There’s no doubt Square Enix has made a lot of fans happy by deciding to remake the classic RPG, Secret of Mana. Even though I have never played the game myself, I am still looking forward to when the game will release for PS4 during February of 2018. But I find myself wondering why they decided to approach the remake in such a manner.
For starters, just the look of the remake could have been better. This isn’t the first time Square Enix has replaced sprites with 3D models, and it probably won’t be the last. But all this does is ensure that Secret of Mana for the PS4 doesn’t look as great as it should. I am by no means expecting a full-fledged remake in the vein of Final Fantasy VII, but this is one of their classic franchises and deserves more respect.
Perhaps they could have used high quality sprites instead of the 3D models. Something that is clearly missing from the 3D models, due to the low budget, is heart and soul. Character’s look lifeless and the sprites from 1993 were more expressive and detailed. The voice acting detracts from it all because of the lack of lip syncing, making me wish they didn’t talk at all.
For an easy comparison, just look at the difference between Sonic 4 and Sonic Mania. The former opted for low-budget 3D models and looks quite bland compared to the high-quality sprites of Sonic Mania. Secret of Mana could have taken a similar approach and given us some “hi-bit” graphics to enhance the game, rather than making it look generic. If they wanted to go the 3D model route, they should have either picked a more unique art style, or gave it a bigger budget.
From what little gameplay we have and some comparison videos, I can see that combat looks very similar in both versions. However, we don’t know how they are reworking magic and item usage so that is still something to look forward to. I would like to see them remove the need to open a menu when using magic/items so it doesn’t break the flow of combat.
The original Secret of Mana also had a lot of cut content as it was originally being developed for the SNES CD, which never came to be. It would awesome if they could add some of that content back into the remake, but I won’t hold my breath.
A positive about the remake is that the music will be remastered, with the option to toggle between the new and old soundtracks (stated on the Secret of Mana remake Japanese website). A rearranged soundtrack is an absolute must when it comes to remaking older games, so I’m very happy about this. As much as I like 16-bit sounds, I would love a soundtrack with real instruments.
After seeing how Secret of Mana is shaping up to be, I have somewhat lost my appetite for remakes of classic games unless they go all out like with Final Fantasy VII. The Mana series is also celebrating its 25th anniversary, I expected something a little more. But if you consider budget and resource constraints, then the end product looks more plausible. Nevertheless, Secret of Mana, and the Mana franchise in general, needed a refresher, but I don’t think this will do the trick.