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[8/30/04] Secret of Mana

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Title: Secret of Mana

Genre: Action Rpg

Platform: SNES


With how popular this game is, surely it must be incredible, right? Right?



Look, a big fortress that's powered by mana (Those honey flavored wafers God sent down to feed his followers if I remember correctly). Apparently, it was destroyed by a sword made out of the same material...hmm...


Oh, I forgot, someone changed the meaning of mana to Spell Points. Not sure when this happened, or why honey wafers would be used as Spell Points, but mana now refers to a magical flow of energy. Start over.




Using the power of Mana a civilization had grown strong...In time, mana was used to create the ultimate weapon, the Mana Fortress...




This angered the gods. They sent their beasts to destroy the fortress. A violent war rocked the world, and mana seemed to disappear....


Are you sick of this shpiel yet? So am I. I swear I've heard it somewhere before.


Long story short, the mana sword was sealed away safely, then while wandering around in the Forbidden Forest with your friends, you fall off a log being used as a bridge. You pull the sword out of a stone to cut some grass that's in your way. Lo and behold, some monsters have mysteriously appeared! The battle system works as follows...when you attack, a percentage meter drops down to 0, if you attack again before it's filled to 100%, your attack is wimpy. Now, kill them, grab the candy they drop (?), move on. Back in the village you learn that the sword had been protecting the village from monsters, and now doom will befall it because you freed the sword.




The ground shakes...you fall in a hole with your (former) friend. There's a big monster in there. First problem with the game, undodgeable attacks. This makes it seem less like Zelda, and more like Final Fantasy trying to immitate Zelda. While this isn't that big of a problem, the attacks tend to knock you unconcious, setting you up for MORE attacks, which often leads you from a full life bar to death, without you getting any say in the matter.


Regardless, after beating the monster (it takes several magical revives from a man above the hole), you get pulled up and told that the sword could only have been pulled by a legendary knight. Wow, didn't see that coming. The man tells you to meet him in front of the water temple. Where we can learn how to repower the sword, as it's lost it's mana. You're banished from the village for bringing doom upon it....well that blows.


Here on in it's pretty much a standard RPG go here get something and learn where to go next to get something game. You get a variety of weapons that work exactly like your sword though, in the way that they're all mana powered and can be powered up more. You get things like a spear, knuckles, a bow, a boomerang, and a few others. Each weapon has a couple attacks it can do immediately, but I don't know how to use any one attack. Using a certain weapon long enough will make your skill with that weapon go up, allowing you to perform powerful attacks by charging your meter beyond 100%. Be warned, it never tells you you can do this. Ever.





Fairly early in the game, you recieve your first decoy. As the name might imply, decoys cannot attack, cast magic on their own, or really be useful in any way. They tend to die a lot, and obscure your vision. You also can't move very far without them, which is bad, because they don't have the intelligence to walk AROUND that patch of flowers. They CAN cast magic after a certain point in the game, but must be ordered to do so through the menu.





The animation in the game appears choppy at times, but you get used to it after a while, as you do with most animation. The backgrounds are often too colorful in my opinion, and that takes a couple notches off the graphics score. The sound tends to be repetitive, annoying, and not very good to begin with.


Despite the enemies super combos, unblockable attacks, and your teamates AI being replaced with AS, this game is moderately fun. I mean, I kept playing it didn't I? But don't be surprised when that big dog knocks you out with a couple flame breaths and you have to go back a few minutes and try again. And again. And again.


Gameplay: 7/10

Graphics: 7/10

Sound: 5/10

Controls: 8/10


Overall: 7 C-


You should play this game if: You think Final Fantasy was too turn based.




Mmmmm, honey wafers...

Edited by LordKanti
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Never played the game (Couldn't get into it, got bored)

btw, the "honey flavoured wafers" you speak of, I believe you are thinking of what the gods themselves ate, and it's called Ambrosia. Greek mythology to be precise.

Edited by IJTF_Cinder
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Never played the game (Couldn't get into it, got bored)

btw, the "honey flavoured wafers" you speak of, I believe you are thinking of what the gods themselves ate, and it's called Ambrosia. Greek mythology to be precise.

I'm pretty sure (Christian religion here) that god fed it to his followers while they were trying to cross some sort of desert to get away from some dude.


Doing some research...it's spelled manna. Oh well.

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Ok, here's a counter-review from someone who played the game at the time, and who came in expecting an RPG, not "zelda" (which is an action/adventure game with a few items, NOT an RPG):


This game is the first in what is one of the best "action rpg" series on the SNES that I can think of. It has the right amount of depth vs. action. There are non-dodgeable attacks, there is no "blocking," and there is a strategy to combat beyond "move, then swing." The unblockable attacks usually constitute magical attacks that can be resisted or otherwise thwarted. This is not the case in the first "boss" battle, which is really just to get you used to moving and swinging your sword. The pace is relatively quick, especially during boss battles, but strategy wins over brute force most of the time.


The "circular menu" system is streamlined and sexy, even for mid-combat use. The AI pathing can be a problem, but it doesn't take long to realize that it's really only there to keep them around until you're ready to use them. That's why there are buttons specifically designated to use the abilities of the other characters. There is, however, a useful "matrix" for customizing your AI behavior whil you're not in control (defensive vs. offensive, melee vs. magic, if I remember correctly). With very little effort, it becomes second nature to utilize all three of your characters in combat, particularly where magic is concerned, and this adds a deeper strategic element to the already frantic boss battles.


The magic system is interesting but not too complicated, consisting of a number of "schools" relating to diety-like characters that you earn throughout the game. Each type has an offensive and a defensive version for your two casters. There are also 8 (I think 8?) unique weapons that can be upgraded over time, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Range, damage, earned and inherent special abilities, etc, all play a factor in which weapon you're going to use for each character, and the right combination can make all the difference.


The colorful graphics are a step apart from the european "high fantasy" or Final Fantasy styles that made up basically every other rpg of the era. The enemies are wildly varied and equally colorful, if rather cute in most instances. Moogles make an appearance, with a slightly altered graphical style, but the game does not otherwise resemble the Final Fantasy world. The score is one of the best for any RPG on the SNES (particularly the opening and a few of the cities), and the sounds are all light and crisp. They help to lend a "this is not your moody RPG" feel to the scenes in-between the moody RPG scenes, creating a powerful contrast between "just walking around" and facing your characters' innermost fears. Speaking of the latter.. The story is mostly cliched, but is written colorfully and does a good job of reflecting the mostly lighter feel of the game.

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This may just be me...but it looks like you just liked the game's features more than me. And when I first looked at it and started playing...it look like Zelda.


Also, I don't hate the game, it's a good game. I mean, a C- is passing where I come from.

Edited by LordKanti
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Yeah, it does look like zelda at first glance, and if that's what you're expecting it's pretty lame. That's kind of what I got out of your review. But, as one of few good action-oriented "traditional" RPGs it's really nice, so I thought it deserved a review in that category.


It's also worth noting that there are a few different ways the early story can play out, depending on who you go get first (the girl or the sprite). It all comes back to the main plot arc, but this made it interesting when I had seen one story and my friend had seen something entirely different.


I still can't believe you knocked the music though. :thumbsup::D

Edited by Daeval
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