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A look at Secret of Mana, a classic RPG reborn for modern platforms


Jason Clement

It's only February but this year is already off to a great start with game releases, and it's only going to get better this week as one of gaming's most classic RPGs gets a makeover -- Secret of Mana, that is.

 

 

What is it?

 

Secret of Mana sword.jpg

 

Originally releasing on Nintendo's SNES in 1993, Secret of Mana is the second entry in the Mana series (known as Seiken Densetsu in Japan), and the first to reach widespread acclaim. As an Action RPG, Secret of Mana was a sharp contrast to Square's more popular series, Final Fantasy.

 

Instead of selecting and choosing your options in battle and then watching it play out, all of the action in Secret of Mana unfolded in real-time. Enemies bounced around the screen and lunged at your character while he (or she, depending on who your lead character was) brandished his sword to defend himself or dodge the attack. It was an approach not unlike the Legend of Zelda series, and one that was less common for its time.

 

 

 

Why is it so beloved?

 

Secret of Mana gameplay.jpg

 

It hits on almost everything any gamer wants out of a game. The visuals are bright, colorful, and appealing, and its sprite work and character design are among Square's most memorable from that time period. Its story -- about a boy who is unwittingly chosen to bear a legendary sword and then gets caught up in a war that decides the fate of the world -- has its share of great moments and twists and is generally evocative of the classic hero's journey. The streamlined battle system -- which made use of a circle of options that surrounded the character to select different options -- was fast-paced, fun, and intuitive. Last but not least, its soundtrack -- composed by Hiroki Kikuta -- is considered one of the best musical game scores to date.

 

Also of note -- in the original SNES version, Secret of Mana was also one of the first big RPGs to let your friends play cooperatively with you. Traditionally, two players could control two of the game's characters as you played through the game, but if you had a special Multitap connected, up to three players could play together -- a revolutionary feat for an RPG at the time.

 

 

What's new in this remake?

 

 

Much like the recently released Shadow of the Colossus remake, Secret of Mana's visuals has been entirely redone, bringing the game into HD for the first time and using the same 3D engine that 2016's Adventures of Mana was built on. Also new to this version are added voice-overs, a newly arranged musical score, and upgraded gameplay improvements such as new Interlude Episodes that showcase new scenes between Randi and the various characters he encounters throughout the game.

 

 

Where can I buy it, and what platforms is it coming out on?

 

The game will be out digitally on PlayStation Network for both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, as well as on Steam for PC users on February 15 for $39.99. However, if you want to buy a physical copy, boxed versions are being sold exclusively at Gamestop for all three platforms.

 

Secret of Mana pre-order dlc.jpg

 

Also, if you pre-order the game in either format (digitally or physically), you'll get access to special costumes for all three characters.

 

Are you interested in buying the Secret of Mana remake?

Edited by Jason Clement

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Despite the steep price, and the fact that I have the original (via SNES Classic) I still pre-ordered it...I really like the game but I've never actually finished it, so I guess this will be the "definitive" version to play since it has some new stuff. Guess I'll find out tomorrow!

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