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.


  1. wwarnick says:

    Now I think it’s Chrono Trigger’s turn for a remake.

  2. Spuzzell says:

    No, no. No.

    It looks like a 2008 mobile phone game.

    The voice acting is close to the worse I have ever heard, and completely and utterly destroys any charm the game has somehow retained after its graphics were redone as 3D in MS Paint.

    Charging £30 is the least worst thing about this travesty.

    I’m very much hopeful for the FFVII remake.

  3. GeoX says:

    The Mana series is weird in how fast if went downhill. Final Fantasy Adventure and Secret of Mana are both all-time classics. SD3 and Legend of Mana are both worth playing, if deeply flawed, but ever since then the series has just been able to do no right. I keep buying sequels and remakes out of sheer nostalgia (they always at least LOOK good in screenshots), but they always disappoint. Is nostalgia’s siren song enough to get me to look twice at this new one? Survey sez…maybe.

  4. bmxbandit says:

    Well over here in Japan, the price is actually 5184 yen, about 49 dollars or 35 quid. Japanese companies hate Steam. Haaaaaaate it.

  5. Ejia says:

    I wonder if they’re at all planning a remake for Seiken Densetsu 3.

    The Mana games got… weird later on. Children of Mana for the DS was a perfectly fine action rpg like most of the others, but Heroes of Mana was an odd RTS thing.

    • Yglorba says:

      Don’t forget Legend of Mana. It had flaws (I never really understood why they made it so you could miss huge portions of the game by placing structures incorrectly, with no real indication of how you’re supposed to be placing them), but it was still a great game.

  6. icemann says:

    Man this looks really average. They should have stuck with the original 2D sprite gfx and just focused on adding additional content.

    I think I’ll be sticking with the original.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Does not look like art at all but a second class contract job.
      The game deserved better I played it over half a dozen times to the end all levels maxed back then.
      Well I save some money and still have the cartridge which means I can use the rom in good conscience.

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    MOOncalF says:

    I’ll definitely grab this when it comes down in price although I have more connection with the bafflingly absent Seiken Densetsu 3 (IMO one of the greatest RPGs of the SNES).

  8. BooleanBob says:

    Oh lord, why is the VA work so terrible in localised games these days. I don’t know whether it’s the actors, the translators or the source material, but I always get a serious case of ear bleed about three seconds in.

  9. Arathorn says:

    I’m not sure why they remade an old game in a style that only makes it looks slightly less old?

    As for fan-translations, apparently that’s a dangerous hobby: link to
    Up to ten years in prison is no laughing matter.

  10. InternetBatman says:

    The SNES version looks better.

  11. DeepSleeper says:

    Having played this for a few hours, it’s fine. Hyperbole continues to run rampant on the internet. Your childhood is safe, it’s just a video game.

    • Spuzzell says:

      Play the original.

      Then play this.

      The original is a better game. Mechanically the change to 3D has ruined how the sprites interacted, there’s no solidity to the characters and no heft to the combat.

      The music sounds like someone got a choir to stand in a lift and sing along with elevator versions of the original SNES music, but played on an accordion.

      The actual magic wheel is ruined. It doesn’t float over the head of the character using it, it’s centered on the screen. So in co-op you have no idea which person is using it. It also DOESN’T SODDING REMEMBER WHICH SPELL YOU CAST LAST so you have to navigate though the whole damn structure every time you want to heal anyone. Which you will need to do multiple times on multiple characters in most battles.

      This is all UI crap that the 100 year old SNES version ALREADY SOLVED.

      You can’t now tell your AI characters exactly how you want them to behave, as you can on the SNES. Instead you have 4 limited presets. It’s WORSE.

      The whole game is worse than the SNES title which is probably older than some of the people who made the “update”.

      It’s not fine. It might scrape a mediocre if your nostalgia setting is high, but it loses all the charm and individuality that made the original so refreshing.

      Don’t buy it. Emulate it.

      • DeepSleeper says:

        The “no heft to the combat” thing is subjective. There was no “heft” to rubbing sprites together.
        The music is an actual improvement.
        The menu thing I might grant, but it doesn’t bother me.

        I don’t have a “nostalgia setting”, I played the original for the first time last year. This is fine. I keep seeing people whine about “losing the charm”, but that’s obvious bull. There was no particular “charm” to the original. It’s still generic Toriyama people doing generic JRPG things, just with better graphics, better music, and voices.

        • GeoX says:

          I keep seeing people whine about “losing the charm”, but that’s obvious bull. There was no particular “charm” to the original. It’s still generic Toriyama people doing generic JRPG things, just with better graphics, better music, and voices.

          You seem nice. Also, Toriyama had nothing to do this SoM.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      What a stupid comment. The original is still available, perfectly playable and feels higher quality because text>VO with no lips moving.

  12. abstrarie says:

    I was surprised at this pleasant article about the game. The rest of the interwebs seems to be savaging it. The VO work is indeed “fine”. I think people forget what actual bad VO work sounds like (go play OG Resident Evil if you need a reminder). Saying the music is an improvement is kind of nonsense though. I don’t think it is the abomination that others are saying, but it favors being odd over being good (which I can respect) and it can’t really touch the emotional heft of the original score. The original games many flaws were covered up by its colorful graphics and great music, so it is understandable that people are freaking out about the changes to those two elements, but overall I think they are ok. Not great, but a nice change of pace.

    Gameplay wise it feels tighter and I am definitely not doing as much guessing if I hit an enemy or not. The annoying delay in damage being displayed is still there for better or worse. I guess it wouldn’t be SoM without it. Some of the enemy animations aren’t as amusing as they used to be, but I feel that combat has improved a bit. Overall it is pretty much the exact same game but with a PS1 coat of paint. I am enjoying it so far.

  13. upupup says:

    Why is that bird wearing a wig

  14. Velox says:

    Switched to original Soundtrack, turned off voice over and now have a great time playing it with my girl friend :-) it has it flaws, but whatever, the controls are tight and it’s fun to play. The only complaint I really have is the price, but I spent money for worse games.

  15. Yglorba says:

    Question: Have they changed it so you can start in multiplayer from the start? I always get the urge to play Secret of Mana with friends, only to realize that you don’t actually get multiple characters until like an hour into the game, which makes the multiplayer aspect a bit hard to use unless you have friends willing to sit around watching you play for a while.

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