SECRET OF MANA ODDITIES:|
Nudity, Nekos, & the Mysterious Face on Mars
The Mystic Book enemies (found in the Ice Palace) and the National Scar enemies (found in the Grand Palace and the Mana Fortress) are both flying spellbooks that occasionally land, flip through their pages, and cast a spell based on the page they land on. However, every once in a great while, they'll "accidentally" land on a nude centerfold spread of a woman lying on her belly. This causes the books to become visibly "embarrassed" as they nervously flip to the correct page. This is absolutely 100% true and can be seen on any copy of the game. Here is a screenshot and an enlarged picture of the National Scar:
I've heard that the National Scar was called a "Porno Book" in the Japanese version, although even if that's the case, this bit of trivia is true of both the National Scar and Mystic Book. In fact, it seems you're more likely to get a glimpse of this easter egg with the Mystic Books because there are more of them around, increasing the odds of one turning to this page.
It is not clear how this made it past the Nintendo censors and into the American version of the game. Since it's somewhat-rare that the books land on this page, it's possible they never saw it and thus were unaware of its existence. Or perhaps they just allowed it anyway. After all, nudity was no stranger to NES and SNES games by the time Secret of Mana was released. Check this page for more blatant examples.
From Grass to Sky in One Easy Step
Standing outside the cave, the background is trees...
But enter the cave and leave, and the background is sky!
This strange phenomena is caused by what appears to be a scrolling error. The background doesn't scroll as much as it should as you're climbing the mountain, resulting in you being unable to see the sky when you reach the top. It's corrected when you leave Sage Joch's cave.
The Mysterious Face on Mars
Secret of Mana has two strange hidden "faces" located on the world map. The one in the left screenshot is in the Northeast corner in the middle of the ocean and appears as a single black pixel on the full map of the world. The one in the right screenshot is nestled in the mountains to the south of Empire Southtown.
Some people call these Moai heads, but I think they are more likely to have been based on the "Face on Mars" originally photgraphed by Viking Orbiter 1:
The reason for my belief is that a similar face appears on the moon in Final Fantasy 4 (right screenshot), and that one is nearly-identical to the image in Viking Orbiter 1's photograph (except for the color).
Incidentally, I occasionally see people disputing this claim through my site tracker. The only contradictory evidence they provide is that they simply say, "The face in Final Fantasy 4 looks nothing like the Face on Mars", and that's it. (And if you believe that, you're either in denial or need glasses.) These are the same types of people who tried to tell me that all the stuff in the Final Fantasy section of the (now-defunct) Cameos Database was bull, so I guess I'm supposed to believe that it's just coincidence that the Three Dream Stooges in Final Fantasy 6 happen to have the same exact names as the classic comedy trio, The Three Stooges. I have no idea what it is that makes people so self-defensive when you dare suggest something in a Squaresoft game may have not been an entirely original creation and in fact, was based on or named after something outside of the game, but my question is, what's there to get mad about? Sometimes, having a basis in reality makes things better and more interesting, not worse. It shows the interests and knowledge the creators of the game have, and what better way of expressing that then through their art?
Of course, some like Working Designs went completely out-of-hand with the references, but that's another story.
For whatever reason, Final Fantasy 4 also has a strange "happy face" crater and rock formation on the moon. This one's even VERY noticeable when flying around on the Big Whale.
OMG! You Killed Karon!
Karon is actually a friendly character who helps you cross the Sea of Wonders to the Moon Palace on a sandship. However, for some unforeseen reason, the game recognizes Karon as a Robin Foot enemy. If you try to hit Karon with your weapons, you'll discover that he can't be killed that way, but you CAN cast magic on him! Therefore, all you have to do is select an attack spell, target him, and whammo! Poor Karon is a pile of bones. However, he will reappear when you either re-enter the sandship or leave the screen and come back, no worse for wear.
It's rather obvious that the Robin Foot and Chobin Hood enemies that Karon is based on were named after the legendary thief, Robin Hood (they are even dressed in tunics and wield bows and arrows). But Karon is also an obvious reference to Charon, the ferryman of the Acheron River in Greek Mythology. (Virgil's Aeneid claimed he ferried souls across the River Styx, but most other sources refer to the Acheron.) In the myths, Charon would take the dead from the shore of the river to the underworld of Hades if they paid him a silver coin. However, Karon in Secret of Mana, offers his ride to living people for free.
Charon is also the name of Pluto's largest moon, which makes the reference even more fitting, since Karon takes you to the Moon Palace. Speaking of which, normally you would only be able to access Karon's Ferry after a certain point in the game (you must have Flammie and have the Light Palace on the Gold Isle cleared). But there's a way to get to the ferry beforehand:
Leave Kakkara and go two screens to the right. You'll be in a desert screen very close to the Sea of Wonders as you can tell by the stars all over the ground (which I thought was one of the most intriguing settings in a videogame I had seen at the time). If you look at the top of the screen, you'll notice another pathway going north, but you can't reach it because your characters are blocked by the darkened pit of sand in front of it. That's because Square didn't want you to be able to get to Karon's ferry before you get Flammie. However, walk to the right a little bit, push up into that dark sand, and then walk back left...
If you did it right, you'll end up in the dark area of sand sitting just above that portion of lighter sand that juts out above that one big star. Now power up one of your weapons as far as it will go (this works best with the glove), and let go while holding up. If it worked, you'll fly right across the pit and land safely on the other side. Your other characters will be stuck, but...
...if you just walk up to the next screen, they'll automatically reappear with you anyway. Congratulations. You've just made it to an area you're not supposed to get to yet. You can go north one more screen to reach Karon's ferry. However, if you don't have Flammie and you're not at the right point of the game, you won't be able to board the ship. Instead, you'll get a message saying Karon is "Out to Lunch". That begs the question of why bother to seal this place off? If that failsafe is in place, then why not just let you wander in at any time? Is it because Square didn't want you to know about it at all before the time was right, sort of like how they don't show the shark for the entire first half of Jaws? Maybe to make the mystery of why there are stars all over the desert ground more baffling until you discover there's an entire Moon Sea? That's my best guess.
Explore the Fire Palace Without Salamando!
NOTE: If you are playing this game on a real Super NES instead of an emulator, you will need a Multitap and three controllers to pull this off. All things considered, it's easier to do the Fire Palace the legitimate way, but I'm going to explain this anyway:
Normally, you would have to go to the Ice Country and rescue Salamando to be able to explore the Fire Palace. You need his magic to activate a crystal ball that'll give you access past the lava lake in the basement, but there is a way to bypass this. Take your characters to the first room of the Fire Palace and make all three human-controlled. Stand in front of the ramp facing up and equip the glove on one of your characters. You can use that ramp as a shortcut when leaving the palace because you can slide down it, but you cannot normally walk up it. However, if you equip the glove, hold up, and start pounding away with the attack button, you can eventually make your way up it!
The problem is that you will only slide forward when your character punches, and using the glove causes you to randomly punch or kick. Kicking might cause your character to slide backwards, so you have to be lucky enough to get several punches in a row to keep moving you forwards. Generally, the faster you can pound the button, the better your chances, but it might hurt your hand, so do this at your own risk.
If you're persistent and lucky enough, you'll make it to the top, but here's why you need to have the other two characters human-controlled: Because they're stuck down there, you won't be able to reach the staircase to the upper floors of the Fire Palace. If you try to switch control to another one while leaving the other two CPU-controlled, then the one you just worked so hard to get up there will become CPU-controlled and fall back down the ramp.
But if you have all three human-controlled, you should be allright. Pick up the second controller and switch the glove to that character. Now repeat the steps to get that character up the ramp.
When that character is up there, pick up Controller #3 and do the same for that character. Congratulations! Now you can reach the staircase to the upper floors. You've bypassed the basement and can now explore the Fire Palace a bit. However, you can only go so far before you'll come to another crystal ball requiring Salamando's magic to go any farther, so you won't be able to reach the boss. Seems like Square thought of everything.
The Mystery of Moogles
Moogles are a well-known Squaresoft creature.
Apparently, they don't like to use covers.
The first time Moogles were seen in a game released in America was as a status ailment in Final Fantasy Adventure for the Nintendo Gameboy, which is the predecessor of Secret of Mana. They are both part of the Seiken Densetsu series, which translates to "Legend of the Holy Sword". Final Fantasy Adventure is the American version of Seiken Densetu: Final Fantasy Gaiden, and Secret of Mana is Seiken Densetsu 2. Secret of Mana would be the second game on American shores to feature Moogles, and they were made even more prominent by the appearance of Mog, a playable Moogle character, in Final Fantasy 6, released in America as "Final Fantasy 3" on the Super NES.
Moogle sprites from Final Fantasy 3
(Image Source: The Shyguy Kingdom)
So who had Moogles first - Seiken Densetsu or Final Fantasy? Their first known appearance was in the Japan-only Final Fantasy 3 for the Famicom, the Japanese version of the NES. This game is completely different from the American Final Fantasy 3 (which, as mentioned above, was actually Final Fantasy 6). Seiken Densetsu started out as a spin-off of the Final Fantasy series, hence the "Final Fantasy Gaiden" in the original's title. ("Gaiden" means "sidestory".) Today, however, it seems the Seiken Densetsu or "Mana" games are considered their own separate series with only a few things to connect them to the Final Fantasy universe, like Moogles and Chocobos.
The Mana Beast as the Thunder Dragon in SaGa Frontier (right screenshot)
(Image Sources: Videogamesprites.net, YouTube Video)
Oddly enough, some Secret of Mana characters have made cameo appearances in other Squaresoft games. For example, the Mana Beast appears as a normal enemy called the "Thunder Dragon" in SaGa Frontier for the Sony Playstation. The Axe Beak boss also appears as a normal enemy in SaGa Frontier, along with the Rabite enemies, now renamed "Rabbats" because they flap their ears to fly like bats. (Perhaps the most disturbing enemy in SaGa Frontier is a dead Rabbat with fungus growing out of its head.) This is all the more puzzling when you consider that Legend of Mana, also for the Sony Playstation, has gameplay that is far closer in style and setup to the SaGa Frontier games than to the previous Seiken Densetsu games. Makes me wonder if Legend of Mana was originally planned as a SaGa Frontier game, or if SaGa Frontier was originally planned as a Mana game, or if neither case is true, why have Mana enemies in SaGa Frontier, and why make Legend of Mana so much like SaGa Frontier?
More Cameos & References
He's bald and his name is Pecard.
Is someone here a fan of Star Trek?
I've heard of celebrity guest appearances
but Santa Claus?
The "Pecard" thing could just be coincidence, especially since it's not spelled the same way. But Santa Claus really does appear as a character in Secret of Mana, as well as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. And, get this, you fight Santa as a boss!!
The videos in the Mandala Temple contain a few subtle references. (The most unsettling is one that depicts the final moments of a news broadcast when the Mana Beast was attacking the Mana Fortress from many years ago.) The dialogue in the left screenshot, aside from mentioning a former U.S. President, is also an obvious reference to the popular game show, Jeopardy!, due to the way the answer is given in the form of a question. The real question is...Is this just a translation joke? Or is it a subtle implication that Secret of Mana is taking place on a post-apocalyptic Earth after all?
The dialogue in the right screenshot mentions a city called Lorima that launched missiles at the Empire because the Empire had threatened to take their capitol. Lorima is most likely a reference to the city of Lorim in Final Fantasy Adventure. Since Lorima does not exist in Secret of Mana, there are several theories surrounding its disappearance:
1. The Empire retaliated their attack and ultimately won. (This is the theory I stand by since the Empire still exists and Lorima doesn't. Knowing how ruthless the Empire is, I don't believe they'd let someone launch missiles at them without doing something about it.)
2. Lorima was originally located in the Ice Country and became frozen over. Perhaps the Ice Palace was once part of the city. This would be fitting, since Lorim was the town in Final Fantasy Adventure that was frozen in ice by Kary. It's even possible that both of these theories are correct and after Lorima was destroyed by the Empire, what was left became frozen in the Ice Country.
3. Lorima could have also been the "advanced civilization" spoken of in the intro (hey, they had missiles!), and the Ancient City is now all that's left of it.
Other Random References
The boy pulling the sword from a stone in the beginning of the game is very much like the Arthurian legend in which Arthur pulls a sword (sometimes Excalibur, sometimes a different sword depending on the version of the story being told) from a stone, thereby proving himself to be the true King of England. The Level 4 version of the sword in Secret of Mana is even called "Excalibur".
The idea of a continent with advanced technology and civilization that was sunk beneath the ocean when the people did something to anger the gods (in this case, the creation of the Mana Fortress) is very similar to the legend of the lost continent of Atlantis.
Alternate Method of Getting the Girl
There are two ways of getting the Girl character to join your party. Normally, as you travel south from the Water Palace in the beginning of the game, a cutscene will occur in which the Boy is caught by Goblins and put in a giant stew pot. The Girl will come to rescue you, and if you talk to her in the castle in Pandora, she will join your party there. However, there are two ways to bypass this and end up getting the Girl in a secret "boss" fight midway through the Haunted Forest.
One way is to force the game to skip the Goblin cutscene, however, contrary to what other sources claim it is not necessary to skip the Goblin cutscene to cause the Girl to show up in the forest. Even if the scene does occur, simply NEVER EVER go to the second floor of the castle in Pandora. If you don't go there, she can't join, and thus you will meet her in the forest once you take the teleporter past where Neko is standing. She is trapped by a couple of Werewolves and you must beat them to save her. I actually had this happen to me the very first time I played the game because I did not realize there were two different north exits from Pandora (one that leads back to the Water Palace and one that goes to the castle). Heh.
Be careful because the Werewolves are strong and will make short work of you if your levels and equipment aren't good enough.
If you do skip the Goblin cutscene, some weird things happen. To skip it, simply don't talk to Dyluck or any of his soldiers when you see them standing outside of the Water Palace. Enter the Water Palace and talk to Jema and Luka to play out the cutscene there. When you leave, Dyluck and his Soldiers will be gone.
If you safely pass by the area where the Goblins would've normally attacked with nothing happening, now things will play out a little differently in Pandora. The Girl will not join you. She'll run away instead, and now you'll be able to enter the room in which her father, Elman, was planning her marriage. You can now see her "fiance", who has the same sprite as Elliot (creepy!), and he'll leave the room with his father after you talk to them. Talk to Elman, then go talk to Jema and the King of Pandora in the throne room. Leave the castle and go to Elman's house in the town. Go to the second floor and the Girl will be there. Again, she will talk to you, but run away instead of joining you. She'll do this again on the way out of the house. What's weird is that she just disappears in both cases instead of actually being animated running away (left screenshot). Even weirder is that when you talk to Elman, he'll just say "gogogogogogogogogogogo...", which seems to be a glitch caused by the fact that you haven't yet named the Girl (right screenshot). He's trying to say her name, but one has not yet been input by the user. I do not know why this glitch wasn't fixed since it's obvious this scenario was planned to happen. In this case, saving the Girl from the Werewolves is the only way to get her to join you now.
UPDATE: Sent in by Cosmic Defense Force Alpha: The event where the goblins capture you after visiting the Water Palace can (sometimes, not all the time) be avoided if you "A dash"
through the tile, or if you charge up the sword's attack and use it to
traverse the square. Like I said, it doesn't work all the time, but I missed the goblin attack
the first few times through the game because I dashed everywhere, all the time.
UPDATE: Sent in by Andrew: For more on the Secret of Mana character naming system and why Olman says, "gogogogogogogogogogogo", check out this page.
Unidentified World Map Object
The above screenshots depict something I have noticed on Secret of Mana's world map that has always bugged me: Just what is that odd circular object down there near Empire Northtown? It's not the ruins...the ruins are farther off to the northeast. This object even appears to be spinning like a merry-go-round. There's nothing that matches it in the town itself. Very odd...Several theories about its identity include:
1. The sewers connecting Northtown and Southtown. It's a possibility, but I'm not sure I'd say the case is closed on it. The entrance of the sewers is actually in Southtown, which is farther south and much smaller on the map, represented by only a couple of buildings, one pathway, and the cannon travel center. (It also seems an impossibly far distance away to be connected by that small sewer-way, but whatever.) The sewer exit in Northtown leads directly up into the Resistance Headquarters (disguised as a coffee shop), which has to make one wonder about the sanitation quality of that building, but again, whatever. So I don't know why it would be represented on the overworld map when the exit is inside a building.
2. The center could be a fountain and the moving objects around it could be people walking around it. This was my theory for awhile, but again, I don't quite buy it. For one thing, there are a lot of fountains in Southtown and Northtown. Why represent just one? And people aren't shown on the map in any other town.
3. It represents something that was cut from the final version of the game. This, I feel, is the most likely explanation. It seems like it could either be a carousel or a race track, which could have been used for a "bonus" area. Secret of Mana was originally intended to be released on the Super NES CD add-on, but when the project was canned, it was converted into cartridge format, which meant some content had to be cut. I don't really know for sure, but I suspect that object is a holdover from something that got cut.
4. It's a Square in-joke, just like the little faces hidden on the map. That could also be likely, but if it is, what's the joke? At least you can tell what a face is, but why put something on the map that is impossible to decipher?
Get Back Into Potos Village!
Don't you just hate it when people block your way in RPGs and adventure games? This trick doesn't do much for you, besides giving you the satisfaction of duping one of these path-blocking types. Normally, the man pictured above (who kind of looks like Jeff Foxworthy, now that I think about it) will disallow you from ever being able to re-enter Potos once you leave at the beginning of the game. But once you have your other two party members, go back to him, walk up as close as you can to him, and keep hitting "Select" while holding "Up". Eventually, you'll go right through him! Now you can re-explore Potos and the forest area before it where you originally got the Mana Sword. You'll either have to use the same method to leave or call Flammie.
I've seen some ridiculous modes of transportation in videogames, but Secret of Mana's Cannon Travel Service takes the cake! For those who haven't played the game, yes, you're literally shot out of a cannon to various places around the world. Wouldn't that hurt? Just a little?
The guy in the above left picture isn't kidding! The island really is a turtle. If you look closely at the above right picture, you can see the turtle's head, fins, and tail! A town on the back of a turtle reminds me a lot of the anime movie Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer, which was inspired by Urashima Taro, a Japanese legend about a man who rescues a turtle and in return for the favor, is invited to dine at a fabled Dragon Palace. When he leaves the palace, he discovers that hundreds of years have gone by in the real world. Thankfully, that won't happen to you during your stay on Secret of Mana's turtle island.
If you're having trouble seeing it, I've placed Flammie directly overtop of the turtle shell in this screenshot. The head is at the top of the shell, the tail is at the bottom. Along with the fins, they are submerged underwater but still clearly visible.
If you hit these strange forest totems with
your sword, they stick a tongue out.
If you get the Glove skill powered up to Level 8, charge up your attack, and release, the character will go through a series of martial arts moves in rapid succession. One of the moves is a fireball shot from the wrists in a very similar manner to the "Kamehameha" from Dragon Ball Z, or Ken & Ryu's Fireball from the Street Fighter series.
Unfortunately, I tried for a very long time and was unable to get a screenshot of this glitch, so you'll just have to take my word for it that it does exist. I've seen it happen a few times on my own copy of the game. After the Sunken Continent rises, there will be a bunch of enemies and Tasnican soldiers outside the Grand Palace. Every once in a very great while, a dialogue box meant for one of the soldiers will pop out when you're fighting an enemy, even if the soldier isn't anywhere near you and isn't even on the screen! The result is that it looks like the enemy is the one talking to you. I've had a Steelpion say, "Keep going! We'll secure this place!", and a Metal Crawler tell me to "Be careful!". I might continue to try getting a screenshot, but I don't know of any way to increase the chances of the glitch happening.
One of my favorite scenes in Secret of Mana is the subway station in the ruins of the Ancient City. The subway is actually still running, despite how long the city has been abandoned and sunk beneath the ocean. However, all of its passengers are zombies.
A similar idea would show up again in Final Fantasy 6 when Sabin and Cyan board a Ghost Train in the Phantom Forest. Another more recent game that featured a train full of undead zombies is Capcom's Resident Evil Zero for the Nintendo Gamecube.
Neko is a talking cat and peddler of wares that travels all around the world. You'll meet up with him many times throughout your adventure. He likes to make cat-related puns, such as "Purr-fect weather" and "I love meow-tain climbing". Here are screen captures of every Neko rendezvous point:
Neko at Home
Neko in the Moogle Vilage
Neko in the Ice Country
Neko at the Lost Continent
Neko in the Lofty Mountains
Neko in the Haunted Forest
Neko in Gaia's Navel
Neko in the Witch's Castle
Special thanks to site reader Cory Thompson for providing the screenshot of the sometimes-elusive Neko in the Lofty Mountains. For some reason, that particular Neko is glitchy and often won't appear. You might have to defeat some enemies on the screen to get him to appear, and even if you do, sometimes he still won't show up. I actually played through this game at least once without realizing that Neko was even supposed to be here. On a replay, I was walking up a flight of stairs in this section when suddenly Neko's dialogue box appeared out of nowhere, followed by an item ring that spun endlessly. I canceled the item ring and was shocked to move a few steps left and see Neko standing there.
Scrolling With Flammie
When you call Flammie, the screen will quickly scroll upwards after the character is done using the Flammie Drum. Sometimes, you can catch a glimpse of things that wouldn't otherwise be visible. For example, this is the only way to see the very top of the Mandala Temple, or the back of the Wind Palace (it's nestled in mountains) and if you use it in front of the Lighthouse, you'll notice it only goes so high before it cuts off. But sometimes, there are even weirder things. NOTE: I used an image-editing program to brighten some of these screenshots because the screen goes dark and fades out to cut to Flammie, making it difficult to see exactly what I'm talking about.
Leave Mandala in the Lofty Mountains, take the first staircase down, then go right and stand against the wall above the next set of stairs going down. Use the drum, and the screen will rapidly scroll up. You'll see an area that you cannot get to. There are a row of posts blocking it off that you wouldn't normally be able to see, and perhaps strangest of all, a Bomb Bee is eternally stuck in the wall up there, too. (Screenshot brightened for visibility.)
Go all the way to the back of Empire Northtown, against the railing and use the drum. As the screen scrolls up, you'll notice that the town actually "wraps around". Hard to explain it, but you'll see the bottom of the town (a road that goes through some trees) as the screen scrolls up. (Screenshot brightened for visibility.)
Go to Todo Village in the Ice Country, go all the way to the right, and then go up that small flight of stairs to a platform with nothing on it but some trees. Use the drum, and as the screen scrolls up, all of it will darken out except for one rectangular area of light. It's very strange. (Screenshot unaltered.)
How to Get the Ninth Sword Orb
I originally saw this trick mentioned in the "Classified Information" section of Nintendo Power magazine.
While it's possible to power up all the other weapons to Level 9 through normal gameplay, the Mana Sword is missing its final orb. This is because you're supposed to use Mana Magic to revive it in the final battle. There is, however, a way to get the Mana Sword permanently, but I would advise against doing this on an actual cartridge as this glitch could screw up or delete your save files. If you insist on going ahead anyway, at least make a back-up of your save file first.
Call Flammie and fly towards the Ice Country. Look for a small, round island off the north coast of the Ice Country, just west of the Ice Palace. Go ahead and land on it.
You'll arrive at an alcove with Neko. This is why you want to back up your save file first: If you save at this Neko, then try to reload your save file, you'll get nothing but a blank screen. If you've backed up your file, then go ahead and save here and reset the game. Start a new game and play from the beginning all the way up to the point at which the battle with the Mantis Ant boss begins. After Elliot is done saying his lines, during the battle, hold L, R, Select, and Start to reset the game. Now load up the file from the Frosty Forest save and instead of appearing in front of Neko, you'll be at the Mantis Ant battle with all three characters!
At this late in the game, he'll probably go down in one or two hits at the most. When it's over, you'll get a Sword Orb. Even though this glitch caused you to be shifted to a scene from earlier in the game, you will still have all the weapons, items, and experience levels from your original file. Use Flammie to escape Potos and go to any location with Watts to forge the Mana Sword. It's really powerful and turns green.
NOTE #1: Don't ever do this more than once because if you obtain more than 9 Sword Orbs, the game will glitch and you won't be able to move on. I've heard this glitch will work with other bosses and orbs, but again, I recommend against doing it because if you reach a point where you'd normally get a 9th orb, the game will glitch.
NOTE #2: If you'd like to "unscrew" that blank file without getting the orb, simply repeat this technique with another save file from any other point in the game. For example, say you were to load a save file in the Water Palace, then use Select, Start, L, & R to reset. Now when you load the blank file, you'll be in the Water Palace.
Crono and Marle
Randi and Purim
(Secret of Mana)
Crono and Marle from Square's later SNES RPG, Chrono Trigger, bear a striking resemblance to the Boy and Girl from Secret of Mana.
The Sprite is a very expressive character in Secret of Mana. He has very cartoonishly exaggerated body movements and wide facial expressions. He even stomps the floor in one scene in which he becomes impatient.
Secret of Mana doesn't get a lot of credit for it, but it actually was one of the first games I'd played in which facial expressions were used somewhat-extensively to convey character emotions and humor.
Secret Passages & Related Weirdness
This is something I remember discovering years ago and it drove me nuts because I couldn't figure out what it was there for. Go to the inn in Matango and try walking down through the lower right corner of the wall. You'll go through a hidden passage that leads around the right side of the room.
It leads to the area behind the innkeeper's counter, but that's as far as it goes. It reminded me so much of all those hidden treasure chests in the castles of Final Fantasy 4 you could find by walking through walls, that I believed there just had to be more to it. Unfortunately, there isn't, unless maybe it's a subtle clue for something that comes later in Tasnica...
When you reach this part of Tasnica, you'll notice a merchant on the right side of the room that's seemingly unreachable. It's really not hard to get to him, though.
Go down to the lower floor, and look for a desk at the bottom of the screen. Careful inspection reveals that the desk is not connected to the wall, so you can walk between them. Walk through and push down through the floor, and then start moving to the right. Go as far as you can, then go up, and then left and you'll arrive in front of the merchant. The weird thing is that if the Matango passage is really meant to be a clue for this, it's probably actually easier to find this hidden passage on your own.
Site reader Stu also pointed out how the merchant is standing on a strange platform like no other in the rest of the game. I also noticed a curtain on the ceiling above the platform, as though it's a stage. Does the merchant also do magic tricks or sing in his spare time?
Go to the Gold Isle and walk behind the chimney on the roof of Watts's shop. There is a single tile that acts as though you're stepping on stairs when you cross it. I tried peeling away the backgrounds with ZSNES to see if there was anything there, but nothing special became visible. If there are stairs there, they don't seem to go anywhere. (Thanks to site reader Stu for informing me of this oddity.)
UPDATE: I've since discovered this works on almost every chimney in the game. There are only a few it doesn't work on and I don't know why that is, but I tested some of them around Empire Northtown and it would seem to have something to do with the nature of the chimney tile itself.
You can also walk underneath this awning to the left of Watts's place in the Gold City, but there's nothing of interest on the other side at all. I don't know why it's there other than for cosmetic purposes.
At the very bottom of Empire Northtown, you can walk through a passage in the row of trees. This serves no apparent purpose either, but it also drove me crazy for the longest time because I was convinced that somehow it must lead to (or be a clue for) that mysterious spinning object on the world map. Unfortunately, that's not the case.
This one's just the opposite of all the others - a door with NO passageway going to it. This is found in the Resistance Headquarters in Empire Northtown. Again, this drove me bonkers since I had found the secret passages in Matango and Tasnica, I was convinced for awhile that there had to be one for this room, too, and I spent much time pressing against walls everywhere in the HQ, the sewers below, and the buildings around town trying to find a way into there, but alas, there is none.
UPDATE: Mystery of this door is solved! This door cannot be opened and is only part of the background. See this page for proof and more information.
Go to the first bridge in Todo Village, press up, and you'll walk a little ways onto the ice. This appears to be a clipping error - the boundary for the bridge extends a little too far north.
World Map Weirdness
Does it bother anyone else that the Scorpion Army's Ice Country Resort stays green on the world map even after it's been frozen back over again? It's only briefly green to begin with, so I kept forgetting about it and thinking this was some different area altogether, only to land there and (DOH!) realize it's just that stupid resort again.
Site reader Stu writes to inform us, "While riding the Flammie, I noticed that there are sparkly gold houses outside of Gold Isle. The turtle island has one, and Kippo Village has one, too. I assume the turtle island one may be a suggestion for where to get the Sea Hare's Tail, but there's really nothing of interest in Kippo Village, so I have no idea what that's about."
I noticed the sparkling house in Kippo Village before, but when I landed there, my best guess was that the movement was meant to represent the houses with the watermills. However, there are houses with watermills in Pandora and Mandala that are not represented by a sparkling house on the world map, and there are no watermills on Turtle Island, so I'm not really sure. The most likely explanation is that Square reused the tile for no real reason.
I had played through this game many times and had never once seen or heard of a Shadow Zero until the day I saw them mentioned in a small blurb in Nintendo Power magazine's "Counselor's Corner". Even after reading about them, I still had no idea what they were or how to find them for a long time, until one day I was in the Dark Palace and one popped out of a random treasure chest. Not only did I finally get to see one, but it happened two more times in the same area after that. So, what is a Shadow Zero? It's a tiny black creature with a single yellow eyeball that pops out of the chest, looks around, then jumps back in and disappears. It appears to be a "joke" character that doesn't do anything.
Even if you are never lucky enough to see a Shadow Zero pop out of a treasure chest, there is another way to see them. After you have all 8 of the Mana Seeds, keep using the Sprite's Shade magic until it says "8:99" beside it on his status screen. Now, keep casting Evil Gate over and over again, and eventually...
...this will happen! Instead of the normal "Evil Gate" appearing over the enemy, the screen will freeze and a herd of Shadow Zeroes will run by, causing damage to the enemy as they go. What's great is that there's even the proverbial "one that can't keep up with the crowd and runs by after all the others have". (Thanks to site reader Michael Reynolds for bringing this to my attention.)
Shadow Zeroes also appear as a boss in Legend of Mana.
Site reader Allan also pointed out that Shadow Zeroes originally appeared as enemies in Final Fantasy Adventure. They were just called "Shadows" in that game and appeared inside Medusa's Cave. (Sprite Source: RPGClassics.com)
Other "Level 9" Spell Effects
Evil Gate is not the only spell that has more than one possible result. The animations for many of the spell effects change as they level up in power. Although the spells can't actually reach level 9, the closer they get to level 8:99 on the status screen through repeated use, the more they'll start using special animations. Here are some of the more spectacular ones:
The Fireball spell will be three dragons instead of fireballs.
A mid-level balloon becomes a mouse head, but even better, a high-level balloon becomes a Moogle!
The Earth Slide rock has a laughing face on it.
Gem Missile causes a giant diamond to appear, which shatters into dozens of pieces that converge onto the enemy.
Air Blast forms a tornado instead of the usual three spinning discs.
Lucent Beam causes a tangled maze of beams to cover the area instead of the usual two beams.
Lunar Boost sometimes makes these giant lighting bolts appear.
Exploder, Burst, and Dark Force all have a similar occurrence - the clouds caused by the explosions become circles that lack the "cloud"-like details. The circles appear and disappear faster and have a different sound effect.
Howler in the Woods
One screen south of Santa's house in the Ice Country, there is a Howler trapped in the frozen trees. (You might have to kill some of the other enemies before it will actually show up there.) It is not visible and it can't get out. You would only know it's there if you try targeting things with magic. I accidentally discovered it because I like using the Ice Country to build magic and weapon skills. If you want to actually get a glimpse of it, the best way to do that is to cast the Sprite's Lava Wave magic on it, whereby the effect of the spell that causes the enemy to glow will make it briefly visible. If you kill it and it drops a treasure chest, you won't be able to get the chest, but Howlers never drop anything great anyway.
If at least one of your characters has the Whip skill raised to Level 5, you can pull off a strange glitch, however, BE WARNED that it can cause you to become stuck with no way to move on!
Equip the whip, then walk up to any place where you can whip across to a post. When your characters are in position, tap the control pad to face a different direction.
Charge the whip up to Level 5 and release the button. The character will whip in four directions, and when it goes in the direction of the post, it will snag it. However, instead of going towards the post, you will leap in the direction that you were facing when you began the attack!
This can sometimes be used as a shortcut, but it has the potential to get you stuck, such as in these screenshots in which I became lodged in the background of the Lofty Mountains. Sometimes, you can use the Flammie Drum or Magic Rope to escape, but experiment at your own risk!
Thanks to site reader Michael Reynolds for bringing this glitch to my attention.
I was playing with a Secret of Mana Save State Editor called "ManaEdit", and noticed that an item exists that cannot be gotten through normal gameplay. I edited these into my savestate to see what they do...
Their name comes up as just a question mark and when I used it, it acted like a healing item, but didn't have any obvious effects. I'm not sure if they're meant to heal a particular status, but I didn't feel like experimenting with every one.
From the way they look, I thought maybe they were meant to be a sprite for the weapon orbs. When you receive weapon orbs, the game dialogue will tell you that you got one, but there is no graphic for it. If it was planned at one time to have weapon orbs visible in your inventory, they certainly look the part, but then why act as a healing item upon use? Very bizarre...
Take the Girl Into the Goblin Cutscene!
This glitch is so complicated, I'm dedicating a whole new page to it:
Click Here For a Full Explanation of This Glitch
This glitch was submitted by site reader Llama32888.
WARNING: DO NOT TRY THIS IF YOU HAVEN'T SAVED IN AWHILE!!
First, go to Pandora castle. To the left of the main door (the entrance to the
castle) there is another door that leads to the "guard" room.
First off, if you
talk to the guards there (before you defeat the Wall-Face boss in the ruins)
they will talk about how their town is in disarray and how some of them plan on
fleeing. If you go there after you defeat the boss at the ruins and speak to
the people there again you'll notice that their dialogue hasn't changed!
This is probably something that the designers overlooked.
However, there is more to the guard room than just that. First, make sure you
got the escape rope from Gaia's Naval (it's essential for this glitch).
go inside the guard room and use the escape rope. You'll end up at the
entrance to the room.
Then when you try to exit you'll notice... You can't! It
will teleport you back to the entrace of the room again and again. Enjoy the rest
of eternity with the reclusive guards, or reset the game (pick the obvious).
Unused Sprites & Animation Frames
Click Here For a Full Explanation