Secret of Mana - Review

Secret of Mana

By: Greg Campbell

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 10
   Music/Sound 8
   Originality 7
   Plot 9
   Localization 5
   Replay Value 8
   Visuals 10
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete 20-30 Hours
Secret of Mana

  Let me get this out right now: Secret of Mana is one of the coolest, most underrated games of all time. It's a shame that it never caught on with the US market, but I still have my copy, and that's all that matters.

   Secret of Mana is an action-RPG, so you should expect fast paced battles. SoM doesn't disappoint. You and your 2 allies engage monsters in real time battles. There are 8 different weapons that can be collected over the course of the game, and they can be strengthened using orbs won from bosses or found in treasure chests. The controls are tight and responsive, and you can even play this game with up to 2 friends, one of the best aspects of the game. Magic is also a major point and can make or break the critical battles, which brings me to the next topic...

Don't look now- you might be seeing this pic again
Odd place to leave a sword.

   ...the Interface. Menus are handled in a way different from other RPGs, in that the menu options are handled in Rings. Tap a button, and a ring of icons surround you. There are different rings for different things, such as items, magic, etc. You can also access the other character's menus, too. When an action is selected, say, a Candy, the action will continue on as the Candy takes it's effect on the target. Plenty of options are available, like having COM-controlled allies target a specific enemy, or set their fighting techniques, or altering the text window, it's all here! The only thing missing is something telling you what you are supposed to do, because if you start playing, forget about it, and pick it up, you will have NO idea what you should be doing! So beware.

   The music in SoM is simply beautiful, and does a lot to enhance the story. Some tracks made me want to cry! The sound effects are decent, but there is an annoying problem with them. Sometimes, when a sound plays, it interferes with the music, and it can be a little distracting for a while. However, this is but a minor flaw.

Tasnica: Yours to Discover
When Hidden Ninjas Attack 3  

   When you start up the game, you are introduced to a typical "boy must save the world" scenario, however the plot develops interesting twists along the way. The battle system more than makes up for a dry beginning. Even so, the story is very emotionally charged, and the character's roles in the fantastic events are great. Some scenes seem to try to reach out and screw around with your feelings, a rare occurrence for games of the time.

   The translation efforts by Nintendo never were the greatest, but their script rewriting for the US hit a new low. While grammer errors are relatively few in number, the characters have a hard time registering emotionally. That's not only the fault of the strange, formal-English-meets-gangsta-rap dialogue, but Nintendo seemed as if it were trying to "censor" sensitive issues. "It looks like it's parents were beat..." what the heck is that?

Cursed New Media! Get some decent SoM screenshots!
There's just nothing clever you can say about this screenshot  

   SoM does have good long-term appeal, as the battle system and multiplayer options make this a great game to play with friends...but they may be over for a while!

   The graphics in SoM are bright and colorful, and the characters are expertly drawn and animated. The spell effects aren't incredibly awesome, but they're fast. The bosses are really cool(The Vampire's design is awesome!) and the bigger bosses fully utilize the SNES's Mode 7 abilities.

   You shouldn't have too much trouble with SoM, save the bosses, and as long as you have a full inventory of items and upgrade your equipment as often as you can, you should easily get through the game in less than 30 hours.

   This game is a real treat for RPG fans, but like I said before, the game didn't do all that well, so if you can find it, be prepared to pay a pretty penny for it. But let me assure you; it's worth it!

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