The Let's Play Archive

Secret of Mana

by ddegenha

Part 11: Naughty List Achieved

We left off having arrived in the village of the Walrus Men, who if you've played Final Fantasy Adventure you might expect to throw icicles at us. Instead, they tell us about a mysterious old man and complain about how it's too hot and they're starving. Things are indeed tough all over.

Watts the Ever-Present has taken over the local blacksmith's, rather than just setting up in some random place with no forge or anvil. We have nothing for him to work on, but sometimes it almost seems like we should just follow him around since he always seems to be everywhere before us.

A paradise and a weird old man? Tell me that there's puppies out there, and we are SO there.

Crystal Forest Theme: Wish

In fact, there are totally puppies out there. This is the Crystal Forest, one of the most unique and interesting areas in the game. It's also very densely populated with Howlers and other monsters, making it a favorite place for the ever-present grinding that defines this game. However... things take a turn for the weird.

Yep. That's Rudolph, telling us that a monster has kidnapped Santa Claus. If you didn't see that coming, congratulations. You are still sane. On the plus side, it seems the game's developers paid attention to those claymation Christmas specials and made Rudolph talk.

Raiding Santa's house gets us a spear orb, which turns into a Partisan. For those of you who aren't familiar with medieval polearms, a partisan is a spear with protrusions to assist in parrying sword thrusts. It's strong against slimes and lizards, meaning we now have two weapons that fit that profile.

Continuing on our merry way there's a Cannon Travel Center buried in the forest that will be important later.

Nearby is one of the many oddities in the game, the trapped Howler. For some reason, the game spawns a Howler between the trees here where it can never escape to menace the unhappy world. You'll only find it by trying to cast a spell and seeing it as a target, and it's perfectly possible to kill it.. it's just oddly placed.

There's actually quite a few returning enemies here, including turtles with spears who cast ice sabre and cure water on themselves and cloud enemies who can cast freeze and whose breath can turn you in to a snowman. It's a long and winding pathway, but eventually with no real warning what-so-ever...

Boss Fight: Boreal Face

Boreal Face Battle Video

You run into this guy. Boreal Face is pretty much Tropicallo with a make over and a few new attacks to keep things fresh.

His trademarks are the exploding pumpkins and the creeping feeler, but the fight is improved by the fact that we can move around a lot more freely now. Magic helps, but he doesn't really have an elemental weakness we can exploit. Instead, you pretty much use whatever you feel most comfortable with.

Unlike Tropicallo he does have magic, including a burst spell that I didn't catch (or realize he had) until after I'd beaten him. As you can see his healing magic is pathetic, but sleep flower is quite annoying in its own right.

After a few minutes of scurrying around trying to dodge exploding pumpkins and get into position to hit him (his hit detection is also a bit tighter) Boreal Face explodes, giving us a Bow Orb and letting us proceed deeper into the forest.

Although one might be confused considering that summer appears to have come very early a single screen to the north.

The rumors were true, and there's a resort town full of rich people here escaping the cold.. by traveling to the middle of the Ice Country. To be honest, I can't see why you'd bother if you lived in a relatively mild climate.

People like you are why the world is in the state it is!

It's been just a little bit, but the soldiers of the Scorpion Army are memorable enough that you'll probably recognize them on sight. It'd be an interesting twist if they were so devastated by their earlier failure that they started new careers in the hospitality industry but you can already imagine that's not the case.

These people give the Republic's guards a serious run for their money in the blind stupidity field, and that's saying something.

Something about the maintenance instructions on this stove seems fishy, and I'm pretty sure that smacking a stove is not likely to fix it and is in fact far more likely to result in burns.

A few seconds of waiting and there's a noise within the stove, clearly calling us to investigate. I suppose one could say no, but... well, it's so obviously the thing to do.

As expected, the entire heat source of this tropical resort is a fire elemental shoved into a stove. It's a novel concept, I'll say that much for it. I'm particularly taken by his final line, which suggests fiery revenge on the uppity humans who imprisoned him.

However, he actually literally means to teach us the power of fire. This is the first time we've gotten a new element without a seed to raise our magic power levels, but that's okay.

As soon as Salamando books it the place freezes over and empties out. The Boss of the Scorpion Army shows up and immediately recognizes us, proving herself to be far brighter than her henchmen. It's so hard to find good help these days.

She denies all knowledge of the fire seed, which seems reasonable enough..

Until her aforementioned idiot henchmen spill the beans about an old man being present when they grabbed Salamando. They try so hard, but they're just not very good at being bad.

Looking over our new spell list, it should be pretty clear that Salamando is meant for offensive use. The only spell he grants that doesn't directly cause damage is Flame Sabre, and it immobilizes enemies and sets them on fire. It's mean and nasty and I love it.

Before we proceed, it's important to take care of essentials like leveling up our magic and cashing in our bow orb. The Great Bow has the fun property of confusing enemies, which will usually result in them running away as they're trying to attack you. It can be annoying, but it certainly keeps enemies off your back.

After we've done a bit of magic leveling up, further travel into the forest will take you into an area with two nearly identical exits. The first one has Neko here to sell some goodies and let you stock up, which is a pretty good sign that you should prepare for a dungeon.

Ice Palace Theme: A Bell is Tolling

Handily enough, taking the other exit leads us in to the ice palace, an impressive structure guarded by matching turtle guards. I'm actually quite fond of this dungeon, although it has some weird quirks.

The main one is that if you die in this dungeon, you don't get a game over. Instead, you get politely but firmly shown to the front door with your main character restored to full HP and towing along two ghosts. While this is a bit kinder than a game over, it's still fairly expensive.

Moving along, there's some nice switch based puzzles and such to lead us further in, and plenty of enemies to keep us company...

Including these guys, who are actually surprisingly dangerous. Like green drops, blue drops split anytime their numbers drop so you need to kill them as close to simultaneously as possible. They can change your characters in to snowmen, and they're very difficult to damage. In practice, most times it's easier to just hit them quickly and run past through the nearest door.

Two roads diverged in a frozen ice palace and I, I took the one on the left because it seemed like a fifty/fifty choice.

It seemed to turn out alright, leading through a variety of rooms full of new enemies. The specters, returning from Final Fantasy Adventure, are pretty much immune to our weapons but are extremely weak to fire and related spells. The floating eyes are a bit more annoying and have some interesting magic at their beck and call (including Lucent Beam), but at least they can be hit with regular weapons.

The next section is full of animated books, which I shall have to observe more closely when I come through here to investigate how things differ if you go here first. I couldn't capture it, but they supposedly have an amusing animation that will be well worth showing off.

After going through some scattered bookshelves we end up in the library proper, complete with mysterious floor triggers that will clearly open up a secret passage to get us to the next room.

Or drop us down a hole. It's the same thing, if you think about it. You probably recognize these guys from Undine's cave, and they haven't improved much since then. The strategy is basically the same, but you just want to concentrate your attacks on one of them and kill it quickly. For people playing along with the AI, it is possible to select a target for your team mates through the control menu. They're pretty harmless as Tonpoles, so if you deal quickly with each one they aren't a problem.

Our brave victory against a bunch of recycled mini-bosses from earlier catapults us back into the library, opening a door ahead and closing the pit behind. From a roundabout perspective those switches do lead us into the next room.

In case you've forgotten you had it they break out the whip crossings..

And follow up with a decidedly ominous platform with a strange symbol in the middle. The symbol itself is a teleporter that sends us into the thick of three floating eyes, confirming that the platform is bad news.

Exiting north through the door leads into a giant throne room, where a voice speaks like thunder and tells us to just walk away. The funny thing is that the game will let you, at this point, just turn around and walk out of the chamber without stopping you. The only penalty is that you can't proceed with the plot.

We can't have that, however, and telling the voice where it can go nets this response and our next boss fight.

Boss Fight: Frost Gigas

Frost Gigas Battle Video

For the second time today we're dealing with a palette swap, with the Frost Gigas being a rebranded Fire Gigas with a few new tricks to set him apart. I can't complain, however, as in many ways this is a boss fight that has a lot of potential and could be difficult for some people.

In the first place, Frost Gigas has some very high level spells at his disposal, and if he lowers your defense with Acid Storm his regular attacks are going to give you a good pounding.

He's also got some of the Undine support abilities, but in an interesting twist he casts Ice Saber on you rather than on himself. The net effect is to make your weapons much less useful if you're relying on them and don't bother to cast another spell to replace Ice Saber.

He's even got a freezing breath attack to round things out, although it's not really terrifying. All in all I think he's got the greatest variety of attacks we've seen so far, even though it's generally wasted.

You see, the problem is that he's so weak to fire that if you've bothered to level up Salamando at all you're going to tear through him like a wet paper bag. That's what happens when you're weak against the most offensively oriented element we've gained thus far, though. For an extremely quick fight, our prize is a boomerang orb.

The real kicker comes afterward when.. he turns in to Santa Claus. That's right, kids, we just kicked Santa's ass around the ice palace. Somebody's definitely getting a stocking full of coal this Christmas.*

*Am I the only one who's ever thought that if you were a poor child in winter, a bunch of fuel you could burn in order to keep warm wouldn't actually be a bad present?

Santa isn't being exactly accurate here.. not believing in Santa will not cause him to turn into a giant ravening monster overnight, if you're worried about that.

No, 'twas his pathological need for attention and belief that turn Santa into a monster, in addition to the raw stupidity of his plan to rekindle belief in himself by growing a giant tree. How does that.. why would kids believe...

Properly ashamed of himself after stealing one of the eight keystones to the balance of Mana, Santa hands it over for us to return along with a lecture about how dangerous misusing the power of Mana can be.

Thank you all for being here for this very special episode of Secret of Mana. Now, about returning that seed...

Taking the Black

Reverend Cheddar posted:

Rudolph "Neeeiigh, neigh neigh...
My maaster's gone missing-gu~!
A maagic beaast has begun living in the aabandoned Crystaal Paalaace
Surely maaster haas been taaken caaptive by the beaast...
Neeeeiiigh neigh neigh"

oh what is this a warm resort
scorpion crew says...
"Man, I'm sick of the boss and her 'human resource division'. If you ever slack off they beat you."
"The boss's resort is a huge hit!!"
"Nn~?! You there, who're you? ... Have I seen you somewhere? ... Eh, whatever. More important, would you mind watching the stove for me for a bit? You just have to hit it as much as you can from time to time; it doesn't need any fuel. Right then, see ya-"
"Sounds like there's something inside... take a look inside?"
(of course there's nothing wrong with opening a furnace go ahead)
Salamander "Puwaa!! I, I'm saved! Thanks, I'm the spirit of fire, Salamander! Whoaa-!
As soon as I was free from that stove I thought I'd get to burn 'em all, damn! Whoaa-- hee-eyy, I was gettin' restless in there!
Ooo-kaay, I'll lend you my powers and let you blaze fires like the best of 'em! Wotcha! FIYAAAHH!!!"

(It got across well enough in translation, but all of the spirits have vivid personalities. Undine is motherly, Gnome probably hits the Bailey's, Jinn is like mega-polite, and Salamander is fiery. Our next spirit makes a pretty badass speech too.)

scorpion boss "What the hell, guys?! It's the same kids from before! You numbskulls!! Didn't any of you realize it was them?!"
"Sorry, boss..."
scorpion boss "Kii--! I am so fed up with you!! And we were rollin' in fat stacks of money too! Everyone left!!
... What? The Fire Palace's Mana Seed? Don't know what happened to it, honest! I'm not touchin' another seed after what happened the last time!"
"Now that you mention it, when we went to capture Salamander, there was this weird old dude who -- "
scorpion boss "Well now, look at you, when did you decide to be so nice to the enemy?! Ugh!! We won't forget this!!"

"... You must leave at once!..."
(well? yes no? YES hah)
"It's for your own good!
Please return home..."
(no we don't go home)
"You're stubborn, even for children!
You must be punished! Come here!"

(how did we get into that room it doesn't have any doors what)

Santa "?! You are...?
Rudolph "Maaster! Maaster Saanta Claaus!! Aare you saafe!?"
Santa "Oh, my reindeer! (he doesn't refer to poor rudolph by name? geez that's cold.) I must have worried you so... it's alright now. I was the Frost Gigas you fought... lately, the children of the world have all stopped believing in me... when Mana disappears, even children lose their hopes and dreams...
I thought I would at least give them back their dreams again. They say the Mana Tree can grow to enormous size in the blink of an eye! I thought I could raise an enormous Christmas tree, and so I took the Mana Seed back to my home. But the energy of Mana had a terrible effect on my body, and it turned me into that nightmare of a creature...
If the power of Mana is used incorrectly, it can be a dangerous thing!
I've been such trouble. I'll return the Fire Seed to you."

(not one ho-ho-ho. even japanese kids know santa needs to let out a ho-ho-ho every other word or so.)

Rudolph "Thaank you~!"
Santa "Do your best to restore the dreams and futures of children!"