This legendary tale brings role-playing and action elements together in one fantastic adventure.
-Epic boss fights
-Beautiful graphics and sound
-Nice mix of role-playing and action elements
-Multiplayer availability is an added bonus
-Erratic AI controlled allies
Secret of Mana is a fantastic tale about a mysterious world that just survived an epic war with the mana-fueled Mana Fortress (a huge flying warship). An unnamed hero took up the sacred Mana Sword and destroyed the Fortress and brought peace back into the world. The people were enjoying many years of peace without monsters haunting their towns and villages and the story of the hero was made known to everyone.
Now it's the present day and our main character, who is also unnamed (and actually all the main characters in this game are unnamed), is a young boy who is hanging out with two of his friends at a local waterfall. The young boy stumbles and falls into the lake below where he notices an old, rusty sword lodged in stone. As the young boy gets closer to the weapon, a mysterious voice surrounds him and tells him to take the sword. The boy obeys and is able to free the sword from its prison. When this happens, all the vanquished monsters from the past come alive again.
Upon returning to his home village of Potos, a hole opens up in the middle of town and one of the boy's friends and the boy, himself, fall into the pit. They are accompanied by a crab-like monster and the boy has to use his new found weapon to destroy it. After he succeeds, the boy is forced to leave the town because the elders of the village feel that the he is a bad omen. Before the boy leaves Potos Village, he is greeted by an elderly Knight named Jema who recognizes the truth of the situation and acts as a mentor for the young lad. When our young hero leaves Potos Village, his true quest begins to bring peace back into the world just like the unnamed hero from the past. Fortunately, he doesn't have to do this alone as he finds aid from a strong-willed, young girl and a youthful Sprite (mana creature).
The story in Secret of Mana is very well written and exciting. The characters are likeable and there is a good amount of character development throughout the game. This game has a linear plot with the exception of a few extra places to explore on your trusty flying beast named Flammie.
This game does a great job of integrating role playing and action elements. Enemies will move on the screen in real-time and you and either your friends or computer aided allies will be able to move around and attack freely. I highly recommend playing with your friends because it is a lot of fun going on this journey together but more importantly, your computer aided friends like to do stupid things from time to time. This can get extremely frustrating because your allies will take needless damage and even get stuck which requires you to backtrack in order to move forward.
This game is filled with unique monsters from flying bugs to exploding mushrooms. The boss fights are particularly challenging and will require your skills to be in top form. Secret of Mana is a very challenging game which is great but it can get cheap at times; like getting hit repetitively while unconscious on the ground.
Each hero's hit-points are displayed at the bottom of the screen along with an attack and power meter. Every time you attack a percentage meter will start to count from 0 to 100. In order to be able to strike your next opponent with the maximum amount of power you'll have to wait until the meter reaches 100%. Spell casting involves cycling through your in-game menu in order to choose which type of magic to use. The game is paused while you're in the menu which can disrupt the flow of the combat a little but once you get use to it, it's not that bad. All in all fighting in the Secret of Mana flows really well and the added role-playing elements enhance the action packed combat.
There are plenty of cool weapons to use and upgrade throughout the game which include a sword, axe, whip and javelin along with a few others. Orbs, which need to be discovered, are the key to upgrading your weapons which increase attributes, like damage, while also giving your characters the ability to charge up a powerful attack.
The leveling system is simple and easy to understand. As your characters defeat monsters in battle they'll gain experience points. When the experience points reach a certain number your characters will level up. Leveling up will permanently increase hit points and other attributes.
The control scheme in Secret of Mana is intuitive and works well with the gameplay. There aren't any hiccups when it comes to moving your character on screen and attacking is easy to perform. Your character will block occasionally based on your defense and evade attribute and if you need to flee from an enemy the "A" button will trigger your character to start running. The in-game menu is icon based so it'll take a few tries to figure out where everything is.
GRAPHICS & SOUND
The world created in Secret of Mana is wonderful and makes it fun to explore every nook and cranny. This game is full of vibrant colors and there is a great amount of detail in the graphics; the bosses are particular stand outs here. Whether you're crawling around in the Haunted Forest or restocking your items at the local shop in the Dwarf village, you'll enjoy the stunning visuals.
The soundtrack has plenty of memorable songs like the themes for Gaia's Navel and The Moon Palace. Most of the music in this game fits the atmosphere and truly enhances the fantasy-type feel. The other audio aspects like the sound effects work well too; especially when you're out on the battle field.
The Secret of Mana is a wonderful tale of a young hero's quest to bring peace back into a world full of chaos. This game does an excellent job of bringing role-playing and action aspects together in one complete package. Plus, the multiplayer feature gives this game even more depth for you to enjoy with your friends. I would definitely recommend this game to anyone who likes an adventure. A world once in peace is now plunged into darkness. Do you have what it takes to wield the legendary mana sword and vanquish the evil that plagues this world?