Candied, crushed sago't gulaman
Job (no quirky referential nicknames because everyone except Patrick can barely remember this game): Today we have a very special guest: Patrick. Back from the dead. Patrick, aka Tricky Lip in some circles. Circles that don’t exist. And he’s here, live in Luneta Park. Or rather, the Wendy’s close to it. Here to talk to us about Legend of Mana. Tell us about Legend of Mana, Patrick. That’s a video game, right? What is it about?
Patrick: Can you… can you turn it off?
Job: Huh? Turn it off? Why? That was a great intro! What are you saying?
Patrick: Yeah, sorry. Thing is: you kinda caught me on the spot because I never expected this sort of thing.
Job: What did you expect?
Patrick: I dunno. That we’d just hang out? And not that you’d expect something from me?
[In this REAL LIFE STEREO AUDIO TRANSCRIPTION of Sundate, The Kambyero Krew catch up with former college buddy and Microbiology mad scientist, Patrick, and wax reminiscent.]
Job: That is kind of why we told you about this before doing this thing we are doing.
Joseph: Yeah okay, if you’re uncomfortable–
Lukas: We didn’t tell him. We sort of blindsided him with–
Patrick: I kind of don’t have enough to say about it given I only remember it in my mind as just
a few disjointed moments of me playing, basically gaming all day on my PS1 before it died
on me. It’s like I spent days on it.
Joseph: Yeah we all did that. We all had PS1s. Except for Lukas.
Job: Fine. Let’s try to piece it together. You choose one of two characters. A girl. And a
slightly more boyish girl?
Patrick: No, that was a boy. There was a guy in a hat and a girl with funky sticks in her hair.
Job: If the boy from the Alaska can didn’t get a haircut, he’d look exactly like that boy.
Patrick: I wouldn’t know because the cap covered all of his hair.
Job: That was a cap? I thought that was part of his hair. Highlights!
Lukas: Do you know Brendan? The protagonist from Pokemon Gen 3? The white haired guy? That’s not his hair.
Job: Why… is it shaped like hair? How about Maxwell?
Lukas: That was a hat.
Job: No. No! He had a sister with pigtails PLUS that comb-thing?
Joseph: [completely unrelated tangent]
Job: So yeah. Two dudes. What was their objective?
Patrick: From what I remember, it was to restore this mystical tree of Mana. I didn’t know if it was hinted at in previous games–because at that time, I didn’t know there was such a thing as previous games. I just played it as is.
Job: It was a sequel to Secret of Mana [ed. note: Actually Sword of Mana. Get your shit together, Job!]. I did not play that game.
Patrick: Yeah I never did play that game.
Joseph: Were there any hints to the first game?
Patrick: Sometimes you got these building materials that were named after things? They were named after locations in the first game.
Job: Yeah yeah yeah. So what was the name of that bear enemy? Cuddybear?
Patrick: Dudbears? Those were the miners and they were headed by this monkey-man who worshipped a dog in a costume. It was kind of fucked up.
Job: But it was a beautiful game.
Patrick: There were these little things. It’s a very colorful world. The barkeepers were puzzle piece men. That was fun. And there was the baron with the sword. It took me a while to find out there was such a quest because it was so out of the way.
Joseph: What do you mean the bartenders were puzzle pieces?
Patrick: They were shaped like puzzle pieces and there were two of them.
Job: It had a pretty robust crafting system–
Patrick: The thing is there were a lot of things.
Job: It was a huge game for such a very defined scope. You were trying to creating world, ala-Bastion, from basically nothing. Memories, if I recall.
Patrick: Yeah, you were just given these artifacts that you can place wherever you want. There was something like a certain mana level system, and if you get three, sometimes musicians would appear and you can ask coins from them? It’s like you’re basically, “Hey, I’m playing an instrument for you. Come closer and you can ask me for coins.” The thing is, you needed those coins for magic, but that magic system was kind of shit.
Job: It was, but wasn’t shit though was the battle system which was pretty solid. And for such a huge array of weapons. It was almost Monster Hunter-esque in–
Lukas: Patrick’s buying a 3DS.
Job: Aww yiss.
Patrick: I’m trying to buy one.
Job: Cool. Anyway, it was almost Monster Hunter-esque in how each weapon had its own playstyle and button combos. So, Patrick. What was your first pick? If you remember?
Patrick: I always took the two-handed sword. It seems like a weapon you could cheese. Yeah, after that, I kind of picked dagger.
Job: Yeah, I picked my fists. Because those are the only weapons I need. There was this combo-based fatality thing, too.
Patrick: You can basically unleash your special move for that weapon. I think you learn them, right? When you start out, you can only do a certain few set of actions. And you just had to chain these actions and do them as much as you can and you unlock other actions.
The physical combat system was good. The magic combat system was clunky, random, and utter garbage, which makes looking for coins kind of dumb.
Lukas: What did this game look like?
Patrick: Oh man, it was like water color.
Job: It was a lot like the Odin Sphere of that time.
[We then dovetail into an Odin Sphere discussion that has no bearing at all to this]
Job: A lot of people didn’t like it. Most of who I knew didn’t get into it. Maybe because it was such an obtuse game. There were no tutorials to explain anything. You were plopped into this world and you had to figure it out! What were these artifacts for?! Oh I use them on the world map to make places!
Patrick: And it didn’t help that the guy who was teaching you the tutorials was this guy who wore an onion hat who thinks your name is Chumpy. I remember that. He firsts asks, “Your name’s Chumpy, right?” And you can pick >Yes or >No. And I said, “Yes!” which made him reply, “Oh, you’re the Chumpy I’ve heard so much about !”
Job: And he called you Chumpy every time?
Patrick: Yeah, I think his name was Duelle, the Onion Warrior. I dunno if that’s a reference to an Onion Knight. He’s an Onion Warrior, not a Knight. He’s still working up to that.
Joseph: Did it have an ultra-easy final boss?
Patrick: Thing was, the final boss only gets unlocked after a finish the main story tree. Once you finish the main tree, you get the sword which you pretty much stab on the ground and the Mana Tree appears.
Job: And then the magical Mana Sprite Fairy Lady appears.
Patrick: Some magical Mana Monster Thing.
Job: It was a balls-to-the-wall straight-up boss fight. It was very difficult if you weren’t prepared. If you just followed the main storyline–
Joseph: For a lot of people who play RPGs, they tend to grind. So when they get to the final boss, it’s super easy. Is the case the same–
Patrick: Well, you only grind to get the moves. Other than that, you don’t get stats. You only craft better weapons.
Job: There was a set amount of places and you visit them again to trigger different kinds of quests.
Patrick: There was always these strange guides to optimize your mana levels. Sometimes if a mana level hits a certain arc, a quest gets unlocked. I remember doing the levels again and again, just so I can get every single quest. Your cactus companion will write something about it! After you do a quest, you talk to your little cactus friend in a pot beside your bed and he will write something about it. And sometimes he’d write, “Man. He told me about this adventure in a jeweled city where he saved an entire race. I think it’s bullshit! That bejeweled city sounds pretty fakey.” I’m sure he believed more in the dragon and the star-crossed lovers.
Job: My favorite area was the junkyard of toys who were actually discarded soldiers of an earlier war. And there were these tin soldiers and teddy bears suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after experiencing the horrors of war and then summarily thrown away. It was pretty dark.
Patrick: You could pretty much talk to them and they’d say really dark lines. There was this different area called the Bone Fort and you sometimes speak to the skeletons and they will say things like, “Hey you smell like blood. That smells familiar.” And tell you stories about there were soldiers once and he had to kill his own friend. You remember the Saplings? The little leaf people that came from the Tree of Mana.
Job: I can’t remember this. Explain! Maybe you can jog my memory.
Patrick: The little leaf people that came from the Tree of Mana. They wander around the world and say stuff that don’t make sense.
Job: Or maybe they do. If you piece their dialogue together and read them vertically.
Patrick: There was a lot of characters there. Anyone you had a soft spot for.
Joseph: You don’t remember their names, do you?
Job: I don’t remember anything! I didn’t particularly like the first companion though.
Patrick: You mean Nicollo? The rabbit guy?
Job: Not the rabbit guy. The Dark Knight looking fellow.
Patrick: You mean the Jumi guy. This race of jewel people. If you removed their core, their weak spot on their chest, they will die. A scratch will pretty much incapacitate them. I remember one of his special moves was to shoot a laser out of his chest?
Job: Yes! And his first one was [Iai Strike] or something.
Patrick: Was his name Lazuli (ed. note: It’s actually Elazul)? I remember his name was Lazuli because of his gem, Lapis Lazuli, even though that’s not a gem at all.
Job: What was your favorite character?
Patrick: There were two of them! Hamson and Skippie. These two incompetent people who are basically in debt to a lady because they couldn’t get a job done right. At the end, they said, “Screw this. Let’s have our own adventures!” They’d get these title cards which introduced their adventures.
There was this extra feature where the game pulled info from your memory card. They said if you had a Chocobo racing game there, you’d meet Skippie at the end of the game and he’d give you something.
Other than that, there was–
[conversation trails off into a discussion of PS1 memory card shenanigans]
Lukas: All right, that’s done. Are you done?
Job: I… don’t know. Umm. Legend of Mana! Good game? Playstation!
Patrick: It’s one of the most memorable games for me. Other than Final Fantasy Tactics, but everyone knows that is already.