Remake It So: Secret of Mana

It's been 17 years. Time for a remake!

It’s no secret to everyone who listens to the podcasts, that I have an unhealthy relationship with a game that has been available for public consumption for almost 17 years. The Secret of Mana is unquestionably in the shortlist for my favorite games of all time. In fact, I owned the cartridge years after I sold my Super Nintendo, not willing to give up my favorite game on that system. Until I sold it to Pwrglove for a scant $15, I thought I was going to keep it forever. I told you it was an unhealthy relationship. In my recent play through, some cracks began to show in that relationship and I became annoyed at some of the things the game did. People always talk about remaking Final Fantasy VII, but Square Enix needs to take a further step back in their catalog and recreate the magic that is Secret of Mana.

Fight The Same, Change the Tune

For those of you who don’t know, Secret of Mana is an action-RPG more similar to The Legend Of Zelda series than Square Enix’s flagship Final Fantasy games. Basically, it’s a hack-n-slash dungeon crawler but I would be remiss to dismiss this game as such. With many more modern games still using the same gameplay mechanics, there is not much I would change in that department. The fighting is as responsive as a button press with a built in cool down to not allow your character to strike each time with 100% strength. The one thing I would change is the way your character does powerful strikes. Instead of just holding down the attack button to charge the special attack, I’d like to see you have to enter some kind of button press combination like you would if trying to throw a Hadouken in a Street Fighter game. That way the battle would be a little more risky and make you really consider the timing and range you need in order to pull of such a move.

Orchestral music can give you chills in the right moments. Like this one.

One thing I was bothered by in my recent play through was the music. It was a bit too repetitive and annoying in some places. Now, I know that one of the best things about Secret of Mana and what made it a classic was the soundtrack. However, after playing more modern games, I’d like a much more modern sounding soundtrack. Imagine how a beloved chiptune soundtrack such as Secret of Mana‘s would sound performed by a full orchestra. I’m not into game soundtracks, but that would be something I’d be interested in buying separate from the game itself. I know there are such soundtracks in existence but an updated version with a new game would be a lot more interesting to me.

Now With Even More Graphics

Another thing that should be updated in every remake is the graphics. In modern video games, we often see lush, beautiful 3D backgrounds with well detailed characters populating those worlds. Secret of Mana does not need to be in 3D and in fact, I would consider that a major disappointment if Square Enix decided to go that route. I would want a 2D art style reminiscent of Braid or the upcoming Bastion. I think that style would really work for a game like Secret of Mana. I know Square Enix has tried this art style on more recent Mana games especially in Legend of Mana.

The art style is great, the game is not.

That style works, but I’d like to see it put to use in a good game, rather than a mediocre attempt.

That’s the thing with the Mana series. There has only been two really good games: Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3. Secret of Mana is called Seiken Densetsu 2 and it’s sequel was never released in the U.S. I’ve only played a little bit of it due to the hard work of translators who made the game playable in English on emulators. The world is due for another great Mana game, yet it seems like Square Enix is content with just pumping out mediocre Mana titles. I’ve played every single one, hoping that I’ll find another gem like Secret of Mana but I come away disappointed each time.

If Square Enix took their time and made a remake of one of the greatest games they ever created, I’d be the first in line to purchase a copy. Hell, make a special edition of it and it would be the first of those I’d buy as well. There is a market in America for this game and I’d love to see it be remade.

Remake It So – A quick look back at a game or game franchise that could benefit from an updated title. We discuss what makes the original standout, and what new technology could add to a new experience.


Giant Bomb (Images)

5 Comments Remake It So: Secret of Mana

  1. Michael

    While I very much agree this game needs a remake, I had to stop reading your wish list for what you want to see when you said it should stay 2D. Have you ever played WindWaker, the cell-shaded Zelda game? Can you even begin to imagine the enviornments that could be created in a cell-shaded, 360 or PS3 Secret of Mana game? And the gameplay… you obviously haven’t played any good 3D adventure games to insist the game stays 2D. The possibilities for the gameplay are endless in 3D, while conversly very resticted in 2D. Again I think WindWaker has done this best so far, I recommend you try that game obviously. Well it will probably be years before Square finally does this game. I really hate SquareSoft for this, they are so biased towards ‘traditional’ role playing games that shun fans of live action. “Oh, I’m in a battle, I’m going to wait for a meter to recharge and watch my character jump all across the screen to strike!” If you can’t tell I’m not a Final Fantasy fan…Oh well… my two cents! Please publish and email me when you do. thanks…

  2. benji138

    The most annoying part about Secret of Mana is when you’re charging your weapon up for some sort of Level 8 attack, and a creature jumps on you and you have to start all over. So damn frustrating. With that said, I’d love to see a remake of this game. 3-player XboxLive or PSN co-op!

  3. SSTGohanX

    I agree with the idea of article, but NOT all of the content. Square Enix needs to stop making the never-ending “final fantasy” games and start on the games that sold more than that when released; and also had a “better”, more advanced plot line. I would personally like to see FULL 3D graphics, made for the 360 and PS3 only; PS3 allowing the best experience [regardless, I don’t even have a ps3…but just for the idea lol]. Many parts in the game seemed a bit “cheesy” and, if remade correctly, could be created better. For instance; the potos scene in the beginning- if indeed the villages were MUCH larger, the monsters were different each time, and the environment was a bit more complex. If they took the plot line and twisted it a bit, changed it slightly in a way so that you didn’t go from seed to seed- but from seed to insert quest to do something else to seed to a few side quests to another seed…to make the game “drag” out a bit and give you the experience of really understanding the plot line .I’d like to see the side quests REALLY go along with the plot- explain more about the story of the “mana” world; past and present…heros and the mother/father of the main character. I’d also enjoy it if the dialog was spoken and actually more of a “mature” a “spice”; along with actions being more dramatic. This goes with the “small” plot changes; where the MAIN plot remains the same- but the approach to some things, like the first temple [where you fight the “wall” after you gain the gnomes magic]. If this scene, and similar scenes/story/gameplay was slightly different to gain a more “new-age” and original feel, it would attract more people- and old players of the game to it.
    The music…I agree completely. If they took these beloved soundtracks, developed them; and made music go along with the scenes- word painted more. Basically wrote a story with the music depending on where you went.
    My next issue would be the land- the actual “paths” you take in the beginning and such. If they made these more vast and adventurous; a “fable 3” type of look- where there was massive sights to see, amazing detail and interesting things to do. Another very cool thing they could do is add the feature of day/night to this- like in SD3; a type of “majoras mask” feel. This would give you the ability to go through and do “certain” side adventures for random people you meet from sunday-saturday of the week, dependent on time and day in the game. They could also add another item to fast-forward time to the next night/day. This could spice up the game quite a bit.
    Your idea of the “battle system” is a bit…odd. For the kind of game- I’d expect more along the lines of the “price of persia warrior within” mixed with “fable 2/3” kind of system; where depending on what weapon you have and what combination of buttons you push, depends on the way you fight the opponent if you wish. I enjoy the “charge up to level 8 attack”; but if it was a faster charge up, allowing you to block/walk slowly instead of get hit, then the “charged” attacks could be an awesome incorporation of the normal “attack” mode and a cinema, and ending with either the enemy being hurt or you slaying/destroying the enemy in brutal ways- like decapitation or just cut in half and disappear?
    Any game in 2D in this day and age DOES NOT sell, nor does it get good reviews. We have the technology and it’s relatively cheaper now than it was 10 years ago- just a remake in 3D WITH vocals for every character, larger area, and a more “free-roam” world would give the game more props than ANY fable created, along with most RPGs to date.
    The reason I don’t think they will remake it is because of they KNOW the game will be better than all the FF titles and everyone will just demand a continuation of it- Square-Enix enjoys there 15+ series of a fantasy that was final in the 80’s [when the company was going to “shut down”]; luckily their other games, along with the first FF games, brought Square-soft back to life. Personally, I hate every final fantasy for the new game systems. Having the same game remade 15 different times isn’t helping them for sales…some people buy it because they are “hardcore” in slaving over their system for days/weeks on end…
    but if they made a relatively plot oriented game with little “mandatory” side quests to complete the game, and average “game” completion is 15 hours, then the game would SELL..especially with a plot like Secret of Mana’s… No “average” person buys a game that takes 40 hours of completion time; regardless of what FF fans will say- but I and you can go to a random 40 people and ask…and they would say “that sounds like how many hours a week I work…no thanks”…lol.
    As for the “action-rpg” thing- I hope they stick with it if they EVER remake it. If they just do NOT make it like how they did Dawn of Mana; and stay FAR away from the FF games, they could make the game the best seller of the year easily. I mean, look how many topics are still on Secret of Mana a good 15 years after it has been released?
    Final Fantasy 7 remake…thats a “uh…maybe when it goes down to 20 dollars” for most “normal” people or older fans who care less about it. Remake of Secret of Mana- a plot about a rebel young-adult male who must revive a sword to save the world from destruction by mysterious sources- with a plot twist that will keep your emotionally attached? Yeah, I can see this being 10x’s better than all of the Final Fantasy games created- especially if they used new-age techniques for action-rpgs games; such as fable, zelda and few others. It would be amazing if they were to remake this in this exact way, too…people would buy it and cherish it the way you had done to your SoM cartridge. I honestly still have mine; in my desk and I just completed the game once more a couple months back- and I despise “newer” video games. Why am I suggesting a remake then? Because this video game would then have
    1) a GOOD plot,
    2) a decent amount of game-play; not a chore to play- but just enough to enjoy it for about a week [or less] of leisure time.
    And for the last good reason:
    3) an imaginary world that had never existed but seems like either a “new age” or an “old age” current earth…with less “anime” graphics and more realistic graphics. With more of the “heart oriented” plot line, the rebellious, mysterious and ass-holeish main character; and the 2 other side-characters who make the game very much more enjoyable. 2 side characters is enough, anything more is overkill- especially since both have an individual plot line that coincides the main plot line. This is all that is needed to make a good game for everyone, regardless if they enjoy video games as a chore, or as a “leisure” activity at rare occasions.
    In conclusion, if indeed it was remade; the “best” solution would be to target ALL audiences, not just the “hardcore gamers” like what Square-Enix seems to have been doing for the past 13 years :|.

  4. SSTGohanX

    And also for your viewing pleasure, a fan I have found made this 3D video of the opening of Secret of Mana. It gave me chills thinking about it in full 3D. I personally think that this game will touch many of people like it did us- it was good enough to develop the plot further- almost a movie-like plot. Giving people realistic looking features/hair and voices to match, the game could be a massive hit- plus with just some mediocre changes in plot, activity and such things listed above, it could re-create the sensation millions of people got and still have while playing this game. Without further ado, here is the video:


  5. Shade

    Changing Secret of Mana in anyway is FUCKING blasphemy. It comes from an age when RPGs weren’t shit.
    Sure Wind Waker worked well with cell shading. But that was that game and that art style.
    Games like Seiken Densetsu need to stay birds eye view and if you can’t appreciate that, then you don’t properly appreciate the game. I’m all for a 3D sequel (or a localization of Dawn of Mana), but remaking a game that doesn’t need a remake (just a re-release) is the stupidest idea ever.
    Secret of Mana (1 and 2) and it’s offshoots and predecessors need a remake and to be released again. Def not forgotten. The Soul Blazer series, Evermore, Chrono Trigger.. pretty much any RPG on Snes needs a HD remake and trophies/achievements. They were great games with a great story and it wasn’t all about graphics like the shallow as fuck games today.
    The gameplay was great, the plots were awesome and the depth was fine as it was. These are attributes that games these days lack. In fact, aside from a hand full of games, there aren’t anything that I see as a true RPG these days (except maybe on DS) FFXIII in all it’s forms and sequels is a joke. Terrible gameplay, terrible story, terrible characters and millions of dollars sunk into the graphics.
    Good graphics don’t equal a good game. They need to shift the focus and bring back the old great games of the past to remind people how great games can be. If they don’t and forget them, expect EA to rule the world one day -_-

Comments are closed.