Secret of Mana is regarded by many as an iconic role playing game with a trophy case full of achievements and accolades. It strayed from many of the normal elements common in similarly themed games from that era. For example, the battle sequences occur in real time instead of a turn-based system. It employs an advanced menu system that pauses the action instead of switching to different screens. It takes advantage of the Super Nintendo's Mode 7 capability. It isn't uncommon to see Secret of Mana grace the pages of "Best Games of All Time" lists from around the industry.

As great and wonderful as this game is, the truth is I never played it. Hard to believe a game that released in 1993...a game that in 1996 Super Play ranked eighth on its list of the best 100 SNES games of all time; a game that was number 42 on Nintendo Power magazine's 2006 Top 200 Nintendo Games Of All Time list; a game that in 2005 was rated number 48 on IGN's "Top 100 Games" list; a game that was voted the 97th best game of all time by the readers of the Japanese magazine Famitsu; a game Edge ranked #39 in its Top 100 Games of All Time list in 2007; a game that in 2009, the Official Nintendo Magazine listed at number 82 on its "100 Best Nintendo Games" feature; a game that GameSpy included in its Hall of Fame list in 2004...

...and I never played it.

Before you grab your Mana Sword and come after me, let me clarify...

I never played it until a few weeks ago. But as of last night, I can now say that I have played and finished the Secret of Mana.

Dare I say it, but I'm glad I waited and played it under the circumstances I did. You may or may not know, but you can actually play Secret of Mana with multiple players using the Nintendo multi-tap. If I played the game when it first came out, I wouldn't have been able to play it with my two partners in crime - my sons. I played the entire game with my boys. My oldest son was Randi, his younger brother was Primm and I was the sprite child Popoi. Apparently the original game (which is what we played on an original SNES), you don't know the characters actual names. But if you had a Japanese version, or at least the Japanese manual or you played the iOS port, you would have access to this information (or you could just use Wikipedia like I did). In the game we played, you name your characters. Alas, in our game I wasn't Popoi, I was Derp.

I'm not going to talk about the story and specifics of the game. Chances are you've either played it by now and know them, or you're not all that interested. I am going to share my thoughts on what I found so amazing about this game. You still might not be interested...

Size of the World

For its time, the world you find yourself in is huge. You traverse all sorts of different terrains filled with a variety of different creatures. It ranks right up there with Zelda. You can use these cannons to travel between areas until you find this flying dragon named Flammie that you can use to fly around the map. It's then you truly see how large the world is and what an accomplishment this was for such an old game.

Length of the Game

I don't know how many hours we poured into this game, but it was a bunch. Just when we thought we were about to finish it, we would discover some other area to explore or some other task to accomplish. We've been playing several other old SNES games and there are a bunch you can finish in an hour or game we finished in 30 minutes. So, to play an old SNES game that took, oh I dunno...I'd say about 25 hours to finish...well, that's impressive to me.

Weapon Power Ups / Attacks

The game uses this neat power up system where you hold the attack button and it charges your weapon up depending on its level. I think the highest level I had on my preferred weapon, the axe, was six. I think the highest level was 8. Anyway, your attack and damage increase based on the charge. This was a great feature and allowed the game to add harder bad guys over time while using a relatively easy way to accommodate it by upgrading the weapons. Heck, even the attacks improved over time - by the end, when your weapon is fully upgraded, you essentially pull off combos that hit multiple targets and do lots of damage.


This may be one of the first games to use the "jump in jump out" multiplayer feature. There were times where one of us would have to go the bathroom or something while we were restocking supplies and sleeping at the Inn. You could jump out of the game and the AI would take over controlling your character. You could do your business, come back and take control of the character again. It was extremely fluid and seamless. Not bad for a game from the 90s. Playing the game with 2 other players was awesome.

Music Score

The variety of sound tracks and their coolness was a real treat and one of the best features of the game. I mean, this is old school gaming beats at its finest. I'm not even a huge music fan and I thoroughly enjoyed it in this game. Each track was perfect for the spot you were at and it really got us pumped up. Wikipedia has a whole section about the Secret of Mana music you might find worth reading.

Santa Claus

Well, if you've played the game, then you know what I mean.

I could probably go on and gush about the game more, but I won't. It is truly a classic and I'm proud to check this game off of my list of games I've played. Hey, I might even feel like more of a gamer being able to say, "Yeah...I've finished Secret of Mana." I do know I've chatted about the game with some of you on Twitter and some colleagues from work, and in nearly every instance when people hear I am playing the game the reaction is always the same.

"Oh, nice. That is an amazing game."

I've heard that so many times before, and now I know firsthand why.

The weekend is almost here! Since we're talking about an epic game, I will leave you with something almost as epic that relates to the game. Enjoy.