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Actually, it isn't that Square didn't want to release SD3 in North America. It's just that Nintendo had other plans. According to sources I've seen, the translation of SD3 was around one third complete when Nintendo of Japan, who still had the ability to crack the whip on developers like Square in the mid-1990s, decided that they didn't want to market a sequel to Secret of Mana in North America, despite the success of the predecessor, because they wanted to focus the marketing efforts instead on Super Mario RPG, which had been co-developed by Nintendo and Square.

Square, (probably grudgingly) axed the SD3 translation project. As compensation, Square of America was allowed to release an original RPG called Secret of Evermore (which contrary to common belief has nothing to do with Secret of Mana or SD3.)

So, we in North America got two sub-par RPGs, Secret of Evermore and Super Mario RPG, and Japan got Seiken Densetsu 3. Fair trade? Many, myself included, will say no. But in any event, North Americans can now play SD3 just fine using the translation patch Loopy mentioned.

On the upside, I think chances are the translation done by Lina`chan and Neil Corlett is probably better than what Square would have produced at the time anyway, so perhaps it's better that it happened as it did.

Vegan: Still, Secret of Mana was very popular in North America. Had they called it Secret of Mana 2, and they would have, I think SD3 would've sold at least reasonably well, especially given how impressive the graphics were, and the more action-oriented pace of the game that would appeal more to American gamers. And yes, they did have the power to control exactly what was released and what wasn't. The main reason they withheld SD3, as I understand it, was that they didn't want it to overshadow Super Mario RPG, which it certainly would have. You see, Nintendo got a larger cut of the profits from SMRPG than they would have from SD3. It's business, huh?

Name: Seiken Densetsu 3 Format: Super Famicom Developer: Square Publisher: Nintendo Year: 1995

The ground breaking Snes RPG released by Squaresoft in Japan only in 1995. A fan-translation project, one of the most famous on the emulation scene, translated the whole game and released a patch, making SD3 available to the English speaking world. A sequel to one of the most popular of the mid-era Snes RPGs, Secret of Mana, the game was truly one of the last great games for the Snes.

The basic premise of Seiken Densetsu 3 (Japanese for "Legend of the Holy Sword), or SD3, was that you had a party of three characters, and some magic, and some weapons, and you went around the world saving it from some nasty people, beating bosses, conquering dungeons, yadda yadda yah. So far, so much like Secret of Mana.

Once you played this game for a while, however, you realised this was like nothing that had gone before. However, to understand the advancements you need to know the sequel. Below are it's basic point and merits.

  • Three characters. You start the game as one of them, and then the others are picked up on the way. You have no choice in your party, as there is only one starting character and then only two others to get.
  • Not exactly linear plot, but there was not a whole amount of choice about what to do in what order. Not as linear as some other RPGs though.
  • Wafer thin storyline, which was only there to give meaning to dungeon crawling.

Great as SOM was, though, it had flaws. Square, however, did themselves proud with the follow up. The game boasted:

  • Six characters, from which the player picked any three for their party
  • The excellent "Triangle" battle plot system.
  • Class changing for each character which forced players to really think what they wanted from their party and make the according choices.
  • While not exactly excellent, the plot had much more force, and was different depending on your main character.
  • Excellent dialogue, translated perfectly in Neill Corlett's patch, which is regarded as better than the job Square would have made of it.
  • A truly vast main world map.
  • Saving the World from nasty people, Beating Bosses, Conquering Dungeons.

Possibly the best part of the game was the revolutionary class change system which gave players a couple of important, none reversable choices to make. Each character levelled up in the customary way, from levels 1-100, but at Level 18 and Level 38 each character could change their class in one of two ways. However, their choice in the first class change controlled their options in the second. This is damn hard to explain, so check the diagrams to see what I mean.

Class Change System

At level 18 each character makes his or her first class change, by standing in front of a Mana Stone. The class changes are commonly referred to as Light and Dark classes, but there is no real difference in alignment, and your character won't become evil. It's just a handy way of naming the classes. At level 38 the character makes their final change, this must be made in the Mana Holy Land, using a specific item for each class. This item must be taken from the bodies of a particular monster, which only comes out at night at the Mana Holy Land. There are two choices at each class change, to either light or dark, so the tree for classes is like this.

       /       \Light-Dark
       \     /Dark-Light
The possibility of four different final classes, for each of the three characters in a party, out of a choice of six characters, make a grand total of a hell of a lot of combinations. I remember reading that to complete the game with all combinations would take around 18 years, if you played two hours a day. I'm inclined to believe them.

The Characters

Duran: The fighter. This guy is haunted by his past, as he remembers his dad, Loki, leaving to fight the Dragon Knight with the Elite "Knights of Gold", and not coming back alive. Shortly after, his mother died, and he was raised by his Aunt. However, he deals with his sorrow by becoming a kick ass fighter and following in his father's footsteps. At the beginning of the game he meets his nemesis, the Red Wizard, who he cannot beat. This character is Duran's enemy through the whole game. He leaves home and vows not to return until he has killed the wizard (who is named Koren). He is told that if he sees the Priest of Light, he will tell him about class changing, which he will need to beat Koren. His first class is Fighter. He uses swords. Although he attacks slowly, he hits with more power than anyone else. His main weakness is that he has very little on the magic front. Still, stick him in a party with Angela or another good magic user and you'll be fine.


  • Neutral: Fighter
  • Light: Knight
  • Light-Light: Paladin
  • Light-Dark: Lord
  • Dark: Gladiator
  • Dark-Light: Swordmaster
  • Dark-Dark: Duelist

Angela: The magic user. This young princess just survived her mother trying to kill her, with the aid of the Red Wizard. Her storyline is closely intertwined with Duran's, as the nation she comes from is trying to invade Duran's nation. At the beginning of the game she runs away from her home, in the magical kingdom of Altena. She heads to the Priest of Light for help. Her first class is Magician. Further information can be found at her node, Here. Update! I have moved the contents of each character node here. Angela uses staves. She is very bad at attacking but once you have learnt some spells and got her defence up she is a formidable fighter. Her only weakness is her low strength. It's a good idea to put her in a party with some strong attackers like Hawk or Duran.


  • Neutral: Magician
  • Light: Sorceress
  • Light-Light: Grand Deviner
  • Light-Dark: Archmage
  • Dark: Delvar
  • Dark-Light: Rune Master
  • Dark-Dark: Magus

Kevin: The werewolf. This guy's father is the beast king and his mother was human. At the start of the game he is exiled from the kingdom and lives in a forest with his pet dog, Carl. Shortly, Carl becomes a vicious wolf and starts to attack Kevin. Kevin changes to his wolf form, and before he can control himself he has killed his friend. Kevin returns to the Beast Kingdom, and after an argument, he is punched over the wall of the kingdom. He hears that the Priest of Light may be able to bring Carl back to life, and heads off to Wendel. His first class is Grappler. He has both strong physical and magical skills. He attacks with claws. He attacks very quickly, and hits twice each time you press the attack button. If you can get both of these hits to make contact, you're laughing.


  • Neutral: Grappler
  • Light: Monk
  • Light-Light: God Hand
  • Light-Dark: Warrior Monk
  • Dark: Bashkar
  • Dark-Light: Death Hand
  • Dark-Dark: Dervish

Carlie: The cleric. This 15 year old semi elvish girl comes from Wendel, the city of light - Her grandfather is the Priest of light. Her story is close to Kevin's, as the Beast kingdom invades the city. At the start of the game for her you see mother and father being taken away by a mysterious force, shortly before she wakes up. It was just a dream. She gets up and meets Heath, one of the main guys in the city of light. After Carlie sees Heath talk with the priest of light about leaving the city to investigate something, she naturally decides to follow and help him. In her own words, "I gotta save Heath". After a little kiddy called Mick shows her how to sneak out of the Temple she lives in, she gets knocked out and wakes up in a village called Astoria with her next party member. Her first class is Cleric. She attacks with Rods. She is an all-rounder, and although she looks weak she is an excellent character once levelled up. Pair her with one of the boys, though, for protection.


  • Neutral: Cleric
  • Light: Priestess
  • Light-Light: Bishop
  • Light-Dark: Sage
  • Dark: Enchantress
  • Dark-Light: Necromancer
  • Dark-Dark: Evil Shaman

Lise: The amazon. This girl is the princess of Rolante and the leader of the Amazon army. She is the best physical attacker out of the three females. At the start of the game her little brother Elliot was tricked into "turning off the wind" by some Ninjas from Navarre. They then kidnapped Elliot. Lise vows to find him, and heads to the Priest of light in Wendel for help. Her first class is Amazoness. Like Carlie she is a good all rounder with talent in both the magical and physical department. She attacks with spears. Like Hawk, she is regarded as one of the best characters in the game.


  • Neutral: Amazoness
  • Light: Valkyrie
  • Light-Light: Vanadis
  • Light-Dark: Star Lancer
  • Dark: Rune Maiden
  • Dark-Light: Dragon Master
  • Dark-Dark: Fenrir Knight

Hawk: The thief. This guy is a member of the Navarre Thieves Guild, aka "The Desert Storm." At the start of the game, the leader of the Thieves, Flamekhan, and his Sidekick Isabella, announce that they are going to start a kingdom, and then they are going to invade the Kingdom of Rolante (where Lise lives). Hawk is suspicious, because Flamekhan had previously always hated royalty, but now Isabella has proclaimed him king of Navarre. His best friend, Flamekhan's son Eagle agrees something is suspicious, and they sneak into Flamekhan's bedroom to find him motionless on the bed, with Isabella talking to an unknown man. He disappears, and then Isabella casts a spell on Eagle, which makes him attack Hawk. Hawk is forced to kill his best friend, but manages just to wound him with the flat of his blade. Seeing this, Isabella finishes him off with a fireball spell. Guards rush in, to find Flamekhan miracuslously recovered, and Isabella, with Hawk, and Eagle, who is dead. Hawk is thrown in jail for killing Eagle. Isabella warns him that if he tells anyone, Jessica, his love interest and Eagle's sister, will die. After rotting in jail for a while, Hawk's friend Nikita busts him out. Nikita suggest that the Priest of light would help, so Hawk runs off to Wendel to talk to him. His first class is Thief. He attacks with two knives, and hits twice in similar fashion to Kevin. He also learns powerful elemental magic in some classes. He is widely regarded as the best character in the game.


  • Neutral: Thief
  • Light: Ranger
  • Light-Light: Wanderer
  • Light-Dark: Rogue
  • Dark: Ninja
  • Dark-Light: Ninja Master
  • Dark-Dark: Nightblade

Triangle Battle system

This system led to some interesting dialogue, as it was possible to pick two characters whose nations were at war. If you picked Duran (From Forcena) and Angle (From Altena) you were guaranteed some interesting conversations when they found out where they were both from. Basically:

Hawk's homeland invaded Lise's homeland.

Angela's homeland invaded Duran's homeland.

Kevin's homeland invaded Carlie's homeland.


Each character gets to experience their particular homeland at the start of the game, but overall throughout the game the party visits all six of the homelands, and furthers each of the three battle plotlines. It's done very cleverly, especially the bits where for example Duran returns to his home town which he had vowed not to come back to. Naturally, you can't go in his house.


As with the previous game in the series, Secret of Mana, the game revolved around finding "spirits." There are 8 spirits, each of which with their own range of spells, which can only be learnt a) at the right level and b) if the party has already had that spirit join them. The spirits are:

The game has a real time day/night cycle, with a week having seven days. Night and day are represented by Shade and Wisp, and then each of the other spirits gets a day. The seventh day is Mana Holy Day, when it is free to stay in an inn. At a spirit's "time", using a spell of their's will cause more damage, and at the opposite spirits time it will do less damage. Additionally, since bosses are all based on a different spirit, it is advisable to take on bosses at the time that their spirit is weak. For example, if you use Holy ball (a light spell, so Wisp) in the day (Wisp's time) it will do a lot more damage than if you use it at night (Shade, the opposite spirit's time). Taking on a boss based on Shade is easier in the day, when it will be weaker.

The Patch

The patch for this game is probably the most famous of all the Rom translation patches ever. Other notable ones are: Final Fantasy 4, Final Fantasy 5, and Tales of Phantasia. I have major respect for the following people, who must have slaved day and night to translate this game:


Playing the patched game A LOT in Zsnes.

Seiken Densetsu 3 (Or Legend of Holy Sword 3), the sequel to the successful Secret of Mana, is probably one of the best RPGs never released in the US. Released in Japan by Square on September 30, 1995, it wasn't released in the United States for many rumored reasons, although some arise from confusion with the similar fate of Final Fantasy V.

Square of America was not, at the time, a large or rich company. Games like Final Fantasy III and Chrono Trigger were critical and popular successes, but due to the limited RPG market and the high cost of high-capacity cartridges, they were never finanacial successes. This limited SoA to one or two releases at a time, which wasn't usually a problem, given Square (of Japan)'s limited output. This would not have prevented the release of SD3, except that...

Square of America made a big gamble. Nobody, at the time, really knew how to make the kind of RPG that American gamers would want to buy. Attempts had been made, with varying amounts of success. Square of America, with several years of game localization experience under their belt, decided to create a game without many of the Japanese design, setting, and character tics, a game with a more American style. This left no resources to be translating anything else, but that was okay; the only games Square of Japan had coming up were a sequel to what was merely a cult classic in the US, and a collaboration with Nintendo (which was localized and published by Nintendo itself, and so was not SoA's concern.)

Unfortunately for Square of America, this ambitious project, Secret of Evermore, was an incredible flop. Not only was the gaming "mainstream" utterly uninterested in Secret of Evermore, the small core of RPG fans were at once annoyed at its lack of the Japanese game design tics and doubly annoyed by the fact that Evermore was apparently being offered in place of Secret of Mana 2/Seiken Densetsu 3.

This became something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Secret of Evermore was a terrible seller partially because it wasn't Secret of Mana 2. Since Secret of Evermore flopped, Square of America had little money or desire to release a similar game. It was no help that Square of America was tied up working on Chrono Trigger, and by 1996, when Chrono Trigger was finished, the SNES was already on its deathbed.

These were the primary factors. It bears mentioning that, at the time, Square of America was unwilling to publish games with heavy religious overtones without first excising the religious references, owing to pressure from Nintendo and parents' groups. Also, Seiken Densetsu 3 was something of a poor seller in Japan, as compared to the success of Chrono Trigger.

Contrary to myth, neither Super Mario RPG nor Chrono Trigger played a direct role in the lack of a SD3 localization effort. While Nintendo, at the time, did occasionally shape game release decisions, Secret of Mana 2 could not have been released by the depleted post-Secret of Evermore Square of America. Moreover, Super Mario RPG was localized by Nintendo of America; Square of America had little to do with the localization.

Also contrary to myth, there was never a mostly-completed script for Secret of Mana 2. This persistant rumor probably owes to the proven existance of an 80%-complete script for Final Fantasy V, planned to be released in the US as Final Fantasy Extreme (named such because of the high difficulty), which was axed due to the high difficulty and the fact that it would have been in direct competition with Final Fantasy III. While there exists the possibility that some script was written and simply forgotten, the fact that all of Square of America's localization team can be accounted for as working on Secret of Evermore or Chrono Trigger makes this possibility very slim.

Seiken Densetsu 3 is the third game in the Seiken Densetsu, or "Legend of Holy/Sacred Sword," series, best known in the US as the "Secret of Mana" series. The series progression is...

Final Fantasy Adventure/Sword of Mana -> Secret of Mana -> Seiken Densetsu 3 -> Legend of Mana

The rumored Seiken Densetsu game under development at Brownie Brown is not a Seiken Densetsu 3 remake; little else is known about that project as of this noding. The project in question is a remake of Seiken Densetsu 1, originally released in the US as Final Fantasy Adventure. It will be released in December 2003 as Sword of Mana.

While there have been a number of English-translation patches for the Seiken Densetsu 3 ROM dump, there are currently no plans to bring SD3 to the US commercially.

Sources: Credits for Secret of Evermore and Chrono Trigger, mobygames.com, www.gamefaqs.com

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