Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Secret of Mana Remake, Final - Operation Phoenix

 In this, the very last thing I do with Secret of Mana, I go for 100% trophies.

The Mana Fortress in all of its PS4...uh...glory? I don't know. The visuals of this remake are hit-or-miss. They're pretty loyal to the concept art of the original game. At the same time, they're flat, and could have been a lot more visually interesting.

Mana Fortress music. I can't decide if I like this or hate it. They added some nice new Xeno-y Sounds to it but it has obnoxious instrumentation.

Tsunamis. I like multiplying enemies in RPGs. There need to be more of them. Unless it's Dragon Quest II.

Never understood the point of this weird room. There are all of these gem things you have to slash through, and that switch in the middle makes all of them reappear.

King Vampire is the new name of Buffy (plzdon'tsue Kuzuis) in this version. This fight is a rare opportunity to SPAM LUCENT BEAM. Even though it crushes your MP, it sure is fun to spam.

Then we've got Dread Slime, a rare chance to spam Shade. The four later elementals really drew the short straw in this game in terms of getting use. This fight was great because I got to do "double-barrel" hotkey-spamming with Dark Force and Fire Bouquet.

This thing also gets bigger as the fight goes on, which results in this. In reality the characters would have all been pretty gross after this fight.

Terminators (now Mace Menaces, plzdon'tsue Harlan Ellison) are the final challenge of the Fortress.

Getting the best armor is a snap. It's the weapon orbs that you have to worry about.

Whoa, more inn scenes. Here's the Sprite absolutely telling it like it is. I'm glad the game is self-aware about her mean-ness at least.

This is a great question, and can be applied to a lot of game characters. What would their monster second form be?

They argue about who's more vampire-like. It's cool that they ended up being on the same page later on in the game.

It's funny how treasure chests later in this game always run away from you. This can be a real problem in places like Pure Land where they can disappear into the tree cover (and you'll never locate them).

Most of this remake's trophies appear in the final area. Up to this point I think I was hovering at like 50% for a while, then the final area heaps all of the completion trophies on you.

Still not sure if these things were supposed to be laser cannons. Would have been lore-expanding to see the Mana Fortress in action via cutscene in this remake. Just a missed opportunity.

Orb farm done. It actually took a lot less time than on the SNES, maybe because of the spell hotkeys and additional Faerie Walnut capacity. I just nuked everything. Here we see the final forms of all of the weapons. ("Final" in the sword's case)

Next thing to do? Go out and grind spells. A lot. Don't need them at 8:99 thankfully, just 8:00. I had most of them at level 7 already except Dryad and Luna. I was able to cap a lot of the others just from nuking things in the Mana Fortress for a couple hours. STILL had to go out and spend another hour or so just casting after that. In particular, Luna gets so little use in the main game (or farming) that it's pretty much a necessity to go spam it somewhere.

Ended up at level 77, which is where I'll finish the game. In the SNES version I didn't finish farming until level 92+ so I'm thinking maybe the item drops got upped for this version (except the damn Cocatrice Cap).


Monster Guide completed. You have to slay at least one of every monster in the game. There are several missables here since Palaces don't respawn after finishing them. It's important to make sure you cap one of everything.

Then we've got the characters. Have to talk to everyone of importance. None are missable, and almost all of them are found through the main story. There are a couple you have to go out of your way for, like Primm's Dad and Pecard.

This is also a good chance to get a look at the underutilized villains, like Emperor Not-Gestahl.

Geshtar, the Gades of the Four Heavenly Kings. He fought well and died, then got turned into a cyborg.

Fanha is such a red-haired goddess. Too bad the remake didn't do more with her than the original. As a magic knight and imperial general, she's Proto-Celes.

Same goes for Sheex, minus "red-haired" and "goddess"

Woefully underutilized character here. Supposedly he's the strongest of the Emperor's generals, and the most noble. Proto General Leo, if you will. We see none of this in the game though. Aside from 50% of the original game being cut, they removed a lot of the script that they had -already created- if it pertained to unfinished storylines or game elements that were never made.

Some of the omitted dialogue indicates that Sheex was betrayed by the Emperor and sent to his death somewhere / replaced with a monster, and Fanha finding out about this is why she kills him in the Grand Palace. If the completed version of SoM ever existed in any other timelines, I have no doubt that Sheex and Fanha would be the biggest new element of it. I think a lot of the ideas for the generals got reused in FFVI, at least.

Other major elements that were dropped:

-Time travel (at least to the original Mana Fortress / apocalypse era) (used in CT)

-The sea turtle / sea travel (used in SD3)

-Possibly travel to the moon itself, given the Big Whale like unfinished airship and Karon boating you to the Moon Palace which makes no sense in the context of the game world (used in FFIV)

-Multiple endings depending on how you handle choices in the game (used in CT and SD3)

We could go on, but I think I've covered all of this pretty at-length at this point.

Thanatos...isn't all that intimidating looking. He looks less like a world-destroying, reincarnating trouble-starter and more like a Spooky Pervert. Nobody likes a spooky pervert.

Phanna is pretty hot, for a Precious Moments style Mana character design. She's got the figure, like Primm. Maybe this makes me a spooky pervert too.

With all of that out of the way, here's the endgame. Thanatos really puts over how Dyluck is the planet's most powerful fighter. It's pretty weird having an NPC get put over so hard considering your characters are standing right there. It's like the developers really wanted Dyluck to be the main character but didn't have time to implement him or his full scope of abilities, so they just made him a story focus and spent a lot of time putting him over.

Dyluck's dark powers were sealed, eh? Do we have a character in Chrono Trigger or Seiken Densetsu 3 that correlates to this description? Magus comes to mind, but Dyluck isn't Magus. Still think Duran in SD3 is the devs go at another Dyluck, but he doesn't particularly have "dark powers". I guess they're sealed, after all.

Mavolia isn't too intimidating now that we know SHADE was once in charge of it. Either way, Thanatos' recurring nature through the ages means he'll always be a problem for somebody.

Dark Lich gets exposed to the light once the Thanatos body dies (and so does Dyluck, depriving him of his next host). Not sure why he doesn't just fly up Primm's nose and become her or something. I don't understand the occult though.

Dark Lich disappearing into the floor and becoming hands always freaked me out. This fight is reminiscent of Queen Zeal in Chrono Trigger, which I went over in an earlier post.

His graphic is a little muddy here and doesn't have the iconic look that it does in the original game. Defeating him gets you the "defeat all monsters" trophy, if you've beaten every other foe up to this point.

The remixed version of the Dark Lich theme is really good, combining Xeno-sounds with some new vibes while unmistakably being the same theme. The fight ended up being really good, too, as I was able to use physical attacks effectively and actually have a good brawl here. Probably the high point of the game's boss fights, in either version.

The ending of this game is full of poignancy, even with so much of the story cut. The music of these 16-bit RPGs adds SO MUCH to their emotional resonance.

Dragon Buster is looking pretty good. Randi is like Jon Snow, he doesn't want it.

Time for the final boss. Squaresoft games of the era LOVED the trope of having the game's main villain be the second-to-last boss, followed by one last big fight outta nowhere with something else.

Casting Mana Magic on the hero with both characters (hotkeys are so nice) results in a glorious flash of power.

This also unlocks the weapon trophy. I was a bit confused when I forged all weapons to max and it didn't pop. Turns out casting Mana Magic actually gives you the level 9 sword on a temporary basis in your inventory.

The Mana Beast is a truly impressive foe. In this version of the game they made it impervious to everything except Mana Sword damage. It also looks less like a cute Flammie and more like one of the Pure Land dragons here.

The fight was a pretty epic one. The Meridian Dance remix is alright too.

Black Omen Mana Fortress conquered, and that's it for Secret of Mana. Onward to newer things.

Nice ending scene here as it begins to snow.

They remember Moon, who is now just a spirit. They disappeared along with Mana, a concept that'd be revisited to an extent with Terra in FFVI.

Crono and Marle Randi and Primm go on a date, revisiting a lot of earlier areas. Here they say hi to Krissie while Primm silently feels self-conscious.

Randi and Primm's date? continues, as they travel to all of the places they've visited and make awkward small talk where Primm tries really hard not to say anything awful. Meanwhile Neko's bag is shaking violently, but it's better to just not ask questions.

Eventually Randi and Primm realize this budding new relationship isn't actually going anywhere and he drops her off back at Pandora, where she later spends half the night having really hot sex with Phanna.

Meanwhile, Randi rebounds with Luka, who needs a good rogerin' now that Jema has a real job.

The sword gets returned to its rightful place, and Proto-Crono goes back to Potos.

That's it for this game, with one of the most poignant ending screens of all time. The platinum doesn't pop up until this very last moment. It's also worth noting that the phase of the moon changes here depending on your actions during the game.

...which means they did, on a very very VERY small level, implement their idea of multiple endings here. They'd perfect it later. At the end of the day, that's kinda what Secret of Mana is: A proto testing ground for so much of what became the foundations of later games. It would have been cool to see the PS4 version do a bit more with this story, and maybe restore some of the massive amount of deleted content. It's a missed opportunity, overall. 

On a final note, here's EVERY BOSS IN THE GAME.



  1. Unsurprising that the Sprite is the one with the insight.

    Are you telling me that Thanatos was actually Richie the whole time?

    Phanna has elf ears too. Maybe it's a Pandora thing.

    I'd say SoM does the "one more big bad" better than most, though.

    One last time: F Potos.

    1. Yeah SoM's "one more big bad" is pretty decent, as it's alluded to during the game. I think the worst one I can think of is probably Necrophobe showing up at the end of FF9. Who? What? Why?

      At least the music for the Necron fight is rad. I used to listen to it while level-grinding in DQ3 (or maybe 4) back around the turn of the century.

  2. IIRC, Geshtar and Gestahl are two different ways of translating the same things.

    Also, I don't think Sheex was proto-Leo; I believe Geshtar is a better candidate. He has very "honorable" dialogue in the original Japanese. Thanatos' betrayal of Geshtar is very similar to Kefka's betrayal of Leo.

    Sheex, along with Fanha and Thanatos openly flaunt their "contract" with the underworld, whereas Geshtar was human (actually, the only human boss) until Thanatos turned him into a zombie.

    1. Great comment, thanks! Geshtar being both proto Gestahl and Leo is something I didn't think of even though it seems really apparent in retrospect.

      Also, Sheex and Fanha give me some Slash/Flea vibes. One thing is for sure...a lot of the designs and content they didn't have time to get into SoM managed to get new life in other games. Maybe not all of it, but a lot. I'm looking forward to analyzing Seiken Densetsu 3 and Chrono Trigger.