Published on April 8th, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley0
Secret of Mana
The Super Nintendo housed some of the most prolific and cherished JRPGs and Secret of Mana is no exception.
Developed by Squaresoft, Secret of Mana was one of the few Japanese RPGs that publishers could be bothered to localise to the PAL territories and shares similar themes as some of the other titles, particularly Square’s darling, Final Fantasy, that were released around the same time, such as magic casting and crystals.
Unlike Final Fantasy however, Secret of Mana is an action-RPG with active switching party members. There are 3 characters in the party and you can use any one of them by pressing the start button. The battle system is free-moving with direct control of the attacks by pressing b button, it then takes the weapon a couple of seconds until it recovers optimum usage, you can also hold down the attack button to charge your weapon in increments corresponding to its level, which are gained through progression and activated by continual usage.
There are about 8 weapons in the game including swords, boomerangs and whips, which can all be levelled up to the maximum of 9.
There are 3 different types of armour you can equip, helmet, body armour and bracelets. Magic is pretty similar to the weapon system with new elements of spell being unlocked by progressing the game and able to be levelled up through use.
Each of the 3 characters have a role in the battle however can be used for anything. The main character Randi is a warrior type and is unable to use magic, Purimu is a white mage and Popoi the sprite is a black mage.
The story begins when Randi pulls a sword from a stone after falling into a stream when playing with friends. His village soon discover what he has done and ostracise him as his actions have cursed them, drawing a creature to the village.
Having nowhere to go Randi leaves and makes his way to the next village and soon meets the other party members.
The characters aren’t particularly interesting and could really be switched out and replaced with just about anyone and manage to retain the same aesthetic to the game.
Unfortunately the game was rushed for release and so the script and translation is not fantastic and I’ve heard that most of the text was cut out leaving most of the plot lost in translation. This really doesn’t surprise me as the story is atrocious, making it about as exciting as a fisherman’s friend pez dispenser.
The battle system is of course the main attraction for the game, however it does have a few interesting aspects making worth noting, for example it implements a ring-based menu system, which is like the minecraft of the SNES era and there is also some beautiful music in the game that endures the play time, sometimes at an intrusive capacity as you’ll find yourself humming along days later to some of the more inane tracks, not quite able to place them.
Secret of Mana is a pretty simple game and there are few features of real import, that’s not to say that it’s a bad game as it’s fun and enjoyable the 25 hours it lasts, however it wasn’t one of the most high class games when it comes out and as such is a victim of its era.
Poor character development and terrible pacing negatively complement the lack of plot while the progression indicators are almost non-existent, this game mostly runs the risk of being forgotten as a relic of the past.
Much of this can be attributed to poor localisation and I can see a lot of potential in the series, perhaps the sequels fix some of the injustices of this one?
A great game to pick up if you’re an avid fan of the console and JRPGs but not a title for the weak willed.
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