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PAX West: Secret Of Mana Remake

by on September 5, 2017

Can the Square Enix of today recreate Secret of Mana, one of the best games in their history, and do it justice? There’s a demo live at PAX West — how did it turn out?

What no one expected was just how close of a remake the “new” SoM truly is. Except for the 3D polygonal graphics and audible speech, just about everything is a one-to-one transfer. The environments are recreations of the 2D originals to the extent that the minimap in the corner displays the original graphics on it. The gameplay (in which you had to wait about two seconds between sword swipes before you could hit enemies again) is intact. And the soundtrack? Exactly the same. Not that I’m complaining about one of the greatest video game soundtracks of all time, but the announcement trailer suggested a full orchestral remake, not a copy.

It is still a work in progress, though, and it’s possible some improvements and additions could still come. To be honest the demo looks like it still needs work, most notably from the fact that nobody’s lips move when they talk. For the most part the camera is far enough away that it doesn’t matter, but the opening cutscene, in which the bully character says his lines through perpetually clenched teeth, looks strange.

The Secret of Mana remake is literally that. Remakes are always dicey things to attempt — it’s hard to know what to keep and what to change. If something is missing that people liked, they’ll get upset. But if literally nothing changes at all — like what seems to have happened here — it feels pointless. If playing the original provides virtually the same experience only with bigger pixels, why not just play that?

Secret of Mana comes out for PS4, Vita and PC this February.
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