Review by Calamity
"While it has it's flaws this is one of the funnest games I've ever played."
Secret of Mana is quite the interesting story for me. I had heard of the game. When I finally got it I just couldn't get into it. No matter how many times I tried I just didn't feel like playing it. One day I finally sat down and gave this game a try to forever once and for all decide whither it was a good or bad game. Fortunately I can say it was a outstanding game despite it's rather minor flaws. I honestly deeply regret not giving this game a chance earlier. So, onto the review!
Graphics:9.3/10:The Graphics in Secret of Mana are extremely good. Some of the very best on the SNES? No, but very close. First off, the amount of quality in the overall Graphics is quite impressive. Sprites and areas are very clear not too pixelish. Area designs are beautiful and you'll often be astonished by the areas you travel through in the game. The enemy designs are pretty awesome and the characters you encounter throughout your journey have pretty good, but not amazing sprites. Attack animations are one of Secret of Mana's weakest points yet they still are okay. So, overall the Graphics get a 9.3/10. Like the Graphics is the Gameplay in Secret of Mana really good?
Gameplay:8.9/10:Secret of Mana was a extremely fun game from the beginning to the end. I was absolutely hooked and could play the game for like ten hours straight without getting bored. However, the Gameplay does have some aggravating flaws that will frustrate you occasionally. To cover the basics Secret of Mana is a Action-RPG. Imagine Zelda except a lot more combat and traveling. Whenever you attack there is a gauge. In order to do good damage you must wait for the gauge to fill to 100%. The gauge fills back up whenever you do not attack. This feature was a good innovative idea and makes the combat a little more strategic then simply mash the attack button down and heal. Once a enemy is hit by a 100% attack it will be temporarily stuttered. During this phase they cannot be attacked until back up. A great feature yet again because it adds slightly more strategy to battles. Another unique feature to Secret of Mana is the way you gain better weapons.
In Secret of Mana making your weapons more powerful is done in a different way. You find orbs from defeating bosses, events or really powerful enemies. Once a orb is obtained bring it to Watts a dwarf blacksmith who makes several appearances throughout the game. He will then upgrade whatever weapons you have a orb for and charge a very small fee. It's a pretty good idea as it eliminates the annoying task of equipping and unequipped different weapons. Orbs themselves are acquired from the several dungeons you'll visit throughout your quest in Secret of Mana.
The dungeons in Secret of Mana are usually very short. Most take 10-25 minutes at most. Throughout the game there are some long dungeons though. About four or five of them being long. Personally I thought the game had great pacing. I liked the several short dungeons and a few long dungeons towards the end pacing. Like how dungeons are short traveling is pretty short paced too and fun.
Traveling in Secret of Mana is done in a few different ways. The most basic is walking through areas to another location. This would be very time consuming and eventually get tedious, but fortunately there are quicker modes of transportation. You can use a cannon to quickly fire yourself to another town or dungeon. The cannon is very accessible and only costs a small fee. Plus, there's a few of them throughout the entire game. Your final mode of transportation comes late into the game. You gain a dragon called Flammie who you fly on. This sounds awesome, but actually flying on Flammie can be annoying. The World Map used to see where you are when riding on Flammie moves very awkwardly when look around it. Plus, when you have to land with Flammie you must descend in elevation until your just about down to the ground where the location you want to land is. This can get very frustrating due to Flammie sometimes just deciding to fly around while your trying to get him to descend. Overall Secret of Mana's Gameplay has so many good qualities to it, but some bad ones as well...
Well, for starters the hit detection at times can be atrocious. Sometimes you'll perfectly hit a enemy and the game will not register the hit. At times this can get very frustrating. My next flaw is the A.I. Did I say the hit detection was atrocious? I was wrong the A.I. for your party members is. While you can use the Action Grid to set up their combat behavior it doesn't fix one extremely annoying problem. Whenever you want to go to another screen your party members must be nearby. Unfortunately your party members like to get stuck behind walls or get separated from you very often. This leads to a extreme amount of frustration and one time I even had to exit a dungeon and begin it all over due to getting stuck because of this. The Magic system just like the A.I. and hit detection in Secret of Mana is flawed.
In Secret of Mana the Magic system is very flawed. It's annoying due to having to level your magic. Which leads to being very tedious and boring. Second is spells can be casted right after the animation is finished. In reality leads to a glitch called chain-casting. Basically you can cast that spell over and over. During a animation whatever enemies are getting effected by a spell cannot do anything until a animation is over. So, once the animation is over just cast the spell again right away. Can kill enemies very quickly and sometimes bosses without even being touched using this glitch. So, overall Secret of Mana's Gameplay gets a 8.9. The game is a ton of fun, but the Magic, A.I. and hit detection all need improvement. While everything in Secret of Mana has been quite good so far the Storyline is without a doubt the worst part by far.
Storyline:4/10:In Secret of Mana I had the feeling Squaresoft hardly tried to make a Storyline. The scenes that do hardly occur are riddled with poor dialogue and no character development. In Secret Of Mana the Storyline is this. You the protagonist who is messing around with his friends not too far away from his village end up in a accident. After the incident, you land in a small pond. In the pond you notice a sword and decide to pull it out of the stump it's in. As you do it turns out you released the Sword Of Mana and as a result evil is going to return to the world. Banished from your village the quest to save the world begins. Overall Storyline 4/10. While the Storyline was terrible the Music is the exact opposite.
Music:10/10:The Soundtrack in Secret of Mana is outstanding. I would probably say it's one of my most favorite video game soundtracks. Secret of Mana has a large variety of non generic Music that is not only well made, but does a good job of fitting the game's mood. It also is able to put the SNES's sound capabilities to good use by allowing a large variety of instruments to be used in the soundtrack for the game. Music easily without a shred of doubt gets a 10/10 from me. With the game fully reviewed what's the overall score?
Overall:8.8/10:Secret of Mana is a extremely fun Action-RPG. The Gameplay has some flaws, but is extremely good. Graphics are amazing, but not the very best on the SNES. Storyline is terrible, but the Music is absolutely outstanding. So, overall Secret Of Mana gets a 8.8/10. While it has its flaws it's one of my favorite SNES games and I HIGHLY SUGGEST IT.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/08/08, Updated 07/20/09
Game Release: Secret of Mana (US, 10/31/93)
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