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Secret of Mana Impression - PAX West


Secret of Mana

Square Enix's big reveal at Gamescom this year was a remaster of Secret of Mana. I was thrilled to learn that it would also be playable at PAX West.

The extent of the demo was the beginning of the game up to where the hero is forced to leave his hometown. The opening scene has three children doing what they do best: getting into trouble. The trio have snuck out of the village to go where they've been told not to. The most jarring thing was that none of the mouths move at all in cutscenes when the person is speaking. This feels out of place in this day and age.

Our clueless hero falls off the log over a river, where he's left on his own. While trying to find his way back to the village, a sword beckons to him. He needs a weapon to clear a path through the bushes, so what better idea than a spooky sword?

When moving around, there is a mini-map in the upper right corner. This map looks to be from the original game in all its glory of being locked to a grid. The actual overworld map is not locked to the same grid design, allowing a patch of flowers to look more random than a three-by-three block of single flowers.


From here, the basic battle system shows up. Enemies and players move in real time. When a player takes an action, the bar under their name resets, rapidly filling back up to 100%. Attacking before the bar is filled results in much less damage being dealt. Most of the time, enemies like the small Rabites get knocked back, so it's smart to finish them off with a weak hit before they can recover. Don't try this on a boss, though.

I still remember the music from over twenty years ago. The remaster brought all the memories back to me immediately. The quality is much better than one would expect from a 16-bit game, making me want to know more about how it's all been remade for today's consoles.

The final boss of the demo was harder than I remembered, as I had to use two candies to make sure I made it through in one piece. It makes me wonder if the mechanics might be altered some, or if it's my age catching up with me. Either way, Secret of Mana will be released on PC via Steam, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita on February 15, 2018.

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