Secret of Mana's battle system was originally intended for Final Fantasy IV.
This game was intended to be a launch title for the Super Nintendo CD add-on peripheral which was never completed. According to director Koichi Ishii, roughly 40% of the game's original content had to be cut to meet space limitations on a Super Nintendo cartridge.
A most notable feature that was cut from the game was the ability to choose different story paths that led to different endings.
Secret of Mana was not initially intended as a multiplayer game, but the development team found it was easy to program the game so that each character could be controlled by a human player.
Hiroki Kikuta, the game's music composer, was given no direction from Square what Secret of Mana's music was supposed to sound like.
This was Hiroki Kikuta's first video game that he scored, and has called it one of his favorite creations to date.
Rather than having sound engineers create the music samples, Kikuta made his own samples that matched the hardware capabilities of the SNES. These samples allowed him to know exactly how each piece would sound on the system's hardware, so he did not have to worry about differences between the original composition and the SNES release.
The sound effect heard when the game starts up is a "whale noise" according to music composer Hiroki Kikuta. He explains that he added the sound effect in attempt to "more deeply connect" with the player when the game starts up.
The game's world map contains two hidden smiley faces. Similar to a smiley face hidden on the moon in Final Fantasy IV.
The English translation is notable for using a large width font which takes up significant space in the game's text boxes. Ted Woolsey explained that much of the original script had to be cut down to bare essentials in order to fit the text within these limitations.
Ted Woolsey translated the game to English in less than 30 days, allegedly in order to release the game in time for the 1993 Christmas season.
The original working title was "Final Fantasy Adventure 2."
There are two book enemies in the game called the "Mystic Book" and the "National Scar." On very rare occasions, these book enemies will flip to a centerfold page of a nude woman with a red heart above her. This was likely overlooked by the censorship board.
On any screen where your weapon is drawn, holding down the L and A buttons, pressing R 39 times, then releasing L and A and pressing R once more will reveal the letters NAS in the percent/charge indicator next to each character's profile on the screen. The letters NAS are a possible reference to Nasir Gebelli, an Iranian-American programmer who programmed the English code for Secret of Mana among other Square games such as Final Fantasy.
There are two secret passages in the game that serve no secondary function. One of them is in the inn at Matango village where the player can pass through the wall and come out to the other side of the counter where the innkeeper is. The other secret passage is at the southern end of Northtown where the player can pass through the trees and find a clearing, and can walk left or right out of this area. There are no secrets to be found within these hidden passages.
The ferryman Karon who takes you to and from the Moon Palace is a monster sprite and can still be targeted and killed with magic spells. This has no lasting effect on the ferry and Karon will respawn after returning to the area as if nothing happened.
Located throughout the Ice Country are wolf-like enemies known as Howlers. One screen south of Santa's house, a Howler was programmed at an incorrect spawning point and is actually caught in between the trees but is not visible. The Howler can be targeted with Analyzer and can still be killed with attack magic. Using Lava Wave will reveal the image and location of this enemy.
There is a fatal collision detection glitch just outside the Wind Palace. There is an invisible gap in the rock wall on the right side of the palace entrance. Entering this gap will cause the player to be permanently stuck. This mistake can only be corrected by either resetting the game or using the Flammie Drum.
In Podo Village located in the Ice Country, there is a small collision error where the player can walk off the bridge and step onto the ice. The player cannot walk more than a few steps onto the ice and this collision mistake won't crash the game.
Found in the game's code are a few items which were never used, a ruby armet helmet which reduces fire damage to the wearer, an unused healing item which uses the same magic animation as a Chocolate, and a Max Candy, a wearable item that raises the wearer's stats by astronomical amounts. These items can still be accessed using cheat devices.
A few gaming magazines reported a rumor about a hidden elemental in the game called "Solar." A number of theories surfaced on how this elemental was obtained but little to nothing else was revealed about this secret. The rumor is now believed to be a hoax.
There is an unused sprite in the game's code that is believed to be an alternate ego to the Emperor, one of the game's antagonists. This sprite can be accessed using cheat devices.
The default names of the boy, the girl and the sprite are Randi, Purim and Popoie respectively. Their default names are never mentioned in the English release of the game and are not found in the instruction manual.
Darkness sweeps the troubled land as Mana's power fades...
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Connection to Other Media
The hidden Turtle Island located south of the desert is a possible reference to the turtle Booskaboo in Seiken Densetsu 3. It may even be the same turtle as Secret of Mana takes place after the events of Seiken Densetsu 3. The turtle island is also a possible 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.
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