SECRET OF MANA ODDITIES:|
Unused Sprites & Animation Frames
Site reader Luis Contreras sent me a code that will change the Boy in your party into different characters, sprites, and enemies from throughout the game. Along with this code, he sent me information on a couple of unused characters, including a strange white-cloaked villain, and an alternate version of Elinee the Witch.
You may be wondering why there would be so many sprites and animations just sitting in the game unused. Extras were most likely made as ideas during the design phase and when they weren't used, it just wasn't worth the effort to pull the data back out of the game. Just like how you'd order extra graduation announcements rather than try to get an extra number and then have to go back and order more, for programmers it was easier to make a few different versions "while they were there" rather than go back and change something later on.
The code is as follows:
By changing the "??" to various digits, we can change the Boy into other characters and sprites. The end of this article will contain a complete list of memory locations and their corresponding characters, but I will start by taking a closer look at the more interesting discoveries.
Several words of caution before we go any further.
1. Many memory locations contain enemy data or glitchy data. If you change the Boy into an enemy, the sprites will glitch and it might be hard to even tell what he turned into. Strangely enough, his movement pattern will change to match that of the enemy's. (Example: He will hop if he is a Rabite, he will float slowly if he is a Kimono Bird, etc.)
2. If you call up glitchy data, it could crash the game or cause you to lose the Boy out of your party. (Do NOT save your game if the latter happens!!) I wouldn't recommend doing this on an actual cartridge, because I don't know what the risk of wiping out your saved files is...
3. If you try attacking something while in the form of an NPC, the character will freeze in place and start glitching out wildly. Sometimes, you can do this to see frames of animation you wouldn't see otherwise, but most of the times the sprite graphics will just get all glitchy-looking and messed up. The only way out of this is to switch to another character and call Flammie or leave the screen (if you're close enough to an exit point).
4. If you switch control to the girl or sprite, the Boy's behavior pattern will change to match that of who he turned into. Most of the times, this means he will just wander around aimlessly.
With that out of the way, let's explore some weird things you can do and find with this code.
7EE180 20 = DARK SPRITE
7EE180 2E = DARK BOY
7EE180 3F = DARK GIRL
Most enemy data is glitchy and unplayable, but it seems that the Dark Boy, Dark Girl, and Dark Sprite from Sage Joch's test work rather well. (But mind you, I didn't play very far with them.)
The only obvious problem I noticed is that they cannot use weapons. Even if you equip them, they always use punch/kick attacks, and they don't hold the weapon sprites correctly in their hands.
7EE180 56 = WHITE SPRITE
The Boy, Girl, and Sprite have several duplicate entries in the ROM with varying color palettes. But memory location 56 has a very weird anomaly - a completely whited-out Sprite. There exists no variation of the Boy or Girl to match this one. That leaves me to believe it was intentionally made for some specific purpose, but what?? This Sprite also behaves in the same manner as the Dark Boy, Girl, and Sprite in that it's fully-playable, but cannot equip any weapons, always using punch/kick attacks.
7EE180 99 = NEKO
During normal gameplay, Neko never walks. He is always found in a stationary spot, seen from the front swinging his parcel bag up and down. By changing the Boy into Neko with this code, you will see that Neko has unused walking animation frames. As he walks, he also blinks his eyes.
Neko can only walk up or down. If you move left or right, he slides while facing forward. This is probably why Neko can never move during normal gameplay - his animation was unfinished and he has no means of turning to the side. However, by using this code, you also get to see what he looks like from behind, which isn't normally possible.
7EE180 A3 = SAGE JOCH
Just like Neko, Sage Joch never moves from the spot where he's standing during the actual game. (He does move his arms up and down, but he does not walk.) However, also like Neko, Joch has unused walking animation frames. Joch is even less finished than Neko. He can only face forward. He cannot turn around and backs up with the same forward walking animation, and he slides left and right with while facing forward.
7EE180 B1 = GESHTAR
When I changed the Boy into Geshtar, I noticed that he has no upwards walking animation. Instead, he slides backwards while in this pose - holding the helmet he wears when he becomes the Mech Rider. Maybe I just don't remember or never noticed it, but I do not recall this sprite being used in the actual game. If it is, drop me a line and tell me when, and a screenshot for proof might be nice, too.
Strangely enough, a back view sprite of Geshtar does exist, but I had to try attacking an enemy to get it to show up.
7EE180 B3 = UNUSED CHARACTER!
Site reader Luis Contreras actually sent me this code to inform of this character's existence in the ROM. He is right between Fanha and Sheex in the data chart, so it's probably safe to assume he was intended to be another henchman of Emperor Vandole's.
Some side view sprites. Why this character was cut from the final game, I guess we may never know. It might have been nice to have a different boss to fight instead of fighting Mech Rider three times, but I can't imagine what other purpose this guy would've served anyway since Sheex and Fanha didn't really do much as it was.
He even has an "arms raised" pose. He was probably a sorcerer of some type, judging by the clothing. One thing to note is that his walking animation is complete. He can face up, down, and to both sides.
7EE180 B4 = SHEEX
It's really hard for me to recall every minute detail of this game, but I'm guessing Sheex is never seen from behind. His sprite doesn't look finished. It has an extra bit of shoulder armor sticking off from it. Not only that, but when he walks upwards, he randomly turns and faces left, as though his animation was not finished...
...and it certainly seems like it wasn't because extra bits of armor appear around his sides and feet as he walks downwards. But isn't it weird that Sheex was kept in the game when he's obviously incomplete, but the white cloaked character was removed when his animation is fine?
7EE180 B5 = FLAMMIE HEAD
7EE180 CD = FLAMMIE BODY
These sprites aren't unused - it's just amusing. The young Flammie's head and body are stored as two separate sprites. The head will act a little glitchy if you change into it.
7EE180 BA = ELINEE
The second of the two discoveries site reader Luis had sent to me is an unused sprite of the witch, Elinee. The screenshot on the left shows what she normally looks like. The screenshot on the right shows an unused variation without her hood. Elinee has no sideways walking animation, so she will slide left and right in the unused form.
I don't have any real ideas on why this wasn't used or where it was intended to be used. Either (a) they had two different ideas for her design and settled on the hooded one or (b) when Elinee changes from a witch into a "normal old lady", maybe she was originally planned to simply remove her hood? I don't know.
7EE180 CE = CANNON TRAVEL MAN
I'm pretty sure this is the only way you can ever see the Cannon Travel Man from behind. He cannot turn around in the normal game because he is always situated with his back against an object (a wall or table) so you can't get behind him.
7EE180 D3 = HIGH STEPPER
Of all of these unused sprites and animation frames, this one baffles me the most. You know those little yellow blobs that spring you up to higher ledges when you step on them? Apparently, a complete animation sequence of the little guy popping his head up and resetting it (complete with bugged-out eyes) was coded into the game, but left unused!
If they had it, why didn't they just use it?? Was there a problem with it?? This blew my mind when I saw it. I've seen those things do that in other "Mana" games, but I never once thought they could do it in this game.
7EE180 EE = SNOWMAN
Here's another one that's rather mysterious. The Snowman status ailment has an unused frame of it half-toppled over and breaking apart. I guess this is what was supposed to happen as it started to melt and release the character or enemy it was holding captive, but it didn't make it into the final cut. Again, why not?
7EE180 EF = MIDGE SNOWMAN
Thought it's a little harder to see, the Midge version of the Snowman also has an unused "melting" frame. The left screenshot shows the Midge Snowman sprite and the right screenshot is the unused sprite (it is slightly leaning over more than the normal one).
COMPLETE LIST OF CHARACTERS AND CORRESPONDING CODES
01-0F - All enemy data, extremely glitchy
20 - Dark Sprite
21-2D - More glitchy enemy data
2E - Dark Boy
2F-3E - More glitchy enemy data
3F - Dark Girl
40-55 - More glitchy enemy data
56 - White Sprite
57-7A - More glitchy enemy data
80 - Boy
81 - Girl
82 - Sprite
83 - Glitchy data
84 - Villager: Woman w/ Hat (Strange Palette)
85 - Villager: Boy (Strange Palette)
86 - Villager: Girl (Strange Palette)
87 - Villager: Old Man w/ Hat (Strange Palette)
88 - Midge Moogle (Strange Palette)
89 - Glitchy data
8A - Boy (duplicate?)
8B - Girl (duplicate?)
8C - Sprite (duplicate?)
8D - Boy (Strange Palette, doesn't hold weapon correctly)
8E - Girl (Strange Palette, doesn't hold weapon correctly)
8F - Sprite (Strange Palette, doesn't hold weapon correctly)
90 - Gnome
91 - Undine
92 - Salamando
93 - Sylphid
94 - Lumina
95 - Shade
96 - Luna
97 - Dryad (somewhat glitchy, tends to float up off the screen and disappear)
98 - Moogle
99 - Neko
9A - Dwarf Villager
9B - Dwarf Chief
9C - Watts
9D - Sprite Grandpa
9E - King Truffle (somewhat glitchy, probably because he was not animated to walk)
9F - Walrus Villager
A0 - Jema
A1 - Luka
A2 - Fake Sage Joch
A3 - Real Sage Joch
A4 - Scorpion Boss
A5 - Scorpion Henchman
A6 - Phanna
A7 - Krissie
A8 - Sergo the Pirate
A9 - Masked Cultist
AA - Temple Monk
AB - Pecard (looks the same as the Temple Monk, but if you select to control another character, he starts spinning in circles nonstop. Only Pecard does that.)
AC - Dyluck
AD - Rudolph
AE - Santa Claus
AF - Mushroom Villager (glitches into King Truffle and back for some reason)
B0 - Emperor Vandole
B1 - Geshtar
B2 - Fanha
B3 - Unused Character: Man in White Cloak
B4 - Sheex
B5 - Flammie Head (somewhat glitchy)
B6 - Imperial Soldier
B7 - Republic Soldier
B8 - General Meria
B9 - Admiral Morie
BA - Elinee the Witch
BB - Villager: Old Man
BC - Villager: Woman
BD - King
BE - Glitchy data
BF - Thanatos
C0 - Elliot
C1 - Timothy
C2 - Resistance Man
C3 - Resistance Woman
C4 - Villager: Man
C5 - Villager: Woman w/ Hat
C8 - Villager: Dancer
C7 - Villager: Boy
C8 - Villager: Girl
C9 - Villager: Old Man w/ Hat
CA - Villager: Old Woman
CB - Mad Mara
CC - Mana Beast (the type you see flying through the trees, not the final boss. Very glitchy.)
CD - Flammie Body
CE - Cannon Travel Man
CF - Merchant
D0 - Glitchy data
D1 - Villager: Dancer (Strange Palette)
D2 - Crystal Orb
D3 - High Stepper
D4-D7 - Glitchy data
D8 - Mana Sword (as seen when it's stuck in the stone)
D9-DE - Glitchy data
DF - Mana Seed
E0 - Midge Boy (Strange Palette)
E1 - Midge Girl (Strange Palette)
E2 - Midge Sprite (Strange Palette)
E3 - Villager: Dancer (Strange Palette)
E4 - Boy (Strange Palette)
E5 - Girl (Strange Palette)
E6 - Sprite (Strange Palette)
E7-E9 - Villager: Dancer (Strange Palette) (I don't know why they duplicated her so much.)
EA - Glitchy data
EB - Treasure Chest
EC - Statue
ED - Midge Statue
EE - Snowman
EF - Midge Snowman
F0-F2 - Moogle
F3-F5 - Midge Moogle
F6 - Midge Boy
F7 - Midge Girl
F8 - Midge Sprite
F9-FF - Glitchy data
SOME MORE SCREENSHOTS OF ME GOOFING AROUND WITH THIS CODE
Two girls and two sprites.
I sometimes think that crazy Scorpion Boss lady was my favorite character.
Some rare views of Geshtar. He would've been a neat party member. Too bad he was a rather incompetent villain because he certainly looks cool.
NPC's tend to get "lost" when you use an inn.