How is it possible that we’ve had this column around for four years now and we’ve never covered Secret of Mana? At the ripe old age of seven years old, it was while playing Secret of Mana that I first had the concept of videogame music being good as just music—to listen to on its own outside of the game.
Granted, it was around the same time that I thought that Secret of Mana should be made into a movie, but the point remains that the music made an impression on me.
Straight off the bat when you turn the system on, you’re greeted by a strange whale call and a fairly cinematic opening, setting the tone for the rest of the experience. I feel like Secret of Mana is an indication of the shift in game development during that era, where cultural and technological changes allowed games to be taken a bit more seriously, and developers started realizing the potential that was there. Squaresoft made an investment in the soundtrack and it really shows, even compared to other games of the same genre on the same system.
Even just the instrumentation itself is also memorable and recognizable. Like the music from Lufia, there’s a sound about it that instantly says “This music is from Secret of Mana.” Maybe it’s the decision to arpeggiate everything and avoid bending or sliding the pitch, or maybe it’s the amount of echo they put on all the instruments. It’s a completely unique sound.
Another thing I remember is seeing an advertisement for the soundtrack back in the day—the first time I’d ever seen something like that—and I remember being super excited about it…even if my parents wouldn’t let me mail off for it. But now that we live in the future, we can just listen to it on our computers through the miracle of the Internet. So enjoy the playlist above, but don’t forget that there was a time when videogames weren’t taken seriously, and you actually had to pay to listen to music on demand.