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Square’s SECRET OF MANA Remake is a Faithful, Rough Love Letter to SNES Classic

Square’s SECRET OF MANA Remake is a Faithful, Rough Love Letter to SNES Classic

Secret of Mana is widely regarded by RPG fans as a classic. Originally released in 1993 for the Super NES, its fantasy-based story, colorful graphics, and real-time battle system made it an instant hit, despite the limitations of 16-bit hardware. With high-def remakes being all the rage these days, it makes sense that Square Enix would want to revisit the early classic and give it a fresh coat of paint for new generations to enjoy. However, our demo session with the Secret of Mana remake had us wondering if a newer version was really necessary.

The upcoming remake — due out on PC, PS4, and Vita in early 2018 — certainly boasts an ambitious list of reworked features. Most notably, we’ll get to hear Secret of Mana’s characters voiced for the very first time, and will be treated to a rearranged score. The 2D sprites of the SNES era have been replaced with 3D character models, and the same added depth makes the environments feel bigger and more epic. It’s not a bad-looking game by any means, but there’s something to be said for the lovely sprite art of the original as well.

It was a little hard to focus on the graphics when we couldn’t help but notice our demo’s rough edges. Audio skips were frequent during our 20 or so minutes of gameplay, and responses to dialogue or character choices were delayed just a second or two too long, enough to ruin the pacing of a conversation. The build was far from finished, but it’s still a bit concerning with release just over four months away. For a game boasting significant improvements to the audio, these kinds of issues stood out as especially glaring.

The story remains intact: relying heavily on RPG tropes, Secret of Mana follows unlikely hero Randi and a ragtag band of friends as they stumble into adventure and are tasked with saving the world. Just because we’ve seen these elements before doesn’t mean they’re not effective; Secret of Mana’s storytelling has always been a source of its charm and enduring legacy, and if an updated version for modern systems gets more people to play it (or allows old-school fans to experience it all over again), it’s worth it.

That said, the original version of Secret of Mana is still widely available, unlike many other games from that era. It’s been on iOS and Android devices for years, and was bundled in with the recent Super NES Classic release (though to be fair, the latter isn’t exactly easy to get your hands on). In order to justify its existence, the Secret of Mana remake needs to make a compelling case for why gamers should pick up a new, nearly-full-priced game over the more affordable original versions. Thus far, the demo doesn’t have me convinced—but I’m holding out hope that the early glitches will be smoothed out in time for its February 15 release.

Are you stoked for a modern version of Secret of Mana? Will you stick to your 16-bit original? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: Square Enix

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