Secret of Mana
|Secret of Mana|
North American box art
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing game|
Secret of Mana (Japanese: 聖剣伝説2 Hepburn: Seiken Densetsu 2 , lit. Holy Sword Legend 2) is an action role-playing game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System developed and published by Square in 1993. The game was re-released for the Wii's Virtual Console in 2008, and was ported to Japanese mobile phones in 2009. Secret of Mana is the sequel to Final Fantasy Adventure for the Game Boy and the second installment in the Mana video game series.
Rather than using the traditional turn-based battle system of games like Final Fantasy, Secret of Mana utilizes real-time battles akin to the Legend of Zelda series, while also employing typical role-playing elements and a unique "Ring Command" menu system, which pauses the action, and allows a variety of actions to be performed without needing to switch screens. The game received considerable acclaim for its brightly colored graphics, expansive plot, "Ring Command" menu system, innovative real-time battle system, modified Active Time Battle meter adapted for real-time action, its innovative cooperative multiplayer gameplay, where the second or third players could drop in and out of the game at any time rather than players having to join the game at the same time, the customizable AI settings for computer-controlled allies, and the acclaimed soundtrack by Hiroki Kikuta. Secret of Mana was an influential game in its time, and has remained influential through to the present day, such as its customizable AI for player characters being used by many later games, its ring menu system still used in modern games (such as The Temple of Elemental Evil) and its cooperative multiplayer mentioned as an influence on games as recent as Dungeon Siege III.
Like many other role-playing games of the 16-bit era, Secret of Mana displays a top-down perspective, in which three player characters — the hero, the girl, and the sprite — navigate the terrain and fight off hostile creatures. Control may be passed between each of the characters at any time; if the hero is currently selected, his two companions are controlled via artificial intelligence, and vice-versa. The game may be played simultaneously by two or three players. In order to support three players, a Super Multitap accessory must be plugged into the second controller port of the Super Nintendo console. The Virtual Console version of the game supports three-player gameplay with the use of additional GameCube controllers or Classic Controllers.
Each character possesses individual strengths and weaknesses. The hero, while unable to use magic, excels at fighting and masters weapons at a quicker rate; the girl functions as healer, able to cast restorative and support spells but with less physical attack power than the hero; and lastly, the sprite's magic is almost entirely offensive, but he is physically the weakest. Upon collecting enough experience points in battle, each character can increase in level to gain improved stats such as strength and evasion. The trio can find refuge in a town, where they can regain hit points or purchase restorative items and equipment. Options such as changing equipment, casting spells, or checking status are performed by cycling through the game's Ring Commands, a circular menu which hovers over the currently controlled party member. The game is momentarily paused whenever the Ring Commands appear.
Combat takes place in real-time. Located below each character's hit points is a percentage gauge that determines the amount of damage done to an enemy. Swinging a weapon causes the gauge to fall to zero percent and then quickly recharge, allowing that character to attack at full strength. The party wields eight different styles of weapons throughout the game: sword, spear, bow, axe, boomerang, glove, whip, and javelin. All weapons can be upgraded eight times through the game (the sword's last orb is obtainable through a programmed "glitch" in the game), and repeated use increases their Skill Levels to a maximum of eight, unlocking a new charged attack with each level. Weapons are upgraded through the use of Weapon Orbs, generally obtained after defeating a boss or found as a treasure in dungeons. Once an Orb is collected, the weapon can be brought to a blacksmith (located in most towns) to be reforged.
Magic in Secret of Mana operates in much the same way as weapon skill progression, with the exception that magic points are consumed each time a spell is cast. In order to learn magic, the party must rescue spirits known as Elementals. The eight Elementals represent different elements (water, earth, wind, fire, dark, light, moon, and life.), and each provides the player with specific spells. Magic skill can only be as high as the party's current Mana Power, up to eight levels, which is directly tied to the amount of Mana Seeds that have been sealed.
At the start of the game, players must traverse an enemy-infested countryside in order to reach their next destination. Travel may be expedited through use of Cannon Travel Centers, where non-player characters offer to launch the party to far-away destinations via a giant cannon. Cannon Travel usually requires a fee, but is mandatory to visit other continents early on. Later, the party is given access to Flammie, a miniature dragon which is controlled by the player and able to fly freely across the world, represented by an overworld map. These sequences make use of the Super Nintendo's Mode 7 capability to create a rotatable background, giving the illusion that the ground beneath Flammie is rendered in three dimensions. While riding Flammie, the player may access either the "rotated map", which presents the world as a globe, or the "world map," a two-dimensional view of the overworld.
The setting takes many themes from its Game Boy predecessor, though certain elements have different names. Conflict arises from attempts to control the flow of mana by use of technology or magic between different civilizations, as well as between natural and super-natural elements and all civilizations. An order of knights work to maintain balance of mana in the world to avert disaster, and protect the Mana Tree. Hints that a cataclysm may be on the horizon, or has already happened in the past also play a large part in both games. Titles that follow would use many new themes established in this game as well, including most notably the elemental sprites giving character to the natural forces of mana.
The story takes place in a fictional world where mana represents an ethereal, but finite, energy source. In an unspecified time period in the past, a civilization exploited mana to construct the "Mana Fortress", a flying warship. The gods were angered by this and sent their beasts to war with the civilization. The conflict was globally destructive and nearly exhausted all signs of mana in the world until a hero used the power of the Mana Sword to destroy the fortress and the civilization. The world began to recover in peace.
Disobeying their Elder's instructions, three boys from the small Potos village trespass into a local waterfall where a treasure is said to be kept. One of the boys, the game's protagonist (named Randi in the original Japanese version), stumbles and falls into the lake, where he finds a rusty sword embedded in a stone. Guided by a disembodied voice, he pulls the sword free, inadvertently unleashing monsters in the surrounding countryside of the village. The villagers interpret the sword's removal as a bad omen and banish the boy from Potos forever. An elderly knight named Jema recognizes the blade as the legendary Mana Sword, and encourages the hero to re-energize it by visiting the eight Mana Temples.
During his journey, the hero is joined by an amnesiac sprite child and the daughter of a nobleman from Pandora. The orphaned sprite (named Popoi in the original Japanese version) initially tries to con the hero out of his money, but later accompanies him in hope of recovering his lost memory. The girl (named Purimu in the original Japanese version) joins the party in search of her lost love, Dyluck, an officer in Pandora's army who has gone missing. Throughout their travels, the trio is pursued by the Empire, which seeks to unseal the eight Mana Seeds and revive the Mana Fortress. Unbeknownst to the Emperor or his subordinates, they are being manipulated by Thanatos, an ancient sorcerer who has designs on creating a "new, peaceful world". Due to his own body's deterioration, Thanatos is in need of a suitable body to possess. After placing the entire kingdom of Pandora under a trance, he abducts two candidates: Dyluck, now enslaved, and a young Pandoran girl named Phanna (named Pamela in the original Japanese version). Over time, however, Thanatos narrows his selection to Dyluck.
The Empire succeeds in unsealing all eight Mana Seeds. However, Thanatos betrays the Emperor and his henchmen, killing them and seizing control of the Mana Fortress for himself. The hero and his party journey to the Pure Land to locate the Mana Tree, the focal point of the world's life energy. Anticipating their arrival, Thanatos positions the Mana Fortress over the Tree and destroys it. The charred remains of the Tree speak to the heroes, explaining that a giant creature called the Mana Beast will soon be summoned to combat the Fortress. However, the Beast has little control over its rage and will likely destroy the world as well. The Mana Tree also reveals that it was once the human wife of Serin, the original Mana Knight and the hero's father. The voice heard at Potos' waterfall was that of Serin's ghost.
The trio flies to the Mana Fortress and confronts Thanatos, who is preparing to transfer his mind into Dyluck. With the last of his strength, Dyluck warns that Thanatos has sold his soul to the underworld and must not be allowed to have the Fortress. Dyluck kills himself, forcing Thanatos to revert to a skeletal lich form which is defeated in battle. The Mana Beast finally reveals itself and attacks the Fortress. The hero expresses reluctance to kill the Beast, fearing that with the dispersal of Mana from the world, the sprite child will vanish. With the sprite's encouragement, the hero uses the fully energized Mana Sword to slay the Beast, causing it to explode and transform into snow. At the conclusion of the game, the hero is seen returning the Mana Sword to its place beneath the Potos waterfall.
The hero (ランディ Randi ), a young boy, is adopted by the Elder of Potos after his mother disappears. After pulling the Mana Sword from a stone, monsters invade Potos and the villagers persuade the Elder to banish him. The hero then embarks on a quest to re-energize the sword.
The girl (プリム Purim ) meets the hero briefly when he's ambushed by Goblins. After helping him escape, she leaves, only to appear again outside Elinee's Castle. The girl is in love with a warrior named Dyluck, who was ordered by the King to attack Elinee's Castle, which is considered a virtual suicide mission. Angry with the king for this, as well as with her father for setting her up for an arranged marriage, she rebels and leaves the castle to join the hero in his quest, hoping to save Dyluck as well. She is capable of casting support and healing spells.
The heroes meet the sprite child (ポポイ Popoie ) at the Dwarf Village. The sprite makes a living by scamming people at the dwarves' freak show. He doesn't remember anything about his past, so he joins the team to try to recover his memories. The sprite comes from a village in the Upper Land. He was washed away by a flood to Gaia's Navel, where the Dwarf Elder found him. The flood caused the sprite to suffer from amnesia, making him unable to remember anything of his past. While the sprite may seem childish at times, he has courage equal to that of the other two heroes. As an orphan, he understands how the hero feels not growing up with his parents. He is capable of casting attack spells.
Secret of Mana was directed and designed by Koichi Ishii. The game was programmed primarily by Nasir Gebelli and produced by veteran Square designer Hiromichi Tanaka. After the release of Final Fantasy III, Tanaka wanted to help design a game with a more interactive battle system that is continuous with the field screen. Because this would not work with Final Fantasy IV, he turned to Secret of Mana. The real-time battle system used in Secret of Mana is described by its creators as an extension of the battle system used in the first three flagship Final Fantasy titles. The data tables for experience points and leveling up were taken from Final Fantasy III. Secret of Mana was originally going to be a launch title for the SNES CD add-on. After the project was dropped, the game had to be altered to fit onto a standard game cartridge.
The English translation for Secret of Mana was completed in only 30 days, mere weeks after the Japanese release, and was initially advertised as Final Fantasy Adventure 2. The speed at which the translation was done was presumably so that the game could be released in North America for the 1993 holiday season. According to translator Ted Woolsey, a large portion of the game's script was cut out in the English localization due to space limitations and a lack of sequential text. The English translation of Secret of Mana uses a fixed-width font to display text on the main gameplay screen. However, the choice of this font limits the amount of space available to display text, and as a result conversations are trimmed to their bare essentials, leaving a good portion of the game lost in translation. Woolsey expressed dissatisfaction with the way he was forced to "nuke" a lot of the game's script to fit the space limitations, commenting that the translation "nearly killed me". The Japanese release referred to the three protagonists as Randi, Primm and Popoi in the manual, while the Western versions omitted the default names and first acknowledged them with the enhanced port on the iOS.
Seiken Densetsu 2 Original Sound Version (聖剣伝説２ オリジナル・サウンド・ヴァージョン) is the soundtrack to Secret of Mana, originally released in 1993 in Japan by NTT Publishing and Square. Its US debut under the name Secret of Mana Original Soundtrack followed the next year due to the game's commercial and critical success. The US release is identical to the Japanese version, aside from the packaging and localized English song titles. It was re-released in Japan in both 1995 and 2004.
The game's soundtrack was composed by Hiroki Kikuta. It is known for its variety of tunes which tend to focus on the use of percussion and woodwind instruments, ranging from a lighthearted dwarves' polka to a somber, wistful snow melody to a tribal-like dance. Kikuta states that he had a particularly difficult time composing the score, which required him to combine his own style of popular music with the "game music" that is accompanied by the hardware and software limitation of the Super Famicom.
Secret of Mana's title theme, "Angel's Fear" is well known by video game music aficionados for its haunting, echoing piano melody, and was featured in the third of the Orchestral Game Music Concerts, the fifth of the Symphonic Game Music Concerts, as well as serving as the base for many remixes. Music from Secret of Mana was an important part of the Symphonic Fantasies concerts in September 2009 which was produced by the creators of the Symphonic Game Music Concert series and conducted by Arnie Roth. In Secret of Mana section, the featured titles are "Fear of the Heavens", "Into the Thick of It" and "The Oracle".
|2.||"A Curious Tale"||不思議なお話を||1:30|
|3.||"Rose and Spirit"||薔薇と精霊||1:27|
|6.||"The Boy Heads for the Wilderness"||少年は荒野をめざす||1:56|
|7.||"Summer Sky Blue"||夏の空色||1:24|
|10.||"The Child of the Fairy Tribe"||妖精族の子供||0:51|
|11.||"Occurrence of a Moonlit Night"||月夜の出来事||0:47|
|12.||"Heart of Darkness"||闇の奥||1:04|
|13.||"The Holy Invasion"||聖なる侵入||0:59|
|14.||"Secret of the Hot Sands"||熱砂の秘密||1:11|
|15.||"What the Forest Taught Me"||森が教えてくれたこと||1:03|
|17.||"Soul of the Night"||夜の魂||1:47|
|18.||"Did You See the Sea?"||君は海を見たか||2:09|
|20.||"Orphans of the Storm"||嵐の孤児||2:03|
|21.||"Where the Wind Ends"||風の焉るところ||1:13|
|22.||"Flight into the Unknown"||未知への飛行||1:30|
|25.||"The Eight Strokes of the Bell"||八点鐘||1:00|
|26.||"A Strange Incident"||奇妙な事件||1:06|
|27.||"The King of the Coast"||海辺の王様||1:37|
|28.||"The Dark Star"||暗黒星||1:33|
|30.||"Steel and Traps"||鋼鉄と罠||1:43|
|31.||"Prayer and Whisper"||祈りと囁き||1:10|
|34.||"Time Enough for Love"||愛に時間を||1:26|
|39.||"I Won't Forget You"||君を忘れない||1:11|
|40.||"This One is Hope"||そのひとつは希望||1:08|
|42.||"Wings Flapping No Longer"||翼はもうはばたかない||2:01|
|43.||"The Penultimate Truth"||最後から2番目の真実||2:47|
|44.||"I Closed My Eyes"||ひとみを閉じて||0:32|
|GameRankings||87% (7 reviews)|
|GameStats||9.0 / 10 (5 reviews)|
|Edge||9 / 10|
|Electronic Gaming Monthly||8.75 / 10|
|Eurogamer||9 / 10|
|Game Informer||9.5 / 10|
|IGN||9.0 / 10|
|Nintendo Power||3.65 / 5|
|AllRPG||9.5 / 10|
|Nintendo Land||93 / 100|
|Slide to Play|||
As of February 2004, Secret of Mana has shipped 1.83 million copies worldwide, with 1.5 million of those copies being shipped in Japan and 330,000 abroad.
Secret of Mana was awarded "Game of the Month" in December 1993 and "Best Role-Playing Game" of 1993 by Electronic Gaming Monthly. In November 1993, Edge magazine gave the game a score of 9 out of 10, stating that it is "better than Ys I & II on the PC Engine. Better than Zelda on the SNES. And yes, better than Landstalker on the Mega Drive." The magazine stated that Secret of Mana "includes some of the best game design and features ever seen: simultaneous threeplayer action, the best combat system ever designed, the best player interface ever designed, a superb control system, and yes, some of the most engrossing and rewarding gameplay yet. It really is in a class of its own as far as action RPGs or adventures go." In 1994, game designer Sandy Petersen reviewed the game in Dragon, awarding Secret of Mana a perfect score of 5 out of 5 stars. He described the game as "exceedingly Zelda-like" but with "many features of conventional role-playing games," and stated that "Squaresoft has what may be a classic here." He concluded that the game is "one of the very best role-playing games available for the Super Nintendo," and that it is "a much larger game than Zelda, with many more types of monsters, character options, and fortresses to explore." In 2008, IGN awarded the Virtual Console port of Secret of Mana a score of 9 out of 10, stating that it is "still recognized today as one of the best games ever made."
Secret of Mana has been on numerous all-time "best games" lists. It was listed at number 42 on Nintendo Power magazine's Top 200 Nintendo Games Of All Time, as well as the 86th best game made on a Nintendo System. It was also rated number 48 on IGN's "Top 100 Games" list in 2005, number 49 in 2006, and number 79 in 2007. Also in 2006, Secret of Mana was voted the 97th best game of all time by the readers of the well-known Japanese magazine Famitsu. In February 2009, Official Nintendo Magazine listed the game at number 82 on its "100 Best Nintendo Games" feature. Super Play ranked the game eighth on its list of the best 100 SNES games of all time in 1996. GameSpy included the game in its "Hall of Fame" list. Edge ranked the game at #39 in its "Top 100 Games of All Time" list.
In 1999, as part of their planned nine-game lineup, Square announced they would be porting Secret of Mana to Bandai's handheld system WonderSwan Color. Similarly to the planned remake of Final Fantasy III, no news of the port ever surfaced outside the announcement. A mobile phone port of Secret of Mana was released on October 26, 2009.
A port of the game for iOS was revealed at E3 2010, and released on Apple's App Store on December 21, 2010. The port fixed several bugs, and the English script was slightly edited (for example, several character, location, item, and spell names were changed, and several mistranslations were fixed).
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- Square Co. Secret of Mana. (Square). Super Nintendo Entertainment System. (1993-10-03) "Protagonist: ...I can't... I won't hurt a Mana Beast! I can't! They are only trying to restore Mana! And......sprite! If you use up all your Mana power, you'll disappear!"
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