A secret no more

Secret of Mana was released on Virtual Console today. And with that, one of the seminal showcases for social gaming has finally been placed where it belongs: on the machine that gets turned on at every house party. It’s standard price, too, when Square Enix could have easily enforced a premium on it, citing the three-player support (or, more honestly, “because we’re Square Enix”).

Not that this development isn’t without its drawbacks. As SE representatives have so glibly admitted, they see the VC as less a convenient platform for their classics than a dumping ground for properties they’re never going to bother with again. Then again, we’ve had long enough to accept that Mana will never return to its former glory, and the more Koichi Ishii tries to salvage it with things like Havok physics and produce cultivation, it only gets increasingly insane and embarrassing. Maybe when someone is willing to consider what made this game and Seiken Densetsu 3 so good in the first place, it’ll finally get the Mega Man 9-like revival it deserves; but for now, it’s time to hang it up.

[[image:nn_080924_mana_01.jpg:Sigh.:right:0]]To be honest, SoM and SD3 are enough for me. They’re of the same caliber as any of the better Final Fantasy games, and the multiplayer element makes them especially timeless. What really makes me sad to see Mana on its way out, though, is that I’ll never see a high-quality, unmarked version of the artwork that served as the basis for both SoM’s promotional campaign and title screen (pictured right). While that might be wildly myopic in any other case, that image of the heroes standing at the root of the mythically tall Mana Tree, brimming with life on every scale, is one of the most impressing works of art this medium has ever produced. (And if there were any doubt that it’s an object of reverence, Square Enix even callously channeled it to manipulate fans into buying the abysmal Dawn of Mana.)

I’d have it framed and hung on my wall, given the chance. Alas, like the series itself, it seems destined to be lost to history.

[Image courtesy of this here fan site]

12 thoughts on “A secret no more

  1. I’d buy it in jigsaw puzzle form, too!

    And thanks. I feel better knowing the guy’s name.

  2. What’s left to be said that hasn’t already been said? It’s a timeless masterpiece, and probably the best video-game related memory I will ever have. I don’t need to see any re-makes or other entries into the series, this one pretty much perfected it. Now to convince my non-gamer friends to play it with me…

  3. I still have that poster hanging over my bed, actually. It’s been there for 15 years, though various dorm rooms and 4-5 moves (including one across country).

    But, honestly, I’m not a huge fan of SoM. Multiplayer is great, but the crimes they committed against the gameplay from SD1 are unforgivable.

  4. My roommate’s girlfriend took that picture, carefully edited away the crease lines, and had it printed as a full sized poster for him for his birthday.

  5. So I’ve never played this, but after reading about it and watching some Youtube vids to get a feel for what it’s like…OMG, it’s like Chrono Cross and Link to the Past had a baby. I think I need to buy this.

  6. I feel like I have seen that poster before this post. It might have come packaged with another SNES game or it may have been a centerfold in Nintendo Power.

  7. Ah, I would have loved to purchase it, if only in some feeble attempt to get the folks at Squeenx to realize that people are willing to drop a coin or two for Virtual Console games, but I didn’t for two reasons. The first being that surely they’d hardly notice or care that someone paid $8 for the game, and second and more importantly, I had this game up and running in my SNES as little as six months ago. In fact, it might still be the game that’s in there. Combine those two ideas, and it just doesn’t seem worth it to drop the $8 on it.

  8. Somewhere I have the desecrated Nintendo Power version of the poster. Why they had to ruin it with an awful dragon someone’s kid drew, I’ll never know. To this day, I have issues with horrible abominations that some people call dragons… especially when people reason away the “could not physically function” and “It looks like it has a metal candy cane for a spine in its giraffe kneck” with “Oh, it’s a mythological beast, it doesn’t need to look like it could exist in nature!” Ugly is ugly. Bonus points for anyone that thought of the dragon I’m describing as they were reading that.

    I think the only way we’ll ever get another proper SoM/SD3 game is in a spiritual successor from a fan of the originals.

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