The Secret Of Mana Remake Makes A Great Game Worse

The Secret Of Mana Remake Makes A Great Game Worse

When Secret of Mana came out in 1993, it was rightfully praised as one of the Super Nintendo’s best action games thanks to a lovely soundtrack, beautiful spritework and fun hack-n-slash gameplay. The 2018 remake has ruined all three of these things.

I’ve played a couple of hours of the PlayStation 4 version of this Secret of Mana remake, which came out yesterday for PS4 and Vita. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this disappointed by a remake.

The soundtrack has received an overhaul that ruins some of the SNES game’s best tracks, adding dissonant melodies and irritating screeches to what was once a beautiful piece of work. Fortunately, you can switch to the original soundtrack.

Go to 1:20 in this video if you want to see just how badly this soundtrack was mangled:

The sprites are gone, replaced by ugly polygonal models that don’t have the charm of the originals. The real shame is that Square Enix had nailed it with Adventures of Mana, the polygon-based remake of the Game Boy predecessor to Secret of Mana.

This new version of Secret of Mana is full of animated cutscenes and voice acting, but the characters’ lips don’t move when they talk, which is unsettling.

The gameplay somehow takes several steps back from 1993. In most ways it’s identical to the original Secret of Mana, maintaining quirks that haven’t aged well, such as the way enemies will temporarily become invulnerable every time you attack them, dragging out each encounter just a few seconds longer than it needs to be. This was more tolerable with the SNES version’s lovely (and often hilarious) animations. With polygons, it’s just frustrating.

In the 1993 version, shops didn’t indicate whether armour was an improvement before you bought it, and they still don’t. It’s a shame that the Secret of Mana remake doesn’t add those sort of quality-of-life improvements – and in fact, it takes steps backward in other small ways, such as no longer remembering where your cursor last was when you open up the menu.

One of the original Secret of Mana‘s biggest strengths was the fact that you could play it with another player (or even two other players, if you had a Multi-Tap controller port). The remake brings that local co-op to modern platforms, so I recruited my fiancee to play with me earlier this week. After a few minutes of hacking through enemies in the early Haunted Forest area, she turned to me and said, “This is boring.” I realised, to my dismay, that she was right.


  • I’m glad I’m not the only person to dislike the visual direction. I’m really not a fan of the de-saturated palette and the UI also has this amateurish quality to it too, like it was made using the default library of a game making program. I’ve only seen someone else playing it so far but honestly I think I’ll just be glad I have the original on my SNES classic.

  • It looks so ugly. They could have gone polygonal and made it look amazing. It smacks of rushed work or a nostalgia cash grab. Shame

  • I warned you this would suck nuts!
    If you want play a good port, the iOS version is great. Even with the virtual thumb pad.

    This needs pixels not polygons!

  • “Makes A Great Game Worse”

    Your title needs some grammatical work.

    It should be something like “Makes A Great Game Bad” or similar.

    • The title is a reversal of the common expression ‘makes a good thing better’. Though the grammar is… questionable, the title would lose meaning if it was corrected, and beyond that it still makes sense in context of the vernacular.

    • No? Because that changes the meaning of the phrase. Changing it to what you suggest implies that nothing about the game can be considered ‘good’.

      Saying it makes it ‘worse’ can imply that while the core game remains the same, it changes aspects to lower the quality of the game (as suggested per the article’s content). A good game made worse is not necessarily ‘bad’.

      If you want to actually be a grammar stickler, then you should have suggested the title be ‘Worsens a Great Game’, which is arguably as pedantic as refraining from ending a sentence with a preposition—it may be technically more accurate, but sounds pompous and forced in the context of casual, natural language.

      • Except that “worse” as an adjective or adverb is a comparative form of “bad” so you can’t say you’re making something great worse just as much as you can’t say you’re making something worse great. Ideally the title should be “Secret of Mana remake is an inferior version of a great game” or “Secret of Mana remake makes a great game bad”.

        • Except that that’s not the case at all, because one can quite easily turn something that is great, into something that is less great.

          For example, you own a ‘great’ car—say, a Ferrari. Someone comes along and keys the door. They have thus worsened the condition of the car, and hence worsened something great. The car still functions exactly as it is intended, and the performance is not hindered. Thus the Ferrari could reasonably be called worse off, but not written off as bad.

          Worse is the comparative form of bad, yes, but it is also only contextually relevant. You can not have a singular object/condition and call it worse. For something to be worse, it must be compared (SNES SoM > PS4 SoM; great Ferrari > keyed Ferrari). In contrast, something that is bad, does not. To worsen something is not an action exclusive to something that is already bad. I.e. a good game is worse than a great game, a keyed Ferrari is worse than a new Ferrari.

          Now granted, your first suggested correction works as it conveys the same meaning as the original. Both suggest that while the remake is not as good as the original, it is still a good game. By contrast, your second suggested correction changes the meaning to say that the remake is no longer a good game at all. Minor, though important, distinctions.

          Ultimately, the original ‘error’ was a pedantic point to pick up on. It is something that an editor should make the call on, not random comment section contributors on the Internet.

  • I only needed a brief look at the reveal trailer to know this was going to be bad. It doesn’t even look like a PS4 game, it looks like a mobile game. It’s horrendous.

    In the 1993 version, shops didn’t indicate whether armour was an improvement before you bought it,

    In fairness, IIRC the manual that came with the game actually had an armour chart included in it so the idea was you should refer to that before purchasing new armour to know whether it was better than your current equipment or not.

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