The Secret of Mana – The SNES adventure role-playing game from Square Enix. The graphics and many parts of the game have been rebuilt from the ground up. This has been a surprisingly controversial move, as the game has a loyal following.
You might be asking what changed, what stayed the same and is it any good?
The Secret of Mana was released in Japan as Seiken Densetsu 2. It is the 1993’s action role-playing game released by Enix Square for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The fantasy game is about three heroes who attempt to stop an evil empire from destroying the world.
The Secret of Mana HD Remake: Reimaging or just mangling?
The game is notable. It’s using the real-time fighting system rather than the turn-based combat Square was known for. It includes the option for two other people to join you and play at the same time, each using a character. The multiplayer supported drop in and drop out quickly without pausing the action. Menus were what was called the “ring” system. In the “ring”, everything was presented in a series of rings you cycle through when you hit the menu button rather than actual menu screen. The “ring” system is where you used, items, cast spells, and checked stats. While a character was using the ring, the action was paused for all other players and computer controlled characters.
The original game received great reviews for its graphics, gameplay, and the music was generally praised by every media outlet as one of the best games of the 16-bit era. It received high marks across the board and is remembered fondly by many gamers of that era.
The story and content of the game were virtually unchanged. All the level design and items were as they were. The core gameplay mechanics are the same. Some of these decisions might hurt the game when it comes to new gamers picking up this game. It still keeps some more archaic systems. The ring system, while revolutionary in its day, shows its age a bit with having to pause the action, and a lack of more shortcuts.
The graphics were totally overhauled with polygonal characters maps and environments. Maybe it loses some of the game charms but for me, the game is as bright and vibrant as ever. I played the original just a week before the remake came out, and the updated graphics do it justice. The characters have fun and funny expressions to events and are full of life. One minor gripe is they added a more traditional cutscene for some of the game parts. Although the characters mouths do not move when they speak. Their expressions just change. It’s not enough to detract from the game, but it might bother some players.
The music has been redone as well. Though there is the option to switch back to the original game which is a nice touch. I like the new music. It takes the old songs and ads more depth and richness of sound that the original could not have due to hardware limitations. This is also not for everyone as the soundtrack of the original is widely view as great, but again, there is the option to switch back. The other change in the sound department is that almost all text has accompanying voice acting to go with it. You can choose between Japanese or English, independent of the text, or can must the voice acting altogether as you wish.
As far as gameplay, there were several improvements. It is easier to swap characters now, using the D-pad rather than having to cycle with “Select” as on the SNES. You can also hotkey 2 spells or item usage to the shoulder buttons. It would have been nice for more hotkeys for the triggers as well, and maybe for the unused left stick, but even just those 2 is a big help. There is also a minimap. The minimap can be toggled and will show up in the top right corner of the screen. I found the map to be of use sometimes. But other times, it did not show any more information that is already on the screen.
The biggest change is the ability to change the number of any type of item you can carry. By default, you can only carry 4 of each item. This includes healing items and the “cup of wishes”, the item that brings a dead character back to life in the field. You can change this to be 8 or even 12. This is the biggest change that affects the overall difficulty of the game. Having 12 revives instead of just 4 on a tough level makes a big difference.
This remake does the game justice and lets a new audience play a fantastic game. It updates the game while keeping the older games feel, style and char as well as the solid gameplay intact. That is not to say that there are no faults. Sometimes, the difficulty of parts of the game spike for no apparent reason. In the later game you will need to grind for gear and levels a lot. Some people will be turned off by this, but I like the combat system overall. It did not feel like much of a chore.
In the end, there will be purists in the population that feel like this simply mangled the game because it was perfect the way it was. They are welcome to go play the old one on many old and re-released platforms including the SNES classic. As for me, I am having a blast reliving a great game given new life and loving every second.
Secret of Mana HD Remake Review:
For another great RPG, this one is a bit more modern and traditional. Be sure to check out Persona 5 or for a most “classic” RPG, take a look at Grandia 2. These are both fantastic games worth any RPG player’s time!