Friday, October 4, 2019

Secret of Mana #5 - Ophidian

Today on Secret of Mana: Trouble with Truffles.

That is racist, sir! You are a racist!

They aren't equipped...down there. With these weapons, they don't know.

Jokes aside, why can't they fight? The other truffles in earlier areas didn't have any trouble beating up our hero. If all else fails they could mob up and stunlock foes with their sleep-spores.

How has this kingdom not been overrun by woodland creatures yet, with no military?

Walnuts are FINALLY buyable from someone besides Neko here. I seize the opportunity to buy as many as possible (a paltry 4 in this version, which barely cuts it). The PS4 remake lets you have up to 12 of an item, which is nice (and complete overkill in the other direction).

Watts is here too, and it looks like he's romancin' one of the truffle ladies with his silk tongue and wry wit. We'll just leave him alone for now.

King Truffle delivers a very Final Fantasy IV prophecy-poem.

That sounds like a battle of rock and roll bands.

Well, the white dragon lost and died, as we'll soon find out. Prepare for more sadness, today on Secret of Mana!

Look at this suck-up. The good news? He doesn't turn out to be an evil agent in disguise or John Bolton dispensing bad advice or anything. He really is just a nobleman who thinks the king is a good ruler.

Matango has just awesome music (see the post endnotes) and a great look. I wish this place were expanded. They could have done a LOT with this setting, and it takes up a large portion of the world map. Ingame it's only a few rooms though. I think this is where the content cuts really began, though they aren't in full swing yet.

I use Stone Saber to completely gimp the game as I travel to the Matango Cave. What an OP buff.

The caves themselves have the first field theme for music. I'm noticing at this point that the first field theme plays a LOT in the game and is always the tune that plays in areas that feel like they should have something else playing. I'm going to conclude that the first field theme was their across-the-board filler track for areas with cut themes or where a proper theme wasn't developed.

The next boss is the Great Viper, which is a bit of a callback to that serpent-like boss in Final Fantasy Adventure because it's made out of a bunch of spheres.

Here's the actual fight, which consisted of lots of Thunderbolt spamming. This is really the point in the game where spell-spamming takes over as the primary way of dealing with bosses, and if your elementals are leveled up enough the fights are over before they start.

In the PS4 remake he's a lot more of a snake, and gone are the spheres. While this version of the boss is nicer to look at, it's way less memorable. Which is true of a lot in the remake, but I'll get to that game.

After that fight, we find a dragon in a cave. He's a mere baby dragon at this point, orphaned by his parents being slain by the serpent. Why is everyone in this game an orphan?

"Beaten" is one of the many many examples of the translation of this game mincing words and making things as non-impactful as it can. In this timeframe Squaresoft had to rename "Holy" and "Saint" to words like "Light" and "White" so that their games would be palatable to the delicate sensibilities of soccer moms.

This is a pretty depressing scene, with sad music and lots of pauses while the characters sit there with the dragon-pup.

Luckily we have King Truffle who knows what to do with a baby dragon, and he adopts it.

King Truffle is probably the most boisterous character in the game. The other shrooms aren't too sure about keeping a DRAGON in the palace. They grow fast. Especially if they eat a lot. What do dragons eat, anyway?

Our next mission can be carried out in a couple of ways. We're supposed to go to Kakkara Desert next, but we can also go to Ice Country. Things play out slightly differently depending on what you do.

I choose to follow the normal route of events and go to Kakkara. From the game designer's perspective, these cannon travel hubs sure are useful for skipping large portions of land travel if your game is incomplete.

They're also wildly unsafe, but it wouldn't be the Seiken Densetsu series without characters falling massive distances all the time.

Our heroes land in the desert. It'd be nice if Cannon Travel sent us directly to towns, except for all the casualties from landing on townspeople. What an awful business model.

The desert is home to scorpions, great music, and a general mysterious atmosphere. One of the more interesting areas in the game.

At this point you can't actually reach Kakkara Village, the goal. The only option is to roam around the desert until eventually a cutscene kicks in. Sometimes it takes a while, weirdly enough.

After passing out in the desert (none of this was very well thought-out by them), our heroes are lucky enough to get picked up by the Sand Ship of Tasnica.

The boss here is this guy, and he's a bit rapey.

The Boy is thrown in the galley, were he has to work. This entire section is kinda lame and slows the game way down.

This guy is the key to escaping, as he's good at distracting the guards by yelling "fire" a lot.

My God! It's like being a Korean animator!

Escape to the outer part of the Sand Ship, and it looks an awful lot like...

...the Blackbird, from Chrono Trigger. Where, incidentally, your party members also get split up forcing you to recover them one at a time. The Blackbird is a much more realized version of the Sand Ship, with stealth mechanics and enemies to fight. Another example of Chrono Trigger following in the footsteps of this game.

I quickly recover Moon, who is making a mess in the kitchen. Instead of cooking food, they...

...ate all of the supplies.


Even after reading that I couldn't tell you which is which.

That door is so camouflaged that I wandered around the Sand Ship for like ten minutes trying to figure out what to do next. Inside, we find...

...The Girl being forced to partake in a much less hot version of the LeBlanc Massage Minigame from Final Fantasy X-2. Meanwhile, Moon is upset that they didn't get asked for a massage. IS MOON NOT HOT ENOUGH FOR YOU, MORIE?

The dad shows up and he's very disappointed in his son's rapeyness. Though they're both awful people so let's not thank him for his momentary decency.

He's all like "Go away, foul jezebel! Corrupting my son like this!"

Then he calls for guards to re-apprehend us. What is even happening

The Empire shows up (presumably on Spaceball One) and they immediately want to surrender. Wow. The Sand Ship and its crew sure are fearsome.

In a scene slightly-reminiscent of Kefka showing up in Figaro, Geshtar is here with his troops to board the Sand Ship.

Once he realizes what he's dealing with, it's time for a boss fight. This is actually a pretty cool scene, though it has the first field theme playing which feels inappropriate. Again, I'm certain that it's the stand-in theme for tunes they didn't have room to create.

Geshtar suits up and hops on a Star Wars jet bike to become the Mech Rider, one of the more memorable fights in the game. The boss theme is perfect for this fight to the extent that it almost feels like the track was designed with this fight in mind.

This very shot appears in the pages of Nintendo Power:

The artwork from their coverage adds SO MUCH to this game, to say the least.

Here's the actual fight, which is a bit on the annoying side because he likes to zip back and forth so much. He also casts Speed Up which makes half of your attacks (at least) miss.

Here's the fight in the PS4 version, which lacks the charm of the original fight for whatever reason. Not going to be putting up too many more PS4 version fight comparisons, as for the second half of the game I'm going to save most of the PS4 fight videos for the actual posts on the PS4 remake. Matter of fact, we've got one more after this.

The Sand Ship gets destroyed off-screen and we don't even get an explanation as to what happened much less see it happen. These two buffoons are never seen again, so uh...yeah.

Finally, we reach the town. "Look at my butt!" says the dancing shopkeeper.

So our next goal was to get Salamando from the Fire Palace, but it turns out someone stole him and took him to Ice Country. What's worse, the Fire Seed itself was also stolen from the Fire Palace by someone else who also went to Ice Country. So really, we can't do anything with the Fire Palace until we go and do the events in Ice Country. One can do those events before coming here at all, as well, which puts off the Geshtar fight for a bit.

There's new armor for sale here, and this is where armor officially starts to LEAP in stats from tier to tier rather than going up incrementally like it did before this. Stats rushing to "catch up" to enemy power is how you know the game balance is becoming wack, meaning the rushing of the designers has officially begun at this point.

Todo Village is a land of walrus-people in Ice Country. It's probably my favorite town in the game, very charming. It's a good base of operations to level-build in the Ice Forest, one of the best leveling spots in the game if not THE best before Pure Land.

Watts stands around creepily in the village blacksmith's house while the blacksmith freaks out like The Bearded Lady from Spaceballs.

Going through the Ice Forest a bit, we find the house of Santa Claus. What? Santa Claus? That's Rudolph over there. He explains that Santa is the one who stole the Fire Seed and has lost his mind.

Moving on, we find what I think is the geographic halfway-point of the game, Boreal Face. It's Tropicallo 2.0 and has no elemental weaknesses.

Here's the fight in the original version...

...and the PS4 version for comparison. This is the last PS4 video for now, but I'll be doing a full-on boss megavideo later for the remainder. Note how the trees are practically neon in the PS4 version. It's rave time in the Ice Country!

After that we find this curious town where it's somehow summer. How do people here import goods or go anywhere when they have a plant monster right outside?

Turns out the Scorpion Army is afoot here. They found some ruins* and set up shop here with their stolen fire elemental, creating a posh resort town where they could make some cash.

After freeing the fire elemental from their stove, he joins the team. He's got the fourth set of spells and one of the cooler-looking sets. However, spells are still stuck at Level 3 for a while longer until the Fire Seed gets returned to the Fire Palace.

After rescuing Salamando, the town immediately turns back into freezing ruins as all of the tourists flee. The LeBlanc Syndicate Scorpion Army are pissed at being foiled again.

Look at how they strut. The Boss seems like a hottie. What's the deal with the physique of the goons, though? ...what's the deal with these guys at all? This game has so many characters that only appear briefly and then never do anything else.


Fireball - Does decent damage for 2 MP. This is like Gem Missile in that it's more MP-efficient than its contemporaries while winning the fight less-quickly.

Lava Wave - Does slightly-less damage than Fireball, which is weird for 3 MP. However, it can be chained pretty well, possibly better than any other attack spell in the game besides the upcoming Dark Force. So this is essentially the "spam all of your MP to stunlock a boss" fire spell.

Exploder - Does larger damage than the above for 4 MP. About 50% better than Fireball so it isn't MP-efficient. It exists for when you need a boss dead post-haste, or are plowing through an area where MP usage isn't a concern.


Fire Saber - Gives weapons a fire enchant that makes them proc Engulf on foes (the fire-based stun/DoT). It's sorta like Ice Saber for immobilizing foes, only it immobilizes for less time and does damage. Mainly good for the look (see below)

Fire Bouquet - The Girl's best attack spell outside of the Lucent Beam she'll get later. Does pretty decent damage for 3 MP, comparable to Fireball above, and also lowers the physical attack power of the enemy. This is a good counterpart to Undine's Acid Rain spell, which lowers defense.

Blaze Wall - For 4 MP, does about the same damage as Fire Bouquet while also inflicting Engulf. Not really worth ever casting when Fire Saber makes you proc that effect often and Fire Bouquet does damage more efficiently plus a debuff. So basically, kinda useless, though since The Girl has so few attack spells I cast this sometimes to vary things up.

Fire-enchanted weapons have a snazzy red glow, which contrasts well with the ice forest. We've still got most of this area to go, and I've got some theories on the place for the next post.

Since we're at the roughly-halfway point of the game and since the Ice Forest is a primo leveling spot, I took some time to cap all of my spells at L3. Mainly Salamando, because having both characters with L3 Salamando makes the next area/boss easy.

This episode's Nintendo Power coverage! Part 2 of 3 begins. We have an actually-accurate hand-drawn map of the west side of Upper Land, aka the non-seasonal section that leads to Matango. The Great Viper is about a hundred times more menacing here than it is in the game (or the remake).

The desert section has the aforementioned sweet picture of the Geshtar fight, as well as pup Flammie. The Sand Ship is a weird section of the game, though I appreciate it for being the Proto-Blackbird.

Finally, we've got the first part of Ice Forest, to be continued in the next episode. It's a bit weird to end an episode in the middle of an area, but I wanted to get Salamando in this session.


Underrated Track Alert: The Scorpion Army's theme is the very definition of seedy. This feels like something that'd play in Donkey Kong Country while bandits steal your coins.

Matango's theme is funky and fresh.

1 comment:

  1. 12 walnuts at those prices would certainly make the rest of the game a whole lot easier.

    If there's a peaceful Mushboom village, where's the adorable Rabite village?, I don't remember this sand ship at all. This is much better scenario in Xenogears.