I’ll at all times have a particular place in my coronary heart for the Mana collection. It was integral in creating my love for RPGs and I created highly effective reminiscences that I’ll at all times cherish by bonding with my grandpa over Secret of Mana. I like getting misplaced within the collection’ vibrant worlds, taking up larger-than-life baddies, and being taken with the stellar music – each poignant and adrenaline-pumping – that by no means disappoints.
When Legend of Mana hit PS1 in 2000, it threw me for a loop, because it wasn’t a typical entry for the franchise. Certain, it had rabites, huge boss battles, and its trademark motion fight that includes co-op, however Legend of Mana’s construction is far completely different than earlier titles (extra on that later). It resulted in an entry that’s simply as celebrated as it’s disliked. I land on the facet that sees it because the final nice Mana sport earlier than Sq. Enix struggled with the franchise’s course. Legend of Mana has its flaws, however it was additionally smart past its years in a few of its methods and storytelling. I am going again to it each few years simply to see if my emotions will change, and each time I nonetheless see its magic – even when it didn’t at all times completely hit the goal.
In Legend of Mana, you’re constructing out the world on the map simply as a lot as you might be preventing in it. You accumulate artifacts for cities and dungeons and put them on a sprawling world map, deciding on the very best placement for bonuses, which might affect all the things from discovering a uncommon monster for recruitment to factoring into which quests you possibly can entry. The farther away from your private home you place gadgets, the tougher the enemies and journey forward develop into. Talking of your private home, as you play, you construct it as much as really feel like one, recruiting characters to stay in your premises, filling a monster ranch with baddies to struggle at your facet, customizing weapons at your very personal workshop, and planting seeds on the Mana Tree to bear completely different gadgets to lure new pets your means. None of those methods are too deep, however they do make your private home really feel like greater than only a place to save lots of your sport.
What I like about Legend of Mana is that it doesn’t maintain your hand, and forces you to hunt out your individual tales inside its numerous landscapes. I take a look at the sport as one huge storybook, however it’s essential to discover the pages. You advance the narrative by stumbling upon vignettes, that set off by exploration and putting artifacts. These supply quick slices of story and gameplay, so no stage overstays its welcome. There’s one thing satisfying about interacting with the world and placing the items collectively to activate these quick jaunts, like seeing an occasion and following a personality from it, or listening to a villager talk about a problem and going to the scene in query. A few of these chapters finish on cliffhangers, whereas others are stand-alone, however my favourite half is the range inside these tales, which might get deeply philosophical however are additionally balanced out by extra humorous, light-hearted adventures. As well as, sure arcs have a much bigger affect in your development and total mission of restoring the Mana Tree; others really feel extra like bonus chapters, opening extra customization choices.
Legend of Mana’s core loop attracts me in each time. What I respect most is it takes the issues I like about RPGs, however it presents them in a barely completely different means. As an example, all of us discover cities, however what number of instances can we truly really feel like our actions in them are fueling the story? This little contact makes the journey a bit extra private, which is form of ironic contemplating your character isn’t the main focus by any means in Legend of Mana. Usually, you might be merely an observer that gives a serving to hand, witnessing how folks survive and handle conflicts within the worst of circumstances, as extinction looms over them. Nonetheless, it’s how it’s a must to work to see what’s actually inside this world that makes all the things really feel extra significant. Legend of Mana is a sport about experimentation, and you’re not proven the way in which, you discover your individual means.
Each time I am going again to it, I’m anxious I received’t really feel as endeared to it as I as soon as was, however that rapidly evaporated after taking part in just a few hours of this remaster for PS4, Change, and PC. Whereas I feel Sq. Enix missed the chance to do a full-on remake because it did with Secret of Mana and Trials of Mana, the remaster provides some quality-of-life enhancements, corresponding to sooner load instances, with the ability to save nearly anyplace, the flexibility to show off regular encounters, and up to date visuals. There’s additionally a rearranged soundtrack by authentic (and all-star!) composer Yoko Shimomura, who you would possibly know from Kingdom Hearts and Closing Fantasy XV.
For its time, Legend of Mana was pretty creative with its methods and the way in which you created the world. Nonetheless, it’s additionally an offbeat, flawed entry (the motion fight has seen higher days). I received’t deny these facets. They’re a part of the attraction, in any case. If you happen to’ve at all times been interested in this sport, now could be the time. And for many who additionally respect this quirky, heartwarming entry, share your love within the feedback and take into account one other playthrough.