YMMV / Secret of Mana

  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Despite the Broken Base involving the remake, two genuinely approved things involving it are the return of the nuances and plot elements the US release had to remove, and the addition of all-new optional inn scenes between your party members after major story events that help characterize them more. It doesn't radically change the title altogether, but it does add a lot more detail to an RPG that got hit hard by the localization limitations back in the day.
    • For those split about the new soundtrack in the remake, it also offers the original soundtrack to swap to mid-game. And voices are a separate slider all their own, as well as the game having dual audio for English and Japanese dubs. This seems like standard stuff, but it's surprising how appreciated this is among those who do like the remake.
    • The remake also adds several little touches that make menu navigation much more convenient: Most notably being able to equip different weapons from the Weapon Status screen, assign shortcut keys for frequently-used weapons and spells, and switching between characters within the Equipment screens without having to switch over to their individual rings every time.
    • There's also one design flaw of the original game that was removed in the remake. In the original game, in order to keep all of the party on screen, you could only walk so far before hitting some invisible wall. The remake does away with this. Considering the Artificial Stupidity of the party AI, including a lesser but still questionable pathfinding, this is a godsend when you're just trying to run through a place. And, if the AI characters get stuck offscreen, simply opening and closing the player's menu ring will teleport the AI characters back over.
  • Awesome Music/Hiroki Kikuta (the names used here are from the official OST on iTunes; some songs have other translations): Widely considered as one of the best soundtracks ever.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The Shadow Zero any time it appears.
  • Breather Boss:
    • Blue Spike, a Palette Swap of That One Boss from the early game, is pretty much the same fight, except with obviously stronger stats, a lot of HP, and the (randomly non-functional) ability to turn your party members into Moogles. By this point in the game, however, ample spam of any magical attacks from Popoi can nuke him into oblivion, and Primm can heal your party while an optional Moogle Belt lets you counter the status effect; the only attacks that should threaten you at all are his pouncing bite and his Fireball attack. If you've brought the best gear up to this point from the Gold City just beforehand and have kept up on your levels, it's a bit of a Catharsis Factor as it's all too easy to deliver a Curbstomp Battle.
    • Mech Rider 3 suffers from an extreme case of Artificial Stupidity: he's programmed to always attempt to cast Speed Up on himself if he doesn't have it active. Unfortunately, he's also programmed to cast Wall first, meaning he'll spend the entire fight bouncing his own Speed Up spells onto your party! Though given the Nightmare Fuel entry below, this has disturbing implications: it's possible he's doing this delibarately because he wants you to kill him.
  • Breather Level:
    • The Moon Palace is easy peasy. No bosses, no hard enemies (unless you count the MP absorbing Malablues as Goddamn Bats), just a simple "find the orb and cast magic" puzzle. It's only complicated by the infinite scrolling but still relatively small "outer space" room.
  • Broken Base:
    • The Video Game Remake released in 2018. From the Art Shift to Super-Deformed character models with big heads and small bodies, to the low budget put into the actual assets and polish combined with rather low-effort voice acting, to the hit-or-miss soundtrack split between 14 different composers (including Kikuta himself returning), every single element of the remake splits the fanbase one way or another.
    • There's also the opinion of whether or not the remake should've taken the effort to try to add what had been lost when the SNES-CD plans fell through and the game got downsized significantlynote , or if it's perfectly fine with just trying to adapt the game as it was.
  • Complete Monster: Thanatos, once an evil sorcerer who sold his soul to the underworld for the prospect of dark powers and immortality, is a wicked lich who starts the game off by manipulating the corrupt emperor Vandole into throwing his entire country into a brutal war to rise up the ancient super weapon the Mana Fortress. Having already lived centuries by surfing from body to body, Thanatos weasels his way into a position as one of Vandole's loyal servants and has countless innocent lives from the kingdom of Pandora kidnapped and zombified to lure out the noble warrior Dyluck, magically turning the man into his slave and planning to use him as his new, permanent host. Eventually murdering Vandole himself once he lives out his use, Thanatos rises up the Mana Fortress and uses it to vaporize the Mana Tree whilst cackling, preventing the heroes from undoing the chaos he's wrought through his manipulations and planning on using the Mana Fortress to enslave the world to his cruel will, even possessing Dyluck at the final battle and forcing him into killing himself to prevent Thanatos from using his body. His actions leaving a dark and permanent mark on the history of Fa'Diel, Thanatos set the bar for later villains of Mana to aspire to—and still remains one of the most evil out of all of them.
  • Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: The culmination Character Development all three characters experience during the inn conversations in the remake as they progress from Vitriolic Best Buds to True Companions.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Werewolves are the first enemies you encounter that can prove a bit challenging. Later enemies can also fall into this trope, depending on your gear, and your character's weapon/spell levels. The monsters in the Purelands hit quite hard if you forget to buy updated gear from Neko prior to heading there.
    • Most slimes qualify as they always inflict some status effect that's HP draining, paralyzing, or both. Not only do they constantly spawn new ones as you chop them down, but their raw durability make it a real pain to do so. And as if to top it off, they deal Collision Damage unlike most enemies in the game, meaning melee is just likely to get you screwed over.
      • Shape Shifters get a special mention for being able to spawn an enemy that is absolutely dangerous to the party when you first encounter the slime.
    • The first time you head to Ice Country, you might not be prepared for the Howler wolves. Not only do their pounce attacks have some obnoxiously insane stunlock potential, to the point that they may just pounce you against a wall repeatedly as soon as you recovered from the last one and shave off massive chunks of HP, but they're surprisingly durable and will likely be able to annihilate an unprepared party. Especially if you skipped over going to the desert first and didn't upgrade your gear there or at Todo Village.
    • Chobin Hoods, especially if you decide to go to the Haunted Forest early, and Robin Foots in the remake. They shoot faster and more accurately than in the original game as they're not limited by being able to shoot in only four directions, coupled with their high damage, a group of 2 or 3 can easily pin you down and whittle your HP away very quickly.
  • Ear Worm: Much of the soundtrack is really pleasant to listen to.
  • Game-Breaker: Casting the right offensive spells on a boss not only inflicts far more damage than any of your physical attacks, doing so also stuns it until the spell is finished casting, during which time you can cast another spell and so on until the fight's over. It's telling that That One Boss is the last one you fight without magic. Nerfed slightly in the 2018 remake: while the right magic can still make quick work of most bosses, they can no longer be stunlocked by chaining spells back-to-back.
    • This gets taken Up to Eleven once you get Luna's magic: not only can the Sprite spam-cast anything s/he wants, you can then drain the MP from the surrounding enemies to completely refill your reserves. Even the ones you just obliterated, if you're fast enough.
  • Goddamned Bats: Drops, especially fire and ice ones, and pretty much any enemy that's hard to hit with physical attacks due to their high defense or evasion.
    • This is turned Up to Eleven in the 2018 Remake with a lot more enemies. Some of them will basically dodge 99% of of your attacks.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • Using the Moogle Belt or the Imp Hammer causes you to remove or receive that condition, yes. That's not the bug, this is the bug: in between the three seconds it takes for the item to take effect, you're invincible. As an example, this can be used for the final boss's charge attacks, effectively making him a lame duck except when he's in front of you (which is also the only time you can attack him) but his weak magical attacks make it impossible for him to kill you what with your overpowered player party and the cup of wishes, royal jellies, candies, chocolate bars, and all the Undine Magic you have.
    • Certain weapon charge levels move the character great distances and can therefore be used to move past plot barriers.
    • By swapping a max-charge, higher-leveled weapon with a lower-leveled weapon and back again, it's possible to charge all the way up to Level 9.
    • There's a way to "load" a save game into the beginning segment of the game and pick up an extra sword orb—this allows the use of The Mana Sword without casting Mana Magic.
    • While in "hands grabbing from the floor" form, Thanatos' AI will occasionally glitch, making him look like he's head-banging to the music.
    • It's unknown if it's an intentional mechanic or not, but in the 2018 Remake, if you heal an ally that takes fatal damage shortly before the spell goes off, they'll get the "Sees the reaper!" status briefly before being healed and become Not Quite Dead.
  • Have a Nice Death: "Sadly, no trace of (Player Name) was ever found again..."
  • Manipulative Bastard / Magnificent Bastard: Thanatos. Period. What happens to Geshtar cemented it. When you do something that freaks out even Fanha (who later becomes the naga Hexas) you KNOW you're a bastard. The man has some truly dick lines in the original-flavoured game — for example, taunting the heroes after dropping them into the room with the Chamber's Wall along the lines of 'oh, you can all freak out freely; after all, no one knows you're here'. And after all is said and done, and you've defeated the energy-slurping demon wall...? He calls you a second-rate/unimpressive Mana knight. Thanatos is a troll. Finally, his response to Primm's freakout over his possessing her boyfriend is particularly bastardly, to wit:
    Primm: "Give Dyluck his body back!"
    Thanatos: "I am Dyluck."
  • Memetic Mutation: Courtesy of a Mondegreen of Primm's English line of, "Healing power of Undine!" in the remake, "Healing power of Undies!" is taking hold among the fandom.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • A few kinds. Audio, in the form of The Curse (and Ceremony quickly turns into this given whom it becomes associated with over time); plot-wise, in the form of Geshtar the MechRider being turned somehow into a "living magical mechanism" (MechRider 3) by Thanatos. Just what that entails and what actually took place in the process of this isn't detailed, but leaving it up to the player's imagination makes it so much worse; more plot with regard to why Thanatos has to pull Grand Theft Me every so often. Dyluck explains in the Japanese script that although your enemy's soul is indestructible, the bodies he takes over are definitely not, and they start to break down once he takes over. For a super colourful, adorable SNES game, Secret of Mana is almost startlingly chaotic when you think on it for a while.
    • In the original game, the final boss, the Mana Beast, looked too cute to be considered a serious threat. In the remake, its design is legitimately terrifying.
  • Player Punch:
    • Finding out that the main character's mother was the Mana Tree, and that the ghost he saw after removing the sword was that of his father. And this reveal takes place immediately after Thanatos destroys the tree.
    • Flammie's parents. Minor compared to the first one, but still caught you off guard.
    • Just about anything involving Primm and Dyluck, but especially Thanatos forcing Dyluck to kill her (she gets better, but still), and Dyluck's final fate.
  • Polished Port: The iOS version (which was later ported to Android) fixes some bugs and uses an interface designed to take advantage of a touch screen: instead of using an on-screen D-pad to navigate through menus, you just touch your choice as if it were a native iOS app. Sadly, multiplayer was cut, although there is always hope it will be added in an update.
  • Too Awesome to Use: The girl's 'Lucent Beam' attack. The elemental Lumina is rather tedious to level up, with the cheapest spell costing 5 MP. The Lucent Beam costs 8 MP and is the game's only light-elemental attack. It is especially useful against Thanatos. The only problem is the girl cannot mana-drain enemies, is reliant on inventory items to restore MP, and is the party's healer. This is improved in the remake, which optionally allows the player to increase the maximum item capacity.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Evasion works for both the player and the enemy. The result is that some enemies, especially the Drops, will continually avoid attack after attack, seemingly only being hit when they feel like it.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny:
    • Where to begin? First there's the unprecedented stunning visuals, the music, and the fact that a fair chunk of the game's plot was recycled by Final Fantasy VI, the fact that it pushed the hardware of the SNES to its absolute limit.... Let's just say everything that made this game great was quickly forgotten.
    • The "Action Grid" lets you program the combat AI of your party members. One of the first games to let you do this.
  • That One Boss:
    • Spikey Tiger. Spikey was a serious pain, as it could cause immense damage, moved very quickly, and most of its attacks knocked you unconscious, leaving you unable to attack. It could also cast fire magic, against which there is no defense. And since this is the last boss you get before obtaining magic, you can only fight with your physical attacks when it jumps down to your level, or use the bow or the boomerang, which are only at Level 1 at that point in the game. There's also the fact that there is very little room to maneuver, which means that your AI-controlled party members are probably going to die pretty quickly.
      • Thankfully, tweaks to how hitstun works in the remake makes him a lot more reasonably manageable if he doesn't abuse the nearby towers and spam magic, as the player is able to wear him down much faster instead of the 'one hit at a time' back-and-forth struggle of the original version.
    • Lime Slime. It's friggin' huge, taking up most of the screen, and touching it hurt you; also, it had a pretty high magic defense, so your favored strategy of spell-spamming wouldn't be very effective.
    • Dread Slime too. As opposed to shrinking as its health goes down, it instead just keeps growing and growing until it fills up the entire screen. By that time you'll be stuck between one of the crystals in the arena and Dread Slime itself. If you're very unlucky you'll be stuck far away from Dread Slime's weak point, so that you can only damage it with magic. If you run out of MP, you're screwed.
      • Averted if you decide to cast Wall on your characters first thing so that Dread Slime's Acid Rain repeatedly lowers its own defenses, enough for physical attacks to do damage.
    • The Dark Lich is absurdly tough, even considering that he's the second-to-last boss. Don't attack him when just his hands stick out of the floor; it's done to bait the party, and he can get a Total Party Kill very easily if they hang around his hands, especially when they can knock them unconscious. One of the only ways to win is to stunlock him with magic as long as possible, but this will leave you drained for the upcoming boss fight, which requires both Primm and Popoi to cast magic on Randi.
  • The Untwist: After learning that Randi removed the Mana Sword from the stone, Jema informs him that only The Chosen One should be able to do that. Jema tells you that since Randi is so young, it must be a mistake, and he was only able to remove the sword because the power of Mana had weakened. Guess what? Randi is the Chosen One due to his heroic parentage! Never saw that one coming!
  • Unwinnable by Mistake:
    • It is possible for the player to attack enemies (and bosses!) in such a way they could never recover. The only problem is it's possible for the player to get caught by enemies this way through bad luck or plain old carelessness. Cue Rage Quit, especially if one hasn't saved in a while.
    • As stated in the entry above, it's possible to screw yourself in a boss battle by running out of MP. An even more cruel example is right at the game's end: the easiest way to defeat Dark Lich is by spamming Lucent Beam which has a hefty MP cost and you can run out of MP, especially if you forgot to train Dryad's magic and/or to restock Magic Walnuts. In order to kill the final boss - without glitches - you must use one of the girl's spells, Mana Magic, to restore the Mana Sword and kill the final boss. Oops.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: The gender of the Sprite is a fiercely debated topic to this day, although a few points in the English script suggest he's male.
    • In the German translation, the Sprite is actually female and is referred to as "the little kobold girl" (die kleine Koboldin).
      • The Japanese version is — well, Japan has a lot of gender-neutral pronouns. The sprite uses 'oira' as a personal pronoun, and that one's usually used by guys... but tomboyish girl characters will use it as well so — yeah. The Remake, at least in the English translation, uses a gender neutral pronoun anytime anyone refers to the Sprite.
    • Popoi has no official gender in the original game, period. The Japanese guidebook lists the kid's gender as unknown.
    • Square seems to have gone with male as far as their crossover event with Spelunker World is concerned. Along with the other two Secret of Mana protagonists, Popoi's outfit became available for use in the game. Randi and Popoi's gear was usable by the two male characters Spelunker and Dark Spelunker, while Primm's outfit is made for Spelunkette and Spelunkette's sister.
  • Woolseyism: Understandable, since the poor guy had a month or so to translate the game and the programmers utterly refused to change the text's width or just couldn't, leaving him with not a lot of time and even less space. A fan ROM hack/retranslation restores the intended life to the script.
    • From Woolsey himself: "Probably 40 percent or more of the text was nuked — there just wasn't space. Story elements, nuance and personality had to be stripped out. It was, in some ways, the hardest game I'd worked on. I loved that game, but am probably most dissatisfied with the result. I was there for over a month, and the screen text was being modified every day. Certainly tried my best, but that thing nearly killed me."
      • The above is leading to hopes that the 2018 remake will correct these issues, at the very least. (More optimistic fans are also hoping that some of the What Could Have Been problems listed on the Trivia page may also finally be amended.)
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