Secret Of Mana Turns 20 Years Old Today... How Does That Make You Feel?

How does that make you feel? Does it make you feel nostalgic, happy, old? Does it make you feel anything at all? I think we should talk Secret of Mana because that game was great.

It makes me feel happy because Secret of Mana was a very good video game that felt massive. It makes me feel nostalgic because it has a soundtrack that just hits me directly in the centre of the medulla oblongata of all of my feels. It makes me feel old because Jesus Christ I am old. The game came out 20 years ago and I was 12 years old when I first played it.

The weird thing is this: I remember being slightly disappointed with Secret Of Mana when I first played it. It was my first JRPG and I was very confused. I didn't understand that I needed to wait for my weapon to reach 100% before striking again. It felt loose to control. The 'dungeons' felt under-designed. I basically wanted another game that was exactly like A Link To The Past. I'm still waiting for that game 20 years later, but with Secret of Mana I got something different entirely: I got something that felt significant, massive even.

One crazy thing I just found out: as a result of a super short turnaround time, a large portion of Secret of Mana English translation was cut. In hindsight it might have been the best thing that happened to the game. The worst, bloated excesses of most JRPGs are nowhere to be seen in Secret of Mana: the story is lean, the dialogue is sparse. The story plays out in-game for the most part and so much is suggested, the player is allowed to fill in the gaps, exposition is non-existent.

Which makes perfect sense. Most JRPGs retell the story of a young boy saving the world from an incredible, overwhelming world-ending threat with the help of his friends. We don't need much more than that. I can't remember a single line of dialogue from that game, but I can never forget the characters and how it felt at the end when the little sprite flickered as a ghost after I took down The Mana Beast. There are no words.


Thanks to this great thread for reminding me of the anniversary.


    I feel kinda sad because it's like I missed out on something. Was too young and stupid at the time to have even heard of it, let along give it a try, and now I've got this thing where RPGs feel like too much effort to even want to start them.

      I'm in the same boat mate, I would have been around 7 at the time, and I think my older brother talked about it but didn't end up buying it. Looking back on it, I wish we did!

      Last edited 06/08/13 10:28 am

    Old.... Those were the days before internet and faqs which I have begun to rely on, or come across through the mass amount of knowledge that flows across the internet.

    That I could sit there and get through games like this on my own somehow amazes me.

    Much different time. This and Terranigma which if I recall went very weird, and topsy turvey... Fuck it i'm going to have to go read the wiki on it now.

    EDIT: Oh yeah... That Terranigma went so JRPG bonkers... In a good way.

    Last edited 06/08/13 10:40 am

      Ha I just listened to the soundtrack video and was transported back to my bedroom.... Much better than my office desk....


    It was such a great game. I'm disappointed I never got to finish it. I hired from a video game rental place near my high school for quite a few weeks in a row, but didn't have the money to hire it for the, hopefully, last week so I could finish it.

    Also disappointed that so few JRPGs took their cues from Secret of Mana and so many went the Final Fantasy route.
    Secret of Mana and Secret of Evermore (along with Chrono Trigger) are still my fave rpgs from Square.

    I really should pick this up, been meaning to for years.

    I think it was my first JRPG.

    I can remember reading some review in a magazine where it only got 70% but I decided that it looked good enough that I wanted to give it a go anyway, so I bought it and played it to death.

    So much to explore, flying around on Flammie, wandering around some meadow for hours killing things to level up my characters.

    I still have the Snes version on my shelf with the included map and everything. I'd fire it up again but I assume the cartridge battery backup is dead. Maybe I should buy the Wii VC version.

    This game started my love for RPGs. Replayed this on the ipad recently. Wow, such a great game. Will go through again shortly I think. This music. I could listen to forever. :)

    It makes me feel completely nonplussed because Squenix have basically ruined any good feeling the series might have had by repeatedly shitting out awful, awful sequels while never actually localizing Seiken Densetsu 3, which was a vastly superior game.

    Secret of Mana is still one of my favourite games of all time, and one I still play through it about once a year. It's an awesome experience and one of the best RPG's of the 16 bit generation.

    I loved the real-time combat, and am frustrated that so few JRPG's still seem to steer clear of it, opting for turn-based combat instead.

    There's really not much more to say about SoM apart from the fact it was and still is awesome.

    Some fun trivia:

    Secret of Mana was actually the second game in a trilogy of games called "Seiken Densetsu", or "Legend of the Holy Sword" in English.

    The first game was "Final Fantasy Adventure" ("Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden" in Japanese), released on the Gameboy (it was known as Mystic Quest in Europe - but not to be confused with Mystic Quest: Legend/Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest that would later release on the SNES).

    The second game was Secret of Mana, released on the SNES.

    The third game was "Seiken Densetsu 3" (also referred to as "Secret of Mana 2"), released on the Super Famicom, which was tragically never officially localised and released outside of Japan. A group of dedicated fans many years later did a full English translation of it and released a ROM that could be played with an emulator. The project was shut down by Squaresoft about 10 years ago, but you'll no doubt still be able to find the translated ROM somewhere, and if you can I HIGHLY recommend you play it. It's more than equal to Secret of Mana and IMO actually surpasses it in some respects.

    Last edited 06/08/13 11:13 am

    MODE 7!

    And it makes me feel like busting out my SNES and playing it all over again.
    I can now hear the intro music in my head, as well as the music that plays the first time a rabite appears.

    I got the game second hand, no manual.
    I had to learn about the waiting for 100% myself, as well as how to charge weapons. I remember the first time you get launched from a cannon (hours into the game) feeling that the game was big, then getting further around the world and feeling it even bigger, then getting Flammie and thinking 'holy crap this is big'.

    Chronotrigger might be better structured, but Secret of Mana will always have my real love.
    The whole real time 3 player RPG aspect was awesome, but it is the music that I will forever remember. To this day I don't think I've played anything with a better score.

    They should remake this game, with the main change being a full orchestral score.

      It's always made me sad how (relatively) average the sequals to SoM (beyond 3) have been... All I've ever wanted is something true to SoM and Seiken Densetsu 3 with another fantastic score from Hiroki Kikuta.

    Hit me right there. Right in the feels.

    Remember when pc games were awesome if They supported 16 colours? Remember when you dropped your gameboy onto concrete and it bounced into the pool while turned on and it was fine? Remember The Wizard being a 90 minute Nintendo ad and it being TOTALLY RAD?

    So old.

    Only 12?

    Only 12?

    Yeesh... somebody had better start reading me the funeral rites, then! I played it, and replayed it obsessively... when I was at University.

    Actually, I still do, and there are bits which I won't spoil in the game that have become household quips between me and my better half.

    Also worth noting that while the cart itself in PAL is horrendously expensive (no, you can't have mine!), the iOS version is pretty good, if obviously slightly limited.

      It's available on the Wii/Wii U's virtual console. No need to restrict yourself to the iOS version.

      Well I was literally only 5 when it was released, didn't play it until I was a little older though.
      Nice to know I share my birthday with this game though...

      Haha...I was 14 at the time. Man that soundtrack was good. I remember spending ages in temples grinding up my magic skills to level 8. I still have it, PAL, working battery...with my first save still on it! :D

      My uni games were Diablo and Zelda OoT...those evil bastards cost me some marks lol

        Level 8? Pfft, Amateur :)

        You could actually level up effectively to level 9 (it was actually 8.99), which was more powerful and unlocked alternate animations for the spells too. The only way you could level up that high though was magic grinding in the Mana Fortress.

        Last edited 06/08/13 4:04 pm

          For battle magic the fortress was the go because you could use magic absorb for sprite replenishment. The girl needed walnuts OR a close proximity to a palace/inn (palace was free).

          The magic could get to 8.99, but the effects started before that. The higher the number, the higher the chance. ;)

            Yep, the girl needed walnuts (so did the sprite for that matter, but you're right he had magic absorb to help), so you just loaded up on as many as you could carry before heading to the Mana Fortress, and replenished magic when needed. Pick the spells that used the lowest amount of MP for best results. Most of the girl's magic had a spell that only used 1 or 2 MP. The sprite was a bit trickier as his spells were generally more expensive with MP, and you had the problem that enemies often died after using them, but he did have quite a few spells that could be chain casted over and over again on a single enemy without killing it if you got your timing right.

            Once you were out of walnuts, return to a store and buy some more. Neko's was always a good option because you could sleep there as well. Yeah he was expensive but by that point in the game, you had so much money it shouldn't matter.

            Last edited 06/08/13 4:10 pm

              Early on the sprite did, but once you get to end game the magic absorb was so powerful that you could easily drain bosses (dry if you wanted).

              The main issue with the sprite at the end was the enhanced magic effects breaking your chain. So annoying!

            I still remember the earth slide move had a smiley face on it when you got the alternate spell animation, loved the game so very much

    no spoilers now, yet to play my copy : )

    Favourite game of all time. Hands down.

    You're spot on with saying what makes it tick too, it's like it's a minimalist JRPG. Not very long at all (you can hammer the whole thing about in a weekend), but a proper experience.

    A few people here have mentioned Seiken Densetsu 3 being the better game, and it is, but it doesn't share the same minimalist charm. I'd still kill for a 3DS localisation though.

    I didn't play this.. we didn't have an SNES in our family.. but I do remember my first foray into JRPGs and I had that same "Wow.. this is massive" moment too.. they really made the games so expansive and beautiful and outstandingly playable... and yet they had the same tech and limitations that everyone else did..

    Don't forget to check out the awesome project "Spectrum of Mana" (search FB and twitter). A heap of musicians are reworking the full OST and producing new artwork to celebrate the anniversary. It's going to be completely FREE, and completely freaking AWESOME!

    Probably my first J-RPG. Beautiful. Enchanting. Challenging. A masterpiece.

    I always remember being obsessed with leveling up every weapon with every character. When I played it again I realized the charges were not even that useful but they looked so cool. Reminds me of the supers in Dynasty warriors.

    SoM was the first game I got on SNES (along with Earthworm Jim). Loved that game so much.

    Fantastic game... But 3 was even better (Seiken Densetsu 3); there was never an official release, but there is a fantastic fan-translation available online (incredibly professionally done).
    I still listen to the music from these two games to this day; and have incredibly fond memories of playing both as a kid.
    I was super excited to find a decent condition copy of 3 in Japan on a visit a little while ago; felt good to finally own a copy of a game I must have played through half a dozen times.

      I'm still moved almost to tears every time I hear Meridian Child

      The credits roll in Seiken Densetsu 3 is possibly my fondest memory in gaming.

    I remember being 12 years old and playing this at my friends house 2 player and just being blown away. I managed to get my mum to buy it for me and we told dad (the parent that always said no) I was just borrowing it from a friend. She must of secretly wanted to play it too. I levelled every spell and every weapon to the max level but could never find the last axe orb. Still haunts me to this day. I hope Smooth McGroove does the SoM opening theme next.

    Close to Voting up on everyones post! Only one thing to say about this game! Best Memories!

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