The original Secret of Mana is a game I hold near and dear
to my heart. The original SNES title is a classic, a tale of a boy on an epic,
world-saving adventure after finding a sword that resonates within his mind. It
was also one of my first action RPG titles and the idea that this full-blown
narrative game could be played cooperatively blew me away. Now, with
Square-Enix remaking the game for modern hardware, I got hands-on time to see
if the remake could invoke the same feelings of discovery and disbelief in me.
The brief bit I got to play involved taking heroes Randi,
Primm, and Popoi to the Moon Palace. Randi was stocked to the brim with
different weapons to try out, while the rest of the party had their magic
spells at the ready. New inventory and weapon wheel changes allow for a faster
user interface, making accessing those weapons and spells far easier.
Individual items, including equipment, can also now be
placed as hotkeys on the L1 or R1 buttons on the PlayStation 4 controller. It
helps make dealing with multiple enemies less stressful, as well as lessening
the repetitiveness of the combat. Spells can also be placed there for quick buffs
and fast cooperative techniques with your party.
The developers are expanding the game’s story with new
scenes and story sequences, with the narrative as a whole now furnished with
voice acting for the first time. The dialogue can be switched between both English
and Japanese voice acting in the menu, ensuring that fans can pick and choose
the type that most appeals to them.
The dungeon I was able to go through was a simple trek to
find the Moon spirit, Luna. The fairly simple trek involved wandering through a
void within the temple searching for a crystal artifact. Upon finding it, an
analysis spell had to be cast on the crystal to identify what element it would
react with. Casting the right element revealed the door, bringing the party to
Luna’s shrine and adding her to the party of spirits.
Square-Enix’s Masaru Oyamada, producer of Secret of Mana, told
us that the game is looking to its roots in the remake. I asked him if the game’s
eccentricities, like fighting Santa Claus, still come through in the remake and
Oyamada assured me they would. Other
ones, like the infamous magic book with a nude drawing in it, would not survive
a modern ratings board.
Secret of Mana will release on PlayStation 4, PlayStation
Vita, and PC on February 15. Oyamada told me that the game was in planning
before they knew about the Switch, but do not rule it out for the future.