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The game Terranigma, alone of RPGs that I know of, takes place on the planet Earth, or a reasonably close model of it. Not only does the planet physically resemble the the earth, but all of the cities on the planet bear a reasonably close resemblance to real life cities, as well as containing some historical figures.

Of course, these cities never have more than a few dozen citizens, most of which only have one or two lines of dialogue. However, from some of these, as well as from the economic state of the cities, you get to see, in broad strokes, what the game designers thought the world was like.

The cities, are, in rough order of when you can visit them:

  1. Lhasa, a cold, pueblo like city high in the Himalyas is home to the Lord Kumari a figure resembling the Dalai Lama, and one of the many people helping you along with your quest. The inhabitants of Lhasa are all spiritual, friendly people who seem to survive by herding yaks, which is probably a fairly accurate (and flattering) portrayal of the Tibetan people.
  2. Loire, in France, is a town that starts out depressed due to the short sighted rule of an absolute monarch. However, fairly early on in the game the monarch dies and the city is ran by the socialist\free trade mayor, Jean (perhaps named after Jean Valjean. The people in this town are cosmopolitan, and love croissants, fashion and wine. You meet the painter Henri Matisse and the inventor of the camera.
  3. Litz, perhaps short for Lisbon, is a town on the West Coast of the Iberian peninsula where the peoples main industry is fishing for sardines. They also have beautiful churches that they decorate with stained glass. I suppose that fish and Catholicism are a fairly simple way to sum up the lifestyle of the Portuguese.
  4. Freedom is a bustling town on the east coast of North America, home of a racially mixed (or as racially mixed as you get with 16 bit graphics) population of white and black people. The people in Freedom are practical, industrious and fun loving and include Perl, the skateboarder, as well as the historical figures Eddy {Thomas Edison) and Bell Alexander Graham Bell.
  5. Nirlake, in the Great Lakes region, is for a long while a sleepy farming town, but after being burnt down in a great fire (as Chicago was) it is rebuilt into a metropolis. The people here start as farmers, but end up as the same sort of business people as do the residents of Freedom. Also home to Will, the inventor of the airplane.
  6. Liotto, in Brazil, is home to a carnival, a neverending party where people sing, dance and eat cotton candy. The residence here also have a fondness for football, as well as someone named Pele.
  7. Neotokio, in Japan, is the first totally modernized city you come to. It has computers Macintoshes and videos and television. The people there, are however, somewhat conservative, wondering how the hero could "dye his hair like that?". Neotokio sadly is destroyed by biological warfare right before the end of the game.
  8. Suncoast, in Australia is a bright, friendly but out of the way city that only reaches full size after an airstrip has been built. Some of the residents like the newfound prosperity, but some wish for calmer days.
  9. Yunkou, in China, is a neon lit, somewhat run down red brick city. The people here also speak with atrocious grammar, unlike all the other people in the world, who seem to be speaking the same language in the same way. This is a somewhat unflattering portrait.
  10. Mosque, in Russia, is not named after the Islamic center of prayer, but is rather short for Moscow. The portrayal of the people here is even less flattering then the broken english of the Chinese. The city is perpetually covered in a haze of snow, and the people there all gather to follow the words of their great leader, the mad geneticist Beruga.

Another facet of this game is the concept of economic growth, a process where five of the cities trade their products with each other and grow in technology and population. This growth is helped along by Keinz, aka John Maynard Keynes. The five cities that can grow in size and technology are Suncoast, Freedom, Nirlake, Litz and Loire, cities that are all in the European world. The cities of China and Japan are already developed, and don't interact with the rest of the world. The people of Liotto are too busy partying for economic growth and the people of Mosque are too caught up in their cult. And the people of Lhasa comment on the growth of European technology: "I heard some things are going on in the West. But these things don't mean much to us."

So, unlike Steet Fighter II, which seems to view the East as the best civilization, followed by America, Terranigma seems to present European civilizations in the best light, followed by Japan and China. The people of Tibet are shown as being respected, but on the whole irrelevant to what is going on in the world as a whole. South Americans are presented as buffoons, and the people of Russia are seen as downright sinister.

A lot to learn from a video game.

Notable: Perel, of the town of Freedom, suffers from Single Blackman Syndrome. That is, he is the only stereotypical black person in the world. He wears the backwards baseball hat, is the only 'cool' character (cool as in 1988 cool; Terranigma was released in 1995), is the embattled urban orphan, et cetera.

Also see Barret (Final Fantasy 7) who, despite being the ONLY KNOWN BLACK PERSON IN THE WORLD is the ONLY PERSON SPEAKING EBONICS. No one in his home village even has his affect! It's maddening! Though most Japanese games don't even feature said lone black person. We must combat SBS at all costs.

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