It’s 2018 and here I am excited about the remake of a little game that came out in 1993 called Secret of Mana. I wouldn’t consider myself the biggest fan of video game remake or remastered release crazy, but I can’t seem to help but get excited from time to time. This is just one of those times.
Secret of Mana is a game that means a lot to me — it’s the game that helped me to discover the genre of games that I enjoy playing today. The adventure told during Secret of Mana’s story is one that I have never forgotten, and the same goes double for the characters. Although it wasn’t the first Mana game that I played, it has easily become my favorite in the series. And after finally going hands-on with a new preview build of Secret of Mana Remaster, I was able to learn more about the game’s updates and systems, while comparing it to its former version.
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t a fan of the remade 3D graphics of Secret of Mana Remake at first, but after seeing the character animations and getting to run around a few of the maps, I found a similar charm that I remember from the original. While playing, my hesitation of this new direction turned into admiration for the developers putting in the extra effort of remaking the game and adding new features instead of just releasing a port. This admiration continued when I found that the battle animations had only been tweaked, but not sped up to satisfy the demand for speed by more modern gamers.
However, that’s not to say that Secret of Mana Remake hasn’t received notable updates that helped in battles. One of these new features allows players to use the R1 and L1 buttons and allocate a shortcut command to weapons, magic, or items. This shortcut was created for players to have easy access to whatever they find themselves using the most. Also, it comes in handy when finding your way through a dungeon that has a particular gimmick, which sometimes requires the player to use a magic spell to proceed to the next area.
In the build that we played, one of the aforementioned gimmicks had us enter a dungeon which has a crystal in one of its rooms, but nowhere else to go. In order to move on, we had to use Sylphid’s “Analyzer” magic on the crystal which told us that we could use Lumina’s magic to get through the door. Interestingly, there weren’t any text prompts that told me what to do or how to proceed. I was on my own to discover how to get through this section if I wanted to move and I couldn’t tell you how relieved I was when I got through to the next area.
When it comes to battles, players will find that pressing the attack button repeatedly is not the best way to go about enemy encounters. This system is taken straight from the original Secret of Mana and is represented by a gauge that fills up between attacks that will rise to 100%. Executing an attack when the gauge is full will make the next attack stronger. Furthermore, by holding down the attack button the character will charge for a much stronger attack. Each weapon has different strengths, but I found that the spear and sword were my favorites to use.
With that said, I found myself missing a lot of the attacks on certain enemies, but this was because I probably needed to use a certain magic spell on the appropriate enemy in order to cause a decent amount of damage. Additionally, party members can be controlled at any time and players are able to access their respective magic abilities in their options menu. At this point, I’m fond of the battle system but would have to spend more time with it to gain further understanding of the magic and weapon options.
Being that I’m already a fan of Secret of Mana, I went into playing Secret of Mana Remake with the mindset that I will be its toughest critic. I would also make sure that it properly represented that era that the original game released in while making itself accessible to a new generation of gamers. Ultimately what I discovered was that this is a good representation of the Secret of Mana from my past; the changes implemented were thoughtful, and respectful of the original base game.
Secret of Mana Remake still has a lot to prove to longtime fans of the series who will be first to point out any of the remake’s hiccups, but from what I played this game is in good hands. I’m excited to see new areas as well as hear more of the character’s spoken dialog when the full game releases and I can go on this adventure again.
Secret of Mana Remake will launch on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and PC-via Steam on February 15.