Thursday, October 24, 2019

Secret of Mana #8 - The Mountain of Destiny

 Secret of Mana continues with the 38th climb of the Lofty Mountain.




In the previous episode, I forgot to do the Sea Hare's Tail sidequest. Restoring water to the parched Kakkara Village requires getting the tail from a distant island. That island is seen here. At first glance it appears to be a regular garden-variety island. However, look closer and...

...you can see that it's actually in the shape of a turtle, with four limbs and a head/tail visible under the water. My theory is that this turtle was the aquatic mount of the game, used during some of the second half as you traveled around getting the Dark/Light/Moon Palaces done. Instead you just get Flammie super-early. This explains why Flammie goes from kitten to fully-grown in the span of about 3 dungeons: You weren't supposed to get Flammie back until the endgame.

Landing on the island, you find a small area of huts with, like, nothing going on. It's weird, and easily missable.

You've got that right. At least they repurposed this area for -something- after they decided to omit the sea turtle mount from the game. Similar to how the Kilroy fight takes place on a random fully-designed airship in the middle of nowhere. They took finished designs that didn't have time to be fully-realized and at least threw them into the finished game as side-areas.

In case there was any doubt from the overhead view as to what this island is supposed to be, one of the townspeople spells it out.

So if originally you were going to get a Sea Turtle mount for most of the second half, and Flammie at the endgame, when did you get the airship? Most likely the airship was scrapped very early in development and replaced with Flammie. Then Flammie just replaced the Sea Turtle too.

Bring the Sea Hare's tale to Amar, the kingpin of Kakkara. Somehow, that leads to the drought in the town being magically cured.

::the other merchant smokes a blunt off to the side:: "i don't even know what's goin' on"

That gets me the Moogle Belt, which is about as useful as the Midge Mallet. Situational, and good for a couple of boss fights, and that's about it. It changes characters to/from Moogle status. The bad news is, nearly all of the foes that use that status against you are earlier in the game.

Well, it's still fun to play with. Here's Moon somehow getting even hotter.

Next up, we've got a look at the globe you can bring up while in flight. It's pretty cool that the game has something like this. You can really see how The Empire is Europe here. The Imperial Castle and Northtown are located in Germany. That entire southern part of The Empire is actually north Africa (sans desert) and I still believe that area was repurposed as Gothica in Secret of Evermore. And if it wasn't, well, Gothica is probably pretty close to what it was supposed to be like.

Another interesting thing about the overworld of this game: There are various beaches located near important story areas. In theory, these beaches were landing points for the Sea Turtle back when it existed.

Backing this theory up: In Seiken Densetsu 3 you get both a Sea Turtle AND landing beaches that look just like the ones in Secret of Mana.

As further evidence, here's Gold City, one of the areas from the phase of the game with all of the beaches (and skipping of content). You can see a beach on the far side of it, and not only that, an entire area/pathway leading up from the beach and around the mountain up to the city. None of that made it into the game, unfortunately.

While I'm on the subject of weird overworld stuff, there's a peninsula in Ice Country that doesn't have any ice. Wonder what this was supposed to be. The fact that it's got a huge landing beach is probably a clue. It looks like there might be some ruins and stuff there. Maybe this area would have fleshed out the fact? that this place was Lorimar. Either way, it isn't explorable in the game world at all. The small hamlet with summer weather where you get Salamando is elsewhere in Ice Country, so this isn't that place.

This coral reef is the Lost Continent, which unearths as the game continues. It might also be the top of the Mana Fortress. I don't know, the perspectives are all wonked later on.

I climb the Lonely Mountain YET AGAIN. That's right, J.R.R. Tolkien and Leni Riefenstahl references in one post.

"Jehk" tells us to head for the Moon Palace, which floats in the Sea of Wonders. This part is a little bit like Star Hill in Super Mario RPG in that it's incongruous with the rest of the game. Just a really cool cosmos-themed area that stands out.

The north part of Kakkara Desert has fallen stars and planets/galaxies in the distance.

::Duck Soldier tokes a doobie nearby:: "i don't even know what's goin' on"

Karon's Ferry takes us through the Sea of Wonders. That's right, the Boatman of the Styx makes an appearance to fly us through...space?

This guy turns up in Secret of Evermore in his proper Charon form to transport you across the Desert of Nobilia.

Wow, he's got that right. The Moon Palace is the most empty Palace in the game. At least the Light Palace had two rooms, and like, bosses.

In the European version he has something different to say. So...this place isn't actually an area where the planet and the universe meet. It's a planetarium. Interesting.

The Magus flames return as we arrive at the Moon Palace. This place is one big empty room. That's right. An empty room. It has a Metroid floating around at the beginning, at least.

Getting through this room is a matter of running north through the void until you get to the end of the "palace"

Here's the 7th elemental/seed. Didn't we just get the 5th and 6th at the end of the previous post? Yep. Luna is an interesting elemental that gives you some weird spells:

MOON SPELLS FOR OASIS:

Moon Saber - The best Saber in the game. Causes attacks to drain HP. Not just part of the attack, not a drain spell proc. I mean the full damage of the attack gets returned to you in MP. At this point characters routinely hit for half their HP amounts with charged attacks, so Moon Saber means tons of healing. It's good that Undine finally gets a rest in the heal department. The only problem is that undead-flagged enemies (which includes a lot of dark-element foes who aren't undead, like Fiend Heads) reverse the effects of this, meaning your attacks heal them and damage you. Using Moon Saber against undead is the quickest route to a game over in Secret of Mana.

Moon Energy - Gives a character a 100% critical hit rate for X amount of attacks (depending on the level Luna is built up to). SUPER useful for fights where you're relying on physical attacks, like Aegagropilon and the final boss. Can't be cast on the entire group at once like most buffs, though. Still ridiculously good.

Lunar Boost - Increases attack power temporarily, can be cast on the entire group. Also really useful. The counterpart to Defender, which means its weakness is that it wears off fairly quickly. All in all The Girl's spell set from Luna might actually be better than her spell set from Lumina, which makes this the most useful spell set she gets.

MOON SPELLS FOR...MOON:

Magic Absorb - The counterpart to HP Absorb. Takes MP from foes and gives them to the Sprite, which makes Faerie Walnuts a lot less necessary. However, it only really works on foes that have a lot of MP (spellcasters), and most foes that rely primarily on physical attacks will give up very few MP. At low levels this only steals 1-3 MP which barely covers the 1 MP cost, though once Luna is built up it can steal a lot more than that. Probably the most critical spell The Sprite ever gets as it lets you go nuts with attack spells after this.

Change Form - Changes enemies into other enemies, always weaker. They give the EXP/rewards of the weaker enemies though. Mainly just exists to mess around with and create enemies in areas where they shouldn't exist.

Lunar Magic - Another expensive toy, for 8 MP this has random effects on everything onscreen, including the party. It does a lot of weird stuff, like restoring HP/MP or inflicting random status effects.

Moon Saber on weapons gives them a gold glow. Yeah, it's the best saber in the game, aside from that whole matter of killing you when used against undead foes.

Here's an example of Moon Saber's absorption effect. And lemme just say, the desert in this game sure is a mystical place. It's one of the areas they did really well in terms of visuals and music.

Climbing the mountain AGAIN, I take the time to use Change Form on foes to turn them into enemies that shouldn't be here. It keeps them from casting Sleep on me at least.

Jehk refers us off to the next area as Secret of Mana Presents: Cut Content Zip-Around Sprint 2k19 continues. It's like the second half of Final Fantasy XV throwing all of the story at you at once, or the second half of Xenogears mostly being a text cutscene.

Tasnica SHOULD be a very noteworthy place, as one of the three kingdoms that fought The Empire. Instead, it's one of the most forgettable areas in the game. It just gets thrown out there late in the game, you go there, you do stuff for like 15 minutes, then you never go there again. Even Nintendo Power forgot to cover it.

Jema is here, as he finally rolled out of bed with Luka and decided to do something to help the continued existence of civilization. He says that a spy from the Empire is on the loose in Tasnica, masquerading as someone inside the castle. I bet it's the Guardia Chancellor. In any case, let's see what the numerous NPCs in Tasnica say when you talk to them:

Seriously, everybody in the entire castle says this one line. The developers must have completely given up by this point, or been out of time, or something.

The King is a fully fleshed-out character with realistic motivations and personality, as seen here where he gets a slightly DIFFERENT line to say. In the world of lategame SoM, he's like a Tom Hardy character.

Actually, it turns out that the King isn't really the King. That's right, he's...Yakra!

"FUNGAAAAH!"

Actually, he's the Dark Stalker, a ninja miniboss that's a common foe in the last dungeon. It's a brief fight. Notice how the real King is looking on, because he just sorta appears while all of the guards just sorta disappear.

Our hero attacks with a whip lash! POW!

Bad news, sir: You got Yakra'd!

So if the king of Tasnica was impersonated by an Imperial spy-monster, why didn't The Empire just invade? ...is The Empire even still a thing after their castle burned down?

At the very least, I like how this part of the game is a total fusion of the Vector part of FFVI and the Guardia part of CT, made by a fan in RPG Maker. Too bad we didn't have enough dev time left to implement The Trial here.

Jema waddles in to say something about courage. This from the guy who spends his time motorboating Luka's ample chest.

They're being aggressive? I feel like you're giving me the plot synopsis of a completely different game. Has Jema played Secret of Mana for the Nintendo PlayStation CD?

What a liar. We all know he's off to motorboat dem tittays.

"i don't even know what's goin' on" says the King.

This random guard drops a MASSIVE BOMBSHELL: Jema was best friends with Serin, one of the previous wielders of the Mana Sword...and The Boy's long-deceased father.

Finishing out how forgettable Tasnica is, here's the Tortoise Mail in a secret shop. Weird things about it: A) The shop being secret. Why is it secret? B) This is the only place in the game where Tortoise Mail is sold. C) It's actually weaker than the Battle Suit you've had access to for a bit already. D) It's the only piece of equipment from its armor tier. That's right, the Tortoise Mail armor tier doesn't have an equivalent helm/bracer. It's the only piece of equipment in the game that doesn't have a full set on its tier.

I feel like this particular piece of armor was supposed to be more significant than it is. Or better. Or that its tier was supposed to be a full tier of equipment. I don't know, but it's an odd armor worth noting.

PS4 Version Protip: There's a trophy for acquiring all of the armor types in the game. Well, the Tortoise Mail is probably the most missable out of all of them since it falls outside of the typical "chain of command" of armor tiers and is only found in this one secret shop.

"YOU'RE THE PUPPET!"

Aside from getting into fights with kids, other people in Tasnica now have super-generic things to say. Like this random hot chick who overtly comes onto our hero, because of course.

One final trek to the mountain, and Jehk is finally going to let us talk to Joch.

An old man appears and he's apparently Joch. Except he's actually an illusion, and to talk to the real Joch we have to go through the cave of trials. Or something.

The cave is a pretty standard dungeon. It's boring as hell though. There are a few confusing switch puzzles just to make this very-barebones place take a little bit longer.

At the end we battle...our clones? That's right, and it's a blistering fight. Secret of Evermore lifts this idea as you fight clones of your characters in not one but two boss fights.

Moon Saber absolutely wrecks here, and almost turns these guys into more of a miniboss fight than anything else.

Still, because it's such an interesting fight, here it is.

"Like, literally?" says Moon, gazing at Oasis hopefully.

I don't know what the point of the old man was, at all. Or the point of this whole scenario, except to kill time and substitute for all of the organic story development and travel the developers planned for this part of the game.

We've gotta make haste to stop The Empire from moving -The Statues- and bringing about the World of Ruin.

...and wouldn't you know it, Flammie is able to land us right outside the Tree Palace, so there's no need to travel across the coral reef around it or anything. We waltz right into YET ANOTHER one-room palace to grab the 8th and final elemental/seed. This one doesn't even have a Metroid at the entrance.

What it does have, however, is The Emperor and his goons in that one room.

Did you stand here waiting this long just to tell us that?

Fanha's character development and speaking time are so nonexistent that I didn't even know she was female until I played the PS4 remake in 2019. More on that PS4 remake in the near future.

Sheex finally says something, and we find out that he's the one who was impersonating the king in Tasnica.

That's right. And as a matter of fact, Sheex isn't even Sheex, he's an underworld demon impersonating Sheex. The actual Sheex might not ever even show up in the game, despite being planned as the noble General Leo type of the Emperor's goons. Chances are he got assassinated before it even started, with the underworld fiend taking his place. Which is also insinuated to be what happened to Thanatos. This is all pretty interesting, too bad the game isn't going to get in-depth on any of it. It would have also been a lot more effective if we'd seen some of these guys (Thanatos and Sheex, specifically) as normal people early in the game before they became vessels for the underworld.

Shorter than usual update today, so we only have two pages of Nintendo Power to look at. There's a lot to point out though:

-Surprised to see Dryad breasts in Nintendo Power. Without nipple, it's still PG-13 I suppose.

-The armor list on the left there is still fun to read. Tortoise Mail stands out.

-The fight between the heroes and their clones has some great artwork here.

-I used to think that guy in the upper right is the only known picture of the original Sheex.

-The Tasnica section of the game is completely absent from these pages, which is bizarre. They were thorough with everything else.


The Lofty Mountain theme is one of the more atmospheric tracks in the game.

The Joch Cave Trial theme is sorta what I consider to be "part two" of the mountain theme. They're both amazing.

1 comment:

  1. Hello from France! Loving the reviews. Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete