Secret of Mana

Secret of Mana & The Horrifying Fate of the Mana Beast

Horror doesn’t always take the shape of fear. It doesn’t have to be scary monsters or creepy homes. Sometimes, horror can be a disgust at your own actions. A gut-wrenching revelation. A sense of hopelessness before your fate. Secret of Mana might not feel like a horror game, but its final battle against a beloved friend is one that has made me feel a sense of horror at what the game was asking me to do. I was horrified at the price I would have to pay to save the world.


Flammie is a cute little white dragon you meet in the game. When you first encounter Flammie, he’s all alone in a cave. He’s an infant. One that’s a lot larger than you, but still just a young child. You find him after defeating a massive snake that has killed both of his parents, leaving him all alone in the world. He’s likely the very last of his kind. You call on some help from King Truffle to bring the little dragon back to civilization and someplace safe, hoping to give him a better life. It’s just sad that this life will be a short one.

As you progress through Secret of Mana, Flammie eventually returns. Right after beating up a boss, King Truffle comes flying in on Flammie’s back. As it turns out, Flammie’s been growing at an accelerated rate while under Truffle’s care. You also find out that Flammie thinks you’re his parents and wants to give you a hand in your quest. Since the adorable tyke can fly, he’s a huge help throughout the rest of the game. Any time you need to get somewhere in a hurry, just call him and he’ll take you where you need to go. You just need to bang on a little toy drum that Flammie loves and he’ll be there in an instant.

secret of mana

Since Flammie is your main source of transportation, you’ll be hanging out with him a lot. Whether you mean to or not, this also means you’ll bond with him. As you explore the skies, you’ll spend a lot of time looking at his cute, fluffy form. While he may be a dragon, he seems to have some connection with cats and other adorable animals. There’s a big tuft of soft fur around his neck and all over his body. He looks like he would be fun to pet and play with. There’s a warmth and friendliness to his appearance.

When you’re flying above the world of Secret of Mana, you’ll also get to see the goofy look on Flammie’s face. If you take a moment to fly towards the camera, Flammie’s big, silly face will be staring back at you. When a friend told me that I would get a dragon to fly on in this game, I expected something leathery. Menacing. All sharp teeth and beady eyes. Flammie is soft and warm, though. He looks like a really big pet. The kind of animal who would curl up at your feet at night.

And again, you spend a ton of time with Flammie. Any time you have to cross the map to some distant land, you’ll bang on that toy drum and call this friendly creature. You’ll soar through the skies on his back, his goofy, smiling face (it kinda looks like he’s smiling to me when he’s flying towards the camera) seeming to savor every minute spent with you. You, the people he thinks are his parents. The people he loves most of all in the world. The people who saved him from a monster so he could live.

But Secret of Mana has a terrible fate in store for Flammie. Mana is a magical power source for this world, and our main antagonist, Thanatos, aims to use that power to take over everything. This coup takes the shape of the Mana Fortress, a place that gives Thanatos incredible power. However, Mana is not just some force sitting around to be abused. When Mana is in danger, the Mana Beast will be called to save it. This means it will destroy the Mana Fortress and bring balance back to the world.

However, the Mana Beast is an enraged, dangerous creature that’s just as likely to destroy the whole world while trying to stop the Mana Fortress. So, not only do you need to defeat Thanatos, but you’ll also need to take down the Mana Beast as well. It’s not unusual to have two final bosses in a game, though. Fight another big creature after beating a huge lich. No big deal, right? Well, Flammie is the Mana Beast. Your beloved, adorable pet who loves you so much has become an instrument of destruction. And you have to kill him.

This is one of the cruelest things I’ve ever witnessed in a game. Secret of Mana spends so much time connecting you with Flammie. You save him from a sad fate. Finding him alone, you unintentionally take on the role of being his parents. You get to see that love he feels in his smiling face every time you’re flying together. You bond with him by calling him through playing with his favorite toy. Flammie is a beloved pet to you. Maybe even a kind of child to you. I don’t know how you feel about Flammie, but I loved the cute little thing. I felt connected to him.

And all of a sudden, I had to kill him. I had to use magic and a sword to cut down this animal that I loved and cared for. This small, whimpering creature I found in a cave. The last of his kind. An animal that looked to me for help in its most vulnerable moment. That would look at me as a parent – someone to care for and love him. A friend I shared the skies with as we sought to save the world, or just love our time together. But then, the game asked me to kill him to save the world. It was a horrifying price to pay. One I usually refuse, simply shutting the game off these days. It’s simply too much for my heart.

Secret of Mana spends much of the game idly weaving a loving connection between you and Flammie. It shows you this vulnerable animal and asks you to care for him. It gets you to spend so much time with him. You get to see his adorable form with every flight, and play with him every time you need to take to the skies. It makes you feel something for this creature before making you fight him in an act of horrifying cruelty that still hurts several decades later.