More Video Game Characters – Secret of Mana, Original SNES and Remake

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I mentioned in a post last week that video games sometimes inspire my sketches. I’m not great at drawing from my imagination, but if I get a spark to do so, it often comes from video games (books play their part too). Previously, I’ve done sketches inspired by Final Fantasy and Warcraft, but another favorite is an old Super NES game called Secret of Mana. There’s a remake of this game coming out in a couple of weeks, so I’ve been thinking about the game quite a bit lately.

The original Secret of Mana came out in 1993 in the U.S., and it was really ahead of its time gameplay-wise. It was an RPG, so it featured a fantasy setting and stats like HP, MP, and so on. But instead of being turn-based as most RPGs were then, Secret of Mana featured real time action oriented battles. Most modern RPGs feature action combat (think Skyrim, the Witcher, etc.), but for the early 90s this was quite unique. It also had local co-op, so you could plug in a second controller and a friend could play with you. The combat was extremely fun, and it was the beginning of my fondness for NPC companions in games.

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It also had some of the best music of any video game I’ve ever played. I’d put Secret of Mana’s soundtrack right there with Chrono Trigger’s as my favorites of all time. This remake will have a remastered soundtrack in addition to the gameplay/graphical overhaul, which I’m looking forward to hearing. Here are some sample tracks from the original game:

The remake of this incredible game is naturally a must-buy for me; in fact, I’ve already pre-purchased it. Hopefully the improved graphics won’t lose the original’s charm. As I wait for the game to release, I thought I’d do a sketch or two from the game. When I first started, I figured I would do something with the main characters. There is some “official” art for the remake out there, so that seemed like a good place to start. The remake doubles down on the original’s cartoon-like characters, so the style of the promotional images matches. That doesn’t really fit with my usual drawing style, so I wasn’t sure how this would go. Regardless, I went with something similar to the promotional designs/posters/etc. I took a crack at it, and this was the result:

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The result was a somewhat faithful replication of the game’s promotional art, but I really didn’t like the end result. I tried to make it a bit less cartoonish, but the final result didn’t feel natural or true to my normal style. In the actual game, I think the girl was a young adult, because part of her story is that she was engaged. The boy is an older orphan kid, and I don’t know what the orange-haired “sprite” is (she’s called a sprite, but might be a dwarf of unknown age). Even though it fits with the actual game aesthetics and probably matches the approximate ages of the characters, I somehow felt these monster-battling adventurers should all be more mature looking.

I think one reason I wanted to make these adventurers more battle-hardened goes back to a favorite artist from my childhood. Although the game remake was a catalyst, I’ve also been thinking about the posts I made last week on old drawings. Some of those sketches were based on Secret of Mana artwork from an old magazine called Nintendo Power. One of the artists that contributed to that magazine is named Terada Katsuya. This guy is an awesome artist, and inspired those original Secret of Mana sketches I did when I was a teenager. I think his video game sketches are what I had in mind for Secret of Mana this entire time. He drew these characters as more grounded, grown-up adventurers. I gave this another try, and I think got a bit closer:

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It’s still not great…definitely better, and more in the style I hoped for. But, the character poses and positions ended up being sort of unnatural. It’s not a very interesting scene, either. The characters themselves are more rugged and mature than the first drawing, but it’s still not quite satisfying. I actually had a couple of false starts too, where I sketched some characters that were just poorly done. Normally, I would consider sharing even sketch mulligans, but these were so bad I just threw them away.

Although I would like to take another shot at a Secret of Mana tribute, these attempts made me think I may be in somewhat of a drawing slump. I never want to force art if my hands aren’t obeying me properly, so it might be time to let them recharge for a bit. And since this highly anticipated remake is coming in less than two weeks, that might take over some of my sketch time anyway!

8 comments

  • Don’t know if you’ve ever gotten into the Fire Emblem series, but I feel like you’d like those games based upon your commentary here and in the final fantasy sketch post. The art, music, and tactical rpg elements in FE rival FF and CT in my opinion despite the major game-play differences.

    • I have actually played one Fire Emblem game, but I can’t remember which one. It was quite a long time ago, but I do remember enjoying it. I want to say it was a male protagonist, maybe an orphan or something? I think I recall it being pretty difficult, but having a well-done system for battles.

      Man, there’s just something about these classic RPGs and their music and art, I just love it. My wife things I’m crazy, but it’s so great.

      • Hard to say from that, I’ve played twelve of them XD. Might have been one of the remakes of the first one or sacred stones. They are definitely hard games though.

      • Ha ha, yeah I guess that’s kind of a generic description. Especially unhelpful if there are 12 of them! I didn’t realize there were so many

  • There’s always a learning curve when we change subjects. Hope the time recharging (and exploring the new version) is fun!

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