Secret of Mana: Retro Gaming Going Modern

Secret of Mana
It’s the Secret of Mana. What is your secret? Ours is a secret!

Right, today we’re taking a look at Secret of Mana for the iPhone. This RPG has taken on something of mystical status over the years. Japanese developers Squaresoft (now Square Enix) made the game, which debuted in 1993 over in Nippon on the SNES.

It made its way over to Europe by late 1994 (an unusual occurrence for the time – many Japanese RPGs were never translated or released in the West), and Mr. Wapojif got his greedy hands on a copy from A&B games in Chorley in 1995. He promptly fell in love with it, got stuck, sold the game, purchased it again off eBay in 2003, and now just downloaded the iOS edition. Yes, it’s available on your smartphone. What the!?

Secret of Mana

Weird technology, isn’t it? Really weird. You may wonder how a complex RPG could function on one of Apple’s phones, especially considering the thing’s mainly suited to physics based games like World of Goo and Alto’s Adventure. As it only cost £4 we decided to give it a whirl, and Square Enix are to be congratulated – the control system works well, on the whole.

In the game you follow the (mis)adventures of the horribly named protagonist Randi, who unwittingly unleashes monsters in his local vicinity. Banished from his village as a result, he must set about restoring order to the world by beating up loads of bad guys, annihilating bosses, and contemplating his stupid name.

A Legendary Soundtrack

As we’ve come to realise recently, the soundtrack to any game is far more important than graphical prowess. Composer Hiroki Kukuta did a sensational job with Secret of Mana, blending jaunty pop with really rather emotive efforts. This was his first game soundtrack, too, so to get the job done properly he spent 24 hours a day locked in his office to create something “immersive” and “three-dimensional”. Boy did he deliver, sonny jim. You can have a listen to the title track below – fans of FFVII from 1997 will notice similarities.

Indeed, it’s his music (at turns moving, at other times invigorating) which adds real depth and maturity to Secret of Mana. Despite being 20+ years old now, the game has aged very well. The SNES era was a creative high for games developers which is unlikely to be matched again, meaning Secret of Mana was one masterpiece in an endless stream of them around ’94 and ’95.

Rounding Off a Classic

“How come Secret of Mana stands out?” you grunt. It’s the emotional edge, you cretins, which helps it,  with well honed traditional gaming mechanics. The damn thing just works brilliantly, and the reward for gamers is a lovingly crafted experience. Now it’s on iOS you really should get yourself a copy. Go on, you crazed SOB!


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