A Remake of Mana

I sure like Secret of Mana. That’s why I wrote three separate entries about it a few months ago. And now I’m compelled to write one more, because there’s a remake on the horizon.

Square Enix’s Secret of Mana recast was inevitable. The original Seiken Densetsu (which, of course, we knew here as Final Fantasy Adventure) got a recent Vita and mobile-device remake under the domestic name Adventures of Mana, so the second game in the series needs a turn. After a decade or so of Mana games that fell short, Square Enix returned to what worked best. I’d say that it’s craven nostalgia mining, but I’d also have to say that the first two Mana games are the best of the whole line.

This new Secret of Mana recreates the old game with polygon graphics, remixed music, and new gameplay features. The new look is a little primitive by modern 3-D standards, perhaps because the game has to fit on the Vita’s handheld hardware as well as the PlayStation 4 and Steam. Even so, that shot of Randi, Primm, and Popoi riding Flammie is a freeze-frame of adorable perfection.

Less welcome is the voice acting that pops up in the trailer. It’s not terrible. I just question its necessity. Secret of Mana thrives on its speed, its smooth pace, its refusal to over-explain or lengthily dramatize. Grafting voice-overs to the lines only makes them drag.

It’s also not clear how gameplay might shift in this revised Secret of Mana. It adds a corner map and presumably fixes the original game’s hit detection and the confused AI routines of the player’s companions, but it’ll maintain local multiplayer for up to three people. It also seems to stick to the original game’s perspective and layouts. Adventures of Mana sticks noticeably close to the Game Boy edition in its level layouts and general flow. Will this Secret of Mana remake do the same?