The lights are on
Any RPG worth its salt is accompanied by a solid soundtrack. The Secret of Mana soundtrack is as vast as it is captivating. It encompasses haunting melodies, tribal beats, and Celtic-inspired tunes to transport players into a grand adventure. Hiroki Kikuta, the composer for the game, combines sounds unusual to 16-bit games such as woodwind instruments and polkas to transport players to a fantastical world.
Here are just a few of our favorite songs from The Secret of Mana.
"Fear of the Heavens"
The stirring title theme of The Secret of Mana begins with the otherworldly bellows of whales. Then, a fragile piano melody plucks out the first notes of a huge, sprawling adventure. Combined with soft background strings and a timid bass line, "Fear of the Heavens" acts as a perfect, beautiful prelude.
If the game's title theme is an example of how soft and romantic the soundtrack can be, this boss theme is the antithesis. Frantic strings and driving double bass drums combine to deliver boss music like only Square Enix can deliver.The slap bass breakdown in the middle offers listeners a brief, semi-triumphant respite from the nonstop chaos of the song.
"Secret of the Arid Sands"
This song is the perfect theme to accompany a quest through the desert. The steel drum-style percussion offers an exotic backbone for the mysterious melody. The 16-bit clapping accent also gives the song a '90s flavor that I adore.
The final boss music for The Secret of Mana is appropriately epic. Similar to "Danger," it begins with fast-paced drums, melody, and bass line that fits the importance of the battle. The chaotic tune eventually gives way to a soft, hopeful string melody near the middle.
This song is a great example of how chill the game's soundtrack can get. The interesting drum line mixes up playful cymbals and sporadic double bass bursts. The soft, synth melody invokes a sense of both calm and uncertainty, which is a good accompaniment for exploring unknown territory.
These are just some of my favorite tracks from The Secret of Mana. For more analysis of the game's broad, beautiful soundtrack, I suggest checking out episode 81 of The Legacy Music Hour podcast. Here, Brent Weinbach and Rob F. Switch dig into The Secret of Mana's huge playlist with some insightful and humorous commentary.