Secret of Mana Soundtrack, Hiroki Kikuta, 1993
It’s no understatement to say that for many gamers, Secret of Mana remains one of the most fondly remembered experiences of the 16-bit era. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the innate quality of the product. Square’s experiment merging action adventure and RPG elements was a resounding success, charming millions of players with its vibrant fantasy world and accessible, yet deep gameplay. But timing played an important role as well. Remember that back in 1993, US releases of SNES RPGs were the exception, not the rule (and for the German market, Secret of Mana might well have been the first localised SNES RPG). As a result, many gamers encountered the engrossing storytelling and vivid worlds that the best RPGs deliver for the first time with Secret of Mana.
An even rarer sight were actual album releases of game music outside of Japan. Secret of Mana was one of the very, very few SNES game scores to see a US release (preceding Donkey Kong Country by a year). Again, for many this would have been the first time they encountered game music outside of a game.