Secret of Mana, Super Nintendo

Although many people seem to dismiss Secret of Mana (known in its native Japan as Seiken Densetsu 2) – at least when compared to its superior sequel – it does still have quite a bit going for it.

Graphically this 1993 SNES release is colourful and well-drawn. The live-action, party-based combat is excellent. Secret of Mana also caters for up to three players simultaneously (not initially planned, but implemented when the developers realised it was a no-brainer). It’s also got decent boss battles, a good amount of variety, and some pleasant tunes. Plus: the rotating, ‘ring’ menu system is superb – something that carried over into the sequel.

Where the game falls down is in pretty much every other department. I can’t really criticise the story because it’s just as contrived as every other RPG on the planet… What I can criticise, though, is the menu system (the cross-hatched, rather than transparent, backgrounds make the text very hard to read). Also the rather generic nature of the whole thing… Which can’t have been a symptom of this game’s turbulent development because Seiken Densetsu 3 (the sequel to this) was soooo damn good. Which leads me to believe that the Secret of Mana dev team were not as good as the one that worked on the sequel…

The sequel! The sequel!” – that’s all Secret of Mana ever hears about…

And quite rightly, because Secret of Mana pales into insignificance when compared next to Seiken Densetsu 3

Secret of Mana was still one of the highest-selling games on the Super Nintendo though – completely selling out in its week of release in Japan, and doing good numbers in North America and Europe later too.

There’s also been a 3D remake of Secret of Mana, but I’ve yet to play it.

More: Secret of Mana on Wikipedia
Steam: Secret of Mana remake on Steam

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