23 Things Secret of Mana and Tales of Symphonia Share In Common

As noticed by someone who’s played each at least half a dozen times! I’d rank Tales of Symphonia easily in my top ten games of all-time and a lot of that came from how familiar it felt. I truly wonder how much I would have enjoyed it if I hadn’t played Secret of Mana over a decade earlier.

Major spoilers for both games, obviously!


  1. They’re action RPGs.

  3. They’re noted for great soundtracks.

  5. At least three-player co-op! Now there’s an RPG rarity.

  7. Both games have a way to break boss battles with stunlock by exploiting quirks of magic animations. In Secret of Mana you can begin casting a second attack spell before the first spell’s animation ends; in Tales of Symphonia you can cancel a casting animation to reset your combo, giving most magic users near-infinite combos. (Tip: It’s easier to get the timing down for Colette and Sheeena than for Kratos, Zelos, or Regal. Raine can technically pull it off too, but it’s much, much tougher.)

  9. Magic energy called mana.

  11. Secret of Mana“, “Tales of Symphonia“, “[type of info] of [fantasy word similar to mundane word].” (“Mana” is like manna, another word for bread.)

  13. A giant tree of life that supplies the world’s mana (and villains who don’t mind screwing up the world by messing with that tree).

  15. Randi and Lloyd are good-natured, brown-haired male heroes of a warrior archetype and can’t use magic.

  17. Purim and Colette are blonde heroines with balanced physical and magical abilities who are of upper classes in society but suffer because of it.

  19. Popoi and Genis are attack mages and short kid-looking characters of species that live for a long time.

  21. Chrono Trigger comparisons work too! Three-way comparisons fall apart, but each pair in the main trios works. Compared to Crono: Randi is also a sword-wielding teenager who wears blue clothes and brown boots; Lloyd is also a spiky-haired teenager and the game’s first dialogue is an older female character waking him up. (“Lloyd! Lloyd Irving, wake up!” vs. “Good morning, Crono.”)

  23. Compared to Marle: Purim is also a blonde ponytailed healer girl wearing a strapless top with baggy pants; Colette is also a blonde girl dressed in white who fights with ranged weapons and has support magic.

  25. Compared to Lucca: Popoi is also an attack mage; Genis is also an attack mage and a genius and possibly has questionable self-esteem. (Lucca has trouble at first acting normal in Marle’s presence because she’s a princess; Genis admits to Lloyd that he looked up to and wanted to be like him but ultimately knows that he’s still a coward.)

  27. Undine and Sylph are the Water and Air spirits’ names in both games and Luna is also a spirit, but of different elements—Moon in Secret of Mana and Light in Tales of Symphonia.

  29. Gnome is not only the Earth spirit of both games, but also annoys girls. Purim feels insulted when SoM‘s Gnome thinks she’s married to Popoi; Sheena gets frustrated with ToS‘s Gnome and his flippant attitude.

  31. Subversions of traditional legends. Randi pulls a sword from a stone and gets banished for it; Colette and Zelos are called the Chosen Ones, but Colette’s journey is literally unwinnable while Zelos will do anything to get away from being the Chosen.

  33. Every character saves every character from everything ever! No, really. Every possible situation someone could need to be rescued from exists between these two RPGs. In Secret of Mana:
    • Jema saves Randi from the Mantis Ant slicing him up (if he dies)
    • Purim saves Randi from being boiled alive by goblins
    • Randi and Popoi save Purim from being attacked by werewolves
    • Randi and Popi save Purim from getting hit on by a captain of a sandship
    • The full party saves Jema and his republic from the Dark Stalker’s assassination attempt
    • Randi and Popoi save Purim from having her soul stolen by Thanatos

    In Tales of Symphonia (a much longer game):

    • Colette, Genis, Raine, and Kratos save Lloyd from Yuan and Botta killing him
    • Colette saves Lloyd from Kvar’s dying ambush from behind
    • Sheena saves Lloyd, Colette, and Zelos from an underground Meltokio jail
    • Lloyd, Colette, Sheena, and Zelos save Genis and Raine from execution by the Papal Knights
    • Colette saves the full party from a magical trap set by Pronyma and Zelos
    • Corrine and Lloyd save Sheena from Volt zapping her
    • Presea saves Colette from a magical trap set by Rodyle
    • Botta saves the full party from a drowning trap set by Rodyle
    • Mithos saves the full party from a dragon trap set by Rodyle
    • Colette saves Lloyd from Forcystus’ dying ambush from behind
    • Regal saves the full party from Welgaia jail
    • The full party saves Colette from turning into a crystal
    • Mithos saves Genis from Pronyma zapping him
    • Kratos saves Lloyd from Yuan zapping him
    • Regal, Sheena, Raine, Presea, and Genis each sacrifice themselves for Lloyd and get caught in traps while he’s on his way to save Colette from having her soul stolen by Mithos and Zelos… but then Zelos saves not only Colette but also Regal, Sheena, Raine, Presea, and Genis individually
    • Genis saves Lloyd from Mithos in that same scene
    • Yuan saves Kratos from suicide by releasing mana
    • Lloyd saves the entire party except his best friend from Mithos’ psychological warfare illusions
    • If Lloyd’s best friend is Genis or Raine, he saves them from being possessed by Mithos (any other best friend will break free right before he arrives on the scene)

  35. The Resistance in Secret of Mana and the Desians in Tales of Symphonia are bands of NPC rebels in hidden bases who oppose the primary evil while hiding right under their noses.

  37. Both male heroes are raised by an alternate parental figure but have a birth parent who’s a character of legend. Randi’s mother is the essence of the Mana Tree; Lloyd’s father is an immortal hero hailed in a war millennia ago.

  39. Flying makes you feel awesome and has awesome music.

  41. The seasonal forest in SoM and the entry to Heimdall in ToS are puzzle forest dungeons with multiple screens that interact with each other and whose solutions are spelled out clearly by NPCs.

  43. The Fire Palace in Secret of Mana and the Temple of Fire in Tales of Symphonia are surprisingly easy, lightweight, and unthreatening dungeons only a few rooms long. Cool bosses, though!

  45. Sage Joch in SoM and the Gnomelettes in ToS are NPCs in an earth-themed dungeon who troll the party with repeated cycles of sending them into the outside world to do random tasks and come back.


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