I’ve never beaten Secret of Mana. This isn’t due to lack of interest, or because I couldn’t finish it before it had to go back to Blockbuster. It’s because the Dark Lich Battle theme makes me physically ill.
It has all the components of a good boss theme. It instantly makes you uneasy, and things only get more intense as the song progresses. But for some reason, the song makes me feel sick. I get dizzy and lightheaded the second it kicks in, and I get more nauseous the longer I listen to it. I’ve never been able to go more than a few minutes without shutting it off, and I feel awful even after the song stops.
I realize now that I could have just turned the volume down, but as a kid, that never occurred to me. The reaction I have to this song is so sudden and so severe that all I can think about is making it stop.
It’s no secret that music has a powerful effect on the mind and body. Listening to Mozart can make you temporarily smarter. Kenny Rogers can help you recover from brain damage. But the brain tends to react to music in the same way no matter what a person’s tastes are. It doesn’t matter if you think soft rock is for soccer moms. Listening to it will still help you relax.
So why does the Dark Lich theme make me sick when so many people think it’s awesome? If physiological responses to music aren’t subjective, shouldn’t everyone react to the song in the same way? Is there something wrong with my brain chemistry? Or is there more to the power of music than researchers realize?
It’s a mystery that I don’t have a solution for. The more I search for answers, the more confused I become. All I can really do is try to finish Secret of Mana once and for all. It’s been more than 20 years. It’s time for me to take the Dark Lich down, even if I need the mute button to do it.