The Outset," introduces Ark, a mischievous boy who lives in Crysta, the only village in the under world. After opening a forbidden door and touching a mysterious box containing a friendly demon named Yomi, every citizen in the village is frozen. The only person not affected by the curse, the Elder, guides him to resurrect the continents of the surface 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 under world, 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 surface world 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," after having crossed a dimensional crevasse, Ark is confronted with the barren land that was once the Earth's surface. His first task is to free the giant tree Ra from a parasite that is afflicting him. This causes the resurrection of all plants in the world, helping Ark to cross the mountains of Guiana. 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 humanity 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 also — much to his surprise — encountering a Lightside twin of Elle, who lives as the adopted daughter of a French king but was rendered mute by a traumatic event in her childhood. Ark manages to break this condition, and although Princess Elle at first stays away from Ark, she begins to grow close to him.
In continuing to follow the Elder's commands, Ark ultimately awakes the ingenious Beruga, a scientist who survived the destruction of the previous world by hiding himself in a cryogenic sleep. Beruga provides Ark with an insight into his personal image of paradise: A perfect world where all insignificant life is killed with a virus named Asmodeus and everyone else is made immortal by turning them into zombies. Ark tries to attack Beruga after this revealing twist but is stopped by robots, injuring him severely in the process.
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 Dark Gaia (the "Devil"), whose plans of world domination required Ark to resurrect the planet. 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 Dryvale, the location at the South Pole where the final confrontation between God and the Devil once took place. This leads to the appearance of Ark's Lightside self; the person Dark Gaia used to create Ark himself. His Lightside self reveals to him that he, the underworld Ark, is the legendary hero and then kills him.
However, in the fourth and final chapter, "Resurrection of the Hero," Ark is reborn as a baby through the soul of the surface world, Light Gaia. He is kidnapped by Darkside Elle, who was led there by Yomi to eliminate a threat to Crysta. When she realizes this threat is actually Ark, she allows him to awaken as the legendary hero and grow back into an adult in the process. Yomi then decides to kill Ark by himself and reveals he has been working for Dark Gaia all along. He fails, as Darkside Elle sacrifices herself to kill Yomi and save Ark's life.
Afterwards, Ark departs to defeat Beruga. After he conquers 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, Ark realizes that as a creation of Dark Gaia, he, along with the village of Crysta and the underworld, shall now vanish with the Devil's demise, though it is implied he and his loved ones in Crysta will be reincarnated. He goes to sleep, after being told by Light Gaia that he, as creator and defender, is what the humans would call a god. Ark's last dream pictures him as a bird flying above the world that he helped to exist, watching it grow older. An epilogue plays which shows Lightside Elle at her original home. There is a knock at the door, and she answers it. The game then ends.
Why It Rocks
- The story about the Resurrection of the Earth is thought-provoking as well as there being plenty of plot-twists and deep themes being explored.
- The main character, Ark is not a silent protagonist.
- The combat system allows for huge freedom.
- Magirocks are one-time use, showing what happens when you use up a natural resource.
- Masanori Hikichi's soundtrack is amazing.
- Since the game got an official English release in Australia and the UK, it is a rare example of an import RPG that you don't need to know Japanese to play.
- Colorful graphics and detailed animations (especially on Ark).