All about the Secret of Mana store promotional video
January 29, 2022
It’s been almost thirty years since a certain promotional VHS for Secret of Mana played on store monitors in Japan. Those walking by, perhaps munching on KFC simply because they think that’s what Americans do (well, actually…), had no idea that what was playing behind them would become one of the rarest collectibles surrounding the game—much of the gameplay footage was from an earlier build and can’t be found elsewhere. Also, there were only a few of these tapes to begin with, and there wasn’t a need to save something that was going to be seen anyway, right? Right? Well, we know better at Redux, and we finally got our hands on one all these years later. Before you go any further, you should check out Dr. Sheexy’s masterpiece tale of how this VHS came into our control. And man, this tape wouldn’t be controlled…I’m still having nightmares.
When I first found out about the tape from the DEATH QUEEN CITY photo, I knew nothing of its contents. I didn’t have a clue as to what the label’s kana said, though the “‘93.6.25” proved that this tape just might impress. This date was a few months before Secret of Mana would finally be released in Japan after months of delays. Given that they were still finding bugs at the launch party two months later, the likelihood of unique development footage abounded.
There’s actually two other videos where this is the case. The first is a one minute feature on a VJump tie-in. This one’s been on YouTube for a while—it’s the one that looks like a newscast with Flammie as newscaster. I was most disappointed to find out that this cute fluffy dragon sounds like an excited Japanese game show host but then again, that may be what cute fluffy dragons sound like.
The second, lesser known one comes from a Japanese kids’ show. This is far longer than the VJump vid. Screenshots of both can be found throughout this site.
Now, we finally got to watch the rare promo. Who knows, maybe we could do even better?
We learned that the 120 minute run time is actually a 4 minute, 50 second clip repeated two dozen times. After this, the tape would manually be rewound and played again.
Sadly, there’s not as much content as the kids’ show segment, but there’s still a few things we haven’t seen before. It shows both beta gameplay footage mixed with stuff we’re used to from the final, so clearly there’s something for everyone. And if nothing else, it’s the return of an item of video game history that hasn’t seen the light since June ’93. Truly a time to be alive.
Dr. Sheexy and myself already annotated the YouTube video, so what’s here is just a supplement.
Censorship in the Forest
If you’ve played Seiken Densetsu 2, as Secret of Mana was known in Japan, seeing the religious-oriented transport symbols is nothing new. But American gamers had a more generic-looking graphic to step on and beam themselves to Elinee’s castle. This was due to Nintendo of America’s ban on religious imagery at the time.
The Pandora Ruins are different here, but that’s only because they weren’t done. Many other sources exist for the Ruins in this phase.
Higher quality water
For some reason, Gaia’s Navel’s water filtration system broke down before the game was released. The water in the final doesn’t look as pristine as it does here.
There was an area between Neko’s and the Water Palace that was deleted before the game was released, probably due to time constraints. It featured a boxed-in island.
The globe footage here is the same as the VJump tape. Note that the Empire has more content that wasn’t finished, and cut before the game’s release.
Unknown Area (near Neko’s?)
Possibly an early version of the area around Neko’s, this was covered before on our First Areas page.
Until now, we only had a single screenshot of this lost area of Gaia’s Navel, but now we have video showing more! This is even more exciting than I thought, leading me to suffer emotional damage that I can’t play this version.
Gaia’s Navel Cave
Never seen before is this extra cave at the Gaia’s Navel waterfall. It’s unlikely that this led to the second level, as that would let you skip the first area of the cave. It likely led to an area that was cut due to a lack of time to finish it, or just for balance.
For more Secret of Mana fun and excitement, poke around the site to learn all kinds of nice bits.