Secret of Mana Redux




February 28, 2021

Flammie is a good boy
The Book of Mana (Dengeki: September 10, 1993)

North of Matango is a cave known as the Dragon’s Hole. It’s said that the legendary white dragon lives there. Its power will surely be necessary to protect Mana.

Popoie’s grandfather at the Wind Palace

For many, Flammie is the most memorable character in Secret of Mana.  While everyone loves a cuddly flying dragon, he was also an innovative gameplay element with his free flowing animation and the ability to control him very closely.  According to Hiromichi Tanaka in the Art of Mana, the concept of Flammie was “based on Falkor from The NeverEnding Story…[but] chubbier and friendlier.”

Tanaka has also spoken about the impetus for creating Flammie:

Flammie flying to the Mana Fortress
Flammie flying to the Mana Fortress
As for why we choose the Flammie character in the first place, Final Fantasy has a more mecha, industrial atmosphere, and in contrast to that we wanted to do something fantastic...Before Flammie, we had players riding on the back of a creature like Gamera [from the Japanese film series]...but that idea was abandoned. There were also plans for a robot, but mechanical creatures give a more violent image of rending the sky, being inorganic and all, and that didn’t fit. We wanted something that felt more soft and floating. Ideally something where you could close your eyes and imagine the feeling of the wind on your skin.

Flammie is one of the great legendary white dragons, who are described to Randi by the citizens of Matango:

It’s said that our ancestors once used beasts to soar through the skies.  They were like white dragons, but they’re extinct now. 

A prerelease shot of Flammie with deeper colors
A prerelease shot of Flammie with deeper colors

Yesterday, one of our citizens…reported seeing a white dragon in the cave up north!

Whoa! I saw a white dragon up in the mountain cave!  They’re supposed to be extinct! …really, I did!

In fact, Matango’s ruler King Truffle feels that if Randi meets a white dragon, it will fulfill an old prophecy.  Randi is successful in finding Flammie near Matango, but sadly, his parents were just slain by a giant viper:

RANDI: Is this child the white dragon of legend?

POPOIE: Oh, its parents must have been [defeated]…by that monster from before…

PURIM: Left here like this, it’ll die!  Let’s take it with us!

RANDI: Even if this is a child, it’s already too big to just bring along.  Let’s go consult with Truffle.

Truffle watches over Flammie while Randi continues his quest, though Flammie is affectively inclined to fly to Randi and save him from Geshtar’s suicide attack.  Truffle arrives and explains the situation:

Flying on Flammie

TRUFFLE: Did I make it in time!? Do you want to know how I got here? Heh heh.  It was Flammie!  All of a sudden he got so big, and yet he became able to fly in the sky!  I panicked and tried to hold it down, but Flammie went straight to you guys with me still on top!  That’s how it happened!  Flammie’s huge, but he’s still a child.  He must miss his parents…It seems that Flammie thinks of you as his parents!

And even pet dragons need toys:

TRUFFLE: I’ll give you this!  It’s the Wind Drum! While you were away, I always calmed Flammie with this…If you sound the drum, Flammie will whoosh to you right away!  Take a look!  Alright, we’re blasting outta here!

If you press START while riding Flammie, it’ll bring up a map of the world.  According to Truffle, this is a natural biological ability of his:

TRUFFLE: Well, how is it? The feeling of riding on Flammie?  At times when you lose your way through the sky, make use of Flammie’s thousand li (a Chinese mile) eyesight!

While he’s a centerpiece of gameplay, Flammie is not spoken of much until the final scene. Like a lot of things, Flammie’s fate is ambiguous at the end, as he doesn’t appear in the credits.  While the Mana Beast is a combination of many flying beasts throughout the world coming together, it’s doubtful that Flammie was one of them, based on the script.

Localization Notes

  • Popoie notices the resemblance between Flammie and the Mana Beast.  Below is Ted Wooley’s SNES translation:

    POPOIE: It’s a Mana Beast!
    PURIM: Isn’t it a Flammie?
    RANDI: I guess Flammies were once Mana Beasts…

    This has confused scores of players as it seems that suddenly a “flammie” is a type of dragon, rather than the name of a particular one.  Most assume this is a translation mistake because it’s singular in Japanese.  However, there’s a handful of content in Woolsey’s translation that’s not found in the original.  Considering that “flammies” are a concept used throughout the Mana Series, implemented in different ways, it’s possible that Woolsey was given additional background on the concept at large, and tried to work it into the game.  Even so, the line is very confusing in this context.

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