Secret of Mana

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Secret of Mana Box.jpg

Secret of Mana is the second game taking place in the World of Mana. It follows the story of a young hero who unintentionally pulls the Sword of Mana out of a rock to cut a path back to town. Unleashing the Sword also opened its seal on evil, and monsters began to enter the world again. Exiled from his hometown for his crime against humanity, and with the help of a Girl and a Sprite, he sets out to stop The Empire that wants to seal away the power of mana and take over the world.

Secret of Mana was promoted by Nintendo at the time of its release, featuring revolutionary gameplay features such as three players being able to control the game at once (taking the roles of the Boy, the Girl and the Sprite at the same time). If only one player is available, the game's AI will control the other characters.

Secret of Mana was intended to launch on the SNES' CD add-on, but when that fell through, Squaresoft was left with a contractual obligation to make the game, but on the much smaller space of a cartridge instead of the CD-ROM they'd expected. They spent several months stripping the game down: removing large sections of the game-world, shortening the script, adjusting the game's plot, re-writing or removing a great deal of dialogue, and using compressed instruments and recomposing the music in an SPC format for the SNES. While this did have the side-effect of pushing the limit of the SNES's capabilities to the limit (making it much more aesthetically stunning than almost any other 16-bit game of the time), it also soured the relationship between the two companies, to the point that Square didn't work with Nintendo again for the greater part of a decade once the PlayStation came out.

Despite the rocky story of its creation, Secret of Mana is still to this day universally acclaimed as one of the Super Nintendo's crowning gems, and one of the best RPGs ever made for any console.

Secret of Mana Theater is a well-known adaptation/affectionate parody of this game.

Tropes used in Secret of Mana include:
  • Action Bomb: Any enemy who can use the Burst spell, and Popoie. Lesser enemies will use this as a Suicide Attack, while stronger enemies and Popoie can blow themselves up repeatedly without any repercussions (aside from MP usage).
  • Action Girl: Purim, in spades. Her default weapons are the knuckles, and she shows up trying to rescue her boyfriend from a decidedly unfriendly witch. And her boyfriend is a soldier.
  • Actually, I Am Him: Sage Joch. (Sage Jerk, more like).
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: The Wall Face boss will attempt to smush you against the (inanimate) back wall if you don't kill it quickly enough.
    • It's a last ditch effort if it runs out of MP, which it will quickly, futilely attempt to revive its eyes if you "kill" them.
    • Demon Wall, the upgraded version, just barrages your characters with special attacks if it runs out MP. Which again, it will burn through quickly.
  • All There in the Manual: It has the canon names for the main characters. The boy is Randi, the girl is Purim, and the sprite is Popoie.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Popoie; so the player isn't forced into Two Guys and a Girl or Two Girls and a Guy.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: Nintendo Power had exhaustive coverage of SoM, including (as was its custom in the early nineties) original artwork depicting scenes from the game. These illustrations are decidedly more western in nature; in particular, the Mana Beast looks like something out of Gary Gygax's nightmares.
  • And Man Grew Proud: The ancient civilization that gave rise to the Mana Fortress.
  • Antidote Effect: The strict inventory caps (only four of each type of item) lead to a dependence on healing magic.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The Empire was already up to mischief in the Old World, if the orbs in Mandala are anything to go by.
  • Awesome but Impractical: High-level weapon attacks don't see much use. In the time it takes to charge up a level 7 or 8 strike you'll either have been beaten down by a room full of enemies, or you could have killed everything twice over with normal attacks and magic.
  • Badass Cape: A popular look in this game's world. Jema is the only heroic character who wears one.
  • Badass Normal: Randi. When Purim and Popoie first receive their magic powers, he's a bit dismayed, but Undine tells him that eventually the Mana Sword will become stronger than any magic (and he's the one meant to wield it).
  • Badass Santa: Frost Gigas, literally.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Mana Fortress is destroyed, as is the Big Bad... but so is the Mana Beast, the Mana Tree is still gone, Dyluck died as well and Randi and Purim will never see Popoie again.
  • Black Magic: Exclusive to the sprite kid.
    • Fire Bouquet, Flame Wall, and Lucent Beam are the exceptions, available to the Girl. Seems it's hard to come up with nonlethal uses for fire magic.
  • Blatant Lies: Thanatos' reason for reviving the Mana Fortress is, in the NA version of the game at least, to create a "peaceful world."
    • Emperor Vandole, when he invites La Résistance over to his castle for a "truce".
  • Blob Monster: Lime/Dread Slime.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: The Scorpion Amy and their blonde generalissimo.
  • Book Ends: Randi returning the sword to its place under the waterfall.
  • Boss Arena Idiocy: If the Mana Beast doesn´t take part of the battle against it just standing before you, allowing you to kick the monster´s ass instead of diving into your party over and over, the battle would be unwinnable.
  • Broken Bridge: After the Sunken Continent has resurfaced, Jema will tell you what's going on: the Emperor and his cronies are holed up inside the Grand Palace, which is on top of the Ancient City. You need to find a way through the palace to reach them, but if you go inside, you'll see that the main entrance has no paths. So, you'll have to find a way AROUND the Grand Palace as well. Depressing. (Once the continent sinks again, the side entrance is lowered within reach.)
  • Call Reception Area: Yanking the Mana Sword from the stone causes monsters to appear everywhere. Whoops.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard / That One Attack: Like all Mana games, you are not allowed to dodge if a boss feels like casting a spell on you. While this is fair once you can cast spells back, it makes early fights... a tad unfair.
  • Chainmail Bikini: "Tiger Bikini" is a purchasable armor for the girl.
  • City of Gold: Gold City.
  • Con Man: The Sprite, when you first meet him/her.
  • Cool Old Guy: Jema.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: It was the first RPG to feature a co-operative multiplayer gameplay mechanic where a second or third player could drop-in and drop-out at any time.
  • Degraded Boss: The Dark Stalker, the boss masquerading as a Fake King. In the next area!
  • Deal with the Devil: How Thanatos and his followers got their powers.
    • The emperor's in on this too in the Japanese game; poor Ted Woolsey ran out of text space, though, so we Stateside never got that plot point.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: There are two occasions where you can't get a game over. The first is up until you beat the first boss. Mostly because they were probably kind enough to not make players sit through the couple of minutes it takes to get from "Enter name" to "Controlling character". The second is, if you really wanted to, you could get a game over during the rematch with the Biting Lizards in the Ice Palace. Except, its host just kicks you out after reviving Randi.
  • Did Not Do the Research: The nation of Tasnica is also called "the Republic", yet it has a king (you even meet him). The sole trait that all republics have in common is the lack of royalty.
    • This is a translation hiccup. (Don't blame Woolsey, he had all of a month to work on this thing.) The kanji for 'republic' (共和国, kyouwakoku) can also be translated 'commonwealth'. That said, Tasnica is probably supposed to work like the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (rzeczpospolita) did, with an elected king. Funnily enough, the Polish term's sometimes translated as "republic" on account of having the same root terminology.
  • Dude in Distress: Dyluck.
  • Domino Mask: The Scorpion Army.
  • The Emperor: Emperor Vandole.
  • Enemy Scan: The Analyze(r) spell.
  • Evil Empire: Seems to be played straight at first, but is kindasorta subverted in that Thanatos is one wirepulling jerkass bastard, and Emperor Vandole probably wouldn't have become such a douche if he hadn't had that influence going on.
  • Evil Is Not Well Lit: Elinee and the Emperor have a fondness for mood lighting.
  • Evil Sorcerer / The Starscream: Thanatos. And HOW.
  • Excalibur in the Rust: The rusty sword you take from the pedestal at the beginning of the game is revealed (quite early on) to be the legendary Mana Sword.
    • And thus Excalibur by extension according to the opening scroll! Nifty.
  • Fake King: Sheex's scheme to overthrow Tasnica.
  • The Ferry Man: You meet a cute creature named Karon (a mistranslation of "Charon") in the desert, who will ferry you through the Sea of Stars to the Moon Palace... without cost, of course.
  • Fiery Redhead: Popoie.
  • Four Is Death: The emperor's quartet of hench...uh, people (Fanha, Geshtar, Sheex, Thanatos). They're referred to with the traditional 'shitennou' in the Japanese game.
  • Game Over: "Sadly, no trace of them (or "Randi" earlier in the game) was ever found..."
  • Ghibli Hills: The Kingdom of Pandora.
  • Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: Boreal Face.
    • He's actually the only one in the game, though the origin of Frost Gigas is something of a brain wreck.[1]
  • Giving the Sword to A Noob: Jema hand waves this by declaring that the sword "chose" the boy, making him the Mana Knight by default. None of the neighboring kingdoms seem to make a fuss over it.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang / Oddly Small Organization: The Scorpion Army. There's three of them.
  • Good Costume Switch: Once she's defeated, Elinee reverts from a hooded psychopath to a kindly old granny with her hair in a bun.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: To fix the Mana Sword, one must visit all eight Temples and receive blessings from the Spirits. Simultaneously, Randi is required to seal all eight Mana Seeds to prevent the Empire from raising the Fortress. All of this is moot; the Empire manages to unseal all of the Seeds while you're away, and the final Spirit (Dryad) is too feeble to bless the sword, anyway.
  • Grand Theft Me: Thanatos attempts to do one on Dyluck.
    • And manages! For like a second and a half. It's so hard to be a ... whatever-the-hell he is.
      • How does "Undead-Affront-To-All-That-Is-Good-and-Holy" grab ya?
      • Funny you should mention grabbing aaauuugggh creepy lich floorhands make him stop it.
  • Green Aesop: The abuse of Mana to power the potentially world-destroying Mana Fortress is a nod to our world's abuse of our planet's natural resources.
    • One of the orbs in Mandala has a dialogue expanding on this. "We must restrict the use of Mana energy...we're using it up!" "Hah! You can't USE UP Mana!" "Argh, you don't understand!"
  • Gunship Rescue: The big reveal of Adult Flammie.
  • Harder Than Hard: There is a fan made hack of the game that ramps the difficulty Up to Eleven. To put it in perspective, boss fights consist of Curb Stomp Battle on the receiving end even with reasonably overleveled characters in the normal game.
  • High Collar of Doom: The "Boss" of the Scorpion Army.
  • Hover Bike: Geshtar rides one, complete with Bayonet Ya.
  • Hufflepuff House: Tasnica is the only nation standing between the Empire and global domination. Some Tasnican troops make landfall with Jema once the Lost Continent rises.
  • Hair of Gold: Purim and Dyluck.
  • Immortality Immorality: Thanatos needs a very special individual to body-jump into. He's even willing to be a blue-haired teenage girl if that's what it takes. (Unfortunately for Dyluck, only he makes the cut.)
  • Fiction 500: King Mammon abused Lumina's power to turn his entire island to gold.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Whoops! Sorry, Randi.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: Randomly Drops from the enemies in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. Ironically, the Gigas Axe is actually better in every way than its final form, the Doom Axe.
  • Interface Screw: One of the effects of the Silence/Confusion spell is to reverse the controls.
  • Intrepid Merchant: Neko/Nikita and Watts.
  • It's Up to You: Jema's raison d'être.
  • Last-Disc Magic: Dryad's "Mana" magic, which powers the Mana Sword to full strength -- but the menu selection is greyed out until the final boss battle.
  • Level Grinding: Not only normal levels, but weapons and spells. Spells level up at a third of the speed if you don't cast them in a combat area (indicated by whether or not the heroes have their weapons out)
    • Luckily, the Wind Palace, despite never containing any enemies, grants full spell XP, and there's free healing there to boot, making it the best place to level up pretty much all the Girl's magic (most of the Sprite's magic requires an enemy to cast it on).
  • Lord British Postulate: Some people have actually succeeded in defeating the final boss without ever reviving the Mana Sword. It took some doing, but it's possible[2]. A more mundane example would be Karon, the friendly NPC who shuttles you to the Moon Palace... and happens to be a random monster programmed not to attack the player, so the player can kill him with magic. This was fixed in the iOS version.
    • He/she just comes back, but still.
  • Lost Forever: Anything that randomly drops from enemies only found in the penultimate dungeon; it disappears when the Very Definitely Final Dungeon appears. For example, the boy's best helmet.
    • You can also skip the spear if you properly skip the first visit with Sage Luka.
  • Lost in Translation: In Matango, "Gontma" means goodbye because "ゴントマ" is "マタンゴ" backwards. This was caught and changed to "Ognatam" in the iOS version.
  • Lost Superweapon: The Mana Fortress.
  • Lost Technology: The Mana Fortress, and a lot of stuff on the Sunken Continent. Your party gets to ride the subway at one point, which amazingly still works. It's full of zombies, for extra realism.
  • Love Makes You Evil / More Than Mind Control: Turns out Phanna did those evil things out of jealousy.
    • Well, it's fifty-fifty Phanna's blargh and Thanatos's mindscrew.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: (Insert Name Here), the Mana Tree is your mother.
    • Also, the ghost in the intro? Your dad.
  • Man-Eating Plant / Warmup Boss: Tropicallo.
  • Mass Hypnosis: Thanatos can't resist building a cultist army wherever he goes.
  • Mirror Boss: Sage Joch's final trial. The bosses are Palette Swap versions of the main characters.
  • Mobile Menace: The Emperor's agents hit up each of the Mana Temples while Randi is running errands for Sage Joch.
    • Justified Trope with Thanatos blowing up the Mana Tree. In fact, he was probably sitting up there for hours waiting for you to show up first.
  • Mook Maker: Tomato/Eggplant Men, Kimono Birds and Heck Hounds are a few examples who summon a single type of mook (Heck Hounds and Eggplant Men occasionally summon a second type). Shape Shifters can summon a wide variety of mooks for you fight.
  • Mr. Exposition: Jema always has pointers on where to go next.
  • Multi Melee Master: Anyone, with enough work.
  • Mythology Gag: Jema himself is a shout to the Gemma Knights of the first game, released in the US as Final Fantasy Adventure.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Thanatos. I mean, duh.
  • Never Say "Die": In the English translation.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Well, 'old guy', really - remember Dyluck's ill-fated hike to Elinee's castle? Well, Purim's dad sent him out there because he didn't approve of his daughter wanting to marry a soldier and a commoner's kid at that...and this leads into Dyluck getting voiped by Elinee to the Pandoran ruins and thus involved in the Grand Theft Me energy-thieving antics and plot machinations of hidden Big Bad Thanatos...WAY TO GO, ELMAN, you almost screwed the world over on account of your overparenting.
    • You also get this reaction from the townsfolk in your home village, seeing as how the pulling of that rusty sword out of the stone turned out to break the last straw keeping the world relatively normal.
      • It's anyone's guess how long it would've acted as a stopgap, though. And imagine the world of suck that would have busted loose had certain henchmen of the emperor picked it up!
  • No Cutscene Inventory Inertia: Not quite a cutscene example, but when you fight your party's doppelgangers late into the game, they'll always wield the sword, knuckles, and boomerang (for the Hero, Girl, and Sprite, respectively), regardless of what your real party members are wielding.
    • Averted at all other times; when the script calls for a character to attack someone (such as, say, Purim attacking a Thanatos-possessed Dyluck late in the game), they will do so using whatever weapon you have them equipped with.
  • No Mister Bond I Expect You to Dine: What's this? The Emperor wants a truce. And he's invited the Resistance over to his castle for negotiations. When you get to the dining room, he reveals that you're screwed--it's a trap. How expected.
  • No Name Given: The original game had no default names for the characters. Names from Japanese game guides had been used to refer to them: "Randi" for the boy, "Purim" for the girl, and "Popoi" for the sprite, but they weren't all confirmed to be their Canon Names until the iOS version used these as their default names.
  • Not Completely Useless: The Midge Mallet and Moogle Belt normally apply the pygmy and mooglization debuffs to the targets, and you can only target your own party members with them. Why are they useful? Because if either of them is used on someone who already has the corresponding debuff, the debuff will be removed instead.
  • One-Winged Angel: Sheex and Fanha both transform when you engage them in battle, and Thanatos reverts to his true lich form.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: The Mana Sword.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same
    • Except for Watts (kinda). He's blue!
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The waterfall ghost.
  • Pause Scumming: Were it not for the 999 HP Cap, the stack damage from the Sprite's magic would kill any boss in seconds.
  • Prophetic Name: King Mammon.
    • King Manmon was transliterated because Ted Woolsey didn't know that that's how they spell it in Japanese. It was actually changed to Mammon in the iOS release.
    • Okay, Thanatos HAS to count toward this one, because seriously.
  • Random Drop: Some of the monsters have pretty good armour as rare drops. Top tier armour pieces are actually the common drops from monsters in the mana fortress, while their rare drops are weapon orbs (or candy if you're already maxed out on that type of orb), and you need seven of them to upgrade every weapon except the sword to level 9.
  • Rebel Leader: Krissie.
  • Really Seven Hundred Years Old: Sage Luka is 200 years old, yet she looks like a young woman (not that you can tell from such a tiny sprite, but still...).
    • Thankfully Randi lampshades it so we know.
      • She uses the typical 'old folks' sentence ender 'ja' in the Japanese script as a hint.
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: Elinee's pet tiger.
  • Sand Is Water: Morie and Meria's sandship.
  • Scaled Up: Fanha transforms into a four-armed naga.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: It takes an entire game and three boss fights, but the Scorpion Army finally gets wise. You are really THE Mana Knight.
  • Shonen Hair: Randi. The rebel leader, Krissie, is a female version of this trope.
  • Shout-Out: The second vampire boss that Randi & Co. face is called Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    • The Scorpion Army's ultimate weapon is named Kilroy, a reference to Styx's cult song "Mr Roboto".
      • The Scorpion Army could also be a Shout-Out to the Dorombo Gang from Yatterman. The Scorpion Army Boss dresses a lot like Dorombo boss Doronjo, the "Boys" resemble Boyacky, and both teams fight with cartoony mechas.
    • One of the Mandalan crystal balls mentions Lorimar - this is a city that shows up in Seiken I and again in Dawn of Mana. In the Japanese game, this one also mentions Wendel, the holy city of other titles. This can spawn all kinds of Wild Mass Guessing fits and headaches about just HOW the timeline of the games is supposed to go...
    • Subtle, but watch how many of the zombies move around. Yes, sliding backwards.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The names for the girl and the sprite everybody seems to know? They're overly literal transcriptions of the katakana. Using proper vowel contractions you get "Prim" instead of Purim, which comes from Primrose and is actually much more likely as an origin for the name, but is most likely rejected for sounding, well, very prim and proper. The sprite's name is supposed to be "Popoi", which is probably rejected for equally obvious reasons.
  • Standard Status Effects: They're all here: Burning, Sleep, Poison, and all their familiar friends. However, in keeping with the game's "cute" graphics, they are done with an impish twist: when frozen, characters turn into snowmen, petrifaction renders you a cherubic statue, in lieu of paralyzation you get "balloned", etc.
  • Storming the Castle: The game's finale.
    • One reverse castle storming after Emperor Vandole lies about a parley, too.
  • Supernatural Aid: Started the tradition of gaining power from the eight elemental spirits.
  • Supporting Leader: Jema. Any time he actually does something it happens offscreen, because It's Up to You.
  • Taking You with Me: Upon being defeated, Geshtar decides to blow up his boss' castle rather than let you escape. Luckily, Flammie swoops down and carries you away.
  • Tin Tyrant: Vandole.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: Watts.
  • Undeath Always Ends: Thanatos spent a lot of time searching for an ideal body. Once Dyluck dies, the lich's boss music communicates his rage.
  • Unholy Nuke: Dark Force and Evil Gate.
  • Video Game Settings:
  • Urban Legend of Zelda: A few rumors about this game started early on after many people started playing, to name a few - The supposed 9th Magic supposedly called Solar/Life/Mana, Level 9 spells, a hidden helmet with red coloring, and a fourth hidden character.
    • The red helmet isn't merely a rumor. It does indeed exist within the game's code (it's called the Ruby Armet, and is mentioned in Nintendo Power's guide, even), but it's Dummied Out.
  • "Wake-Up Call" Boss: Elinee's Spikey Tiger. Also often cited as That One Boss, even though it's only the third boss in the game.
    • Boreal Face, sort of. The boss was probably designed to upset the "spam magic until dead" strategy. But it was still plenty vulnerable to weapons.
    • Aegagropilon is also another if spamming magic is the preferred strategy and one forget to level up Shade. It'll cast Wall first thing, which reflects all magic.
  • Wasted Song: Eternal Recurrence. One of the best songs in the game. Plays in a two-rooms dungeon, only after you clear it, and in a few of the altar chambers.
    • The Oracle could be considered kind of wasted too. If you spam magic like a mad thing, you probably won't hear a damn thing of it, and it's fricking wicked. Damn limited sound channels.
    • "A Conclusion" (aka Morning is Here) is another strong example. Heard after the Lich is defeated when the Mana Fortress begins to shake. Usually only heard for about 15 seconds (even though it's 50 seconds long before looping) for a few screens of dialogue before the characters run out, where it switches to "One of Them is Hope".
    • Jeez, that entire area has a lot of Wasted Music of Awesome. The brief track that plays once Dark Lich appears, The Curse, is one of the most genuinely terrifying little bits of strange in any game.
  • Weapon of Choice: One of the game's distinctive features.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Geshtar pops up a second time in the Sunken Continent, having been restored to life by Thanatos.
  • White Magic: Exclusive to the girl.
    • Sure ain't wussy though. Purim is not the stereotypical "weak healer" by any means, and Lucent Beam when leveled up makes Dark Lich a piece of fricking cake.
    • Noticeably, staves are one of the few weapons that don't show up in this game. The closest you can give Purim is the spear... which makes her even more of an Action Girl.
  • Wild Mass Guessing: The Mana Beast sure looked a lot like Flammie. ...say, where is Flammie?
    • And those ittybitty purple dragons in the Upper Land Woods...
      • The characters themselves remark on this: "I guess in those days Flammies were Mana Beasts..."
      • And one of the mushroom people in Matango remarks that those "ittybitty" dragons are "similar to" Mana Beasts...
    • There's some reoccurring names and character archetypes in the Mana/Seiken series that were likely used just to prompt this!
  • You Can't Go Home Again: After the hero's removal of the rusty sword triggers a monster outbreak near Potos, the villagers agree that he's too dangerous to allow to stay, and banish him from there forever.
    • And they mean it... even late in the game when you've acquired your uber-weapons and uber-spells, the guard villager will still be there, telling you to scram.
    • In the ending, it's implied that Randi is accepted back in the village.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: It's a given that the Empire will raise the Mana Fortress.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: All of the not-exactly-human characters have brightly-coloured hair - Popoi's is pink, Luka's is blue, Geshtar's green, Sheex's purple, Fanha's lurid orange, and Thanatos's is - mauve...? Anyway. Phanna/Pamela is the only person to have this outside the spoiler.

You are hereby banished from this page. Now, get out of here!

  1. Santa?!?
  2. Hint: This is only time you'll want to use max level charge attacks. The Sword is still the only weapon that harms the final boss, though
  3. And one Eggplant Man and two Needlions.