Secret of Mana Remake Review
Originally released in 1993 on the SNES, Secret of Mana provided JRPG fans with a solid yet straightforward role-playing experience. Its characters, narrative and combat were no doubt familiar to fans of the genre but still made for a welcome experience in a time where JRPGs were a dime a dozen.
Now, retouched and glossier, gamers have the option to return to Secret of Mana’s enchanted world in 2018.
Now I’ll be honest, I’ve never played the original Secret of Mana but I’ve always heard it mentioned when the topic of classic JRPG’s comes up and more often than not with a tone of great reverence. Even before playing the 2018 remake, I did my homework and watched a couple of retrospectives discussing the title. Frankly, It was hard to suss out what was nostalgic praise and was genuine commentary.
Upon spending a decent amount of time in the roughly twenty-five hour RPG, I was compelled to believe most fans were drunk with nostalgia. It’s not that Secret of Mana isn’t a nifty title, because it it is. The rejigged textures pop and character models look like they’d make great Funko Pop! figurines but when it came to brass tacks, I felt a sense of tedium creep in quicker than usual.
The surrounding mechanics that make up the combat in Secret of Mana were as cookie cutter as they come. At first, I was excited to have a somewhat basic set of rules to follow, as my recent backlog of titles leaned heavily on the nuanced side of things but as the hours progressed, I simply felt bored. Combat works as follows. There is a cool down effect on your attacks. When the meter that governs your attack power is, let’s say, at 90 percent, your attack will be more devastating. When the same meter is at around 49 percent, your attacks lack punch. Furthermore, there is no automatic blocking. Which isn’t a problem, it just further make combat less immediately engaging.
Secret of Mana’s story is one you’ve definitely heard before. An unlikely trio from a small town unite to defeat a ghastly empire hell bent on terror. It’s thin and the story beats are expected, but the banter between the three protagonists is charming and makes the expected through line that much more enjoyable.
Secret of Mana has a charming look. Its characters and environments are cutesy and the enemies all look huggable. It’s an aesthetic that’s inoffensive but fails to make a lasting impact. That’s entirely okay; it’s jives well with the overall tone of the game and doesn’t look out of place. Though with this said, some janky animations can make the title look like a mobile game at points.
Secret of Mana hits all the classic JRPG tropes fans of the genre have come to expect. It tells an innocent tale of good versus evil, wrapped up in a antiquated combat system. Weather approaching with rose-tinted goggles or just a fondness for the genre, understand what you’re in for.
Don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself Here!
- THE GOOD
- Fun characters
- Likeable banter between main cast
- THE BAD
- Shallow combat
- Trite story
- Dated visuals
Updated and improved, Secret of Mana is still underwhelming.