Review by KeIt Jade

"Yes, this game really is this good. NOT overrated."

In a world where any great Action Adventure/RPG is considered to be a ''rip-off'' or ''clone'' of Zelda, a great adventure awaits. Released in 1994, Secret of Mana remains as one of the greatest Action/RPG games ever released. It can also be played by up to three players!

Gameplay 10/10
Simply incredible. This game had so many new things to offer to gamers. You fly around on dragons, you navigate through many different environments, ranging from snowfields to vast deserts. The enemies are creative as well. The characters and enemies use the HP and MP system (yes, there is magic), but it is not of traditional turn-based style. Rather, the battles are all in real time, which means... no loading! (Although the SNES didn't have much loading time to begin with...) There is an innovative system where a percentage equals the amount of damage you inflict on the enemy. To help you better understand this, here is a brief explanation: When your character attacks an enemy, your player's percent will go down to zero. Sure, you could just keep jabbing your enemy repeatedly, but the blows would be very weak. Say your hits at 100% will do 40 damage. Well, whenever your percentage is below 100, your attack will hit for about a 3 or 4. If you attack at 100% strength, your percentage will take about 2 to 3 seconds to refill to 100%. The same is with running. You can run as long as you want in one direction, but when you come to a wall or any other object blocking your path, you will have to stop and wait for your percent to go back up. Some people find this system quite annoying, but I on the other hand, like it. It gives the game a bit more strategy and style. There are nine legendary weapons at your disposal that will gain power as you advance through the game. Did I forget to mention... up to three players! Oh wait, I didn't. Yes, that's right folks: you and two friends can battle your way through the swarms of monsters for an incredibly fun experience!

Story 10/10
Darkness sweeps the troubled land as Mana's power fades... People await a hero who will wield the Sword... Excalibur, Herald, Gigas, the Blade has had many names, for it is has been celebrated in myths and legends throughout time. But all these speak of just one weapon: The Sword of Mana... 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. Before all was lost, a hero with the Mana Sword smashed the Fortress. Though the civilization had been destroyed the world was at peace once again. But time flows like a river... and history repeats... Thousands of years had passed since the War of Mana, and many considered it a mere Fairy Tale. Alright, so the story may be a little cliche. Basically, you play a boy destined to revive a legendary sword called The Mana Sword. On your quest, you meet many terrible enemies and gain several powerful allies. But there is a lot of character development. You go from being a normal kid to a hero worthy of the sword. The actual game plot is quite deep when you get right down to it. There are many plot twists and your characters will have to make a few personal sacrifices... On a side note, there is that whole ''save the world from utter annihilation'' thing. A pretty damn good story, if you're into this kinda thing.

Characters 8.5/10
There are three main characters: the boy, the girl, and the Sprite child. Although there is controversy on what the characters real names are, from what I have gathered, the boy is ''Randi'', the girl is ''Purim'', and the sprite child is simply ''Sprite''. The boy is easily the most likeable character. The whole quest mainly focuses around Randi. For some reason, (which you'll find out towards the end of the game,) Randi is the only one that can regenerate the Mana Sword's power. At the start of the game, he's kind of timid and naive, but he gains a certain maturity as you progress through the quest. Purim is a bit of a tomboy. Then again, she does have a delicate side. She joins Randi so she can save her boyfriend Dyluck from turning into a zombie. She doesn't really change much throughout the game though. Sprite is a child from a race known as ''Sprites''. One day he got washed up by a river, and drifted down to a cave of Dwarves. When he awoke, he had amnesia. He joins Randi in hopes to see the world and recover his lost memories. He's kind of annoying at first, but later on he becomes much more likeable. Really nothing special about the characters...

Graphics 9.5/10
Hmm... Visuals aren't really a problem with Secret of Mana. It's all a matter of taste. Personally I think the character sprites and environments are superb (especially the snow world). Realistic effects like grass that moves in the wind, and running water. Many character body expressions and poses which was a rarity at the time. Nicely done. The only problem I have is: the lesser characters (a.k.a. townsfolk) don't have much depth or detail. But I'm also probably the only one who cares.

Music 10/10
I LOVE the music in Secret of Mana. It is incredible. Well, it is done by Nobuo Uematsu, who is, in my opinion, the greatest video game music composer of all time. The music really fits the mood. When you are banished from your village you hear sad music. When you are in boss fights, the music psyches you up with a feeling like ''CHARGE!'' When you gain victory, you get some nice short fanfare tunes that make you think ''Awright! I won!'' It's not just that the music fits the mood, it's that the music itself is very enjoyable to listen to.

Sound 10/10
I'm pretty lenient when it comes to sound. When you run you hear ''pat pat pat''. When you swing your sword, you here it rip through the air. I usually just give the sound a perfect score, unless there is something extremely wrong with it, such as a pig going, ''meow''. Sound's in working order. Nothing bad to report.

Control 9.5/10
Pretty good. The only complaint I have is when you are running, you can't change directions. You can only go in a direction until you run into an object. Then you have to wait for your percentage to refill before you can continue running.

Difficulty 7/10
This is probably the weakest factor of this game. As you can tell from the score, this game is incredible. Secret of Mana isn't very hard. Most games with a leveling up system aren't. It doesn't take skills to be great at this game; just patience and lots of free time. This game would probably be pretty hard if you haven't played many games, but for true gamers, it will not really test your skills.

Fun Factor 10/10
This will most definitely be one of the most pleasurable games you will ever play. With a cool plot, great story, and innovative gameplay, you will have fun.

Replay 10/10
Yes! You will play this game at least once. It's fun to just occasionally pop it in, and start a new file, even if you don't intend to get very far. Before you know it, you'll be hooked.

Secret of Mana is, in my opinion, the greatest Action Adventure/RPG ever released. If you don't like this game then there is probably something wrong with you, and you shouldn't be allowed to play games... just kidding! Yeesh! I would recommend you buy it, if you can find it. It's really not that rare, actually. You should expect to pay $30.00+ for it, and when you take into consideration the aspects of this game, you'll see it was a steal. You won't be disappointed. My final score: 10/10!
Happy gaming!

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 10/07/02, Updated 10/07/02

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