Secret of Mana: Redux

Gaia’s Navel

Locations

Gaia’s Navel

February 28, 2021

World Map Legend

Gaia’s Navel is the clever name for the cave that leads deep into the underground, and it may also refer to the waterfall where the entrance lies. The varying levels of hills that surround it resemble a drain that eventually leads to the water. Inside, the Dwarf Village can be found, along with the adjacent Underground Palace. The cave itself is a treacherous tunnel with lava and water pools, not to mention the axe-wielding goblins and magic-casting bats. Switches control the flow of the pools, as well as the cave’s terrain, indicating mechanical technology that’s likely the work of the dwarves.

This area went through a lot of changes during development. Transporters that were used to get to the Haunted Forest are missing before World Map III.  In these earlier concepts, there may have been a way to walk there from Gaia’s Navel.  There’s a clearing that’s out of bounds of the player’s view that may have been a westward exit. This is normally inaccessible as the player can’t reach the highest level of terrain on this map:

A westward exit to Gaia's Navel that can't normally be seen
An early version of the Haunted Forest and Gaia's Navel
Prerelease Gaia’s Navel (IIa)
Family Computer Magazine (February 5, 1993)

Another look at the Haunted Forest during IIa:

A prerelease shot of the Haunted Forest
Family Computer Magazine (February 5, 1993)

The Haunted Forest looks different on the world map than it does on the ground.  There’s an unfinished area at the bottom (open grass area, top right in the below picture) that was covered over with trees and random details between IIb and III.  It can be seen here and in some of the maps posted above:

A prerelease shot of the Haunted Forest
Youtube: Cabbusses’s Retro Obscurities

An early castle concept:

Family Computer Magazine (February 5, 1993)

The castle around the IIa era:

A prerelease shot of the Haunted Forest
Scoop Guide (Family Computer Magazine: April 30, 1993)

Gaia’s Navel itself was very different before IIb.  Given its simplicity, it was probably a placeholder until the final version was developed:

A prerelease shot of Gaia's Navel
Scoop Guide (Family Computer Magazine: April 30, 1993)
A prerelease shot of Gaia's Navel
Scoop Guide (Family Computer Magazine: April 30, 1993)
Scoop Guide (Family Computer Magazine: April 30, 1993)
Scoop Guide (Family Computer Magazine: April 30, 1993)
A prerelease shot of Gaia's Navel
Glad she’s on our side
Scoop Guide (Family Computer Magazine: April 30, 1993)
Purim fighting a Chobin Foot at Gaia's Navel
Scoop Guide (Family Computer Magazine: April 30, 1993)
Scoop Guide (Family Computer Magazine: April 30, 1993)
Scoop Guide (Family Computer Magazine: April 30, 1993)
A prerelease shot of the area around Gaia's Navel
Famitsu (July 2, 1993)
A prerelease shot of the area around Gaia's Navel
The Super Famicom (July 9, 1993)
Randi calling Flammie near Gaia's Navel
Scoop Guide (Family Computer Magazine: April 30, 1993)

Some boss level detective work by BahamutArk identified this as north of the waterfall:

A prerelease shot of mountains north of Gaia's Navel
Famitsu (May 28, 1993)
A prerelease shot of mountains north of Gaia's Navel
Scoop Guide (Family Computer Magazine: April 30, 1993)
A prerelease shot of mountains north of Gaia's Navel
Seiken Densetsu 2 Manual
A prerelease shot of mountains north of Gaia's Navel
Scoop Guide (Family Computer Magazine: April 30, 1993)

These rocks are not found in the game:

A prerelease shot of Gaia's Navel
Famitsu (March 19, 1993)
A prerelease shot of mountains north of Gaia's Navel
Hippon Super! (July 1993)
A prerelease shot of mountains north of Gaia's Navel
V Jump Appendix (July 1993)

An overhead view:

Famitsu (May 21, 1993)

Getting closer to the final:

Famitsu (May 21, 1993)

In the IIb era, the area was finished, but there’s details that were removed before III:

Seiken Densetsu 2 Manual

There’s a dead end on the right in the final game.  This shot may show a path going somewhere, or simply unfinished graphics:

A prerelease shot of Gaia's Navel

This is one of my favorite prerelease shots, which likely came from the interior.  It reminds me of the Phoenix Cave in Final Fantasy VI:

Scoop Guide (Family Computer Magazine: April 30, 1993)

A different entrance graphic:

The prerelease entrance to Gaia's Navel
Scoop Guide (Family Computer Magazine: April 30, 1993)

This shot is from an early version of the first lava room:

Famitsu (April 16, 1993)

Next is an early or test version of the Tropicallo battle, with all three characters and two Bramblers.  The closest area in the final is the room where you have to drain the lava before proceeding to the dwarf village.  He actually has two Bramblers in the final game too, but one spawns out of bounds close to 100% of the time. Sometimes, it spawns so far out of bounds that you can’t even cheat and find it behind the wall—it’s way off beyond what the map can register.  Whether it just happened to work here, or they couldn’t adapt it for the village is unknown:

The Tropicallo battle during Secret of Mana's development
Scoop Guide (Family Computer Magazine: April 30, 1993)
The Tropicallo battle during Secret of Mana's development
Scoop Guide (Family Computer Magazine: April 30, 1993)
The Tropicallo battle during Secret of Mana's development
Famitsu (July 2, 1993)

This may be an early version of the dwarf village arena:

The Tropicallo battle during Secret of Mana's development
Youtube: OKeijiDragon
The Tropicallo battle during Secret of Mana's development
Hippon Super! (July 1993)

Double doors for Watts:

Family Computer Magazine (June 11, 1993)

A nifty looking Haunted Forest transporter with more decorations:

Hippon Super! (July 1993)

Localization Notes

  • The Underground Palace at Gaia’s Navel is more literally translated as, “Palace at the Depths of the Earth”, or more simply, “Earthdeep Palace.”
  • The dwarves speak in the Tohoku dialect, a sort of rural stereotype.