9. Secret of Evermore | The Top 10 SNES Games
Some of you might wonder, “Secret of Evermore but not Secret of Mana? OMGWTFBBQ?!” I admit Secret of Mana is a great game, a great game, but Secret of Evermore has a few things going for it that Secret of Mana doesn’t. They share similarities; the engine, the Ring Command menu system, and combat involving AI controlled allies. What set Evermore apart from Secret of Mana are the more modern characters and story. Then there is the delightfully playful dialogue that sometimes breaks the fourth wall. This game had some controversy when it came out. A short history lesson before I get into why I love this game. Secret of Mana is widely regarded as one of the best games for the SNES. Secret of Mana had a sequel that was only released in Japan. After Secret of Mana 2’s release in 1995, Square announced its intention to localize and release the game in North America. At about the same time, Square’s North American branch, Square Soft, released Secret of Evermore, which was so similar in gameplay that diehard fans concluded that Square decided to release this new game in lieu of translating Secret of Mana’s superior sequel. Evermore got a lot of flak over this. Square Soft’s release of Evermore and the localization of Square’s Secret of Mana 2 were conducted by different offices and were entirely unrelated.
Secret of Evermore borrows many gameplay elements from Secret of Mana. The combat is mostly the same and it has the same Ring Command system that allows you to pause the combat and input commands without having to change screens. The story, characters, and music are what set this game apart from others of its genre. A boy and his dog from a little Podunk town are transported into a virtual fantasy world where four people are being held captive by their virtual evil twins. The unnamed protagonist, along with his constant form-changing dog, must travel between each of four distinct fantasy worlds themed to different times across history to save them. One thing I love about the protagonist is his love for terrible B-movies. He spends much of the game recanting tales similar to his exploits in Evermore and quoting terrible one-liners. The biggest difference in gameplay is the alchemy system, which is a reagent-based spell casting system. Lots of different people teach you sweet spells and the visuals for these as well as other parts of the game are as eye-popping as you can get on the SNES. Finally, the music for this game is amazing. It was all composed by Jeremy Soule, famous for his later compositions in games such as Baldur’s Gate, Guild Wars, Elder Scrolls IV, KotOR, and Skyrim, among many others. What makes the music so amazing is that it fits each area so well. The track for a swamp themed area early in the game, for example, is so ambient and deep, yet most of it is made up of the background noise you’d typically hear in a swamp. The theme for the first boss, Thrax, is one of my favorites for this console generation.
Secret of Evermore
5 out of 5
by Matt Rossi