Lil Cactus

Welcome to Dear Diary a one page tribute to Li'l Cactus from Square-Enix's Legend of Mana for the Playstation. This is a small tribute to one of my favorite characters in any game and is part of Amassment's One Page, One Month Marathon. I have a particular love for games that feature writers and cactus, Legend of Mana effectively combined the two! Li'l Cactus is a quiet creature that internatlizes his thoughts, he writes blurbs on his diary leaf about his master's adventures.

Legend of Mana

Female Protagonist Male Protagonist

The player can choose to be male or female and has the option of picking one of eleven different weapons. The format of the game allows for the placement of starting areas and the choice of where to place each artifact as the player so chooses creating unique maps for each playthrough. Legend of Mana also features a partner system which allows NPC characters to join the party along with the player and a tamed monster companion (pet). Players can also have a friend join their adventure with the Legend of Mana character featured in an alterante coloring. The player can do sixty-eight total quests (all of which have corresponding Cactus Diary entries) for a "complete" game but only three story arcs are actually necessary to get the "story." In fact, the player can choose to do any one of the three main story arcs and unlock the Mana Sanctuary, not necessarily having to do every quest.

Legend of Mana is all about restoring mana levels and saving the Mana Tree and Goddess. It follows the path of an artificier, someone who has the ability to return lost artifcats to their former glory. By restoring these items the mana is restored to the land and the Mana Tree grows larger.


The first artifact placed is the Mailbox which transforms into the protagonist's home. This home is headquarters for all of your adventuring and features your room, library, apprentices, workshop, garden, monster corral, and the focus of this one page shrine, Li'l Cactus!

Li'l Cactus

A shy little cactus. He is a cactus of few words, but he happens to be thinking about many things." Legend of Mana, Character Encyclopedia entry #20
Lil Cactus in the room

Li'l Cactus sits in a pot on the second floor of your home. If the adventurer talks to Li'l Cactus he will simply respond with "...". You are then prompted to "talk to him" or do nothing. If you have finished a quest and then speak to him he will summarize with a few words (sometimes only two!) and after the hero leaves Li'l Cactus will run over the to event leaf and write down his thoughts on master's story.

He likes pumpkins, doggies, and fish but isn't very fond of macho men (actually he thinks that doggies are cuter than macho men). He questions organizations moral obligations and wonders what the world is coming too. Li'l Cactus considers himself mild-mannered or well mannered and wonders why bad tempered creatures can't be more like himself. In addition he believes himself to be partially psychic because he can sense when trouble is afoot (if he were truly psychic he'd use that power to write his diary entries). He worries for his master and thinks that people should be nice to each other and behave well. In this vein, one of his wishes is World Peace (for people to stop fighting). More than anything though, he wants people to rely on him. But it would also be quite nice to have a friend to guard his cactus pot. Most importantly he likes being a cactus everyday.

Lil Cactus

There are a few times he shows extra insight to things. Such as when completing Bud's Seven Wisdoms Quest. There are only Six acting Wisdoms, and Bud wants to meet them all. Upon speaking to Li'l Cactus, he says "Seventh one is a girl." This is prophetic in so far as that no one knows about who the wisdoms are considering to make the seventh. Li'l Cactus knows, I think, because he is connected to the Mana Tree and the Goddess. The wisdsoms ultimately name a girl to be the seventh proving Li'l Cactus's words true. The trouble with the words being truly prophetic is that you can skip doing the sequence of quests that lead to the Seventh Wisdom. Although you may do Bud's quest, you are not in any way required to do the Faerie Arc of the game to find the seventh.

Li'l Cactus will forever be a young companion or sidekick in my mind. I love how he tries to understand and uses writing as a way to do that. I feel that his interactions with the protagonist are what shape his love for adventure and his desire to write. He looks forward to the stories. He wants to be part of them! He's not as confident or as strong though, so he lives vicariously through protagonist's adventures. He has a few adventures of his own, but he still cannot write down his thoughts perfectly. He leaves much out that we can never understand or know. I think this is in part because he's still shy! What if someone finds his diary? What if they read it? I think although he wants to live adventures and accompany master, he's still shy about what others will think. He opens up to the protagonist, because, master has always been there. Master will always be there. He has complete faith in his master even if the stories are far-fetched, stating that if master said it, it must be true.

Lil Cactus

Li'l Cactus is most often found in the second floor room, waiting for your return and stories. I particularly like him because he's an aspiring writer and adventurer. He tries very hard to understand what is going on but often muses about how confusing his master can be. He is involved in two quests along with your apprentices Lisa and Bud: Daddy's Broom and Li'l Cactus. In fact, without doing The Little Sorcerers Quest and getting Bud and Lisa as apprentices Li'l Cactus will never have adventures of his own.

The Little Sorcerers

Unfortunately, nothing is actually said about his relationship with the mage twins. Lisa comments briefly that the Cactus can walk, but nothing more is stated beyond it. Li'l Cactus's journal are all we have to know of his thoughts of the two children too. After getting Bud and Lisa, the protagonist can speak to Li'l Cactus. He says, "Scary pumpkins."

Today I heard a story about two little sorcerers trying to become the kings of this world. But pumpkins? They used pumpkins? I hope they're still yummy." The Little Sorcerers, Li'l Cactus Diary Entry

Li'l Cactus often cares more about food and plant items than people. I think this is in part because he has so little interaction with human characters that he just doesn't know how to process how they behave or even how he should react in kind. According to several of his diary entries he wants everyone to get along and be friends. He wants fighting to stop, as seen by his wish for World Peace.

Daddy's Broom

Lisa crying about her Dad's broom

One day, Li'l Cactus might be missing from his pot. Upon talking to Lisa she mentions that her broom is gone. After searching for it everywhere, Li'l Cactus enters the house and runs up the stairs. He gives the hint that he threw away the old broom. You then grab Bud and head to find their lost family heirloom. It turns out that Li'l Cactus was just trying to help everyone out and mistakenly threw away an old item. This is one reason that I like him. He tries so hard to help out! He wants to contribute to everyone's lives but doesn't know how too. He sometimes even makes mistakes but his heart is in the right place. After telling him the story he says, "Broom...snap-snap!"

I threw away an old broom, and that made Bud and Lisa mad. They went and got it back, and fixed where it was broken. I guess everything is just hunky-dory now." Daddy's Broom, Li'l Cactus Diary Entry

As far as I can tell, Li'l Cactus finds the broken broom. Rather than make Bud or Lisa clean it up, he tries to take care of it himself. I think he's genuinely trying to help tidy up the house. His entry tells me that he threw away the old item and made the twin apprentices mad but isn't quite sure whether or not they're on good terms or not. He knows they fixed the item, but he's not sure if everything is okay. Truly, I think he meant to help rather than harm. I feel like that for his best efforts he was simply misunderstood. In fact, I believe if he went downstairs and spoke to Lisa everything would be worked out. I like, also, that he admits that his mistake but that he's confused as to whether or not anything gets sorted out. It is an all too familiar feeling. I, for one, always have to ask if I've hurt someone to make sure that we've cleared everything up.

Li'l Cactus

Bud has Mage's Sickness

One day after talking to your apprentice, Bud, he starts to waver and collapses. Lisa starts to freak out and you're thrown in an adventure to figure out what is wrong with your young apprentice. After going to Domina and getting a fortune from Meimei, you find that the boy can be saved with cactus juice (we know a cactus). But when you return home, your faitful cactus is missing! He goes on his own adventure to help out Bud. Again, I love that he tries so hard to help the people he lives with, even though he might cause concern. After telling him the story he will say, "Hmm..."

Finally I got to go on an adventure of my own. Greenballs, Tako bugs, I will never forget your smiles. I feel like I saved the world today. Just feeling like that is enough for me." Li'l Cactus, Li'l Cactus Diary Entry

I love that our usually quiet and shy cactus goes on his own adventure. He makes friends with the insects. He was only able to accomplish one thing, but he feels like he's saved the world. This always makes me think that one good deed can really go a long way (for both you and the person you assist). I find it sweet that he's humbled by being able to help out Bud even though his actions have no outcome on the grander scale of the world. That single feeling of accomplishment is enough to make him happy and I can appreciate that. It also serves as a reminder (even now) that the smallest accomplishments can mean something.

My Favorite Diary Entry

After diong Mine Your Own Business and completing the first quest in the Ulkan Mines, you can talk to Li'l Cactus for one of my favorite diary entries! After telling him about the mine adventure he says, "How was tale of heroics?"

The birdman says Watts doesn't have any heroic stories to tell. I wish someone would come up with a story about ME. He moves like lightning! He kicks monster butts! I think I like that." Mine Your Own Business, Li'l Cactus Diary Entry
Lil Cactus

Li'l Cactus is always the dreamer. Being shy (and somewhat timid) he wants adventure but might be afraid to do so. I particularly like that he has his own head canon of what he can accomplish. He wants something very specific about his heroics which I find fantastic! I relate in this regard to Li'l Cactus always wishing someone would say something fantastic about the things I have accomplished. In retrospect, Li'l Cactus and I could simply write down those ideas ourselves, but would we be bragging?

Minor Roles

Lil Cactus

He has a small part in one other quest where a Sproutling returns to the Mana Tree. Although his friend has passed on, he is not sad. For all plants are connected to the Mana Tree. All plants will one day return to the Mana Tree. He believes that one day, he too, will return to it and help heal the tree and Goddess. But he doesn't seem to know when that is or fret over it. Instead, he seems hopeful about the idea. I actually like that he's not worried about life, death, or the afterlife. For me, he has his own thoughts and ideas but he doesn't force them on anyone. His master is sad that the sproutling died, but he tries to reassure (along with the other sproutlings) that everything will be just fine. This is both a natural instinct and what he believes in. I find that his sharing of the small idea helps to show how caring he is. He tries to cheer up his master, though the truth is he has no idea what would happen if his master died. I like that afterlife is left unstated. Li'l Cactus doesn't worry about the afterlife, he focuses on the present - cheering up his master.

Reasons I love Li'l Cactus


Lil Cactus

Perhaps the reason I love Li'l Cactus so much is because we both fancy ourselves writers. Me more so than him, but I love the fact that he keeps a diary (I've only mentioned it about a hundred times, right). I love that he writes out his thoughts to the protagonist's stories. He thinks on them and sometimes gets confused. His utilization of the diary is something I think should be expanded upon. It would be fantastic if you could see his growth as a writer throughout the game. It is an unreasonable request on my part because you can do the quests in any order you choose. This makes it tedious (if not impossible) to define starting entries from later entries that could really show his growth and deeper thoughts. It also wouldn't account for particularly good or bad writing days. He is simply writing for the sake of writing - which I absolutely love.

His entries solidify his hopes, dreams, and frustrations as every good diary/journal should! I once had someone ask me to define whether my own journal was a diary or a journal stating that they were fundamentally different. As a journal can be read by others but a diary is for the writer. For me, both are tools for expressing oneself in writing. Exploring adventures and ideas. They are not exclusive to any one thing except for what the writer wishes. It is for that reason that I use the two terms interchangably. For me, there is not right or wrong classification.

Lil Cactus

Based on Li'l Cactus's writing and the things in which he writes, I feel that he uses the diary as a way to gain further understanding of events. Although he is present in a few quests, he still focuses more on what he feels or thinks rather than the exact story as it is told to him. He internalizes the information and thinks on it. I think that is exactly what one's journal should be used for. Exploration. He admits to not knowing whether or not Bud and Lisa are still angry (even though they fixed the broom, he seems to show an insight stating that he "thinks" that everything is "hunky-dory"). If he knew for a fact, he wouldn't have had to add it. Instead, I feel like he gets the chance to really turn the idea over in his head and really try and gain a deeper understanding. Why were they mad? What did I do specifically that made them mad? How did we fix it? All of these questions would promote a much stronger and much longer journal entry (which would defeat the purpose of his cute little blurbs).

On the other hand, his entry in the character encyclopedia states he is a cactus of few words. That could mean that he just doesn't have a lot to say. I believe, however, that rather than not having a lot to say he is young writer exploring the many facets of writing and keeping a journal. As he matures as a writer, I know he'd have more entries. Different entries. Sometimes better entries for his profile also says that he often thinks on a great many things. Eventually those thoughts would probably make their way to paper (or leaf in his case).

For the Love of

Lil Cactus

Li'l Cactus wants to be an adventurer, he writes down his thoughts, he tries his best to help people out. He blends humor within his musings and tries to understand everyone around him. The most influential person in his life is his master (the player) and he enjoys hearing their stories. He dreams, even, of being like them. He strikes me as young and impressionable. Perhaps because master is a great adventurer he wants nothing more than to walk at their side. I'm sure he'd be a great help! He is lightning fast and he kicks monster butts!

It is my love of writing and cactus that brings me to this tribute. It has turned into an exploration of my love of a cactus from my childhood to the realization that the reason I love Li'l Cactus so much is because he is a writer. It may not be a glorious role, but it is such an important role in a game that lacks much character introspection. I love cacti, I love writing, so how can I not love Li'l Cactus? I am, of course excluding how adorable he is! But based on character he tends to be quiet and keeps to himself while wishing for grand adventures (something I related to as a child).

Lil Cactus

I enjoy Li'l Cactus's musings on how and why people behave the way they do. I enjoy that he mentions he gets tired of keeping his diary (and you should see how neglected mine is). I love that he wonders how many of his master's stories are made up and that he'd really just love to be read a story for once. Sadly, he can be quite an invisible character, merely appearing in his pot and nothing more. He wants stories, he wants attention, he wants to be relied on. But he will not impose (purposely), step out, or reach out to anyone.

Did I mention that after the protagonist leaves, Li'l Cactus jump out of his pot and runs across the room? He scribbles down his thoughts and runs back to his pot. Did I mention he's absolutely adorable?! Did I mention, that I feel connected to writing characters and that I love cacti? I did? So how can I not love Li'l Cactus?


Lil Cactus

I chose the name Dear Diary because after the protagonist tells Li'l Cactus a story and leaves, he runs over to the leaf on the wall and writes down the summary. I can just see him writing out, "Dear Diary..." He muses and sometimes tells jokes, even admits that he didn't understand what master had been trying to tell him. The short version is that Li'l Cactus keeps a diary of his master's adventures. The hero(ine) can go back upstairs to the bedroom and read Li'l Cactus's entries. I think they're adorable.

Layout coded in Notepad, graphics edited with Paintshop Pro by Snow Rayjah. Images from Legend of Mana Wiki. Sprites from Spriter's Resource ripped by Davias. Favicon made at Dynamic Drive. Thank you to Cherri for positioning, adjustment, and design inspiration.

I do not own Legend of Mana, this is just a fansite. No copyright inringement or dishonor intended. Legend of Mana, Li'l Cactus, and all recognizable characters are copyright to Square, 1990-2013. Dear Diary is © to Snow Rayjah, 2013.

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