Part 1: An Empire Unacquainted with DefeatBefore we start diving in to Lise's story in particular, I'll go ahead and cover the game background.
"Sword of Mana, and
sealed them in 8 stones.
And, as the darkness left,
the world was created."
Who even thinks of "I'll turn myself into a tree and take a nap" as an option?
I'd like to reiterate that this is supposed to be a distant prequel to Secret of Mana. We'll probably see some very familiar places and place names, but this is still in the relative youth of the Mana world.
We get a nice serene shot of the Mana Tree rising above the clouds
And then it explodes. That can't be good.
As night falls a flight of birds takes off, along with glowing spheres of light..
It's anybody's guess what these lights represent. One of them almost looks like a little humanoid, but that could be a trick of the light. One interpretation is that this is the power of Mana selecting our heroes.
After we follow up and select our heroes the game does a nice mode seven type zoom before finally settling on a castle in the mountains.
Our first introduction to our heroine is her out patrolling on the cliffs above Rolante accompanied by her retinue.
Naturally as soon as a monster shows up she decides to take care of it herself while the other four presumably highly trained Amazons just watch.
This fight is actually a good bit harder than anything we'll be dealing with for a bit, and the needlebird is a pretty relentless little attacker. If you're new to the game or, as in my case have forgotten where all your buttons are at, it's quite possible to die here. The game won't let you game over, so it's just a matter of time.
After winning Lise takes a moment to to wax introspective about how things are getting worse all the time before we get some more explanation.
It sounds like Rolante is pretty isolated, but calling yourself "The Castle That Never Fell" is just inviting trouble.
Straight out of finishing her patrol, Lise is off to find someone named Eliott although we're not given any immediate explanation as to his identity.
Context clues provided by the fact that the King actually knows who he is and cares who he is suggests that Eliott is a sibling or other close relative.
Also, the King is blind and gives us the completely unhelpful information that Eliott (Why didn't they got with Elliot?) is somewhere in the castle.
Lise apparently has a similar reaction to her father's vague pronouncements. The angry sprite here is pretty expressive.
Evidently the king is some kind of mystic, although he hasn't been that impressive so far. There's a fair few inhabitants in the castle, but a good number of them are utterly useless as far as dialogue goes or just repeat things we already know so I've skipped a few of them.
At least this one is helpful enough to tell us that someone named Alma is in Eliott's room and probably knows where he is. If you'd think that being a named character who we're introduced to so early in the game would mean that Alma is important.. you'd wrong.
Despite being an amazon warrior who presumably only cares about things like weapons and fighting, Lise actually has a huge bedroom suite with her very own maid. Not shown: Lise beating the maid for her slowness. It's hard to find good help these days.
You can also rest here, and since we're in a hurry to find Eliott taking a nap seems like the natural thing to do while the maid bustles about cleaning.
"You're almost always together. Eliott thinks of you as his mother, you know that.."
Going to find Alma it turns out she might be the worst possible nanny or whatever she is, considering that she seems to have completely lost track of where the Prince is. Naturally, the bit about Eliott thinking of Lise as a mother results in a flashback.
Like characters in a Disney film, Eliott and Lise have only one surviving parent. We don't know when the King went blind, but it's entirely possible that neither of Eliott's parents have actually seen him.
There's no indication as to how long ago this was, but it evidently traumatized Lise enough that she decided to she was going to be a mother figure to her younger brother. That makes her concern with his whereabouts make a bit more sense. Also, this appears to be the same mountain that she was patrolling on, which indicates it might be full of dangerous monsters. They're REALLY careless when it comes to their young royalty in Rolante.
After the flashback ends we transition to a young boy who's playing by himself in an isolated corner of the castle. I will not make pedophile jokes, I will not make pedophile jokes, I will not..
Eliott might also be mentally disabled. It's either that or he's much younger than you would think, but you can make your own judgement based on his actions.
He appears to have all the survival instincts of a suicidal hamster
To the point that when a strangely dressed man appears in the garden, claims to be a magician, and tells him to keep quiet he's completely on board with it.
In fact, one flight of chirping little birds and a body splitting spell later Eliott thinks that this is the greatest thing ever.
They're making this REALLY hard on me. And yes, Eliott immediately goes off with the strange men to the basement without letting anybody know where he's going. We leave him and go back to Lise.
Our job now is to explore the castle and find out where the basement is. This game utilizes the gold and silver statue system that gets re-used in some of the later games, as well as allowing you to save when you rest at an inn.
This might be plot important, but then again it might not.. it's also possible that this little girl is trying to be flattering.
I can kind of see the resemblance.
In addition to being an imbecile, Eliott is also a snack thief. Are we sure we want to find this kid?
This will make considerably more sense in the future considering that we haven't come across any of the Winged Ones yet.
Now that we're free to wander about, we can look into the various status screens. There's not much to see at the moment, other than the high resolution fonts still look absolutely terrible.
Another false lead. You'd think our next destination after finishing up whatever we're doing here would be the fishing village, but this is just to inform us that it's there for future reference.
"Taking after the late Queen and leading the Amazon army.. what courage!"
I find it interesting that the former Queen was also the leader of the army. It makes sense considering that they're Amazons, but it changes the whole dying in childbirth thing a bit. It's not exactly how you'd expect a military leader to go out.
Nothing on Eliott yet, which is kind of odd considering that the last place we saw him in his little scene was directly south of this guard. He's got to be some kind of idiot ninja savant.
Also for future reference. It's nice that they're thematically linking the wind power of Rolante with one of the Mana Stones this early in the game. It also explains why people would have tried to take Rolante often enough that it got a reputation as being impossible to defeat.
The entrance to the basement has a second Goddess statue to provide us with a nice place to save before going downstairs. Sadly, this does not indicate that our first boss fight is right around the corner.
What is right around the corner is a shit ton of stairs, to the tune of four long flights worth. They're not kidding at all with the term basement.
Keeping in mind that Lise hasn't heard from anybody about Eliott heading for the basement, the fact that she's calling for him suggests that this is just something he occasionally does. That kid really needs a minder.
Next time: Natural selection in action.