Secret of Mana – Definitive 50 SNES Game #13

Click here to view our list of the Definitive 50 SNES games. Links to each video and write-up are included.

13th place on the list of Definitive 50 SNES games goes to Secret of Mana.

This lush action RPG from Square was released October 3, 1993. It is now available on Wii’s Virtual Console and iOS.

Surprisingly, this title cannot be credited with kicking off the beloved Mana series. That honour goes to the 1991 GameBoy game Final Fantasy Adventure, to which this title is a sequel.

That’s right Secret of Mana is in some sense a Final Fantasy game. But don’t let that technicality of naming confuse you. Secret of Mana plays nothing like a Final Fantasy game, except, of course, that it plays awesomely.

In this title, you take on the role of a floppy-haired male protagonist who is out to discover the secret of the mythical Mana Sword, which he has managed to pull from a stone. Along the way, he’ll be helped by a rebellious young girl, and a male sprite in search of his missing memories. None of the three have names, that’s up to you.

Secret of Mana is played from an overhead perspective, reminiscent of the Legend of Zelda. You can swap between the three characters at will, and each has his or her own abilities. The male hero is best with weapons, while the girl excels at healing magic, and the sprite is all about offensive spells. Fights occur on the field of play, no random encounters here.

The two characters outside of your control are AI controlled. That is, of course, unless you enlist the help of your friends. Secret of Mana is not only an enjoyable single player affair, it can also be a rowdy co-op game. Hook up a multi-tap and as many as three can play at once.

Sadly, what would have been Secret of Mana 2, or what Japan knows as Seiken Densetsu 3, hit the Super Famicom in 1995. It was never released in the West. The Mana series has lived on, however, with releases for the GBA, DS, and PS2.