Secret of Mana — all-time classic JRPG, right?
When I think back on Secret of Mana I remember an incredible story that spanned continents, I remember soaring through the sky on the back of a dragon, exploring new worlds, emotions, sacrifice.
I remember beating the shit out of Santa Claus for some reason. That was messed up.
In our defence, we had no idea he was Santa at the time.
To us he was Frost Gigas. A boss in the Ice Palace deep in the Frosty Forest. A blue looking, sentient demon or sorts who looked suspiciously like Fire Gigas only he was blue. Makes sense.
The Crystal Forest is one of the most memorable sections of Secret of Mana for me, mostly as a result of the haunting soundtrack. Secret of Mana had a number of memorable songs, but the Crystal Forest song, for me, is unique. It’s the one piece of video game music that actively punches me in the gut each time I hear it. It causes me real physical pain to hear it. I don’t think it’s anything to do with the Santa connection, but when I hear that music it’s instantaneous: I’m 11 years old, I’m cross-legged in front of my bright red CRT and my younger brother is bugging me for a go of Secret of Mana.
Anyway, back to Santa.
It’s the kind of storyline that you sort of want to forget. A stark reminder that JRPGs weren’t exactly the literary masterpieces we want them to be in hindsight.
You’re in the Ice Country, you run into a reindeer with a big ol’ red nose. His name is Rudolph and this game isn’t subtle. Rudolph informs you that Santa has been taken prisoner by a horrible monster in the Ice Palace, could you please rescue him, that would be A+.
Of course we can! Who wouldn’t want to rescue Santa. This is important stuff.
You get on the trail. You make your way to the Ice Palace. A god-forsaken place with deadly ice-drops that are in no way delicious.
Eventually you must face-off against Frost Gigas. The afore-mentioned blue beast who looks suspiciously like another red beast called ‘Fire Gigas’. These were the days when assets could be spread thin across entire games without fear of ruining a game’s ‘classic’ status.
Eventually you beat down Frost Gigas. You beat him down bad. You give him the beating of his life only to discover that Frost Gigas wasn’t Frost Gigas — he was Santa Claus! Santa Claus hadn’t been kidnapped by big horrible monster. Santa Claus was the big blue monster all along. What the hell? Is this canon?
Then we get hit with this guilt trip.
Jesus Christ Santa, I’m sorry okay! I already feel bad about beating you down with a sword for the past 30 minutes and now you’re playing the blame game with this shit? Take it easy!
Turns out Santa had come up with one of the all-time terrible video game plans. He took a ‘mana seed’ thinking he could grow a really, really big Christmas tree and restore children’s faith in Santa Claus.
Pretty terrible call in hindsight. Instead he turned into a monster, forcing a generation of children to beat him down with a sword, scarring everyone for life.
Merry Christmas everyone!