Secret of Mana is a beloved JRPG which released back in 1993 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It has garnered a cult following since its release, enough of one that Square Enix is set to release a remake of the game featuring a graphical overhaul, a new 3D art style and voice acting. The game is often cited as being one of the best RPGs of all time and is surrounded by an interesting story of failed business relationships and technical restraints. The game ultimately had a direct influence on games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI in a way that can be directly traced back to its troubled development. With the release of Secret of Mana HD imminent, let’s look back at what made the original so great and why, to this day, it remains a modern classic.
The SNES had its fair share of absolutely beautiful games and Secret of Mana is one of the best. The hand drawn backgrounds and landscapes are a joy to behold and the character sprites are remarkably varied and imaginative. While its peers featured largely the same attention to detail, there’s a colorful wackiness to Secret of Mana, a product of the game taking itself less seriously than say Final Fantasy.
The music, too, is simply delightful. Complementing the dungeon crawling and epic boss fights surprisingly well, the soundtrack is retro gold which is able to instantly tug on the heart strings of those which played it back in the day. The game pushed the limits of what was possible in the 16-bit era, evident in the way the console would often slow down when faced with multiple players and towns.
It is an impressive achievement despite the fact that many parts of the game had to be cut to fit it onto a CD-ROM add-on to the SNES. Infamously, Nintendo and Sony had partnered on the project only for it to fall through at the last minute. Luckily the game is still a fantastic fairy tale adventure nonetheless.