Secret of Mana is the second game taking place in the World of Mana. It follows the story of a boy who mistakenly pulls the Sword of Mana out of a rock to cut a path back to town. Unleashing the Sword also opened its seal on evil, and monsters begin to ransack the world again. Back at the ranch, it doesn't take long for the pitchforks to come out, and the boy is exiled from his home forever. With nowhere to go, he is left with little choice but to fulfill his destiny as the Mana Knight - with the help of a runaway young lady and a sprite who tried to con them out of their money. Naturally, this involves stopping an evil empire before it unseals a number of MacGuffins and raises some demonic superweapon.Secret of Mana was promoted by Nintendo at the time of its release, featuring revolutionary gameplay features such as three players being able to control the game at once (taking the roles of the Boy, the Girl and the Sprite at the same time). If only one player is available, the game's AI will control the other characters.Secret of Mana was intended to launch on the SNES' CD add-on, but when that fell through, Squaresoft was left with a contractual obligation to make the game, but on the much smaller space of a cartridge instead of the CD-ROM they'd expected. They spent several months stripping the game down: removing large sections of the game-world, shortening the script, adjusting the game's plot, re-writing or removing a great deal of dialogue, and using compressed instruments and recomposing the music in an SPC format for the SNES. While this did have the side-effect of pushing the limit of the SNES's capabilities to the limit (making it much more aesthetically stunning than almost any other 16-bit game of the time), it proved murderous on the text and left some obvious gaps in the plotline. In spite of that, it received incredible critical acclaim at the time of its release and the original is still considered one of the strongest games of the 16-bit era. This legacy led to an updated iOS release in 2010.Secret Of Mana Theater is a well-known adaptation/affectionate parody of this game.
Action Bomb: Any enemy who can use the Burst spell, and Popoie. Lesser enemies will use this as a Suicide Attack, while stronger enemies and Popoie can blow themselves up repeatedly without any repercussions (aside from MP usage).
Action Girl: Purim, in spades. Her default weapons are the knuckles, and she shows up trying to rescue her boyfriend from a decidedly unfriendly witch. And her boyfriend is a soldier.
Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Neko sells items at double the price other merchants do. While you can normally ignore his wares through most of the game, he's the only vendor who sells decent gear for you when you head to the Purelands for the first time, meaning you'll be forced to pay an obscene amount of money for the required goods, or deal with getting hit really hard from the monsters that live there.
Advancing Wall of Doom: The Wall Face boss will attempt to smush you against the (inanimate) back wall if you don't kill it quickly enough.
It's a last ditch effort if it runs out of MP, which it will quickly, futilely attempt to revive its eyes if you "kill" them.
Demon Wall, the upgraded version, just barrages your characters with special attacks if it runs out MP. Which again, it will burn through quickly.
Antidote Effect: The strict inventory caps (only four of each type of item) lead to a dependence on healing magic.
Antlion Monster: The Spider Legs in the obligatory desert region. They're usually found in sand pits, and will target whoever disturbs them with a painful Earth Slide spell before hiding in the ground again. They can nuked with magic before they even show themselves, though.
Apocalyptic Log: The Empire was already up to mischief in the Old World, if the orbs in Mandala are anything to go by.
As Long as There Is Evil: Among the cut content from the in-game text is the revelation that Vandole is a dark force which periodically takes the form of a man, thus explaining the Empire's activity in the past. Sword of Mana confirms this while tying the dark force known as Vandole to the existence of Mana, which, taken alongside information concerning Mavolia in Dawn of Mana hints that that dark force may infact be the Echoes of Mavolia which are behind all the World of Mana villains. They will not rest until the world is destroyed and demonkind overrun the world.
Awesome but Impractical: High-level weapon attacks don't see much use. In the time it takes to charge up a level 7 or 8 strike you'll either have been beaten down by a room full of enemies, or you could have killed everything twice over with normal attacks and magic.
Attack spell damage doesn't climb linearly with MP cost. Hence it's best to stick with the cheapest attack spell you can cast.
The so-called "Level 9" spells can get like this. It's impossible to chain cast once a level 9 animation goes off and it's arguable if it the effect of the spell is raised from level 8.
Badass Cape: A popular look in this game's world. Jema is the only heroic character who wears one.
Badass Normal: Randi. When Purim and Popoie first receive their magic powers, he's a bit dismayed, but Undine tells him that eventually the Mana Sword will become stronger than any magic (and he's the one meant to wield it).
Fire Bouquet, Flame Wall, and Lucent Beam are the exceptions, available to the Girl. Seems it's hard to come up with nonlethal uses for fire magic.
Blatant Lies: Thanatos' reason for reviving the Mana Fortress is, in the NA version of the game at least, to create a "peaceful world."
Emperor Vandole, when he invites La Résistance over to his castle for a "truce".
Blob Monster: Lime/Dread Slime. The former shrinks as you fight it, while the latter continues to grow and grow and grow with each hit.
Book Ends: Randi returning the sword to its place under the waterfall.
Boss Arena Idiocy: If the Mana Beast doesn´t take part of the battle against it just standing before you, allowing you to kick the monster´s ass instead of diving into your party over and over, the battle would be unwinnable.
Broken Bridge: After the Sunken Continent has resurfaced, Jema will tell you what's going on: the Emperor and his cronies are holed up inside the Grand Palace, which is on top of the Ancient City. You need to find a way through the palace to reach them, but if you go inside, you'll see that the main entrance has no paths. So, you'll have to find a way AROUND the Grand Palace as well. Depressing. (Once the continent sinks again, the side entrance is lowered within reach.)
But Thou Must: Interestingly, the game offers some leeway with regard to when you recruit Purim. In one scenario, Randi is nearly turned into soup by some goblins, but Purim quickly saves you when they are distracted; she can later be found bickering with her father at the castle. In another, Randi encounters her in the forest, where she demands his help to rescue Dyluck. This is one pig-headed lady.
Call Reception Area: Yanking the Mana Sword from the stone causes monsters to appear everywhere. Whoops.
Changing Gameplay Priorities: Early on, your characters must carefully ration healing items and level up their weapon skills, and boss fights can be quite brutal due to the game's limited inventory system. After acquiring magic, however, healing becomes trivial and most fights consist of stunlocking your opponents with spells until they explode. Magic dramatically changes the game.
The Chooser of The One: Jema is the only person who accepts Randi as the hero without a hint of reservation. Luckily, Jema still has swing with the various sages and regents you encounter. If Jema says this kid is alright, then everyone else will fall in line.
The Chosen One: Zig-zagged. Near the start of the game, Randi pulls a sword out of a stone. He is later told that only a great hero should be able to remove the sword, but since he is too young to be a hero, it must have happened because the power of Mana is weakening. He is asked to take care of the sword until he can find a real hero to give it to. Later on, of course, it turns out that he was the Chosen One all along. He's even the son of a hero!
Deal with the Devil: How Thanatos and his followers got their powers from Mavolia (called "the Underworld" in the English translation). In fact, Thanatos isn't even in control; his body is merely a puppet of Dark Lich.
The emperor's in on this too in the Japanese game; poor Ted Woolsey ran out of text space, though, so we Stateside never got that plot point.
Lucid Barrier prevents non-magical attacks from harming whoever it's cast on. However, weapons with status effect buffs, such as flame sword, will still go through, and in fact will activate every single time. Keep in mind this also works the other way around as well, so enemies who cast a weapon buff will also cause status effects on your character if they have lucid barrier.
The Wall spell deflects spells off whoever has it cast on them. However, healing magic also gets deflected if there's an enemy in the area, so exercise caution if attempting to heal a teammate who's got a wall spell on.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: There are two occasions where you can't get a game over. The first is up until you beat the first boss. Mostly because they were probably kind enough to not make players sit through the couple of minutes it takes to get from "Enter name" to "Controlling character". The second is, if you really wanted to, you could get a game over during the rematch with the Biting Lizards in the Ice Palace. Except, its host just kicks you out after reviving Randi.
Some events will also change based on what you do. For example, when you first recruit Purim into your party, if you attempt to head to the Dwarves' cave first, she will insist that you guys go rescue Dyluck. If you refuse to, she leaves your party until you acquire Popoie. However, if you attempt to reach Elinee's castle first, you'll be blocked by some rocks. She will then tell you to go to the dwarf cave first, to acquire the axe needed to break through the rocks, and will stay in your party for the duration.
When you first see Popoie, it's in a carnival show and your character is asked to donate money to help it get back home. If you pay, they'll be glad to have conned you, but will refund your money later. However, if you don't have enough money, Popoie will instead call you a cheapskate. The scenario afterward still plays out the same way in either situation where you're forced to fight a boss.
Once you know where to go, you don't need to visit Jehk at all until near the end of his missions. He doesn't mind it if you don't visit him first and instead go to the various locations he would normally tell you to go to in order to find Sage Joch.
Distressed Dude: Dyluck; also, one of the ways to meet the girl is to get the boy captured and almost cooked by Goblins.
Domino Mask: The Scorpion Army, futilely trying to look intimidating.
Dub Name Change: Two of the Elemental Spirits were renamed in the English version: Jinn became Sylphid, and Wisp became Lumina. All subsequent Mana games used the original Japanese names.
Evil Empire: Seems to be played straight at first, but ends up being subverted in that Thanatos is one wirepulling jerkass bastard, and Emperor Vandole probably wouldn't have become such a douche if he hadn't had that influence going on
Giving the Sword to a Noob: Jema hand waves this by declaring that the sword "chose" the boy, making him the Mana Knight by default. None of the neighboring kingdoms seem to make a fuss over it. This is arguably subverted when Randi turns out to be the son of the Mana Tree and Serin, the original Mana Knight.
Gotta Catch Them All: To fix the Mana Sword, one must visit all eight Temples and receive blessings from the Spirits. Simultaneously, Randi is required to seal all eight Mana Seeds to prevent the Empire from raising the Fortress. All of this is moot; the Empire manages to unseal all of the Seeds while you're away, and the final Spirit (Dryad) is too feeble to bless the sword, anyway.
Grand Theft Me: Thanatos attempts this on Dyluck and succeeds - it takes defeating the Dark Lich to get rid of him...at the cost of Dyluck's life. When that plan falls through, he immediately tries to hijack your party.
Green Aesop: The abuse of Mana to power the potentially world-destroying Mana Fortress is a nod to our world's abuse of our planet's natural resources.
One of the orbs in Mandala has a dialogue expanding on this. "We must restrict the use of Mana energy...we're using it up!" "Hah! You can't USE UP Mana!" "Argh, you don't understand!"
Guide Dang It: Haven't been leveling up that mostly useless Dryad magic? Hope you've got a full stock of Fairy Walnuts, or the final boss might just be Unwinnable.
Gunship Rescue: The big reveal of Adult Flammie. Gesthar tries a last-ditch kamikaze attack on the castle roof, but manages to blow up everything but Randi's party.
Harder Than Hard: There is a fan made hack of the game that ramps the difficulty Up to Eleven. To put it in perspective, boss fights consist of Curb-Stomp Battle on the receiving end even with reasonably overleveled characters in the normal game.
Hello, Insert Name Here: In the English versions, the characters are just named "BOY", "GIRL", and "SPRITE", and it's up to you to provide actual names. (In Japan, they are Randi/Randy, Purim, and Popoi(e).)
Hufflepuff House: Tasnica is the only nation standing between the Empire and global domination. Some Tasnican troops make landfall with Jema once the Lost Continent rises.
Immortality Immorality: Thanatos needs a very special individual to body-surf into (Apparently, Dyluck was fated at birth to become his vessel.) He's in kind of a hurry; Thanatos energy-slurpees and hypnotically zombifies a whole Kingdom to root out Dyluck and Phanna.
Interface Screw: One of the effects of the Silence/Confusion spell is to reverse the controls.
Internal Homage: One of the Mandalan crystal balls mentions Lorimar - this is a city that shows up in Seiken I and again in Dawn of Mana. In the Japanese game, this one also mentions Wendel, the holy city of other titles. This can spawn all kinds of Wild Mass Guessing fits and headaches about just HOW the timeline of the games is supposed to go...
The item shops in the Empire with the merchant in the upper right hand corner is the same layout for Item shops (and not Equipment shops) from Seiken I.
Last Disc Magic: Dryad's "Mana" magic, which powers the Mana Sword to full strength — but the menu selection is greyed out until the final boss battle.
Level Grinding: Not only normal levels, but weapons and spells. Spells level up at a third of the speed if you don't cast them in a combat area (indicated by whether or not the heroes have their weapons out)
Luckily, the Wind Palace, despite never containing any enemies, grants full spell XP, and there's free healing there to boot, making it the best place to level up pretty much all the Girl's magic (most of the Sprite's magic requires an enemy to cast it on).
Life Drain: Popoie gets a spell to steal enemy HP. However, this spell drains Popoie's hp if used on some enemies, such as zombies.
Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Played straight for the most part. While each character can become competent with every weapon available, and will be your bread and butter when fighting normal trash mobs, during boss fights, Popoie's spells (and Purim's offensive spells), when leveled up, do far more damage on average than charging up a weapon attack. The attacks spells also have the added bonus of freezing the boss in place until the magic attack animation is completed. A properly leveled up Popoie with Purim support magic will often make most boss fights easier than fighting some of the regular mobs such as werewolves.
The Oracle could be considered kind of wasted too. If you spam magic like a mad thing, you probably won't hear a damn thing of it, and it's fricking wicked. Damn limited sound channels.
A Conclusion is another strong example, heard only twice in the entire game - once when the gang meets a dying Mana Tree and again after the Dark Lich is defeated, and Purim is mourning Dyluck. In the second instance, it's only playing for a couple of lines of dialogue before the dungeon begins to collapse, when it then switches to Morning Is Here. Which, incidentally, is another Long Song, Short Scene situation, as it only plays in that one scene. As is the song immediately afterwards, One Of Them Is Hope.
Jeez, that entire area has a lot of Wasted Music of Awesome. The brief track that plays once Dark Lich appears, The Curse, is one of the most genuinely terrifying little bits of strange in any game.
"Phantom and a Rose" (AKA "Rose and Ghost") only plays in two places: Pandora (before you fix the problems they're facing) and the ruined Sprite Village.
Lord British Postulate: Some people have actually succeeded in defeating the final boss without ever reviving the Mana Sword. It took some doing, but it's possible with max-level sword charge attacks. A more mundane example would be Karon, the friendly NPC who shuttles you to the Moon Palace... and happens to be a random monster programmed not to attack the player, so the player can kill him with magic. He/she just comes back, but still. This was fixed in the iOS version..
Lost Forever: Anything that randomly drops from enemies only found in the Sunken Continent and Pure Land; it disappears after you've completed those two places. As an example, Randi's best helmet, the Griffon Helm, drops from the Griffon Hand enemies in Pure Land.
You can also skip the spear if you properly skip the first visit with Sage Luka.
Lost in Translation: In Matango, "Gontma" means goodbye because "ゴンタマ" is "マタンゴ" backwards. This was caught and changed to "Ognatam" in the iOS version.
The entire original localization was done in a mere thirty days. On top of this, the font chosen by Squaresoft for the English release was so massive that far more dialog than usual was flat out cut. Ted Woolsey was apparently deeply unsatisfied with the final product's quality due to most of the dialog in the game being the absolute bare-bones simplifications of the original lines. The iOS release left this script largely unaltered in spite of having none of the technical restraints of the original cartridge, though it did clean up some of the errors left behind from the original script.
As a result, quite a few plot points got dropped—the most striking example being the explanation for why Dyluck is the only person Thanatos can certainly bodyjack, ...and what would happen were he to possess just any old schmuck instead. According to him, it ain't pretty—the sheer amount of magical and supernatural clout he wields would cause his soul and the host body to reject one another...and the unlucky host would basically just explode.
A lot of Thanatos's creep factor was lost in translation. For example, the reason he has Dyluck energy-munch from Purim? Because Thanatos needs some of her blood for his spellwork.
Lost Technology: The Mana Fortress, and a lot of stuff on the Sunken Continent. Your party gets to ride the subway at one point, which amazingly still works. It's full of zombies, for extra realism.
Love Makes You Evil / More Than Mind Control: Phanna was able to be manipulated by Thanatos because of her growing jealousy of Purim and Dyluck's relationship. With a little medical treatment in Southtown, she gets over it and the two girls reconcile near the end of the game.
Accordingly, the ghost in the opening cutscene was actually Serin, the original Mana Knight and the player character's father.
It is implied that the MC's parents are the hero and heroine of the first Mana game. However, in that game, the heroine became the Mana Tree before any serious relationship happened, so how this fits into canon is anyone's guess.
Mana Drain: Popoie gets a spell which allows him to steal MP from an enemy, which allows him to essentially be able to cast spells indefinitely so long as there are enemies in the area that you can steal MP from. However, keep in mind a few enemies are immune to this, and will actually drain Popoie's MP to them instead.
The Man Behind the Man: Thanatos to Elinee. In gameplay it appears Thanatos is also this to Vandole if not merely The Starscream. However, the Dummied OutSoM diary reveals that Vandole and Thanatos are feuding demonic entities from Malovia and that both have been reincarnated several times throughout history.
Manual Leader, AI Party: With the exception of spell casting, you can only control one character at a time (although it allows co-op play where up to three players control a character), but the offensive action of the ones you are not using can be changed with a system called the "action grid", which allows the player to switch between offensive/defensive behavior on one axis and the range at which they engage the enemy on the other.
Other entries in the series uses this trope to different extents (with better or worse AI).
Mass Hypnosis: Thanatos can't resist building a cultist army wherever he goes.
Mobile Menace: The Emperor's agents hit up each of the Mana Temples while Randi is running errands for Sage Joch.
Justified with Thanatos blowing up the Mana Tree. In fact, he was probably sitting up there for hours waiting for you to show up first.
Mook Maker: Tomato/Eggplant Men, Kimono Birds and HeckHounds are a few examples who summon a single type of mook (Heck Hounds and Eggplant Men occasionally summon a second type). Shape Shifters can summon a wide variety of mooks for you fight.
You also get this reaction from the townsfolk in your home village, seeing as how the pulling of that rusty sword out of the stone turned out to break the last straw keeping the world relatively normal.
It's anyone's guess how long it would've acted as a stopgap, though. And imagine the world of suck that would have busted loose had certain henchmen of the emperor picked it up!
No Cutscene Inventory Inertia: Not quite a cutscene example, but when you fight your party's doppelgangers late into the game, they'll always wield the sword, knuckles, and boomerang (for the Hero, Girl, and Sprite, respectively), regardless of what your real party members are wielding.
Averted at all other times; when the script calls for a character to attack someone (such as, say, Purim attacking a Thanatos-possessed Dyluck late in the game), they will do so using whatever weapon you have them equipped with.
No Name Given: The original game had no default names for the characters. Names from Japanese game guides had been used to refer to them: "Randi" for the boy, "Purim" for the girl, and "Popoi" for the sprite, but they weren't all confirmed to be their Canon Names until the iOS version used these as their default names.
Not Completely Useless: The Midge Mallet and Moogle Belt normally apply the pygmy and mooglization debuffs to the targets, and you can only target your own party members with them. Why are they useful? Because if either of them is used on someone who already has the corresponding debuff, the debuff will be removed instead.
One-Winged Angel: Sheex and Fanha both transform when you engage them in battle, and Thanatos reverts to his true lich form.
King Manmon was transliterated because Ted Woolsey didn't know that that's how they spell it in Japanese. It was actually changed to Mammon in the iOS release.
Okay, Thanatos HAS to count toward this one, because seriously.
Random Drop: Some of the monsters have pretty good armour as rare drops. Top tier armour pieces are actually the common drops from monsters in the mana fortress, while their rare drops are weapon orbs (or candy if you're already maxed out on that type of orb), and you need seven of them to upgrade every weapon except the sword to level 9.
Reality Is Unrealistic: Tasnica is referred to as the Republic and is ruled by a king. For many players, this might be seen as a Critical Research Failure or a bad translation. However, a number of nations have styled themselves as republics, with elected kings (in the case of Poland prior to the nineteenth century) or dukes (Doges in the case of Venice).
Really 700 Years Old: Sage Luka is 200 years old, yet she looks like a young woman (not that you can tell from such a tiny sprite, but still...).
Schmuck Bait: Randi is conned into giving money to Popoie when they first meet in the dwarves' cave. Shortly afterwards however, you overhear how they conned you, and they refund your money back to you out of guilt.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: It takes an entire game and three boss fights, but the Scorpion Army finally gets wise. You are really THE Mana Knight.
Secret Test of Character: Partway through the game, you're required to visit Sage Joch. However, when you reach the cave where he lives, you instead run into his assistant Jehk, who has a tendency to send you to various places. In actuality, Jehk is Sage Joch, and he tells your party that you weren't ready quite yet, hence why he sent you to various locations to train and be ready to take on the Emperor.
Shonen Hair: Randi. The rebel leader, Krissie, is a female version of this trope.
The second vampire boss that Randi & Co. face is called Buffy.
The Scorpion Army's ultimate weapon is named Kilroy, a reference to Styx's cult song "Mr Roboto".
The Scorpion Army could also be a Shout-Out to the Dorombo Gang from Yatterman. The Scorpion Army Boss dresses a lot like Dorombo boss Doronjo, the "Boys" resemble Boyacky, and both teams fight with cartoony mechas.
Standard Status Effects: They're all here: Burning, Sleep, Poison, and all their familiar friends. However, in keeping with the game's "cute" graphics, they are done with an impish twist: when Frozen (called "frostied" in game), characters turn into snowmen, Petrifaction renders you a cherubic statue, in lieu of Stop ("spaced out") you get a balloon tied to your head, etc.
Star-Crossed Lovers: Purim spends almost the entire game chasing after Dyluck, only to lose him to Thanatos' Grand Theft Me in the penultimate battle. At least he broke free of it long enough to say goodbye to her...
Stat Grinding: While you could just level your character's spell power by playing normally, you're generally better off just spending some time burning all their MP, then restoring it and casting the spells over and over until they reach whatever level Mana seed you've obtained so far. Purim and Popoie's spell level can often mean a boss fight being extremely tough or a very easy walk in the park. Weapon levels also work on a similar principal; however, most players probably won't bother charging up weapon attacks as regular hits will often be sufficient on trash mobs.
Taken for Granite: The Stone Saber spell allows you to do this. As an added bonus, attacking a petrified enemy kills them instantly, making this one of the most best, if not most useful, saber spells in the game.
Taking You with Me: Upon being defeated, Geshtar decides to blow up his boss' castle rather than let you escape. Luckily, Flammie swoops down and carries you away.
Uncommon Time: The meter signature of "Danger" bounces all over the place and "Premonition" is mostly in 5/4.
The Unfought: The Emperor, as he's killed by Thanatos in a coup before you get the chance to battle him.
The Uriah Gambit: Before the story begins, Purim has rejected the Arranged Marriage put together by her father, having fallen in love with a career military man named Dyluck. Conveniently, Dyluck is sent away by the King on a risky mission to Elinee's Castle. The implications are clear.
Hailfire Peaks: The climate of the Great Forest is carved up according to season. On a smaller scale, the Scorpion Army harnesses the power of Salamando to create a tourist trap in the middle of Ice Country.
We Can Rebuild Him: Geshtar pops up a third time in the Sunken Continent, having been restored to life by Thanatos.
White Magic / White Magician Girl: Purim, though she's not the stereotypical "weak healer" by any means. She's nearly as strong as Randi with proper equipment, and Lucent Beam when leveled up makes Dark Lich a piece of fricking cake.
Wild Mass Guessing: The Mana Beast sure looked a lot like Flammie. ...say, where does Flammie go after the Mana Beast is defeated?
And those ittybitty purple dragons in the Upper Land Woods...
The characters themselves remark on this: "I guess in those days Flammies were Mana Beasts..."
And one of the mushroom people in Matango remarks that those "ittybitty" dragons are "similar to" Mana Beasts...
There's some reoccurring names and character archetypes in the Mana/Seiken series that were likely used just to prompt this!
Yes Virginia: Santa is real, and you better have faith in him, or he'll go evil and become a monstrous ogre.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: All of the not-exactly-human characters have brightly-coloured hair - Popoie's is pink, Luka's is blue, Geshtar's green, Sheex's purple, Fanha's lurid orange, and Thanatos's is - mauve...? Anyway. Phanna/Pamela is the only person to have this outside the spoiler.
Zero-Effort Boss: If your equipment is on par for the course, you literally cannot lose the rematch with the three Biting Lizards in the Ice Palace. Your characters will most likely dodge every hit in their Tonpole form and in their Biting Lizard form, they literally cannot do any damage (as in, no damage numbers appear) when they eat your characters. In fact, eating your characters hurts them.