Friday, May 26, 2017

Odds & Ends Part III

When I first started this blog, I didn't think it'd receive much traffic, but here we are one year later with almost 10000 pageviews.  Unfortunately, these Odds & Ends articles are the least read so maybe I need to think of a better title for them.  This is the third article on things that don't warrant an entire post.  You can see the first two here, and here.

The "Veedios"

In the Lofty Mountains, there is Mandela, home of Sage Joch.  Joch is one of the few guides the player has in the second half of the game, if they even know to look there.  The player
is directed to seek out Joch, and when they arrive, they receive a different clue depending on where they are in the game.

But in the town of Mandela proper, there is a shrine that gives rare insight into the background of Secret of Mana.  This temple dates from the Mana Fortress war:

The orbs inside store data from that period.  The ancients called them, um, "Veedios," I think.

This temple is from ancient times, when the Mana Beast battled the Mana Fortress.  These are orbs that are also a sort of machinery.  They are a record of things from the time.  In ancient times, I believe they were called, "Veedios."

"Machinery" makes more sense than "data" since the point is that the world doesn't have this technology anymore... how would they know what data is?  These were already retranslated by swedishchefbork in 2010 and I'll be using that as my source.  Ted Woolsey worked some serious gymnastics to make things fit into a small space:

...Gzzz...Oh, my heart brea-ks when she's not a-round,  And I mi-ss her......Gzzz...

My darling~ so lovey-lovey!  [my peach-!] Catch my burning heart~! [my peach-!]

A song?  Or someone's personal video diary?

Gzz...zegazega...This one's broken!

twang... spark-spark...This one's broken!

Whoa! Exploded!

Uwa-!! It blew up!

Okay...

...Gzzz......Who was Abe Lincoln?  Correct! That makes you our new champion..!

... Question 7! Q~~! Ding-ding, co-rrect answer!
Ma'am, you're really good at this...

In the midst of harvesting Mana for their evil purposes, the Ancients watched American television quiz shows.

[Person 1]: We must restrict the use of Mana energy!
[Person 2]: What utter nonsense!
[Person 1]: We're using it up!
[Person 2]: Ha! You can't USE up Mana!
[Person 1]: Argh! You don't understand!

[Person 1]: And -now-, the discussions surrounding the management of the precious little Mana Energy remaining between the countries just aren't gonna end.
[Person 2]: It never -actually- decreases. Nonsense!
[Person 1]: W-Wait a sec, just what never decreases? --You! You cheeky little...!
[Person 2]: This is the last straw between you and me!
[Person 1]: What are you doing? Ah - hey - stop it

...

...evening news. At dawn Lorima launched missiles at the Empire......which had threatened to take Lorima's capital by nightfall.

Time for the news. Before dawn this morning, the Country of Lorimar began missile strikes against the Empire Army pressing northward. The Empire, in retaliation, announced that it will attack the entirety of Lorimar's capital Wendel within 24 hours...

This is interesting since the videos are supposed to be from Ancient times, but it says that the Empire attacked Wendel here.  So was there an Empire in Ancient times?  I thought the trouble began 15 years ago...or was this some other trouble?  Lorimar and Wendel make many appearances during the Mana series, but it is unknown where they were intended to be in SoM.

Gzzz...zzz  THERE! You can see the Mana Beast! Just moments ago it hit the Fortress...Oh! It's coming this way!  We're going off the...Zazaza...Gzzz......Gzzzaza...zzzz...Beeeep!

... Television viewers! Look at that! That's the Holy Beast of Mana!  Ah! The Mana Fortress has been ripped apart by the Beast! It's falling into the sea!  Ahh-- The Beast is heading this way... We cannot continue broadcasting, goodbye world, goodb..."

I saved this for last, because it's the most telling.  Here we have Randi and friends going up to an old recording device and finding out things about an apocalyptic past caused by an insanely powerful being.  Hmm...where have I seen this before?


Cannon Travel Locations

The ROM has far more Cannon Travel locations in its memory then what is used in the game.  Most of them go nowhere.  Here is a screenshot from a program that my fearless colleague, zhaDe, put together:


Neat, huh?  The memory locations on the right are all of the programmed Cannon Travel routes.  Each one has a starting point and an ending point.  Anything with an, "x" next to it was not used in the game, although the last two were not used either.

The strange thing is that almost every route starts or ends near the Pure Land.  The distance between all of these locations seems to be constant, so I imagine this was used for testing.

There are actually only a few unused routes which may be of interest:

78AB 78AB --- As the designation implies, this route starts and ends at the same spot: the cannon travel in the Upper Land.  This is the only one deactivated in a long block that are used in the game (see picture).  Other than a lost quest where there wasn't enough gunpowder to get you somewhere, I have no idea.

B163 4070 --- This one launches you near Kakkara, and lands you on the edge of the Empire's continent.

3BF6 BA77 --- You're launched from the waterfall near Southtown to the ocean south of Mandela.  This is also near the Pure Land, but it's a very different combination than the other routes in that it lands you north of there on the other side of the map.

70F0 94AF --- This launches near the Upper Land cannon travel and ends at the coast south of Kippo.


Another Early World Map




This has been making the rounds.  It was posted on a forum not too long ago.  I already mentioned the earlier version of Tasnica, but also notice how Kakkara had more land.  And this is yet another early map which obscures the bottom right corner.  Maybe they just couldn't figure out what was supposed to happen here?

Sudden Armor

One of the many peculiar things about Secret of Mana is the stats distortion in the final act.  Suddenly, the enemies get much harder, and the available armor takes a giant leap in power to catch up.  If we rank the armor in the game from lowest defense to highest defense, it looks like this:



Gold City

Gold City is a peculiar place.  It's part of the Empire, and its King (Manmon) recalls Queen Zeal and
the Mammon Machine from Chrono Trigger.  However, it appears that there was a lot more intended for this place.  For one, certain dialogue foreshadows something bad happening to the island:

This island's sinking under the weight of the gold!  Many have left here, and gone north to the Ice Country.

Although it's not happening fast, the island is sinking more and more due to the weight of the gold.  Eventually, it will fall into the sea.  Some of our people knew this, and secretly went north to the Ice Country.

This never happens of course, but if we're using Zeal as a parallel, that kingdom was destroyed as a result of its greed.  We spoke of the oasis these folks headed to in the last article.  It's interesting that this resort is still mentioned even after it reverts to being uninhabitable.

The main attraction in Gold City is the light elemental, Lumina.  She was imprisoned by the king to turn things into gold, but after you rescue her, his dialogue does not change.  In fact, you would expect that the town would notice after it no longer has its primary source of gold, but no one seems to care about that either.

However, according to regrs of GameFAQs:
Of note is that flag 37 can be used to despawn every NPC in Gold Isle, even though it's never used for that purpose. Wonder if it was supposed to be abandoned after you freed Lumina.
And a bit more information about Gold City can be found here.

Credits:  I borrowed a screen shot from the LP Archive.

Next:  Odds & Ends Part IV

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Scorpion Army


Well, here we are, once again.  The semester is over, both at the school I learn at and the school I teach at, so there is some time for updates.  I need to get out of the habit of letting this blog go for awhile, because it is a very difficult thing to get back into.  I have to go back and study all of the things I did before, and then try to remember what I was coming up with.  Further complicating matters is a new computer I got.  I kept everything on my last one, and had to transfer the important files over.  One of these days, I'll get into 2017 2010 and embrace cloud storage.

This article is on the Scorpion Army.  At first glance, they don't seem like they deserve an entire article.  The thing that makes this group stand out is not so much what they do, but where they're found.  Besides the heroes and the Empire, they are the only ones that find their way to some unusual places like the Lost Continent and the underground.  While characters like Watts and Neko do turn up in similar places, it is more as a gameplay element than a plot element.

Oh, and they have their own theme song.

We encounter the Scorpion Army three times.  The first is in the Underground Palace.  On the way from the Ruins, we must stop in the Underground Palace and recover the Water Seed that they stole.  They seem to be aware of the Seed's power as well, at least as a means of powering their ridiculous creations.  Not only do they have the technology to travel underground, but they also build robots:

Aha! The Water seed!  How'd you get in here?  You realize we can't let you leave...

BOSS:Welcome! We, the Scorpion army, will rule the world!

BOYS:Check it out!

BOSS:Shuddap!  WE took the Water seed......to complete our Super Deluxe Robot!  We call it "Kilroy..."

BOYS:Hubba, hubba!

BOSS:Do it!!

BOYS:Aye aye, Sir.

Ah ha!  The Water Seed!  Well…this is different.  How the hell did you get in?  How dare you discover our underground fortress!  What comes here doesn't return!

Boss:  Welcome, little urchins.  We are the Scorpion Army, who will soon rule the world!

Boys:  Cool!  Check this out!

Boss:  Save it!  It was indeed us who took the Water Seed...to transfer the energy to our Super Deluxe Robot!  The name of this invincible guardian is…"Kilroy!"

Boys:  Hehe…it's so cool!

Boss:  Now, let's get this robot going!  You need to get on it!

Boys:  Aye aye, sir!

Non-Japanese players like myself probably did not realize that the Scorpion Army was based on the Doronbo Gang, led by the villain, Doronjo, from the Time Bokan anime:

According to the primary Wikia:
[Doronjo] is an attractive blond known for her vanity, intelligence, and leadership...she along with her fellow Doronbo members...are sent on various missions...but end up getting in various battles...and losing each time and being punished for failures.
Sound familiar?

BOSS:Aiee! What's wrong?

BOYS: Too much energy...it's out of control!

BOSS:Nooo! Remove the seed!  Use the auxillary power!

Boss:  Wow!  What happened to it?

Boys:  Oh, no!  The energy is too powerful…it's no longer operational!  

Boss:  Aieee!  What!?  Remove the seed and go to auxillary power!

After the battle with Kilroy, the Scorpion Army is not even mentioned again until their next scheme.  They seem to have no connection with the Empire...so are just they a sidequest, or were intended to have further significance?  When we meet them the second time, they've imprisoned the fire spirit, Salamando, in a stove to thaw out a town in the Ice Country, making a tropical oasis in the midst of a wintry climate.  This town has a connection to Gold City, which I'll cover in the next
article, but let's take a look at the Scorpion Army here:

BOSS:YOU again!? Didn't you recognize them?

BOYS:Uh, sorry...

BOSS:Everyone's gone!  I was about to become rich!  Huh?  Fire Palace seed?  I haven't a clue.

BOYS:I saw an odd old guy when we nabbed Salamando!

BOSS:Don't HELP them!  See ya, bye!

Boss:  Oh my god…it's you again!  Didn't you slime notice them here?

Boys:  Sorry…

Boss:  Ahh!  It's over already!  After I went through all of this trouble to make money…everyone ran away!  Huh?  The Fire Palace Seed?  I don't know anything about it, and I'm already fed up with these Seeds…

Boys:  Hmm…when we caught Salamando, there was a weird old man...

Boss:  Eh, what?  What are you telling them?  Enough!  We will remember this…

The, "old man" they're referring to should be Santa Claus, but he's found in the Ice Palace coming up.  Unless they're referring to the Gigas in the Fire Palace, I don't know who this is.

Finally, in the Grand Palace, they show up out of nowhere to retrieve Randi's Mana Sword, which they just happened to find out about...

BOSS:Hey, you!

BOYS:You!

BOSS:I did some nosing around...seems this kid is the "Legendary Knight!"  Haw, ha! What a joke!  How could YOU have found that sword? Hand it over!

BOYS:Yeah!  We're gonna be rich, Boss!

BOSS:Shaddap and go get it!  Super Special Deluxe Robot, Type 2...with turbo!  "Kettle Kin!"

(after the battle)

BOSS:Too...strong! He's the REAL Knight! What idiot said he wasn't the Knight? Let's scram!

BOYS:Yeah!

Boss:  We've been waiting!  …you made it!

Boys:  It is so!

Boss:  I checked around and was told all about you!  This is the hero of the Mana Sword!  This child!  Ha ha!  THIS is supposed to be the brave knight?  So I see you do have the Mana Sword, but this must be some kind of joke.  Come on, hand it over to us!

Boys:  That's right!  I'm sure the Mana Sword is worth quite a lot, boss.

Boss:  Now, don't be stupid.  We'll have to take this by force!  Super Special Deluxe Robot, Type 2...with turbo!  "Kettle Kin!"

(after the battle)

Boss:  This one is too strong!  I guess he is the real Mana Knight!  Who are you, anyway?  Why didn't just say you're the hero?  Let's get out of here!

Boys:  Aye-aye, sir!

What's significant here is that the Scorpion Army somehow found their way into the most isolated place of the game---the underground city.  While this may be little more than comic relief, I find myself thinking about the post-apocalyptic future in Chrono Trigger.  You'll recall that Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana started out as the same project.  The designs of the ruined domes in 2300AD are very similar to the design of the underground city in Secret of Mana, and there are also quite a few robots.  I can see aspects of the Scorpion Army as a direct precursor to this concept.  They demonstrate technology in a world where there's little, possibly meaning that they come from the Lost Continent themselves, or are related to the, "Ancients" who built the Mana Fortress.  Many years ago, I read some fanfic that explored this possibility in-depth, but can not locate it now.  

Either way, the game tells us little about their background.  But there is no denying that they are the most offbeat plot element in the game.

I'll close with some insight from user regrs of GameFAQs:

Here's something interesting. 
Kilroy was supposed to make a grand entrance similar to Spikey Tiger. The doors in the back of his arena have partial functionality to open them.  [And no, there's nothing back there. You can walk inside the area a bit though.]  Looks like this:


DqypbTG

Next:  Odds & Ends Part III