That Time Secret Of Mana Made Us Beat The Shit Out Of Santa Claus

That Time Secret Of Mana Made Us Beat The Shit Out Of Santa Claus

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!


  • Merry Christmas Mark and all at Kotaku!!!
    Thanks for another fantastic year of news, reviews and personal opinions by you all.
    Thanks also to a *FANTASTIC* online community that is always insightful and helpful in nature.

    Have a wonderful Christmas and New Years everyone – and hopefully the Boxing Day test won’t be a 3 day event!

  • Muscle memory wants me to find Spring, thanks to the article… now, bottom left and then counter-clockwise. Cannon travel… how the hell did I get here?

  • Loved this game!! One of my favorite RPG’s. Too bad they made the phone version look shite.
    Someone was making (on and off) an editor for this game so you could expand the game. If interested, look here –

  • I recently started replaying this through a SNES emulator on my PC and it is still a fucking hard game in places. But such a great classic!

  • Oh yeah. The Seiken games have that incredible knack of dragging you into a world of glorious nostalgia just by listening to their music.
    I still live in hope that if Nintendo can revive some of its obscure classics for the Virtual Console, Square-Enix might just see the light and do a proper release of Seiken 3, a game that outshines Secret of Mana in almost every conceivable way.
    It was an A+ series, the best of the best, until Square decided it didn’t want to make good games in the series anymore. I’d say it’s due for a revival, but seeing Square’s output in recent years, I think perhaps it is best buried in the past…

  • This was the game that introduced me to Squaresoft/Enix. I remember picking it up and being like – 3 player.. I HAVE A BROTHER AND SISTER I CAN PLAY THIS WITH! And constantly renting it and renting the multitap from the video store to hammer through it. Just spent a bit of time then playing various sound tracks from it. Even now 15 years later the music still tugs at my heart strings. Was a game that was a head of it’s time.

    Can’t wait for Square to re-release it in episodic format… NEXT MONTH.. THE WATER TEMPLE!

  • I bought this during transit at Singapore airport. Did it ever actually get released officially in Australia or did all of us here had to import?

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