The Let's Play Archive

Secret of Mana

by ddegenha

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Original Thread: Tough luck kid, now go save the world. Let's Play Secret of Mana!



Welcome Back!

Hello once more folks, after a nice refreshing break it's time to do that thing again. This time we're looking at a game that's old enough to vote but can't yet buy alcohol:

Released in 1993 to great excitement and widespread acclaim, Secret of Mana is a fusion of early RPG elements with a charm all it's own. Like its predecessor, Secret of Mana is played in real time like a Zelda game but with HP instead of hearts and a hero who's more about kicking ass than throwing boomerangs. There are no battle screens or fight transitions, but other trappings of the RPG genre are clearly present. In retrospect, however, this shouldn't be surprising...

What's this about a predecessor?

Unbeknownst to many of its fans in the 90s, Secret of Mana is actually a sequel rather than a completely original creation. In the US and in the PAL regions, we all showed up to our local game store and saw something like this:

Certainly impressive, but the only brand recognition going on there is SquareSoft. Japanese audiences, however, got this:

Seiken Densetsu 2, which would probably be translated as "Legend of the Holy Sword 2." Completely skipping a console, SoM/SD2 is the direct sequel of the game that came to the US on Gameboy under the title of Final Fantasy Adventure. Rather than confusing fans with Final Fantasy Adventure 2, however, Square went with Secret of Mana as a title.

So what can we expect?

Well, first off Secret of Mana is a visually stunning game with lots of bright colors, action, and great graphics for the time. The game also has an incredible soundtrack that I'll be providing links to at appropriate times, and a pretty decent story (or so I've heard) that doesn't take itself too seriously. This is, after all, a product of the pre-wangsty SNES days. That isn't to say that the game is without its flaws, however. SoM was originally developed as a title for the SNES CD add on, a product which most of you probably aren't familiar with due to the minor problem of it having never been released. The game had to be retooled and altered to fit on an SNES cartridge, and that wasn't the only place where cuts were made. Ted Woolsey, of Final Fantasy 3/6, Chrono Trigger, and Final Fantasy Legend III fame completed the translation for this game in 30 days. According to the translator himself, space limitations resulted in American audiences getting a bare bones story with a significant degree of loss. The good Reverend Cheddar, playing along on a Japanese copy, was kind enough to provide translations to fill in some of the gaps. Look for those at the end of each update.

Well, yeah, okay, but what about from the LP?

I'm planning on running this LP in a manner similar to my LP of Final Fantasy Adventure. Lots of screen shots, a bit of commentary on plot and poking fun at absurdities, and videos of boss fights or anything else that has to be seen in motion to be believed. Updates should be fairly steady, but as always life happens. I won't make promises I can't keep, but I'm not going to abandon an LP. Now, onward!

The Story

Secret of Mana Opening


Darkness sweeps the
troubled land, as Mana's
power fades...
People await a hero who
will wield the sword...
Excaliber, Herald, Gigas..
The blade has many
names, for it has been
celebrated in myths and
legends throughout time,
but all of these speak to
just one weapon:
the Mana Sword

Using the power of Mana, a civilization had grown strong.

The only thing that would have been worse would be if they'd somehow created some kind of mana.. cannon... or something.

I read an interesting piece some time ago about how most fantasy takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. A common theme in most heroic fantasies is that the world used to be more advanced and has since fallen onto hard times. You rarely see adventures happening at the zenith of a civilization.

Nice job breaking it, hero.

But time flows like a river... and history repeats...

Keep a count of how many times you see names, monsters, and other things that look awfully familiar in this game.

At its heart, Secret of Mana is a simple story about three young people called to a destiny that they never could have predicted and forced to rise above their own limitations. I'll introduce them through the LP one at at a time, but in order of appearance, our three heroes are as follows:

Our ostensible main character is this spiky-haired fashion victim, whose original name was given as Randi. He's a lot like many other JRPG characters, being a quiet sort who mostly has people talking for him or putting words into his mouth. Randi (for lack of a better name, hint hint) is the physical powerhouse of the team, having the highest attack and fastest learning curve with weapons. He's got the magical sensitivity of a rock, however, and never learns any magic what-so-ever.

The next character on the docket takes fashion tips from MC Hammer and/or I Dream of Jeannie. Her original name is Purim, and her early story is pretty much driven by her obsession with an officer in Pandora's army. Based on the fact that she comes with a spiked knuckle and kung fu suit it seems that she was conceived as a martial arts character. Once we obtain some magic she'll be our support magic specialist and healer as well as a secondary attacker. By popular acclaim her name is Kid.

Our final party member is the Sprite child, who's a deceitful sprat that enjoys playing mean tricks on people. After being introduced as part of a con he joins our party in an attempt to use us as muscle in a search for his lost memories. His original name was Popoi, but the voters of the thread have decreed that he shall be named Boss. The Sprite is a terrible physical attacker in every way, but will eventually learn magic and become our nuker. It's honestly a bit terrifying to think of all that power in the hands of a child.

As usual, your help is required with naming:

Our hero needs a suitable epic name that fits the limitations described here. Initial suggestion from my wife is Dylan, possibly due to a haircut that would fit right in to 90210. Update: Due to overwhelming support, his name is BOY.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Secret of Engrish

Reverend Cheddar posted:

In a calamity,
people waited for a brave
with the sword.

The sword revealed the power
of its true nature to
retrieve the peace.

Excalibur, Kusanagi, and
all the other swords talked
in myth, legend, and saga...
People named those
swords in many ways.

They all meant one thing.
The one and only...

The Sword of Mana.

In the faraway past...
Civilizations that evolved due to the power of Mana flourished on the planet.

Before long, humans began to use the power of Mana in warfare,
Birthing the colossal ship they called the Mana Fortress.

However, that mighty power drew the fury and anger of the gods,
and they sent their holy beast to ravage the earth.

The furious battle between fortress and beast ensnared the world in poison and flame,
And Mana began to rapidly disappear.

It was then, that a hero with the Holy Sword destroyed the Fortress,
and slayed the holy beast before the eyes of mankind.

Civilization was utterly obliterated due to warfare,
But the world had once again become peaceful...

Time flows on...

And history will repeat.


By Chu Chu:

E-Tap's idea of what was going on in the Mushroom Kingdom Matango:

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