Game: Secret of Mana
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Console: Playstation 4 / PS Vita
Written by Jason Potter
Back in the day when JRPGs were still new and Square tested the waters with ways of pushing the genre further, games like Secret of Mana made their way to the SNES. It was re-released just recently on the Mini SNES Classic Edition console. We now see a remaster from Square Enix that is available on the PS4 and Vita consoles.
This remake does a faithful homage to the original SNES game, but adds the flair of 3D models and voice acting to the game. The models look decent, but look more like what a 3DS remake has done recently for Square Enix. Square Enix really missed an opportunity here as the models could have been shinier and classier considering a PS4 release. What is more is that the models’ mouths do not move while speaking, and it can be hard to figure out who is talking at times. Which then leads to the voice acting for the game. Square has never really thrilled anyone with their voice acting, and this game is no different as I found myself swapping between English and Japanese (yes that is an option). It is pretty much left on English as the Japanese acting is very slow and almost monotone.
The combat of the game is roughly the same way it was in the SNES version. You swing a sword, wait for it to recharge, and swing again. This was one of the first hack and slash JRPGs out there, so it kept your combat a little slower in pace. This works for the old SNES days, but it drags and makes combat feel tedious rather than enjoyable. I would have preferred having mobs with more HP to compensate for me smashing the X button. When fighting a monster, you have to wait a moment before it can be hit again, so you have a “hit a monster, monster falls and is invulnerable, to wait 3 seconds, then hit again” combat phase. Time sink anyone?
The menu systems is really clunky where the SQUARE button will bring up your radial menu, but nothing tells the user to press Up or Down on the directional pad to swap mini-menus. I often found myself opening the menu rather than swinging my weapon as most games would have used SQUARE for combat and maybe TRIANGLE or OPTIONS to open it (read: menu). The system is just archaic and frustrating.
The game itself is really nice to run through again, and it could bring in new eyes to the series. The major pillars of opportunities lost just make the game forgettable on so many levels. It just feels like a clunky 3DS remake on a PS4/Vita. Really, just play the SNES Classic Edition if you can.
Review Note: The reviewer of this title purchased the title at their own expense. This does not affect the content of the review or its final grade.
+ A remake of a fantastic 1-3 player game.
+ Faithful to the original game.
- Clunky menus.
- Outdated combat system.
- Poor soundtrack. Missed opportunity to really kick it up a notch.
- Lack of important tutorials for some things.