August 4, 2019 at 4:11 PM #760
Secret of Mana
Rating: 3.5 – Good
Decent Remake of a Classic Game
I first play Secret of Mana in 1994, buying it from a local second hand shop. It did take me a while to like it then, but it stuck in my memory and I kept on returning to it and began to love it. As such, I couldn’t wait to place it again when I heard about the remake.
There have been a lot of complaints about the graphics. How they are blocky and belong on handheld system. Personally, I don’t care. When I first loaded the game and saw the graphics I had a grin on my face. The graphics suit the game totally. It isn’t meant to be a realistic game, but a fantasy. Its meant to be fun to play and it is. The graphics don’t really come into it as long as the gameplay is worth it. Otherwise how would all of the retro games survive?
The graphics suit the game beautifully. The backgrounds are wonderful. Highlights for me are the water effects and the trees in the crystal forest.
There are naturally issues though, as other people have mentioned. The static faces in the cut scenes are diabolical, subtracting from the game despite how small a thing you would think this was. I would often skip cut scenes because of this. They could have make an attempt to make the mouths move when characters spoke. Instead you have the likes of the bully from the first scene with a constant angry face when he is terrified.
The score from the original version was brilliant. I loved it.
The remake score is terrible. Thankfully, they had the foresight to let you change the music back to the original.
The other sound effects remain the same.
Even for the time, the story was basic. This isn’t that bad a thing. There is enough story to get you through it without it being heavy going as you have to sit through loads of cut scenes. So this for me is good. You don’t get bored from too much story.
As an aside, there is little character building. The remake has attempted to change this, with one of the few additions being additional inn cut scenes. This doesn’t add anything though, just repeats the same jokes. Primm is an angry girl. The sprite is annoying as hell. We know this!
One of the biggest things that I remember from playing the original, is how difficult it was. I would grind to level five or six for the first mantis and still have to take quite a few blows to kill it. It took around two at level three. I rushed through other bosses without any effort, only struggling (not through difficulty but more annoyance) when it came to the mech rider or the vampire because of your ability to not hit them!
People will say to use magic, and this is a must for a couple of foes as even basic foes seem to be able to avoid being struck half of the time. This makes going though some areas just plain annoying. At later levels, all you have to do is spam magic and not do anything else, which is made worse when you get light magic and can absorb MP from foes. This takes away from the gameplay.
The quick keys make this even easier, taking away the time from the menus. They should have used all of the shoulder buttons though.
This game is just too easy. At around eight hours in and I am already clearing the mana continent. When I was younger, I had to constantly reload as I died, and my saved files were 20 or 30 hours at least. And before it is raised I haven’t really improved as a gamer as I got older.
The final major issue is the "strike pattern". You hit a foe and knock him down. All the characters then bundle him and hit him. One time over ten seconds of hitting him passed before any damage actually appeared. This was a problem with the original which was really annoying, and I would have hoped that they had sorted it out for the remake.
The faults I found haven’t been a deal breaker. It has been wonderful replaying a childhood favourite of mine. The controls are good and fast; with the addition of a true 360 direction being a live-saver in places.
The autosave takes care of a lot of the needless replaying, and means I can stop and pick up easier than on the original.
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