The second high definition remake of the 90s Square Enix game released this month is far more faithful to the original than it is Final Fantasy VII. Under Mana ExperimentQuestionable 3D cartoon makeover and voice acting, it’s the same simple and satisfying action RPG as before.
Mana Experiment started as Seiken Densetsu 3, sequel to Super Famicom 1995 for the classic action RPG Secret of Mana. Although Western fans have played for two decades through unofficial translations, the game does not see an official English release until June 2019 as part of Mana collection compilation. Now, less than a year since the original was officially introduced to the Western world, we get a high definition 3D remake.
For people whose first experience with Mana Track was the localization of last year, the time was strange. Remember the game you played last summer?
It’s the same game again, it’s just that it looks and plays a lot better. Old and new fans must be satisfied with what Square Enix has done to modernize the classics: The Mana Experiment the remake greatly improved on the consumer parts of the original game, leaving the good bits alone.
Dynamic storytelling Seiken Densetsu 3, one of its greatest strengths, hasn’t changed. Players choose one party leader and two followers from a group of six. Each character has a different original story. Kevin is a half human character whose beastman father goes too far in trying to get his pet out. Hawkeye was a member of the Nevarl thief tribe whose leader fell under the influence of an evil wizard. Riesz is a princess from the mountain kingdom who is looking for her kidnapped brother.
The main plot of the game remains the same, no matter which character is chosen. Team three must hunt for elemental spirits to retrieve the legendary Mana Sword and save the world from being destroyed by ancient evil. How the event progresses and how the players react depends on the character they choose. The Valsenian warrior, Duran, reacted much differently to the invasion of his home city than other characters, for example. Each character also shares one of the three main villains in the game, so pairing them together makes the conversation come alive.
The six characters also have very different skills and abilities, which can influence the way the battle takes place during the game. Having a Charlotte healer at your party makes the battle difficult to survive without burning an inventory of party healing items. Having a character with the ability to fend off enemies at a party helps provide basic attack fighter attacks like Kevin more impactful. At certain points in the game, players can change their character’s profession, choosing dark and light branching classes with their own special focus and abilities.
The biggest difference between the originals Mana Experiment and remake is how far the fight is better in the updated version. The original Super Famicom did the best it could, but the basic 2D battle did not exist in the energetic 3D fights from remade. Characters can lock in enemies, attack from behind to get a greater chance of getting critical attacks. Now there are light and heavy attacks, with the resulting crystal being used to fill each character’s super meter, used to release powerful special attacks. Some are avoiding and jumping, two moves that the original lack (or need, really).
Fighting is much more fun in the new Mana Experiment. Even when tracing back areas with low-ranking creatures, which often happens, slapping wild beasts is very pleasant.
It was very good the fight was so alluring, because there wasn’t much to do Mana Experiment besides fighting. Beyond buying equipment and searching for treasures and strange collections, there is little reason for players to stay in the city. Non-player characters that are important for advancing the plot are clearly marked. There are characters that are scattered in cities in the world that give a party a new special ability when interacting with, but they are generally quite clear.
That’s because it’s not like Final Fantasy VII Remake, which has been stuffed with all sorts of additions and fillers, Mana Experiment most remain true to the original Super Famicom. The battle was exciting and new. The development of character levels has been changed, with new abilities to unlock depending on how players spend their skill points. The music is beautifully remade, with the original track can be selected from the main menu. English voice acting is not good, but can be exchanged for Japanese or completely deactivated.
Beyond most of the changes that were welcomed and additions, HD remade Mana Experiment very many original games with a new coat of paint. It’s the same story. The characters are the same. And hey, Square Enix managed to do it all in one single release. Take that, Final Fantasy VII Remake.
More mana, more mana, more mana