IntroductionThe Super Nintendo is well known for its many classic RPGs, but not every SNES RPG was created equal. Some of them didn't have "Squaresoft" written anywhere on them which has sadly erased them from the memory of many who grew up in the 90's.
I have a pretty big problem with this, especially if it means that more people remember Secret of Evermore than remember ActRaiser, Soul Blazer, Robotrek, and most importantly, Illusion of Gaia.
What is Illusion of Gaia?
While it doesn't have any fancy roman numerals to denote its lineage, Illusion of Gaia is the second game of the loosely connected Soul Blazer trilogy of games, developed by Quintet and published by Enix. It's an action RPG cut from what was left of the cloth that A Link to the Past came from. It plays pretty much exactly like a Zelda game with 1 huge exception: Instead of collecting items from dungeons that let you blaze new paths and solve puzzles, the main character, Will, receives "Dark Powers" that let him overcome obstacles and the ability to transform into other characters as the situation requires.
And he fights with a flute.
While the gameplay is easy to describe, the story of the game is far less so. It takes place on a pseudo-Earth circa 1600 A.D. and revolves around a boy named Will, the only survivor of a doomed expedition to the mythical Tower of Babel. The circumstances regarding his survival and return to the town of South Cape are quite mysterious, so in order to find out what really happened, Will decides that he'll travel the world to discover the truth. The plot takes many twists and turns, some of which are very heavily shadowed, and many that are not. As a result spoilers will not be tolerated in any way, shape, or form. There are a lot of people who have never played, or even heard of this game before, so let's not ruin it for them!
How will it be played?
This will be a 100% run of the game. By the end of it, we'll be at maximum power and have collected all 50 of the game's Red Jewels, collectibles that earn us upgrades. Since this is an action RPG, the gameplay will be presented as a VLP. Throughout his most excellent adventure, Will will visit the ruins of many places that actually exist or are heavily implied to be real places that existed at one time. When we encounter these areas, there will be accompanying information about the real life place and how its portrayed in-game. And if I'm feeling really frisky, I may record some no-hit runs of the boss fights. Updates will usually be somewhere from 15-25 minutes long, and I'll be shooting for one or two videos per week.
Why this game?
Put simply, because I love it! It can be difficult to control at times and the English writing sometimes (often) makes no sense, but it's a lot of fun to play and the dungeon design is pretty good. It's also a game that's frequently overlooked due to the two that surround it in its own series and the general high quality of all of Square's SNES RPGs, so I think it's time for this game to get its due.
With all that said, let's begin!
A Brief Introduction: (blip) (YouTube)
In the Beginning: (blip) (YouTube)
BONUS: In the Beginning, Sandcastle version: (blip) (YouTube)
Prison Break: (blip) (YouTube)
Standing in the Plotlight: (blip) (YouTube)
Tomb Raid: (blip) (YouTube)
Castoth Perfect Battle: (blip) (YouTube)
Castaways: (blip) (YouTube)
I'll Take 1600's Social Commentary for $1000: (blip) (YouTube)
Liberation: (blip) (YouTube)
Extreme Plot Convenience: (blip) (YouTube)
Flying the Unfriendly Skies: (blip) (YouTube)
Viper Perfect Battle: (YouTube)
Seaside Shenanigans: (blip) (YouTube)
The Hard Part: (blip) (YouTube)
WILLSANITY: (blip) (YouTube)
Vampire Couple WILLSANITY Battle: (YouTube)
Drifting, pt.2: (blip) (YouTube)
Still Life: (blip) (YouTube)
Good Times!: (blip) (YouTube)
We Forgot: (blip) (YouTube)
Get Kru(n)k: (blip) (YouTube)
That HP Upgrade I missed: (YouTube) (Thanks to Vil for steering me to the right room!)
Welcome to the EUseless: (blip) (YouTube)
SUPER SECRET STRENGTH POWER-UP: (YouTube) (Shhh... don't tell anyone that Neondragons' told us about this, or his uncle who works at Nintendo will get fired!)
Masochism Edition: (YouTube)
Mushroom Madness: (blip) (YouTube)
Plot Death: (blip) (YouTube)
Super Fighting Flutist: (blip) (YouTube)
Seismic Fighting Swordsman: (blip) (YouTube)
An Alternative to Terrible Abilities: (YouTube)
Pyramid Scheme: (blip) (YouTube)
Dick Clark Memorial Asswhoopin': (blip) (YouTube)
Secret Secrets: (blip) (YouTube)
Climbing Babel: (blip) (YouTube)
The Final Battle: (blip) (YouTube)
There are 50 Red Jewels in the game, and they are notoriously hard to find... unless you have the instruction manual with the complete mini-guide to finding all 50. And even then, you'll probably only find 48. Each Jewel was numbered, and had a screenshot of Will grabbing the Jewel and a text blurb describing the location. I couldn't find scans of that section, so here's the do it yourself version along with the likelihood of your average 12 year old finding the Jewel without a guide.
1. Plausible. I can see accidentally finding this one if this is your first action RPG and you're fumbling around with the controls on the roof. It's more likely that you'll find it if you've played a jRPG before and have a compulsive need to check all things.
2. Unlikely The problem with this one is that there's no real reason to go to Lance's basement unless you know something is down there. Of course, if you played Final Fantasy 2 which came out 2 years before, you might still have the compulsive urge to check everything and everywhere.
3. No way in hell... unless you get wildly lucky. If you don't, then even if you had the guide you weren't likely to get this one. It's been a double digit number of years since I've seen the guide, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't say that you have to go in and out of a doorway for nearly 8 minutes (that's how much time was cut from the video trying to get the Jewel to appear) for the guy to move over and lift the pot its in.
4. Plausible. This one is easier to button mash into your inventory than Jewel #1 because you don't have to make any effort to move around a fence. You can just be terrible at moving and bump into the pillar and angrily slam A and get the Jewel... but there's absolutely no way to know that it's there.
5. Highly likely. Red Jewel in a treasure chest that's really not hard to get to? This one's a no brainer, unless your 12 year old self couldn't figure out that you had to jump on the switch to trigger it.
6. Highly likely. There's nearly no way to miss this one unless you intentionally try to avoid it.
7. Not bloody likely even with the guide. If my hazy memories are correct, the guide just tells you that its in the barrel. It doesn't tell you that you have to examine it from the right side. You'd have to look very closely at the picture, which shows Will taking it from the right side.
8. Highly possible, especially if you found any of the previous non-treasure chest jewels. My thought is basically that once you know that Red Jewels can be hidden on suspicious looking objects, that you'll check all future suspicious looking objects.
9. Highly probable, unless you completely skip the area that it's in through mad sequence breaking skillz.
10. 50-50 without the guide, but 100% with it. It specifically tells you not to go to the Queen until you get this.
11. Odds go up, depending on how many of the "suspicious looking objects" jewels you've found previously.
12. Somewhat unlikely, as there's absolutely no reason to go upstairs unless you already know something is up there. Or if you just feel like exploring everywhere.
13. Ahahahaha no way... unless you're some kind of genius 12 year-old that figures out the game's "hint".
14. Depends... on whether or not you're OK with being a terrible video game person.
15-17. Can't miss them. You literally cannot, because you have to rescue all the slaves. And the one trapped by the rockfall just happens to have 3 Red Jewels on hand.
18. Easy! You'd have to ignore your radar completely.
20. Easy. You'd have to play literally blind to miss this.
21. Trickier, but not by much. If you have any sense of exploration, you'll find it.
22. Guide doesn't help. You'd be totally justified in missing this one, but if you make an effort to find everyone from the party, you'll find this Jewel too.
23. Simple. You'd have to be legally blind or hate treasure to miss this one.
24. This one's tricky. The game does give you a hint regarding it, but it's not until you're about to leave Angel Village for good. Very easy to miss.
25. Gotta try hard to miss this one.
26. This one's a little easier to miss. The shock of finding Kara in the first room may cause you to completely skip the second room, or to not explore it after finding that it's "empty".
27. It's the only way to solve the third room without guessing.
28. Not very likely. You aren't likely to even know how to get over to the side of the raft where it is unless you also found Kara's diary. That's basically the only hint.
29. Pretty likely. If not on this trip, then next time you're here. (This is one place you visit multiple times.)
30. Easy. Provided you actually use the radar you're provided.
31. How tolerant of bullshit are you? Because that's what determines whether or not you pick this one up.
32. Fairly obvious.
33. Kind of tricky. It's easy to completely miss the shrine without the help of the guide.
Bought the game used without the manual? 34. FUCK YOU!
35. Possibly, but it's easy to forget even though you must change back to Will to escape the temple.
36. Not exactly rocket science at this point. Unless you've totally failed to examine anything throughout the entire game.
37. Chests are easy.
38. The good thing about chests...
39. ...is that they show up on radar...
40. ... and are totally irresistable!
41. Easy... unless you have no inventory space and don't want to clear any herbs!
42 and 43. Minigames! Still optional, but not hard to find.
44. Pixel hunts...never seem to go well. This one is tough.
45. Actually kind of unlikely. Even with the guide, you aren't likely to think that the Jewel will be outside of the actual dungeon.
46. Thorough exploration saves the day.
47. Can't miss it... unless you hate exploring.[/url]
48. Very easy to miss. I wonder how many people really did explore every path Shadow can take by Liquifying?
49. Nothing's a gimmie... but this one isn't that hard. Especially if you've made it this far.
50. Am I the only one... who checked the altar just to see if I could find another flute?
Here's what the instruction manual has to say about the characters!
CURRENT BADASS LEVEL
CHEATING... is sometimes the only way!
Click the links to see what the Traveler's Guide has to say about each area!
Edwards Prison 2
Incan Ruins 2 3
Diamond Coast and Freejia
Diamond Mine 2
Neil and Nazca
Sky Garden 2 3
Seaside Palace 2 (No really, this place gets 3 whole pages for some reason.)
Mu 2 3 4
UNDERSEA Tunnel and Angel Village
Angkor Wat (There is no page for the village.)
Tower of Babel 2