Posts Tagged ‘Mana’


Secret of Mana – “Angel’s Fear” (Hiroki Kikuta)

November 25, 2010

I’ve already talked some about the Mana/Seiken Densetsu series before, but not yet the most notable piece of Seiken Densetsu 2/Secret of Mana (1993), “Angel’s Fear”.

Secret of Mana – “Angel’s Fear” (Hiroki Kikuta)

“Angel’s Fear” opens with the dragon’s roar, a mysterious, primeval sound, a sound echoing from Nature’s heart. The same idea would fit nicely with Princess Mononoke‘s soundtrack, I think. This transitions to the opening phrases of “Angel’s Fear”, a call-and-response between alternating bars of piano that are complimentary in such a way that neither would be complete without the other. The piano casts brilliant rays of light through the resplendent forest canopy, the purity and vitality of nature. The next segment puts the piano as accompanying melody while a flute plays the “Mana” theme. This is followed by the second half of the piece, transitioned through cymbals, and invokes images of summer wind blowing through the trees. It is one of the finest tunes from videogames that shows the tranquility and spirit of nature. The name is a little ambiguous, but I think it might refer to the fear that something might happen to the forest, dominated by a massive world tree, the Mana Tree.

There have been a large number of arranges to “Angel’s Fear”, but I haven’t been fully satisfied with any of them. The first is in Seiken Densetsu 3 (never released in the US) with a piano and harp arrange, Read the rest of this entry ?


Secret of Mana – “The Oracle” (Hiroki Kikuta)

October 22, 2010

“The Oracle” is actually a giant Dark Lich who has become the pure evil form of the evil sorcerer Thanatos. Thanatos was trying to…I guess achieve world domination by controlling the Mana Fortress and killing everything on the earth (which makes no sense because who are you going to rule if everyone is dead?). Part of this evil scheme involves turning people into zombies and taking over the body of some poor bastard with the ridiculous name Dyluck who seems to stumble into traps and get captured for no good reason. (I’m not really a big fan of the story.) I guess the Dark Lich reappears in Seiken Densetsu 3 (sequel to Secret of Mana, or Seiken Densetsu 2), but I’ve never played that game.

Secret of Mana – “The Oracle” (Hiroki Kikuta)

Anyway, “The Oracle” is an incredibly creepy tune that plays in the penultimate boss fight with the Dark Lich, and the music is sort of thing that might be played by a hardcore emo with prayer wheels. The instrument selection is like that of a Buddhist temple, only it has been twisted and perverted to become an evil incantation that sucks you in with a sinking miasma of decay. There are some incredible prayer drums here, replete with distortion, discord, and industrial percussion; there are also strange grumblings and munchings in the background. The main melody is played on bells and heavy guitar riffs, with the bells in the latter half plotting on spider’s legs and ever-rising hackles. It’s not really a pleasant tune, but it’s got enough force and distortion to make it an interesting piece – especially if you were a kid at the time you played this. It’s up there in my mind with Sigma’s theme from Mega Man X as a boss theme that was memorable – just not as awesome as it was back in the day.

“The Oracle” is actually prefigured in “Ceremony“, which uses discordant bells and gongs to create a rather nauseating plunge into zombie-infested dungeons. It’s Happy Halloween!


Secret of Mana – “Aphrodite Oceanus” (arr. The Wingless)

August 6, 2010

Sometimes it can be hard to pick a track that best fits a situation. Sometimes, there really isn’t something I know that works. So while I didn’t exactly find what I wanted, I did remember an old piece from VGMix 2.0 (and OCReMix), “Aphrodite Oceanus”, an arrangement of the Mana Temple theme, “A Prayer and a Whisper” from Secret of Mana.

Secret of Mana – “Aphrodite Oceanus” (arr. The Wingless)

The arrangement by The Wingless (aka J.A. Burnett – his homepage is REALLY awesome!) is a magical piece that mainly uses theme and variation piano segment from the original track. Lacking in any kind of solid melody, the music flows in layer upon layer of tinkling piano notes, the aimless flow of water. This was really what Burnett was aiming for – a piece that captured the motion of water. The development of the track comes through subtle changes in the layers, with theme and variation centering around a few central notes. Overall, the piece is a continuous flow of pure, sparking water through trance and dream, unspoiled nature.


Seiken Densetsu 3 – “Sea Breeze Strings” (The Pancake Chef)

March 15, 2010

“Sea Breeze Strings” is an absolutely amazing rendition of “Innocent Sea” from Seiken Densetsu 3. The game came out for the SNES back in 1995, and then only in Japan; for the longest time, it was one of the most legendary Square RPGs that never saw the light of day. It took roughly ten years for the game to become available in English when a team of hackers translated the game. Sometimes, you can find copies of this game (I got mine for around $40 about six years ago).

Seiken Densetsu 3 – “Sea Breeze Strings” (Pancakechef)

“Sea Breeze Strings” comes from 2001, back in the good old days of VGMix, but the quality of the instruments are so high that it could almost be recently minted. The song pulls all the stops to evoke the sea’s edge, with kelp gliding lazily in the deep waves and the ocean rolling everlasting into the shore. The deep rumbling timbre of the cello cuts a solid core, while the buzzing of the violin gives form to the arc of the waves. Halfway through (2:20) The Pancake Chef adds a piano and strings interlude, a beautiful section reminiscent of Yasunori Mitsuda remixes, and also Donkey Kong Country. For the finale, the piano from this section is woven in with the main melody. Though deeply calming, the track is also strangely sad, full of nostalgia for a pure ocean that seems lost like raindrops on a misty shore.

Hiroki Kikuta‘s original, “Innocent Sea“, is played with mandolin and harp, with pipes used to enhance the melody. As a result, it feels like an ethnic sea song, played from a boat or pier. Read the rest of this entry ?


Secret of Mana – “Star of Darkness” (Hiroki Kikuta)

February 20, 2010

Secret of Mana (aka Seiken Densetsu 2, 1993) was one of the classic SNES Squaresoft RPGs that is still fondly remembered today (though I personally didn’t find it very appealing beyond the battle system and the three player option: the story was pretty trite, down there with Illusion of Gaia). Regardless of what you think of it though, Hiroki Kikuta‘s (Seiken Densetsu 3, Koudelka) soundtrack was pretty good, though perhaps a bit overly cheerful in places – so “Star of Darkness” seems kind of odd in that setting!

Seiken Densetsu 2 – “Star of Darkness” (Hiroki Kikuta)

I think I like “Star of Darkness” so much because of its atmosphere, this overarching feel of a long, desperate slog (or perhaps a crusader’s march) up the steps of this dark pyramid beneath the evil starlight. The minor key and heavy strings weigh down on the listener, making it an effort to stand strong against the enemy and thus showing the heroes’ great determination. The build of the piano, which in some ways reflects the stairs of the temple and in others the distant and twinkling spirit of Mana, builds in the intro and is sustained throughout the loop while the drumbeat and bells give the track a great dirge-like quality.

The rest of Seiken Densetsu 2 is of high quality as well, so certainly is worth checking out. I think you can also still buy the actual album from some places, as it has been reprinted several times. There are of course some classic pieces such as “Angel’s Fear” which is probably the most popular Mana song, but I happen to like “Star of Darkness” better. There are a few good remixes of “Star of Darkness”, particularly “Distorted Star” by Graylightning and Snappleman.

Hiroki Kikuta has an excellent series of soundtracks, the latest of which is Tiara (coming out sometime this year). VGMdb lists several interviews with him, including one of Secret of Mana and his collaboration with Yuko Shimomura on Alphabet Planet. He’s even got a homepage, but it’s all in Japanese!