Terranigma, known as Tenchi Sōzō (天地創造 The Creation of Heaven and Earth ) in Japan, is a 1995 action role-playing game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System developed by Quintet. It was published by Enix in Japan and later licensed to Nintendo that released English, German, Spanish and French language versions of the game in PAL territories. Terranigma tells the story of the Earth's resurrection by the hands of a boy named Ark, and its progress from the evolution of life to the present day.
The game keeps a top-down perspective view of the world and utilizes an action-based real-time battle system that allows the player to perform different techniques depending on whether the protagonist is running, jumping, attacking, or using a combination of these three actions. Each attack is meant for dealing more damage to certain kinds of enemies, though in most cases there is little to no difference regardless of the technique used. Projectiles launched at Ark can be blocked by the guard technique, which is otherwise ineffective against melee attacks.
With each victory, experience points are gained, increasing the protagonist's level and his maximum hit points, strength, defense, and luck. Slain enemies sometimes leave behind gems which can be used to buy weapons, armors, healing items, and spells. There are no magic points in the game, all spells take the form of one-time use items instead. The player must collect Magirocks and take them to a magic shop to have them transformed into magic rings and summon medals. Those items are used up when casting the corresponding spell and then turn back to Magirocks which may be exchanged for new spells again. Upon defeating bosses and completing miscellaneous tasks, new types of magic become available.
In Terranigma, 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 surface world, stood for growth whereas the internal Darkside, the under world, represented decline. Over the course of billions of years, these two forces came to be called God and Devil. 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 God and the Devil was still taking place, more fiercely than ever. The conflict culminated in a final battle at the southernmost point of the surface world. However, neither of the two forces was victorious. The continents of the surface world submerged into the sea and the under world was sealed away.
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 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 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", Ark is confronted with the barren land that was once the Earth's surface, after having crossed a dimensional crevasse. 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, helping Ark to cross the mountains of Guiana. He travels further into the world, reviving birds, the wind, animals and eventually humankind.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 also - much to his surprise - encountering a Lightside twin of Elle who lives as the adopted daughter of a 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.
Ark ultimately frees 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 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 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. He reveals to him that he, the under world Ark, is the legendary hero(Will from the Illusion of Gaia is thought to be his light side self since he defeated Dark Gaia in the previous game by Quintex and shares similar characteristics) and then kills him.[ ]
However, in the fourth and final chapter, "Resurrection of the Hero", Ark is reborn through the soul of the surface world, Light Gaia, and departs to defeat Beruga. After having conquered the professor, he returns to the under world 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. He goes to sleep, after being told 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 he created, watching it grow older.
In a post-credit scene, Princess Elle is awakened from sleep by someone pounding on the door of her cottage. The game ends right after she opens the door and then rushes outside - presumably to meet a reborn Ark.
Terranigma was released alongside several pieces of merchandise in Japan, including an official guide book, a world atlas, a novel by Saori Kumi, a novelization by Norio Nakai titled Logout Bunko Tenchi Sōzō (ログアウト文庫 天地創造), a gamebook featuring artwork by character designer Kamui Fujiwara, and the two volume manga Gangan Fantasy Comics: Tenchi Sōzō (ガンガンファンタジーコミックス 天地創造) by Mamiko Yasaka. None of this merchandise has ever been released outside of Japan. The manga series is currently being unofficially translated and released in English by a scanlation group.  In Germany, Club Nintendo released a short comic illustrating scenes from the game up to the events in Louran.
The soundtrack of Terranigma was composed by Miyoko Kobayashi and Masanori Hikichi. An album titled Tenchi Sōzō: Creative Soundtracks (天地創造 クリエイティヴサウンドトラックス) with 33 compositions was released by Kitty Records in Japan, on October 25, 1995. The first six tracks are arranged versions of the game's music.
Reception and legacy
According to Quintet, Terranigma sold 200,000 copies in Japan. The game contains some vague references to previous Quintet titles. David DeRienzo of GameSpy's Hardcore Gaming 101 has pointed out several commonalities between Terranigma and a few other Quintet games, including gameplay elements, themes, and characters. Additionally, one of the Quintet staff members in a secret area in the game refers to Terranigma as "Illusion of Gaia 2".
- ↑ Quintet, Quintet Game Library (Internet Archive)
- ↑ MobyGames, Game Credits for Terranigma
- ↑ Terranigma instruction booklet, page 4 (Prolog Story)
- ↑ Terranigma instruction booklet, page 17 (Ark's Actions)
- ↑ Terranigma instruction booklet, page 18 (Ark's Actions)
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Terranigma instruction booklet, page 16 (Ark's Actions)
- ↑ Terranigma instruction booklet, page 20 (Ark's Actions)
- ↑ Quintet Co., Ltd.. Terranigma. (Nintendo of Europe GmbH). Super Nintendo Entertainment System. (19 December 1996)
- ↑ KAMUI'S NOTE Work: Games
- ↑ Quintet, Quintet Goods (Internet Archive)
- ↑ Quintet Quintet Goods (Internet Archive)
- ↑ Glacial Rebellion Terranigma Scanlation (Internet Blog)
- ↑ Cherubae's Terranigma Info Page, Tenchi Souzou Merchandise
- ↑ VGMdb, Tenchi Sozo Creative Soundtracks
- ↑ Quintet, Quintet Game Library (Internet Archive)
- ↑ Hardcore Gaming 101, Quintet
- ↑ Quintet. Terranigma. (Nintendo). Super Nintendo Entertainment System. (1996-12-19) "Penguin K: I started making that game starring you. The title is Illusion of Gaia 2. Pretty cool, huh?"
- Official site (Internet Archive)
- Kamui Fujiwara's official website
- Cherubae's Terranigma Info Page
- RPGClassics - Terranigma Shrine