Here’s we’ll be reviewing some of the weird and wonderful things that can be found within Secret of Mana, either intentionally there, or caused by bugs left in the game when it was released. We’ll be adding more to the list as we document them.
Faces of Cydonia
Come ride Flammie to unveil this mystery…
On July 25th, 1976, the Mars orbiter Viking I took a set of photographs of the Cydonia Mensae on the Martian surface, several of which showed what appears to be a human face, as well as pyramids and other formations which some took to mean they were made by intelligent life. Later photographs from other orbiters have further confirmed that the face is merely an optical illusion, but this did not stop the face being referenced in several games, including Zak McKracken, Final Fantasy IV, and Secret of Mana.
In the case of Secret of Mana, we see the face appear twice. Firstly in the middle of the ocean, to the East of the Ice Country and South of the Lost Continent. If you use the full world map view while riding Flammie (press Start), you can see it as a single black pixel amidst the blue waters.
The second face appears on the mountains to the South of the Empire’s Southtown, toward the Eastern side. Some mistakenly quote the face to appear on the Lofty Mountains near Mandala, but it is nowhere to be seen there.
South of the desert of Kakkara is a small island with a single town inhabited mostly by people escaping the lunacy of the Empire or looking to set up a new life where laws don’t matter. The shop there really isn’t doing good business, only selling a rare Sea Hare Tail which restores water to King Omar’s village (and even that he gave away for free to our heroes). The island is no ordinary island, howeve, as one inhabitant describes. It is in fact a gigantic turtle’s shell, and seen from above the shape of the island and what appear to be the extremities and head of a turtle are clearly indicative of this being true (or at least partly, as it may even be that the turtle is still alive).
It is possible that this turtle may be related to Booskaboo from Seiken Densetsu 3, a sea turtle that transports the heroes until they encounter Flammie. It may even be the same turtle. Flying Omlette also suggests that this could be a reference to the tale of Urashima Taro, a Japanese man who saves a sea turtle from some children and is then taken by it to dine at the Dragon Emperor’s palace.
Rather funny to come by is a somewhat green piece of humour from the designers over at Square. The two book shaped enemies known as Mystic Book (ジャッカル or Magical Book in Japan) and National Scar (デビルマガジン or Devil Magazine in Japan), will sometimes land on a centrefold of a semi-nude lady with a heart over her. The book will then rapidly flicking pages in a rather hurried and embarrassed manner.
If you wait long enough it will show up, but chances are it’ll take a while. From what I can tell, if you reduce the book’s magic to 0MP this will prevent the book showing this easter egg, and you’ll have to find another or force it to respawn.
This is another example of content which probably wouldn’t have made it past the censorship board if they had found it in time. You can find more examples over at Flying Omlette.
Shadow Zero is a character that makes a reappearance from Final Fantasy Adventure… or rather a distinct lack of appearance, because he is next to impossible to come across in the game.
Firstly you can encounter him, hidden in some treasure chests dropped by certain enemies (we’ve only really seen him dropped by Fiend Heads, but there could be others). He’ll appear out of the chest, look around, and crawl back inside. Many have speculated that he cures status ailments in the process or revives a dead character, but sadly neither are true (trust me, we’ve tried, we really have, and he’s as much use as a chocolate teapot).
The second, which is slightly more common, is that he is a rare casting of the spell Dark Gate at level 8:60 or above. Rather than the standard casting, a whole swarm of Shadow Zeroes will run across the screen and pelt the enemy, followed by a single Shadow Zero lagging behind the rest of the pack, trying desperately to catch up.
Rather convoluted and hidden, and at the same time completely pointless, this easter egg harkens back to the days of entering almost endless button press combinations.
While on a screen with your weapon drawn, press and hold the A and L buttons , and while holding them down press R 39 times. Then, release A and L, and press R once more. For all this counting you will be rewarded with the letters NAS appearing in the bottom status bars of all your characters where you would normally see a percentage or number while charging. After a second or two, it will disappear. And that is it, no other effects whatsoever.
Why NAS, you may ask? Well, if you think back to the opening screen of the game, you’ll remember the phrase “Programmed by Nasir”, being Nasir Gebelli, an Iranian-American programmer who worked for Square on the first 3 Final Fantasy titles and Secret of Mana, among other titles.
The forest taught me many things, such as how to save money on my car insurance and just how crafty the people at Square can be. The forest in Upperland is riddled with small totem poles, similar to some which can be seen in the southern continent; except these are different. If you hit them with the sword (and yes, that’s only with the sword), you’ll hear the sound of a bush being cut down, and notice that the totem pole is now sticking its tongue out at you. Hit it again, and it will disappear. You can do this as many times as you like, and even try to action all of the totem poles in the forest to try and reveal some hidden secret, but you’re just wasting your precious time.
Still, it kept Sheexy out of trouble for a few hours.
There are several curious passages scattered throughout the game, most of which are of no use whatsoever.
Passage 1 can be found at the Inn in Matango’s castle. If you walk to the bottom right corner of the room and continue walking down, you’ll go through the wall, and can then go right, up, left, and back down through the door that is behind the inn-keeper. You can’t get right behind him, nor is there anything here of any interest whatsoever.
Passage 2 can be found in the Empire’s Northtown. Walk to the trees at the south of the town, and where you see a section of trees that comes out further than the rest, with a small clearing among them, you can walk straight through to that clearing, and back out the other side. Again, nothing here of any interest whatsoever.
Passage 3 isn’t necessarily a passage per say, more a clipping error. In Todo Village in the Ice Country, you can walk off the bridge, nearest the entrance to the village, on to the ice north of it. You can only advance about one tile’s worth, and you can move the controller up and down as much as you like, your characters aren’t going to jump on the ice until it breaks.
Passage 4, on the other hand, has some uses. In the castle of Tasnica, venture round to the room where you see a Mr. Moti dancing away quite happily, who seems entirely inaccessible. But appearances are deceiving. Go over the top level to the left, down the stairs and venture to the bottom right corner of this side of the room. Walk downward and you’ll go through the wall. Now walk right, up and left, and you will emerge just below Mr. Moti, who will then try to sell you some pretty standard items that are available from other merchants.
Revisit the Star Room in Moon Palace
You can only revisit this room once in the game, but it is still possible. After you have spoken to Luna and sealed the Moon Seed, instead of turning round and exiting the Palace whence you came, use the Magic Rope, and you will be transported back into the dark room filled with stars you encountered when you entered. Sadly, this room can’t be visited later in the game, but if you’re feeling like going there for a quick space walk you can now.
While there are a few different ways of starting off the game, taking a particular route leads to a very interesting glitch in the game’s dialog.
Start a game as normal, beat Mantis Ant, and head on over to the Water Palace. Make sure that you don’t speak to the Pandoran troops so you don’t get caught by the Goblins on the way back, and head to Pandora’s castle. Go up toward the king’s and you’ll encounter Purim, who will bump in to you and knock you out of the way. Now, you can go into the room she just emerged from and you’ll meet Elman, her father, the nobleman and his son whom Elman wants Purim to marry. You can talk to them, then leave and talk to the King.
Now go back to the town and enter the house to the right of the Inn. Go up the stairs in the right side of the house. Purim will be standing there, blocking the way. Talk to her and she says “I can’t stand this! I’m going to find Dyluck all by myself!” and vanishes.
You can now talk to Elman and he will say “gogogogogogogogogogogo…” If you go back downstairs now, Purim will be blocking the doorway, and will say “Dad asked the King to make Dyluck lead the way to the witch’s forest!”.
In the Japanese version of the game, however, all that is displayed is ” …”
At first we though this was Ted Woolsey telling us to just get on with it, but the mystery goes deeper than that. This one had us guessing for ages, until Andrew, one of Flying Omlette‘s readers, came through with an answer to the riddle.
First off, the game was originally designed (it appears) in such a way that all the menus, screens and interfaces could take character names with up to 12 characters. However, it was later reduced down to 6, even though these screens maintained the capability of 12 (including an end-blocker). Through hex editing it is possible to set a characters name to 12 characters, but this causes text overspill in the dialogues and looks messy.
Secondly, if we look at the tables for the hex values for the characters in Secret of Mana, we can see several cases of hex values which correspond to more than one letter (so more common combinations like NG or ST can be represented in the code with one value and not two, saving memory). One of these is in fact GO, and corresponds to the hex value FF. If we look at the Japanese data for this table, we see that the value FF corresponds to a space.
Now if we consider that at this point, Purim doesn’t have a name defined (aside from being referred to as GIRL), we can think that at this point if the game had been designed with predetermined names, Elman would be saying Purim’s name.
Further investigation has confirmed this fact! Using an Action Replay, we started a new game and added in the Girl and the Sprite round about when we reached Potos (using the codes 7EE20001 and 7EE40001 respectively). When looking at their STATs pages, the names were indeed “gogogogogogogogogogo” for both of them.
As for why the glitch wasn’t caught during translation (at least from the perspective of Elman’s dialogue), I doubt we’ll ever know.
The ferryman who takes our heroes from Kakkara’s arid desert to the Moon Palace not only resembles a Robin Foot in appearance, but also in nature. Even though you can get near him with a weapon, Popoie and Purim can cast offensive magic against him just like any other enemy, and even kill him off.
This doesn’t stop you getting on to the ferry and travelling across, he’ll reappear before your very eyes as he normally would, with not so much as a scratch on him.
Personally I wouldn’t give you the time of day if you bombarded me with magic while I was trying to do my job, but I guess he’s more forgiving.
Reach Karon Early
As if killing of Karon wasn’t enough, you can even reach his ferry across the river Styx before learning to fly around on Flammie’s back. If you travel round the north of Kakkara desert, you should find a screen filled with stars encrusted in the sand and a path to the North that is cut off. But such paltry obstacles never stopped a determined hero, and this was to be no exception.
Take any of your characters that has the ability to do a Level 4 charged attack using the Glove, and walk with them to the edge of the dark area separating you from your goal. Then unleash the attack upwards, and you should find that you have managed to get yourself stuck on the other side. Now walk up the path, and you’ll be one screen away from Karon’s Luxobarge.
Sadly, Karon is nowhere to be seen, because he’s decided to take a lunch break, hiding somewhere behind a sand dune. So really the journey is for nought but to entertain yourself with the possibility of skipping forward in the game, and watch your dreams come crashing down like a flan in a cupboard.
Explore Fire Palace
FlyingOmelette reports that you don’t have to wait until you’ve rescued Salamando before you have a stroll round the Fire Palace.
Go to the first room of the Fire Palace and stand in front of the ramp facing up, which normally serves as a shortcut back out of the palace after you’ve finished off the boss at the end, and by the looks of it you can only walk down it, not up, right? Wrong!
Make all your characters player controlled, and equip one of them with the glove. Now hold up, and start hitting the attack button on your controller like there is no tomorrow. Eventually, your character will make it up the ramp. Now switch the Glove on to another character and rinse and repeat until you have all three at the top of the ramp, and you can go on your merry way round the upper level of the Palace.
As with Kakkara, your victory will be short lived, because eventually you’ll reach an impass, needing Salamando’s magic to continue again, and this time there’s no ramp to fool. Which means this has all been a complete waste of time, really, but a curious one none the less.
If a Howler gets stuck in the woods and no one attacks it, does it make a sound?
FlyingOmelette brings us another pearl, found one day by accident.
One screen south of Santa’s house in the Ice Country, it appears that a Howler was programmed in with the wrong spawn point, and consequently appears among the trees. Either that or the spawn point was originally intended for a LA Funk.
The easiest way to find this yourself is to kill off just about everything in that section of the forest, then move down from the entrance to the Cannon Travel centre, along the eastern edge of the screen, then try using one of the Sprites attack spells. Lava Wave, in particular, will light the Howler up for you to make it more visible.
Stuck outside the Wind Palace
An annoying clipping glitch discovered outside the Wind Palace. If you walk against the cliff-face just below the right-hand banister leading up the steps to the Wind Palace, North of the Sprite Village in Upperland, your characters will get stuck in the cliff-face and won’t be able to get out.
The only way to escape this is by using the Flammie Drum, which, unless you’re revisiting this palace later in the game, you’re going to have to reset and start from your last save point.
When you consider how much of a pain Axebeak can be, you’re best to watch your step.
Changing background in Lofty Mountains
Due to a miscalculation in the scrolling of the background, the backdrop when you enter the cave to visit Sage Joch differs from the backdrop you see when you exit. The former will still be showing the tops of trees below the mountains, while the latter displays clear blue skies.
Losing a character
AnnaSartin from our forum reported a glitch wherein after having Randi frostied in the sewers between Southtown and Northtown, he simply disappeared from the party. She has been able to continue through the game, and all dialogues take place as if Randi were there for his lines, to the point where some female villagers call Purim “big boy”. You can see screenshots documenting there here.
First of all, a big disclaimer. We accept no responsibility for anything that may happen should you try this trick. If you lose your savegame, your cartridge dies completely, or even your console goes up in flames, we are not liable. You try this under your own risk. No, seriously, I’m not kidding, don’t come crying to us.
Now that’s all over, a bit of background. In the game you can forge all your weapons up to level 9, the last orb or two being obtained as random item drops by certain enemies, mainly found in the Mana Fortress, with the exception of the Sword. This can only reach level nine by having the Sprite and Girl cast Mana Magic on the Boy during the battle against the Mana Beast.
There is, however, a way to obtain the Mana Sword before the final battle, without Game Genies or Action Replays, which relies entirely on a glitch in the game, and we’re going to show you how. This will, however, only work on NTSC versions of the game, so for all those with the PAL version, I’m afraid you’re stuck with obtaining it the legitimate way. Sorry. First off, load up your save game that is nearing the moment of taking on the Mana Fortress, with your Sword forged up to Level 8 (Dragon Buster). IMPORTANT: Your savegame absolutely must be after the fight with Thunder Gigas in Pure Land. If you try to obtain this extra orb before you face him, your game will freeze when you defeat him (at the moment it tries to award you with a Sword Orb) and you’ll have no way of getting out of there!
Now fly with Flammie to a small island just off the northern coast of Ice Country, just about where you find Neko near the Ice Palace. If you land here, you will appear back on the mainland, just where Neko is. Talk to him and save your game, preferably in a new slot. Now perform a soft reset, not on the console itself, but by holding down L + R + SELECT + START, and here’s the important bit, FOR NO LESS THAN 5 SECONDS! If you do it for any less than that, you will invariably mess up your save data, or worse.
Once the game has reset, start a New Game, and play as normal up to the battle with Mantis Ant. Once Elliot has finished his lines and you’re going to start the fight with Mantis Ant, do another soft reset the same way as before, holding L + R + SELECT + START FOR NO LESS THAN 5 SECONDS!
Now load up the save game you made talkng to Neko, and you’ll find that you start with all your stats and characters at the fight against Mantis Ant, except there’s no backgroudn music. Kill of Mantis Ant and you’ll receive a Sword Orb. Go through the scene of talking to Jema and Timothy, then call Flammie and head to your nearest Watts store. He’ll now be able to forge the Mana Sword for you, with 226 ATK and extra green coolness.
Return to Potos
This one is a very simple one to perform, but will only work, again, on NTSC versions of the game. To get back in to Potos, walk up to the villager guarding the entrance with either two or three characters on your team, and keep pressing SELECT while holding UP. Each time you switch character, you’ll advance a tiny bit forward, until finally both of your characters will break through and be on the other side.
In the PAL versions of the game this doesn’t work because the trigger for the villager to say “You are hereby banished…” has been changed so that the moment you walk up to him it triggers, and pushes you back away.
Are there any real advantages to this trick? Not really, unless you want to stay at a really cheap inn and buy enough bandanas to make a turban for Mr. Moti.
The other little gem worth mentioning here, which you can only make available at the beginning of the game, is if you don’t talk to the Elder after taking the contents of the chest, you’ll be able to hear I Will Never Forget You whenever you want by returning to the village (even just the entrance) instead of Spirit of the Night.
Level 9 Spells
While not a trick in itself, being part of normal gameplay, it is worth noting that upon reaching Lvl.8 for a particular elemental, Popoie and Purim stand a chance of casting what could be considered a Lvl.9 spell, or super spell. The higher the modifier within Lvl.8, the higher the chance of casting this more powerful variant of the spell. As well as having a greater effect, the spells will also show a unique graphical sequence, normally consisting of longer explosions, bigger flashes, and the occasional Shadow Zero.
High Level Attack
This trick allows you to deal huge amounts of damage very early on in the game by exploiting a bug. You’ll need to have two control pads to carry this one out, and preferably have someone help you out, as if you want to use this in a boss battle it will require a bit of knack.
Equip your main character with a weapon that you have skill level 2 or higher in, then have your secondary character equip a weapon that your main character has trained to a lower level. For example, equip Randi with Axe he has trained to Level 2, and equip Purim with Spear which Randi has trained to Level 1.
Now charge your attack with your Main Character up to the highest level, then at that point have Player 2 open the Weapons Ring and switch weapons with you (you can’t do this using the Secondary Character Ring button, which is why you need to use two controllers). The weapons will switch, and the charged attack meter will start to click repeatedly as further charge levels are reached. When you’re ready, unleash your charged attack, and watch the attack beat the living daylights out of the enemy.
This sort of attack can be used to bring down bosses in a single hit before you reach Matango (after that most enemies, with few exceptions, have more than 999HP, which is the max damage you can deal in one go).
A feature which could technically be considered a bug in the game makes it possible to accumulate the same spell (or different ones) several times against the same enemy, without giving them a chance to counter. Some spells are easier to pull this off with than others, and will require some training to get the timing just right.
Cast the first spell (for example, Freeze), then as Popoie kneels down after casting the spell (the ice will still be bombarding the enemy), hit Y or X and you’ll be able to cast the same spell, or a different one, again. Doing this over and over allows you to accumulate up to 999 hit points against an enemy without giving it a chance to attack you. In the same way, while the spell is hitting the enemy your other characters can accumulate damage to the pot.
It’s worthy noting that there is no point trying to accumulate too much damage, as your max attack will always be 999, so experiment with casting a spell a single time, then work out how many times it is effective to cast the spell to achieve the nearest amount of damage. After that, leave the last spell a little longer before casting the next spell, and you may even get a second round of attacks in before the enemy can attack you.
Sell the Rope
A way to get a large amount of early money is to try selling the Magic Rope, though there’s a sequence of events you need to follow.
After you get the rope, go to the first shop you come across at the Dwarf Village without any other consumable items. Buy a Candy and a Medical Herb, then close the dialogue window. Talk to the merchant again, and sell back the Candy and the Medical Herb, hit Y, when he says “Anything else?” choose Sell again, then sell the Magic Rope over and over. You will be rewarded with a large amount of GP every time you do so, and can do this as many times as you like. You can effectively finance the whole of the rest of your journey to save Mana this way, and not have to worry about selling items for the rest of the game.
Unused and/or Unlockable Game Elements
Please be aware that some of the following items require the used of Pro Action Replay and the like to unlock them. Although mostly safe, as with all operations that fall outside of normal gameplay you do run the risk of losing game data and/or damaging your cartridge. Seikens will not be held responsible for any use/mis-use of these codes where mentioned, and if you try them at home it is under your own responsibility and assumed risk.
Or as Sheexy would say, you break it, you buy it!
The Ruby Armet (or just Armet in the US version) is an item of head armour that never made it into the final game. It is only equipable by Purim, and offers 46 Defense and Magic Defense. From the fact that the nearest counter-part for Randi and Popoie only is the Circlet, it may have been intended to be sold with that, or it was part of the ever-illusive removed storyline content during the search for the final 4 palaces.
In fact, the exclusion of the item must have been quite late in development, or may have been unintentional altogether, since the official SoM GuideBook still lists it as an available item, even giving it a price and concept art (seen below) like all other items in the game (except barrels). The guidebook has the following to say about the Ruby Armet:
Which Sheexy has translated as meaning: This is a midclass helm that does not take energy to move in easily because the structure is such that the weight is supported by the shoulders. Also, with the deep red ruby in its center, it reduces the effectiveness of flame damage attacks.
In order to unlock this item, should you want to, you will need an Action Replay, and the Japanese or US/UK version of the game (I have tried it in the FR and DE PAL versions, and the game locks on start-up). The code to unlock this is 7ECC2X0C, where X is a hex value between 4 and E (4 being the first slot, 5 the second, and so on up to E which is the eleventh, since 12 is reserved for Trash). Be aware that this will replace the item of head armour that is currently in that slot in your save game when you load it, although it will not be automatically equiped.
??? Curative Item
An item that also can only be unlocked using Action Replay codes is the aptly named “???” (in the Japanese version it doesn’t even have a label). It appears to be a curative item of some sort, using the same animation as Chocolate when used on a character, but it has no visible effect at all other than the animation.
To access this item, the code to use in your action replay is 7ECCXXYB, where XX is a hex value between 48 and 52 to determine the slot in your item ring (48 is the first, up to 52 which is the eleventh) and Y is twice the quantity of items. So, for example, if I want to add this item to slot 7 in my item ring, and I want 3 of them, I’d put in the code 7ECC4E6B.
Another small interesting thing happened while experimenting with this, and that is you can add the icons from the Setup Ring (such as Equip) to your Item ring as items, but it causes some very strange glitching in the game when you use them on a character, so I wouldn’t recommend experimenting with this at all.
Emperor’s New Clothes
While not strictly the Emperor himself, this sprite does bear a certain resemblance, and could therefore either have been a different form of his persona, or a subordinate of some kind. There is no further information on who this person is. In order to unlock this sprite and view it in-game (replacing your main character while the code is active), should you want to, you will need an Action Replay. The code to unlock this is 7EE180B3.
You can see the full sprite sheet here, kindly ripped and compiled by Lotus from the forums.
A few different gaming magazines some time ago, I recall, spoke of the possibility of obtaining an eighth hidden elemental with new spells. Purportedly called Solar, this magic could be obtained by a number of (theorhetical) means, among which one of the more popular ones was to have all other elementals levelled up to 8 before reaching the Mana Tree, a difficult feat in itself as the final seed does not have its seal restored until you speak to the Mana Tree.
I remember hearing of this for the first time on a Spanish radio program called Game 40, dedicated to videogames and anime in a time when there was little media coverage of the sort in the country. It ran for 6 years, and ended on the 4th of October, 1998.
Back on topic though, they once read out a letter from a listener who claimed to have found a fourth playable character hidden in the game, and by doing a set list of actions and then soft resetting you could access him, and he was meant to be game director Koichi Ishii. Needless to say, I tried the steps several times, variations upon the theme, and have spent some time investigating into this without any positive results, so I think this one can be debunked totally and utterly.
Game Freezes if Entering Town with Snowman
I read somewhere once that in the event of entering a town after having been turned into a snowman by the enemy, the game would freeze (begging your utmost pardon for the horrible pun). This is a somewhat difficult scenario to reproduce, so we used the a save game editor to freeze a couple of our characters just outside Pandora, and promptly enter the town.
Either there are further factors that we haven’t taken into account for this bug to present itself, or the game freezing in the past was a coincidence, because we were able to walk around without a hitch in the town, and even walk back out and have the snowmen follow in suit without a lock-up being caused.
In addition it has also been noted that on one occasion a player lost one of their secondary characters that was petrified when they changed screen. I’ve reproduced this, and have not lost any characters in the process.
If you have experienced this glitch, let us know what the circumstances were, and we’ll try to reproduce it.
Get 100 free GP off the Dwarfs
Someone wrote this up as a game glitch somewhere, and sadly my tests show that it isn’t so. In the Dwarf Village, if you watch the Sprite show and try to give him 100GP when you don’t have it, upon returning your money taken from the show he’ll add on the 100GP you didn’t give him. In the US version of the game, at least, all he will give you is all you gave him, no matter how much it was. You don’t get anything for free in this village!
If you have any additional information on any of the above, know of something we haven’t included here, or want more details, please feel free to contact us.