Monday, January 27, 2020

Secret of Mana Remake, Pt 4 - Shattered Dreams

Today on Mana: The Ancient City, Mana Holyland, and shattered trees. Weirdly enough, this version of the game skips the second flight theme entirely, going right from the first flight theme to the third one after the Mana Fortress rises.

You can still hear the second flight theme right outside the Grand Palace, where Jema and the troops from Tasnica have "secured the area" and "set up a perimeter"

Read: They ain't doing shit!

If you're going for 100% in the PS4 version, Basilisks are the prize mob. They drop the Cocatrice Cap, maybe the rarest item in the game.

SUPER IMPORTANT NOTE: For farming rare drops in this game, it's key to cast Analyzer on treasure chests. This disables traps, which turns trap chests into item chests. Considering nearly half of the chest drops are traps at this point, turning them into item chests roughly doubles your odds of getting an item compared to not casting Analyzer. From there it's just a matter of waiting for the rare drop chance to kick in (between 5 and 11% depending on who you ask).

Here's the Emperor with his dwindling number of goons: Fanha and Some Guy. Though Some Guy has gold armor at least. Wonder if this guy is a stand-in for an omitted character. In the game's data, the Emperor has a fifth general that didn't make it into the game.

How do we know he's a general? Because the data groups character sprites in very specific groupings, and the generals are all together in the enemy list.

Here's the sprite for the missing general in question. It's also possible this was intended to be an alternate Thanatos sprite, maybe for a flashback scene or a different time period (since he's recurring through the ages and all). The fact that he has an animation for raising his arms is the only real clue as to what the intention was for the character.

Note: This character has more completed sprite-work in the original game than Fanha or Sheex.

Time for boss fights. Here's Hydra, who we can pretend is the Underworld alt-form for the Random Gold Armor Guy if we really want to.

Since these two bosses go together, that's quickly followed by Kettle Kin. Interesting note about this guy is that he has a chainsaw arm, while he didn't in the original game. This is actually his original look for the Japanese/European version of SoM, and it got censored for the U.S. release for some reason. It's cool that he looked different and deadlier than Kilroy.

Here's a clip of some Basilisk farming, which I did for several hours. At least the music here is great. There's a better farm spot a little later on. You can also see what a missing festival the game turns into later on, as enemy levels outpace character levels. The PS4 version seems to have accuracy/evasion tied to level differences.

If Moon were a Moogle, they'd be even hotter.

Since physical attacks are missing so much, I relied a lot on spell damage and trips back and forth to the inn at this point. The good news is that the hours of Basilisk-farming got my levels caught up to the enemies, and the missing eventually stopped for the most part. However, playing normally, you'll run into a lot of problems in this lategame due to the enemy level jump being tied to evasion. Not the best call.

Krissie (aka hot female alternate universe Cloud) is here to heal everybody...except it doesn't work. Yep, nothing happens. Considering the dire shape your characters are probably in by the time they get down here, this is a big oversight in this version.

The Ancient City is the most intriguing location in the game, with escalators that still work. It's odd that this place is under a coral reef. Much like the airship floating in nothingness under the Dwarf City, it feels like the Ancient City was supposed to be for something else. My guess is a 2300 A.D. Chrono Trigger type scenario where you went back to the time of the Great War to get the last tier of the Mana Sword or something. It probably had an advanced city area and some ruins. They used the city here and used the ruins in CT.

Here's a much-better spot to farm Basilisks, and I eventually got the Cocatrice Cap here. This room doesn't have Marmablues draining your MP like the earlier room did. If going for 100%, it's absolutely a must to farm Basilisks here. You can leave them for later since there's one in the Mana Fortress, but it's in an out-of-the-way spot. Absolutely want to get it here instead.

Oh Yeahhhh. Look at those stats. I also had to farm a couple of easier equipment drops here from enemies like the Guardian Ring (dropped by Doom Swords) and Amulet Helm (dropped by National Scars). Neither of those took long, though. Both of those enemies show up in the final area, so you really only NEED to farm the Cocatrice Cap here. If all else fails it can be gotten in the Mana Fortress, but seriously, don't. I went ahead and got all three here.

Next there'll be four rare drops to get in Pure Land. None of them reach the level of farming involved in the Cocatrice Cap though. Not sure why this one item is so rare, given that it's only the second or third-best helmet for any given character. It might have additional effects that I don't know about.

Note: One of the Pure Land rare drops can also be acquired here. Eggplant Man appears in both areas. I prefer to leave it for Pure Land since you can double up by farming other enemies you need in the same room. However, it's a little easier to farm Eggplant Man specifically in this area, as there are several that appear by themselves near the end of the Ancient City section.

We find the Emperor, who was killed off-camera Final Fantasy XV style. At least in this game you actually see his corpse. In FFXV it's more like a random dubbed-in voiceover goes "btw the emperor is dead lol" and it's never mentioned again.

Wonder what the Emperor's original boss fight would have looked like. I bet he turned into a Gigas. Probably the missing Earth Gigas.

Here's Fanha with her bad self, as we're not allowed to say "kill" apparently. She slew the Emperor for Thanatos, I guess, so there's be less competition over who gets to drive the Mana Fortress. In omitted portions of the script, she says that she killed him because of his disregard for Sheex being slain earlier. Maybe they were supposed to have been an item.

Hexas is one of the more challenging fights in the original game. Not so much here, though this is probably attributable to my level-grinding to get item drops.

My missing rate is still obnoxiously-high even with more levels. Spell damage makes quick work of this though.

And speaking of obnoxious, here's Geshtar #3. He's some sort of cyborg now. Final Fantasy IV also has a bit of "villains turning people into cyborgs" going on.

This ludicrous fight has him zipping back and forth like a maniac while all of my attacks miss. Let's just move on quickly.

We know the drill, time to go to Pure Land (or Mana Holyland if you weel). But first...

NEKO'S BUY-A-PALOOZA. In this version I only need one of every armor piece. I have so much GP built up (and nothing else to get) that I buy everything I can use here though. At least a couple of equipment slots are covered already by the rare drops I got.


Soon after arriving in Pure Land, I get the Griffin Helm. This is the Boy's best helm, though it isn't that big of an improvement over the Needle Helm sold by Neko. At least this took a lot less time to get than the Cocatrice Cap.

After Griffin Hands, the other things I have to farm are Ice Bandits, Eggplant Men, and Ghosts. In particular, the Ghosts are a real hassle because only magic damages them and only the expensive Lucent Beam one-shots them. The good news? I'm so used to missing at this point that the attack-immune Ghosts aren't exactly anything new.

Running in and out of the zone to hit the inn every few minutes allows me to see the rest of the conversations. They explained a few noteworthy things, like why Watts shows up everywhere we do: The Dwarf Chief tasked him with keeping an eye on the Sprite.

Quick shot of Masamune, maybe the game's best-looking weapon.

Here's a good farm spot that has both Ice Bandits and Ghosts, with Eggplant Men one room over. Goals here: Get a Watcher Ring from Eggplant Men, an Imp's Ring from Ghosts, and a Dragon Coil ring from Ice Bandits.

Once this particular set of farming is over with, you don't have to worry about anything else that's missable for the rest of the game. None of the Mana Fortress drops are missable and can be gotten at one's leisure. I won't go into those too much, and suffice to say you just obliterate everything in the Fortress about six times over and you're done.

And now, in the immortal words of Michael Cole... it's boss time!

Dragon Worm: I finally started using hotkeys for spells around this time during the farming process, and it really sped up the boss fights. Too bad I wasn't doing this the entire time.

Snow Dragon: Went back to not using hotkeys for this fight because it was a chance to show off all of the fire spells. This game has more fire spell variety than any other spell type by far. It's too bad these dragon fights aren't more epic, because they sure look good.

Axe Beak: I always liked this fight because the long-underutilized Undine is its weakness. Same goes for the next fight.

Red Dragon: Another Undine-fest. Note that things have leveled-out and physical attacks are reliably landing again. Also note the odd delay in spell-casting that's present in this version of the game. There's a pause between casting and when the spell goes off.

Thunder Gigas: Another short fight. He doesn't have a chance. Spell-spamming really neuters these lategame fights.

And now, the final Pure Land battle. The third dragon, the thunder dragon. Way to hold down fire and ice by making thunder the last one, Square.

This thing is GLORIOUS. What an awesome boss.

Yet again, I wish the fight was a bit longer and more epic, given that this is the culmination of a memorable area. With this area down, spells can now be leveled to 8 (finally). For years I thought that getting Dryad raised the cap to 8. Not the case. Just learned with these recent playthroughs that it's actually Pure Land that breaks the cap. At level 67 I'm already beyond strong enough to plow through the rest, though I'll get ten more levels farming the Mana Fortress.

The Mana Tree cutscene looks pretty much the same as the SNES version, with the altered visual style. They didn't do anything new with it. I was expecting some Mana Fortress animation, but nope. Now, the saddest scene in the game:

We know the drill, let's move on. I have to say they really did a good job with these character models and making them look like the original "claymation" style concept artwork for the SNES game.

The Black Omen. I could push through and do the rest now, but we'll leave that for one last post. Hard to believe I've been playing the Mana series on here for seven months. I'm just about ready for something new here.

1 comment:

  1. I could do without trap chests in this series entirely. It's especially bad in Trials of Mana.

    The machines are learning.

    The sprite's grin is a highlight of this game.

    Looking good, Masamune. Except for the truck nuts on the bottom.

    Hey, SOMEONE had to go on last.