The Best Secret of Mana SNES ROM Hacks

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Secret of Mana was one of the most influential action RPGs in the 16-bit era.

While its predecessor was localized as “Final Fantasy Adventures” in the US, the sequel was considered strong enough by itself to let go of the deceptive FF name.

Thus, Seiken Densetsu became known as the Mana series – a franchise beloved by new fans and SNES veterans worldwide.

And those looking to revisit their favorite old-school action RPG might want to check out the world of ROM hacking.

Whether you want to enhance the vanilla experience, or turn the game on its head, you’ll find plenty exciting options in this collection.


10. Self-Destructive Burst

Self-Destructive Burst ROM Hack Preview

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“Burst” is an offensive ability taught by the Mana Spirit of Wood, Dryad. It costs 4MP and deals explosive damage to several foes.

It’s cool, but it doesn’t stand out much from other offensive options.

The Suicide Burst ROM hack changes this spell to cause a lot more damage, but at the cost of damaging the caster. You’ll deal your total HP in damage, ignoring defenses and protective spells like Wall.

It’s not something you’ll be using in every fight, but it can help you turn the tables against Wall-casting enemies like the Aegagropilon and the Mana Beast.

And it becomes a sustainable attack strategy with the help of healing characters.


9. Multiplicative Change Form

Multiplicative Change Form ROM Hack for Secret of Mana

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From the same creator above comes another overhauled – this time, the “Change Form” spell.

This ability is taught by Luna, the Mana Spirit of the Moon, and it allows you to turn enemies into different creatures.

It’s basically Harry Potter’s Polyjuice Potion, weaponized.

While the move does make enemies into weaker forms like Rabites and Mushbooms, it isn’t that attractive in combat.

And the fact that most bosses are immune makes it unsustainable in the long run.

This hack spices things up by turning your foes into stronger enemies, like Ma Goblins, Embermen, and Basilisks.

It seems counter-intuitive, but it’s advantageous to gain experience and level up quickly from earlier in the game.


8. Tricked Out from the Start

Tricked Out from the Start Hack for Secret of Mana

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Grinding is one of the harsh realities of old-school JRPGs.

And while some of us have learned to appreciate a bit of grinding here and there, most people can’t stomach it.

If you count yourself among them, you might be interested in this hack, which grants your party the best armor in the game – along with a hefty bag of 65k GP to buy whatever you need for your adventure.

This ROM hack is perfect for gamers who just want to explore the world of SoM, enjoy the aesthetics, and delve into a classic story that influenced everything that came afterward.


7. Hard Mode Hack

Hard Mode Hack for Secret of Mana

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Alternatively, you may think the only thing Secret of Mana is missing to be a great game is a little bit more difficulty – and we’ve got a hack for that too.

This Hard Mode ROM hack affects almost every aspect of the game, tweaking a bit of everything here and there for an overallmore challenging experience.

Enemy and ally stats, equipment, the MP cost of spells, and the value of items and weapon upgrades – it changes everything!

Don’t expect a mild difficulty increase, either.

This ROM hack is brutal.

You’re guaranteed to die at least a couple times on every boss encounter, and grinding is a must if you wish to prevail.


6. Equipment Overhaul

Equipment Overhaul Hack for Secret of Mana

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If you’re looking for mild adjustments that breathe some fresh air into your favorite SNES adventure, the Equipment Overhaul hack is a great place to start.

This ROM hack seeks to streamline weapon progression and eliminate redundant pieces.

It also adds a ton of enemy exclusive drops to the last vendor location in the game, giving you complete creative freedom in your build for the final dungeon.


5. Better Text Boxes

Secret of Mana Better Text Boxes ROM Hack Screenshot

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In a game with such an enjoyable story, being able to read the dialogue correctly is critical.

But the original text boxes in the vanilla SNES game are hard to read, due to the alternating vertical lines that make up the background.

This was used to create the illusion of low opacity, letting you kind of see through the text box… which was awesome back in the 90s when the game first game out.

So yeah, vanilla text boxes look interesting – but compared to the eye strain they cause, it’s just not worth it.

This nifty ROM hack replaces the see-through pattern for a solid color. It looks less modern, but you won’t have to stop playing due to an eyestrain headache.


4. Overworld Hidden Treasure

Overworld Hidden Treasure Secret of Mana ROM Hack

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Secret of Mana leaves plenty of interesting locations entirely unused for a game with such a lush world to explore.

You can visit them if you like, but you won’t find anything of use.

Overworld Hidden Treasure rewards extensive exploration by leaving valuable chests full of goodies in previously desolate areas all over the map, such as the far eastern corner of Gaia’s Navel, or the infamous (and useless) secret passage in Matango Inn.

These chests will often be guarded by strong enemies, so finding one of them feels like a lovely hidden event.

But this is a must-have addition for anyone looking to spruce up their second, third, or eleventh playthrough of the game.


3. MSU-1 CD-Quality Audio

MSU-1 CD-Quality Audio Secret of Mana ROM Hack

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One thing the SNES isn’t known for is the audio quality of its games. I mean, there’s a lot of amazing soundtracks from this console, and for its time the audio quality was groundbreaking.

But modern standards dictate something a little bit more sophisticated.

This ROM hack supports CD-quality audio by emulating a Media Streaming Unit chip, which lets SNES games load files larger than 4GB.

The most common use for this enhancement is improving audio quality – and Secret of Mana can benefit a ton from this feature.

Admittedly, the sound quality of the tracks chosen by the hack’s creators is inconsistent… but it’s definitely better than the vanilla audio in terms of fidelity.


2. Secret of Mana Randomizer

Secret of Mana Randomizer ROM Hack Screenshot

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No JRPG ROM hack list is complete without a good old randomizer.

Formerly known as “Ancient Cave”, this program lets you switch up many elements in the game, such as enemy locations, boss order, and the like.

It can even grant access to Flammie immediately upon starting the game for an open-world experience.

You’ll also have access to alternate game modes such as Boss Rush or Ancient Cave, which is a procedurally generated dungeon with random bosses.

And there’s also a game mode called Chaos, which mashes up vanilla dungeon maps for an unpredictable adventure.

If you’ve ever played your own ALTTP Randomizer run and loved it, you’ll probably enjoy this hack too.


1. Secret of Mana: Relocalized

Secret of Mana Relocalized ROM Hack Screenshot

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Secret of Mana: Relocalized is by far the most comprehensive and well-thought-out overhaul of this 16-bit epic RPG.

As the title suggests, this ROM hack seeks to improve the game’s localization, making the script more accurate to the Japanese original – and restoring several changes made by censors at the time.

The hack brings back a ton of dialogue lines and sprites deemed inappropriate for children back in the 90s.

For example, the Kettle Kin is replaced by the original Death Machine, and the triangular symbol of teleportation circles is replaced by a six-pointed star.

This is the ultimate way to play Secret of Mana.

And if you’ve never played the original Japanese SFC title, then this hack is a must-try for true fans.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.