Falling out of roles

The relationship between my sister and me always seemed a bit complicated. It was characterized by a strangely distant closeness. As a big brother, I was a kind of an idol. I felt obliged. And I wanted to fulfill this role as well. I think that I was often too strict – but at least I always tried hard!

But of course there were also those moments when we came closer. When we sat together in front of the console, we were just kids. We had a lot of fun with Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. But one game really bonded us together. Through the co-op mode Secret of Mana by Square was a great shared experience where we were dependent on each other. So in the beginning it was annoying that the fights in the action roleplaying game were interrupted when one of us opened the ring menu – this was used to set the special abilities and settings for all characters. But it also forced us to make arrangements beforehand when using magic and charged attacks with weapons.

When we played Secret of Mana, we didn’t have to conform to a role, nor were we competitors. We didn’t have to share or rotate the controller. We studied the behavior of opponents together and looked for their weaknesses. We paid attention to each other’s remaining life energy. We were happy when the other found a secret passage. And we both enjoyed sitting in front of the intro and listening to the beautiful music.

We also met each other anew on another level. There was the typical boy, who fatefully became the bearer of the legendary Mana Sword. But there was also the rebellious princess with a fighter’s nature as well as a sprite with a very loose mouth and a big heart. I played the magical ladies and my sister fought with the sword. We were a team and no character was more important than the other. The trio very often made us laugh, but the serious tone of the game occasionally led to melancholy and – especially at the very end – to tears. There was peace between brother and sister – at least until the mana dragon was defeated and the credits were over.

Today it has become a little more quiet between my sister and me. It is a very deceptive silence. And although she tends to like action and I like adventure, there is this shared memory. Maybe after more than 15 years, it’s time to bring the heroines of yesteryear back together, to pull the sword out of the stone and resume the fight against evil.

Secret of Mana is available for SNES, Wii, Wii U, iOS, Android, Switch, PlayStation 4 and PC. The action role-playing game has a complicated history. It was first released in 1993 in Japan as Seiken Densetsu 2 and in 1994 in Europe for the SNES. It was originally developed as Final Fantasy IV, then it was planned for the Nintendo CD expansion and had to be shortened and changed significantly after the failure of the project with Sony. The game was successful anyway. The cancelled ideas turned into a whole new adventure, namely Chrono Trigger. (SNES) The predecessor is called Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden (Game Boy) and is better known as Mystic Quest. The successor Seiken Densetsu 3 (SNES) came to the West for the first time with the Collection of Mana (Switch).

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