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My favourite SNES game
Secret of Mana (PC)
Member Name: defiler
Secret of Mana (PC)
Date: 03/04/01, updated on 29/09/01 (132 review reads)
Advantages: Interesting storyline, combat is interesting, Very enjoyable
Disadvantages: Some combat elements can get a bit boring, quite old now, one of the harder SNES games to find if you aren't using emulation
While primarily an RPG the game does contain many action aspects that make it extremely fun to play, I found that this also seemed to increase the replay value.
You start the game with just 1 character, raised up by his step-father he never really knew either of his parents, accidently gaining the legendary mana sword he is forced to leave his home to ensure it's safety. Along his journey he will try and prevent the havoc that is happening to the world, learn more about his real parents and who he is and be joined by a sprite and a princess.
The story never really takes itself too seriously, with many daft elements that don't make too sense. However the stoyline is interesting and keeps adding new elements that keep you playing, especially on your first time through the games.
The main character is interesting enough, however I found the Princess character slightly annoying and not really that interesting. She seems to have joined the party just to find her fiancee and have no major crisis to actually face, unlike the other characters (although obviously still doesn't have a perfect life). The sprite on the other hand is very interesting and provides a great comic atmosphere to the game, he is an interesting character who is concerned about helping his people and the world while still being the funniest character in the game and having some useful magic.
The basic combat type element of the game is similar to that found in Zelda, you have an above view of the game and can move around the map and attack things with weapons by simply hitting the key. However, it is more complicated than this really, to keep an RPG eleme
nt of "limited actions per time", doing continous attacks on something will do little, you need to actually wait for your weapon counter to regenerate before you can get a normal attack in, anything below this will be weak. You have a reasonable variety of weapons available (will mention more in a minute) plus 2 types of spell which can be used by the princess and the sprite. As well as this you get various other items that can be found/bought and provide various other features.
There are around 8 weapons in the game, each of which can be upgraded through the finding of weapon orbs (usually through the defeat of a boss type monster), however in order to use the more powerful weapon attacks on the weapons your character needs to practice with the weapons. The more a character uses a weapon, the better he gets with it (up to a cap) and for every upgrade of the weapon a more powerful attack becomes available. These more powerful attacks have to be charged up through holding down the attack button and it can often be more effective to just use lots of normal attacks, however if you have the time to charge up a lot of the attacks can be very defastating and fun to watch. While some of the weapons are quite similar, overall they provide enough variety to make each interesting to use and I found myself wanting to master each weapon with all my characters and it was always fun to find a new upgrade.
There are 2 types of spells and about 8 different types of magic. The 2 types of spell are defensive and offensive, each usable only by 1 character. The princess concentrates on defensive magic while the sprite uses offensive magic.
Defensive magic isn't just for defence, however it never does direct damage. It includes a variety of things such as enchanting someones weapon, healing, slowing down enemies and many other functions.
Offensive magic tends to be just concentrating on doing direct dam
age, however you do get a lot of other functions. You can get things that steal hp/mana or somehow impede the enemy.
There are 8 types of magic, each with it's own 'spirit' that makes each interesting to use. Each will only be effective in certain circumstances, however by using a mixture you can be effective in all circumstances. The types of magic range from fire to wind to light to dark.
Magic has to be selected. Unlike normal combat it doesn't have a limit on how often it can be used, however there is a small delay after casting before you can cast another spell and the number of spells you can cast relies on the amount of mana you have left and magic attacks are far more limited than normal combat ones.
Like normal combat however, magic requires practice to become good at. Unfortunatly you often find yourself limiting the use of magic so as to always have it available to use against bosses limiting the use to improve your skill in it. Also, no new abilities are unlocked by practicing magic, you just become generally more effective in a certain type of magics use.
Each character can wear 3 types of armour, wearing this will ensure that attacks against you will hit rarer and do less damage. Unfortunatly you can usually buy the best armour whenever it's available making it take a less important part in the game and simply requires you to buy the best available and equip it.
A variety of other items are available, these range from something that cures poison to something to heal you to something to heal mana to other miscellaneous items. For exaple you can get a rope that immedietely takes you to the dungeon entrance or a barrel that stops you being attacked while in it. Many of these items provide an important part of the game and you will find yourself wanting to keep many of them constantly in your inventory.
Completely forgot to menti
on this before, however this is one of the nicest things in the game. Later on in the game you get control of a young dragon (possibly the last of its kind). Eventually it will fly you places and you can, using an overhead view of the map, fly to practically anywhere that isn't indoors on the game world. This is quite an interesting addition and can be very useful. There is also a twist to this near the end of the game, however I won't reveal it here in case anyone does want to play the game :)
While the game isn't primarily a multiplayer game, it does allow up to 3 people to play, 1 controlling each character. While it is extremely fun to play with other people, it does require them to enjoy the game and be willing to play a long term game as it's not really the sort of game you can just pick up and play a quick game of, it will take many hours to finish. Due to this I would say the mutiplayer aspect of the game is probably one of the least important features, however still nice to have.
While now they do look fairly old and quite bad, at the time I really enjoyed the graphics in the game and find them very acceptable to look at even now. They are very colourful and cartoony which can take the edge out of some parts of the game as it's hard to take someones threats serious when they look like that. However the graphics really do fit the game and are very enjoyable.
Nothing amazing, but some nice effects for everything. Nothing is taken too seriously, so don't expect to sound realistic sounds here, however they do fit the cartoony graphics of the game well and never really get on your nerves so fit their purpose quite well.
The music does fit the game quite well, I underrated it quite a bit when I first wrote this opinion, mainly because I'm not great at describing the sound of music. For the console it is on the music is great,
in terms of the quality of playback it cannot compare to modern games but in how the music is actually "constructed" it beats almost any other game I have seen. It plays smoothly and blends into the background well adding to your experience of the game rather than interfering with it.
The music changes to match the environment you are in, battle scenes has fast beats to it that really draw you into the battle. Ice/snow levels are slow, calm, quiet and have an almost sorrowful sound to them.
Very memorable music, definitely not "typical for this type of game" as I originally wrote :)
The gameplay is very linear at times, making you always seem to be going along a set path rather than having much choice over what you do. While this is interesting due to the storyline it does make you feel as though you are just playing out a story rather than having any control over what happens.
Magic becomes more and more important in battles against bosses making the fights less interesting and often involving simply casting the best spell against the boss over and over again to win with a few normal weapons attacks to help. This can become a bit boring after a while.
Items are too easy to aquire, I rarely didn't have enough money to buy what I wanted making upgrades to armour/weapons simply a matter of walking into a shop and buying something rather than actually having to make any choice over what to buy/what not to buy. This makes things like armour less interesting and you can usually afford the best available at the time and therefore give it everyone rather than having to limit the best to just one or 2 characters.
This game is game 2 in a series, unfortunatly the other games never quite reached the same popularity or had the same playability as this game.
The first game was called Final Fantasy Adventure and was seen on the Game Boy, after this came The
Secret Of Mana followed by Seiken Densetsu 3 (also on the SNES but never released outside of Japan, however if you play an emulated version you can download a patch which will translate everything into english) and, most recently, Legend of Mana on the Playstation (which I have yet to play due to not owning a playstation and not knowing it existed).
As well as these games there has also been a game called "Secret of Evermore" which had a similar style of play to it but just wasn't as good.
This game is one of the most fun I have ever played, whether on the SNES or anywhere else. I recently played it again on an emulator which, although not as good as playing on an actual console, was great fun and still very enjoyable despite its age. If you enjoy playing older games I recommend you try this one, however the age will put quite a few people off the game.
Despite it having a few faults, it really is a great game and few people I know who have played it have been disappointed.