Episode 14: Secret of Mana: Help, I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

Episode 14: Secret of Mana: Help, I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

Platform: Super NES
Japanese Release Date: August 6, 1993
U.S. Release Date: October 3, 1993
PAL Release Date: November 24, 1994
Difficulty: Easy
Current Amazon Price: $2,000 new (start saving), $51.65 used
Also available on the Wii and Wii U Virtual Console (I bought mine on the Wii for about $7 or $8)  

Lightning’s Review
…Apparently, this game is set in the future. 
The Good
  • A perfect starter retro game…or for any retro gamer, for that matter. A variety of weapons, items, and spells always manage to keep this action RPG interesting. You also have the choice as to whether or not you want to control a fighter type, a healer, or an offensive magic user, making this game accessible for all player types.
  • The multiplayer facet of this game is fun – up to three players can control a character, making an otherwise ho-hum dungeon suddenly a lot more interesting.

The Bad
  • Poor, unpredictable AI should you play solo or with two people. Will your AI attack? Will it stand there and do nothing? Will it get stuck running against the other side of a bed when you’re trying to leave an inn? You’ll never know.
  • A hurried translation that left a lot out and left a lot to be imagined. Even Ted Woolsey (the translator) admits he cut a lot out due to time constraints. The story is bare-bones and at times can be hard to follow as a result.
  • A weapon and magic leveling system that can make you want to tear your hair out should you want to max out every weapon and every spell. Ever wanted to cast Remedy on someone who doesn’t need it…100 times? Then bring out your inner masochist!

The Ugly
  • Some of the monsters in this game. Like the giant blue heads that gave birth to other monsters. Or the vicious bunny monsters. OR THE BAT THAT REFUSES TO WEAR PANTS.

Magical flying dragons in Mode 7 – it doesn’t get any more delicious than this.

The Lowdown: A solid retro title, despite the cons outlined above. If you are just getting into retro gaming, or want to suggest an old school JRPG to a friend, then perhaps give this one a shot. This game isn’t for everyone (especially if you have little patience for grinding and poor AI), but the art style is endearing, the action RPG element of the game is fun, and the multiplayer option was an excellent addition to the game. I definitely have retro goggles on when it comes to this game – but darnit, I likethem. 

Music Credits:
RPG Roundup Theme Song: “Video Game Theme,” J. Arthur Keenes Band. Creative Commons Attribution License.
Secret of Mana OST

One thought on “Episode 14: Secret of Mana: Help, I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

  1. The characters have names? (O_o) Learn something new every day!

    I tried to play Secret of Mana a while ago, but ran into the old RPG problem of putting it down for a while and totally forgetting where I was and what I was doing. The secrecy you mentioned from the NPCs didn't help, either, and today I don't remember a thing about the plot other than that there was guy named Dyluck (which I agree is an awful name) who was a huge dick for some reason. I didn't even remember the main villain's name until I checked a wiki to make sure I spelled Dyluck right.

    The gameplay was great, especially in multiplayer, but the major flaw I found was the way the charge system slows down attacks. Even with weak opponents, you can't really spam attacks because of waiting for your attacks to recharge, and all the grinding needed to improve your weapons and magic coupled with my inability to remember the story just wore down my will to continue. Now that my wife wants to play it too, I should give it another try.

    Flammie is definitely the best 16-bit airship-equivalent, though.

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