The Secret of Mana – A GameShampoo Review

The Secret of Mana – A GameShampoo Review


In honesty, I have been playing games in the Mana series since I first read about Secret of Mana in Nintendo Power. My young self was reading the magazine onboard a train and was fascinated with the story, the weapon upgrade system and the magic. This love would hold out throughout years while I did not have a Super Nintendo and would, gasp, emulate the game since I could not afford it. It would lead me to the fan-translated Seiken Densetsu 3, the first game I wrote a complete walkthrough on (it was hosted on Geocities though...), the Sword of Mana, the Legend of Mana, Children of Mana and a few others.


The story of Randi, Primm, and Popoi stays its original course. But that is not to say there were not story additions. Throughout the game, when you rest and save at Inns, short cutscenes will play between the characters if there is an area for them to gather and talk. This gives more personality to Randi, Primm, and Popoi than they had in the original game. It is good to see the characters banter, grow, and come to accept the quest that they are on at present. This comes to include the elementals as they join up with the party. There is just a better understanding of what is happening between all the characters there. Most of these cutscene are at least interesting, some can be a bit boring and some are humorous.


The core of the game remains intact throughout its massive overhauls and upgrades. The maps, weapons, enemies, level system, and more, have all survived intact. This does mean that the grinding elements of the original game have made it into the modern iteration. You still need to level up the Weapon and Magic skill levels for each of the characters throughout the game. This can be a chore to do, but it does also help keep your party at the appropriate level for the area they are in. The most recent patch adds back in something that was missing from the game, an in-game indicator of which character you have selected while in the menus. This helps a lot since the previous version was simply the colored selection frame. The text of “Enemy gets whacked!” has been replaced with “Enemy takes a Critical Hit!” though. A small grievance there, but not a deal breaker. The party is almost no longer bound within a particular distance of each other. You can freely transition between areas if an AI-controlled party member gets caught in a stairwell or against a wall. It seems like it can interfere with Magic triggers through, but it is still a vast improvement over the bounds of the original game.


Load times have come to Secret of Mana, unfortunately. It is a pitfall of the modern era of gaming. But these are blissfully short, if frequent. The average load screen seems to be around 2-3 seconds. This happens with every screen transition and before a cutscene at any of the inns. This is good to know something is coming. Likely having the game installed on your Hard Drive (and running it on a Solid State Drive) would reduce these further.


The addition of voice acting is a very nice touch for this old game. It helps give new players a source to go with the upgraded sprites. While there is no animation to the characters with their talking, they will still change expression when it is appropriate during the course of dialogue. Players also have the option between English and Japanese by default, with more language options available in different areas (most likely). There are times it is on the mark and there are times when the characters just fall flat because of line delivery.


Like any remake of a game, there is the question of how faithful to the original it is. Overall, I can say, 12 hours in, it is very faithful to the story and how it played out in the original. A number of weapons and enemies have had their names changed, but all for the better. The best example is the LA Funk has become Bluster Gas. The LA Funk is a very dated reference so changing it out made sense. The Midge Mallet is now the Minor Mallet, just as midged has become pygmized, a good example of the modern terminology updating the game.


The music has also been updated as well. You can listen to, the appropriately named, remix tracks or the original tracks. Given how memorable the original soundtrack is, this is a great option. The new tracks are wonderful to listen to as well. Still, you are free to change between both soundtracks at any time throughout the game.


The grind elements remain very strong within the game. The good news here is it is a lot easier to understand where you are with your leveling up of weapons and magic. All of them show your progress with a bar for each weapon and Elemental. It is easy to figure out your progress with each, as long as you remember that Magic grows on casting and weapons grow on kills. Just remember, working to keep everyone at the maximum weapon and magic levels goes a long way to ensure your characters will either be appropriately leveled or slightly over-leveled for the encounters that you will have.


Finally, there is the question of trophies. This game actually does ask a lot to complete your game and earn the platinum. The biggest ask this game has here is that you grind enemies for their Rare Drops toward the end of the game. It is not until you enter the Pure Lands that you need to truly worry about what enemies can give you. Once you cross into that area though, be ready for the old school grind elements to come into play. There are trophies for getting every Weapon to its maximum power (very missable), killing each enemy once (semi-missable), as well as collecting every piece of armor (very missable).


This game offers a lot of fun moments, especially when you get into the added cutscenes. The voice acting adds plenty but has its awkward moments as well. The ability to choose the music is a great boon. This is a fun game for fans of the original game. It does a good job of bringing the game to the modern era. Just remember, there is a fair bit of leveling stuff in this game so be ready to spend some time doing that.

Comments (0)

New comments are currently disabled.

Subscribe to me on YouTubeFollow us on Twitter!
Join our Steam group!