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Secret of Mana's 3D remake is out now on Steam

Secret of Mana

Aah, Secret of Mana, middle game in one of the most confusingly named trilogies in gaming. Known in Japan as Seiken Densetsu 2 and barely known as anything in Europe due to a very small PAL print run. For those who could get it, it’s a fondly remembered if slightly awkward SNES action-RPG that skews a little more heavily towards the RPG side than most.

As of today, it’s back and looking downright fine; Square Enix’s 3D remake (first announced at Gamescom last year) is out today on Steam.

It’s hard not to feel a pang of nostalgia watching that launch trailer. The new voice-acting (obviously not in the original release) isn’t terrible either, although the script is undeniably very 90s JRPG-lite fare. The art has been adapted quite nicely from chunky sprites to nearly-as-chunky polygons, but there does seem to be a certain sense of depth missing to it. Ironic, given its newly three-dimensional nature.

The remake seems to be receiving some rather mixed responses from the Steam review crowd, with many negative reviews attributed to a slew of launch-day bugs. Some also feel its adhering too closely to the SNES original, to the remake’s detriment. They have at least made some quantifiable improvements over the original SNES version: Full co-op is supported, albeit local-only (another source of complaints on Steam), and unlike the original game, casting a spell doesn’t freeze time for all but the casting player, keeping up the pace of the action.

At least one thing everyone seems to agree on is that they’ve done a great job remixing and rearranging the soundtrack. Melodies are immediately recognizable and familiar, but have vastly more instrumental depth. It has the sound of a mid-generation Playstation game now, dense with semi-retro synths but at least up to CD audio quality.

It’s hard to argue that the chosen price is a bit of a turn-off, too. Given that a savvy shopper can put down an order on the jazzed up PC version of Final Fantasy XV for around £30, having the same price on a pleasantly polished-up but otherwise very, very old Super Nintendo game seems a bit of a hard sell.

Personally, I think you’re better off looking up the fan-translated version of Seiken Densetsu 3, the vastly superior sequel. I’m not entirely sure why Square opted to remake the middle game in the series – perhaps the Japan-only release of the sequel made them worry that it wouldn’t sell at all in the west?

Secret Of Mana is available now on Steam for £30/$40. No launch-day discount this time, sorry.

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Dominic Tarason

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