Terranigma (1)

Genre: Action RPG
Year: 1995
Developed by: Quintet
Published by: Enix
Platforms: SNES
#382
Feeling Like: Building something

So we’re at number 382, or 118 if you’re reading this from bottom to top, as I’m writing them. It’s not exactly a milestone and it’s not as if I haven’t enjoyed the games up until this point, but Terranigma is certainly a turning point. I’m not sure whether it’s a new plateau of nostalgia, or whether the entries from here on out simply get better. Or am I fooling myself? After all, how incremental a difference CAN 382 be from 383?

Don’t ask me. I’m crazy for doing the rankings, even moreso for writing an entry for each one. You’ll see more condensed, better written and more sane entries of various top 10s or 20s or 100s on other, bigger sites. But I’m stuck with what I have; my memories of gaming.

Much like the 500, Terranigma has a storied, confusing past. Despite being the third entry in an unofficial trilogy, it was never officially released in North America due to Enix closing its US subsidiary before development was finished. Its main theme of creation, not destruction, lies in stark contrast to most other action titles at the time. You’re alone, for the most part, as the protagonist Ark’s while he creates the Earth throughout various epochs of our history. It’s a game that’s small in scope, but has big ideas and feels massive.

Terranigma (2)
There’s no doubt about it – Terranigma is one of the SNES’ best looking games

The combat is satisfying, if shallow. Ark is able to build up momentum, jump and do multiple attacks based on if you’re walking, running, jumping ,etc. This level of variety isn’t normally seen on the SNES, particularly for an action game. That being said, I found myself frequently using the dash attack or, my favorite, the dash-jump attack slide. I did have to remember that momentum carries on after an attack, so pits soon became the big bad to watch out for.

It’s gorgeous to look at, even today. The soundtrack is incredible, and often overlooked. You have pleasant, upbeat tracks, but the somber Underworld theme demands to be heard. The visual contrast from your beautiful village to a bizarre, mode 7 underworld the second you step outside is jarring and adds a great element of the unknown.

Terranigma (4)
The menu system is cumbersome, but inventive

As you defeat bosses, and move on in history, the SNES produces some incredible imagery and really does give you the sense of a grand passage of time. It’s also not often that we see our home planet as the setting for a game. There’s something amusing about walking across the North America in just a few seconds. I like how the location names present themselves in this whimsical, fluid animation. Entering Siberia was never this pleasant.

Terranigma (3)
Bosses look great, but aren’t particularly memorable

The ending hits hard and is one of my favorites. Terrnigma certainly runs the gauntlet of every emotion you want in a game. It’s weird, it’s funny, it’s easy to play. It has ideas, it’s intimidating and unique. A lot more people would’ve had far more to say if Terrnigma had a proper shake at impressing us in the mid 90s, but there are many who remain mildly impressed playing it for the first time even today.

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