Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2)

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JaySevenZero
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Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2)

Post by JaySevenZero » December 31st, 2017, 4:14 pm

Here's where you can leave your thoughts regarding Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2) for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

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AndrewBrown
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Re: 329: Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2)

Post by AndrewBrown » January 2nd, 2018, 9:21 pm

Thanks for putting this late enough in the year that we can play the PS4 remake first!

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TheProf
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Re: 329: Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2)

Post by TheProf » May 5th, 2018, 4:59 pm

I don't remember much about the meat and potatoes of this game but I do have wonderful memories of it. This is because I played through the game with my best friend of the time before we were separated forever by the inevitable forward march of our lives.

It was summer and my friend and I were looking for something to do to pass the time. I had a copy of Secret of Mana which had been purchased by my mum from a colleague of hers, but after briefly trying it I had dismissed it as not my type of thing. This summer though the planets aligned - my friend and I were bored and here we had a lengthy cooperative game just waiting to be played.

And play it we did! Through the summer we got together whenever possible to continue our adventures. I still have vague memories of a fantastic soundtrack, colorful visuals, flying around on Flammie, the circular menu system, and castles and swords and cannons that shoot you high in the air. One thing I remember well is that we had immense fun playing through the game. Sadly it was to be some of the last memories I would make of spending time with that particular friend - that being said, I'm glad they are such good ones.

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Re: 329: Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2)

Post by Simonsloth » May 18th, 2018, 4:19 pm

I bought the remake to play on my vita specifically for the podcast having previously never had much interest in it. Having finished it I still don’t.

The combat was repetitive and dull, the game seemed far too easy for the most part and the story was practically non existent. The computer controlled companions often stood idly by doing nothing leaving me to spam magical attacks which seemed to be the answer to every single encounter. The melee weapons often missed for no reason which I understand is an RPG trope but with real time combat was so frustrating. It reminded me of bullets inexplicably missing from point blank range in fallout but at least that game has other redeeming features.

Some design choices like having the shoulder buttons for shortcuts to magical attacks or items was a great idea as the menus were quite cumbersome. I doubt I would have persisted to the end without these in place.

I remember finding one part particularly infuriating even more disappointingly nothing was done to change it for the remake. The part I’m referring to was where you have to press a hidden wall switch to reach the emperor. I’m historically quick to cheat when I get stuck with my mental resolve crumbling in minutes but the masochist in me made a New Years resolution to resist this temptation. Overcoming challenge and adversity is a large part of enjoying video games and some of my affection for the medium was being hampered by the ease in which we can see the solutions for any given game almost instantly. After an hour of tearing my hair out I looked up the solution and even then it took me a while. Maybe it’s my colour blindness that made it more difficult but the whole experience made me want do a 360 on my resolution. I hope you know the bit I’m talking about.

I don’t have the reference points which other contributors may have who comment on the different and inferior soundtrack. To my ears the remake’s audio was as forgettable as the game and in all honesty the only bit I will remember in years to come will be that stupid switch.

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Re: 329: Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2)

Post by Magical_Isopod » June 1st, 2018, 5:53 pm

This is a game I've always wanted to love, as the graphics and setting are positively charming... But unfortunately, I really feel that this game has not stood the test of time in any way, and quite bafflingly, the HD remake actually keeps most of the bad design choices that keep me from playing Secret of Mana to this day. Some of the music tracks are downright ear-piercing with their screeching reverb, the combat feels limp as soaked bread with its "hit an enemy and wait several seconds before damage will apply again" mechanic, and the story really feels like it doesn't go anywhere. I understand some of the fault with this lies in translation, but it seems commonly accepted that the whole second half is a bit of a confusing mess. I have scarcely had a video game experience as infuriating as playing Secret of Mana with my then-fiancee and having my high-damage attacks do no damage at all while a light strike from the non-playable AI character hits for 2 or 3 chip damage at priority. It's a poorly designed mess, and Square-Enix utterly dropped the ball in making a remake that should have fixed these glaring design flaws.

For my money, I'd much rather play the superior Seiken Densetsu 3 10 times in a row than have to fight with Secret of Mana's infuriating design flaws.

I'd also like to acknowledge Secret of Mana Animated Theatre, a web series from the late 90s and early 2000s that really got me into Square RPGs to begin with. Without that series, I'm not sure I ever would have discovered the likes of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy until much later in life.

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Re: 329: Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2)

Post by ratsoalbion » June 6th, 2018, 10:15 am

Just in case it isn't clear, while we may mention and reference the recent remake, we are not playing or covering that version for the show, which will almost solely focus on the Super Famicom/SNES original.

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Re: 329: Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2)

Post by AndrewBrown » June 6th, 2018, 6:24 pm

(that's probably for the best)

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Re: 329: Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2)

Post by Simonsloth » June 6th, 2018, 7:10 pm

Apologies I didn’t realise. Some of my comments apply to both but I don’t think I can bring myself to go through the original to the end even though I have a SNES mini capable of playing it.

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Re: 329: Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2)

Post by Magical_Isopod » June 7th, 2018, 12:24 am

I should note that while I mentioned the remake in my post, the lion's share of the commentary was actually on the SNES original. The glaring issues of the SNES original were not fixed for a remake, which I am expressing dismay with.

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Re: 329: Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2)(1993) Our next podcast recording (21.7.18) -

Post by BlueWeaselBreath » July 21st, 2018, 5:09 am

I was almost nine years old when Secret of Mana was released in the U.S., and although I didn’t play it at the time, I remember it being a big deal, as far as console releases go. Because its graphics, sound, and scope were cutting-edge for the time, the game was being covered in the Tech section of general interest periodicals — along with PC games like The 7th Guest and Myst, which were released around the same time — so that even people who were not following video games could potentially have heard of it. I distinctly remember my middle-aged father, who was interested in technology overall but fairly apathetic to and ignorant of the goings-on in console gaming, asking me if I’d heard of it, presumably after he saw it mentioned in some newspaper he was reading. I also remember seeing a strategy guide for it, with that striking Mana Tree cover art, in the electronics section of Wal-Mart shortly after the game’s release. This was an era where strategy guides were not as omnipresent as they are now, and I remember being impressed that this game could have so much depth as to warrant a fat strategy guide. I recall thinking, “Man, this game is everywhere. I wish I had a Super Nintendo.” But it was almost a decade later before I actually got to play it, and that was on a PC emulator.

I found the game beautiful and the music great and enjoyed it overall, though I was initially confused about why I couldn’t dodge the first boss’s magic attacks. It took me some time, coming from a Zelda mindset, to realize that the combat held over more RPG elements than Zelda did. The main problem that the game has, which dulls the whole experience for me, is the magic system requires tons of grinding and going back to towns to restore. Whenever I have replayed or think about replaying the game, the thought of grinding magic fills me with dread and boredom. I suppose grinding in a game is fine if you like to do it, but I don’t like it when a game’s design necessitates it. Not only is it tedious, but it pulls me right out of the game’s narrative; while it makes sense that heroes would defend themselves against monsters while on a quest, proactively seeking out and murdering countless creatures for resources and experience is inconsistent with the characterization of most JRPG heroes, including the boy, girl, and sprite in this game.

All they would have had to do to fix this magic grinding issue — one tiny tweak that would’ve made the gameplay excellent enough to match the visual and audio experience — would have been to either make all enemies drop Faerie Walnuts MUCH more frequently (as it is they’re scarce and only come from certain enemies), or create an additional power-up that enemies commonly drop that refills Magic Points on the spot, like the magic potions in some of the Zelda games. This simple addition would have allowed the player to organically use, level up, and constantly refill their magic in the course of the adventure, rather than having to halt the quest with the express purpose of grinding magic outside a town, going to an inn to recharge, and repeating the process ad nauseum. As it is, Faerie Walnuts are too rare and precious to use regularly replenishing magic points you’ve spent on leveling up your spells. You have to conserve magic and walnuts for boss battles. I know the development of the game was tortuous and it may not have gotten as much final polish as it deserved, but it’s a shame that nobody on the dev team thought that such a basic fix was worth implementing.

Luckily, I hear there’s this updated version that’s recently been released, so if they want to perfect this game and just make it a tremendous, all-around amazing experience, all they would have had to do is to tweak that one little problem in the way I just described — and of course they would, since fixing easily remedied gameplay issues is a no-brainer — and then keep everything else, the graphics and music especially, exactly as is, because it was already so beauti — wait...they did WHAT!?

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