May 3, 2021
Famitsu is a legendary magazine series that’s seen several different editions. At the time of Secret of Mana, it was published in both weekly and monthly formats, though the latter has proven very difficult to come by.
December 25, 1992
This day was the big rollout for previews. Just about every major Japanese gaming magazine had a feature introducing the world to Secret of Mana. Famitsu was no exception, and it also featured this two paged ad. It may have been the earliest of its kind. At this point the game’s release was planned for April 1993, though it wouldn’t actually be released until August 6th.
Translated by ManaRedux
The Tree of legend. "Mana." The power, once more. PARTY ACTION RPG Seiken Densetsu 2 Scheduled for release in April of 1993. (Price to be determined)
And this preview of the heroes was probably the first look for many Japanese readers:
March 5, 1993
Famitsu goes into prediction mode! Or maybe this was a clever way of teasing what was coming. Note that they were still using World Map I at this point. They oriented the map a few different ways in this issue; either Square themselves didn’t know what was going on yet, or the magazine editors didn’t get clear instructions and figured if they tried every way, at least one would be right.
Translated by Taosenai and Dr. Sheexy
Seiken Densetsu 2: I want to get closer to its mysteries and secrets, so I'll try to predict interesting events and [gaming] systems! Seiken Densetsu 2 is clearly distinct from [its Game Boy predecessor Seiken Densetsu/Final Fantasy Adventure]. This isn't just a difference in hardware--the story is also brand new [its own thing]. I will boldly try to predict what kind of events and systems it will make use of! Prediction #1: The boy and girl will fall in love. It's too obvious! Prediction #2: Flammie will be used as a vehicle in the second half of the game. It could be that it'll be like the summoned monsters in Final Fantasy, where if you win against Flammie, Flammie will... Prediction #3: Magic won't just be a flashy display, but many kinds of magic will be able to be used at once in real-time. In this, I have a high confidence level...maybe? Prediction #4: You'll be able to play as all three [characters] if you have a Super Multi Tap. I think the likelihood of this is high, too. Prediction #5: Monsters might also be able to band up in "formations" like the player party. There won't be a thing that the three characters can do that monsters can't! ...[the above] is kinda what I mean, but whether they'll come true or not... Even if I'm off-base, don't go blaming Famitsu! In the end, they're just predictions. [picture caption] Looking at this world map, do you notice there is a strange place with a wide sea? [picture caption] The game's title screen, unique to the Super Famicom, beautifully reproduces the Mana Tree. How does the tree relate to the story? [picture caption] It's a battle inside a cave. Is the opponent a boss character? [picture caption] Is the girl standing in the courtyard of a castle? [This] tells us that the girl seems to come from an above average family.
March 19, 1993
This section shows dead branch sprites that were not used in the final game, and Randi fighting the cut Garuda monster.
April 2, 1993
Translated by Sevon
Secret of Mana The story so far Before moving on to the opening sequence, let's take a look at how each of the characters sets off on their adventure. Last time, we found out that one of the protagonists was a 16 year old boy raised in a strange village. He found a rusty sword in a rock and, out of curiosity, decided to pull it out. Then led by mysterious fate, he ends up on a journey to restore the power of Mana to the rusty sword... But what will really happen to him? If you're worried about the boy's fate, turn the page. How did they end up here...!? ↑ First the adventure begins only with the boy, then the girl and sprite child join along the way. The three carry their own burdens, but end up travelling together.
Secret of Mana was Square’s next big release after Final Fantasy V. This led to many comparisons with that game, along with the obvious ones with Final Fantasy Adventure.
Translated by Sevon
Field Screen → [Final Fantasy V] has an airship as a means of transportation, but [Secret of Mana] has a white dragon called Flammie. These two screens are very similar. Battle Screen ① → One could say that the job system reinforced the real-time aspect of battles in [Final Fantasy V] and paved the way for [Secret of Mana]. Battle Screen ② → Note the Power Gauge. As with [Final Fantasy V], you can't deal significant amounts of damage to enemies unless the Gauge is full.
We played it at Square right away [ManaRedux's note: The Famitsu crew is playing one of the fabled SoM prototypes. It seems these were not allowed outside of Square, so the hope of recovering one in the wild is slim.] Hayashi Roroo An unflappable editor who can pull all-nighters for a week or even a month, no problem. Plays as the boy Randi. Yaohachi A newcomer who's been editing for 8 months. He's in charge for most of the content of this article. Chose to play as Popoi. Nishi Hiroki A newcomer still in his first year of editing. He's in charge of this page, by the way. Plays as Purim. 100% Freedom Hayashi Roroo (Roro) I wonder if this game can be called an Action RPG. Yaohachi (Yao) It feels completely different than other Action RPGs. Nishi Hiroki (Nishi) It looked like a normal Action RPG at first, but after trying it out, it feels like a completely different genre. Roro It's "Action" in the same way as [Final Fantasy] battles, maybe? Yao But all 3 players can freely move their characters. Nishi It feels pretty good being able to run past enemies without having to fight them. Roro And you can equip any weapon type whenever you want, which is really nice. Nishi Yeah, but you need to stop taking my weapon! A Variety of Special Moves Roro I think one appealing thing about this game is that each protagonist has a unique personality. Nishi How so? Roro Well, it's all in the small details, like the differences in swinging a sword or doing a back roll to avoid attacks. Three people are going to be different, right? I feel like that's what makes the characters appealing. Yao I really like Popoi. Even with that tiny stature, they're [he's?] fighting with all their might. Nishi If we're talking about that, then isn't Purim the best? She can use healing magic AND take out enemies with martial arts. Roro Hmm. Speaking of martial arts, each weapon type has its own special move. Nishi I can even pull off moves from those fighting games I suck at playing. Yao You mean those Glove moves that look suspiciously like "Hurri**** Kick" and "Shor**ken"? Roro And the sword has a "Spin Attack", too. Nishi Each move has really good animation, so you won't get tired of seeing it, even if you're just watching. Teamwork is Key Roro Let's start the final summary. What was the most interesting thing we tried? Yao Well, it was really fun being able to play an RPG together with 3 people. Nishi No objections there. Roro For those wanting to play [Secret of Mana], I definitely recommend using a Multitap. Without teamwork, this happens A lot of things can happen, such as players moving off in different directions or buddies swapping out your equipment. If you can't find a compromise, then you won't be able to defeat bosses or even regular enemies. Teamwork is key. [in bubbles] Not that way! Don't change my equipment!
May 28, 1993
Translated by Yoshi Fukagawa
[The] RPG [that] moves. [The three player] characters and the [enemy] monsters rampage [all over the screen, and it seems] as if there is not enough space. A sense of urgency with realistic graphics. However, you don't need reflexes like [you would for playing] action games; this is a motion battle. It is a new battle system that allows you to enjoy [an RPG, part of a genre that's usually a conventional still image type command interface] more realistically and graphically. [the caption under the main picture] Command battle on the action screen. This is the motion battle! [small picture captions] An exhilarating direct attack [style] that incorporates elements of action You can actually approach the enemy character and slash it daringly! If you raise the weapon levels and learn the special moves, it will be even more exhilarating! However, if you do not take enough time [to get ready between attacks], you will not get an effective hit. Rapid fire is useless. [You need to be] calm like [playing] a still image type [RPG] where you can't attack until your turn comes, but it [still] looks flashy [like an action game]. The magic attacks are the same method as the still image type [RPG] You can select weapons, magic, and items via the "ring command" which is the equivalent of the command window of the still image [RPGs]. After you choose the magic to cast, an arrow to select the target appears. The motion stops during that time. That means, you don't need the technique to aim while [dodging the enemy's attacks]. Scheduled to be released in July Seiken Densetsu 2 9800 yen (tax not included) Super Nintendo is a trademark of Nintendo
After the game came out, the Famitsu squad was already cataloguing its oddities. Here’s a section on the barely used prison in the Water Palace:
Translated by Yoshi Fukagawa
Temple of Water What use does this room have? An observant person would have noticed this room from their first time visiting. Normally [there is nothing noticeable], but after defeating the boss… ←There is nothing going on in this room. There must be some meaning in having such a room.
There is nothing going on in this room. There must be some meaning in having such a room. An observant person would have noticed this room from their first time visiting…
A meme waiting to be born?
The monthly Famitsu for November showed that the Japanese were already aware of some tricks that the Americans would have to catch up on later. A few others appear throughout the site, but this one was the lead story—you can get back into Potos after all. It’s not known what a “megaton class” is, but this one had the highest number (2399).
Translated by Yoshi Fukagawa
Let's sneak into Potos Village without telling the village elder! Once expelled from Potos Village, it's normal never to be able to enter again. However, a great secret technique that defies that common sense was discovered. After being kicked out, take Prim and Popoi to the entrance of Potos Village. An old man is standing there, and you can't get into the village because he's blocking the way. So, try moving around next to him. Party members move to the other side of that man by random chance, so change your control to the character that moved over after that. You can shop and stay at the inn in Potos Village. If you want to cheap out on lodging, spend a night in Potos Village. It's a promise. [captions, counter-clockwise from bottom] Change the character! Prim is in Potos Village!! [You'll know you were successful] if a party member enters the village. Change the character [you'd like to] operating [by pressing] the select button. If I can manage to get rid of this guy, I can enter Potos Village…"sigh" Next to the standing bastard Move your characters [randomly and abruptly] next to that man. Shake harder!! Break into Potos Village with your team! Take your team to your nostalgic home, Potos Village. Now is the time to take revenge on them! …just kidding.
And players outside of Japan aren’t the only ones who wasted hours trying to get something to happen in those secret passages…
Translated by Yoshi Fukagawa
[Is this an] emergency escape passage!? A secret passage was found at the inn in Mush Castle, the residence of Truffault the mushroom king! It's in the lower right wall of the inn. It leads to the [other side] of the [bar] counter, but it seems to be just a passage. Of course there is no treasure chest. A little disappointing.