Secret of Mana is one of those games that people in my generation talk about in great affection. It was one of several classics released under what can easily be called game developer; Squares “Golden Age”, which also included Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI. Mana, however, was something different for the RPG giants; with it’s Zelda-inspired gameplay and focus on cooperative multiplayer. Since then, fans of the series have had a tough time, especially with the sequel to Secret of Mana 2, which have not been released outside Japan. ( It have been given a fan-made translation though).
Good News for Secret of Mana Fans!
However, last week some really good news surfaces for us real Mana-fans (and for everyone else, really). Square Enix have from nowere announced a remake of the Super Nintendo original that will be released on Steam next year. The new version is completely rebuilt in 3D with all the voice comedy, action; and a newly arranged soundtrack. Developers also claim that they will refine the gameplay but are vague in exactly what will be changed – Personally, I would like to see online multiplayer.
A Zelda for 3 players
As mentioned before Secret of Mana was released in the middle of Squares’s golden age, just over half a year before Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger started launching the company’s blitzkrieg against the western market. Mana stands out among Squares other games in several ways and is still a brilliant example of the fact that more does not necessarily mean better.
Unlike Final Fantasy’s turnkey-based arrangements, Mana took inspiration from the Zelda series, and put all battles in real time. You can still use skills, objects and magic as you expect from a role-playing game, but instead of forcing players to rotate in infinity-depth menus, all handling takes place in a ring menu that pops up at a single touch of a button. Turn the ring until you reach the item you want or the magic you want to use and activate. There is no obvious vacuum between battles, exploratory and intermediate sequences, which leads to a game that seldom loses tempo and is easy to understand even for a noob. And did I mention you can play up to three players at the same time!?
The Secret of Mana has grown so well mainly because it aims to create a scaled-down, accessible experience that simultaneously offers the same high level of presentation and personality as Squares other items from the same era.