The Mana series was one of the most celebrated RPGs created by renowned developer Square, now Square Enix. The series combined great and at the time innovative gameplay with an engaging story and narrative. However, the series eventually experienced a decline in the early 2010s due to a lack of direction and innovation. Thus, it’s a great treat to fans when a remastered version of Legend of Mana is released this 2021. In this article, we’re going to talk about Legend of Mana, and what changes the remastered version has compared to the original.
What Is Legend of Mana?
Legend of Mana is an action RPG created by Square Enix, which was also the one that released the original game way back in 1999 for the PS1. It was the fourth game in the Mana series. The game is set to have a remastered version released on PC, PS4, and the Nintendo Switch on June 24, 2021.
What Is the Mana Series?
For the uninitiated, the Mana series, or the Seiken Densetsu in Japan, is a series of games created by Square/Square Enix. The series was supposed to serve as the handheld side-story series for Square’s Final Fantasy. We all know how big the Final Fantasy series got after the first game was released. And the series was pretty revolutionary during its time, leading to the current day.
However, the Mana series eventually grew a life of its own after the 1991 release of Final Fantasy Adventure. That game was released as Seiken Densetsu in Japan, though it was released as Final Fantasy Adventure for Western consumption. After that, though, Square made the plunge, creating the Mana series when they released Secret of Mana for the Super NES.
However, after the mediocre release of Heroes of Mana in 2007, the Mana series went on a steep decline. Square Enix proceeded to focus more on the Final Fantasy series, their mainline title. It wasn’t until this year that Square announced the remastered version of Legend of Mana, to the delight of hardcore fans.
Legend of Mana Remastered Preview
Now that we know what we’re talking about here, let’s talk about what we can expect from Legends of Mana.
Story-wise, Legend of Mana doesn’t follow a linear plot. The game has three story arcs that need to be cleared before the fourth story arc that’s the game’s endgame.
First Arc: Plight of the Jumi
The first story arc is related to the Jumi and the current state of their race. The Jumi was considered impure and as abominations by many of the world’s populace. This isn’t helped by their jeweled heart, which some considered to be a powerful magical regent to use for magical spells and foci.
The main character will then encounter two Jumi who are running away from a Jewel Hunter. It’s your job as the player to keep both of them alive, as one of them is the last hope of the Jumi. An unfortunate tale, but one that can have a happy ending.
Second Arc: The Dragon Emperor
The second story arc is about two siblings that fight on different sides of a war. The male sibling, Larc, serves Drakonis, a dragon that wants to rule the world. He blackmails the player to help him in this. The other sibling meanwhile, Sierra, serves Vadise, the White Dragon.
Third Arc: Faerie Arc
This arc is an incredibly complicated, messy love story between four childhood friends, Irwin, Matilda, Escad, and Daena. Irwin, a half-demon, loves Matilda, but he can’t woo her due to him being a half-demon and Matilda being a leader of a holy following. Escad hates Irwin for being a half-demon and for also stealing Matilda’s power and leaving her, though there’s a reason for that. And lastly, there’s Daena who loves everyone and doesn’t want any of them to get hurt. Either way, someone will die, and it’s your choice as to who.
Final Arc: Legend of Mana
After completing the story arcs (though Square did say that players can jump across story arcs), you will then be able to go to the last story arc of the game. It’s here that your journey will end, and the world is saved.
Setting and Races
The game’s story takes place in the world of Fa’Diel. This locale is centered by the Tree of Mana. This tree is the reason why life is in the world of Fa’Diel. Unfortunately, the tree was burned down 900 years before the game started, which sets into motion several series of events. One of these events is the incredibly bloody war between humans, faeries, and other sentient denizens of Fa’Diel. The war is for the last remaining pockets of mana left in their world. The war’s scars and destruction are still felt in the game’s present day.
As for who else lives in Fa’Diel? Well, you can also encounter demons, Sproutlings, Flowerlings, ore-mining Dudbears, and Shadoles that live in the Underworld. Lastly, there’s the Jumi, a race that has a jeweled heart, which when taken, means death.
Gameplay and Controls
In terms of gameplay, Legend of Mana uses an angled, top-down perspective, something used by previous games of the series. This perspective was used to full effect back in the day by the Legend of Zelda series. This perspective was then used by Square on the Mana series and will remain used to this day.
Creating your character is simple, from choosing between male and female heroes to some additional cosmetic changes. After doing so, you are immediately thrust into the world of Legend of Mana, with some cinematic cutscenes to help the transition.
The game’s movement is pretty basic: up, down, left, right with some dashes. Interactions are essential with objects and other people and you can see if anything or anyone can be interacted with.
You can also attune characters with certain abilities and skills, up to a maximum of two. Once done so, you can do these actions in combat to master them. However, attuning certain abilities can lead to the unlocking of new abilities and even special attacks. We’ll talk more about the special attacks in the Combat section.
The game also has a multiplayer aspect in the original, although limited to two players via local co-op. In the original PlayStation, players could play co-op by having the second player bring their memory card and creating their character. This allowed for some sweet co-op combat and even PvP.
The combat in Legend of Mana looks like the prototype of current RPGs today. The game immediately goes into a battle the moment a random encounter is found. It then allows you complete control of your character’s movement and actions in combat. It’s kind of similar to beat ‘em up games at the time, particularly arcade games like Final Fight. However, due to the limitations of the times, there’s not much that you can do with it.
Players have two basic attacks. The first is a series of quick five-hit light attacks and a few heavy attacks. The heavy attacks can be chained alongside the fast attacks or done on their own. In addition to this, you can slot in two abilities and special attacks to specific buttons for use.
Special attacks in the game need to be charged up before they can be used. To show how long before you can do specials, a bar is placed underneath a character’s health bar. This bar is charged by dealing or getting damaged by enemies. Once this is charged, you can use a special attack that has invincibility frames. This makes using special attacks an ideal get-out-of-jail-free card against enemy attacks.
Graphics and Level Design
Graphics-wise, Legend of Mana boasted some pretty slick visuals for its time. This is something that the remastered version will continue with. The game’s already breathtaking visual candy is improved upon and has some nice touch-ups.
In terms of level design, Legends of Mana has a pretty linear design when it comes to levels with some branching pathways for loot. You can explore the various levels however they wish. In the end, though, they’ll go to a central path to continue the current quest they’re taking.
There’s nothing wrong with that though, and Legend of Mana boasted a really good story and setting to make this work.
The sound design of Legend of Mana is simply breathtaking, and the score that you hear when playing the game is awesome. The OST of the game elicits a nostalgic bent to it that makes you itch to play the game again. Luckily, the game will have a remastered version soon, so that’s a win.
What Changes Does the Remastered Version Legend of Mana Have?
Given the fact that Square Enix is releasing a remastered version of Legend of Mana, there are bound to be some changes. Below is a list of items changed from the original.
Release on Multiple Consoles
The original Legend of Mana was released only on the original PlayStation. The remastered version meanwhile, will not only be released on the PS4 but also on the Nintendo Switch and PC. This allows players from those platforms to experience the game as well.
UI and Text Font Changes
Square Enix also made some changes in the game’s UI and text font so that they follow modern standards. The UI looks better, the font is clearer, and it’s overall better compared to the original game.
The Ability to Turn Off Enemy Encounters
This change might be weird, but it’s perfect for those that want to backtrack certain areas in the game. After all, what’s the point in fighting low-level mobs when you can already kill them in one hit? With this feature, you can explore areas you’ve already passed smoothly.
Gallery and Music Mode
The remastered version of the game now has a Gallery mode for you to look at the game’s artwork and illustrations. In addition to this, the Music Mode is added into the game proper, unlike the original, which has a Sound Test mode. The Music Mode allows you to listen to the game’s soundtrack, both original and remastered.
4:3 to 16:9
Legend of Mana used to be in the 4:3 aspect ratio. However, the Remastered is set at 16:9. This means that the game looks clearer and better when compared to the original. It also helps in showcasing the retouched graphics that the game will have.
Original Soundtrack Rearranged
Combined with the Music Mode, the game’s original soundtrack was rearranged for the remastered version. Players can still hear the original arrangement for the soundtrack, but a new lease of life means a rearranged soundtrack.
The Ability to Save Wherever and AutoSave
In the original Legend of Mana, players save on Save Points scattered throughout the world. Now, players can save wherever they want, and the game now has AutoSave. The save function won’t work on certain areas of course, like boss rooms but that’s a nice thing to have.
The Ring Ring Land Minigame
Back in the day, the Ring Ring Land minigame was only available to players that have the Sony PocketStation. Now, players can play the game even if they’re on a different console. Devs stated that the Ring Ring Land minigame would allow players a better chance of getting rare items.
Should You Be Hyped for the Legend of Mana Remastered?
If you’re a big fan of the Mana series, then yes, the Legends of Mana Remastered should excite you. The game made some sweeping improvements when it comes to its graphics and overall quality of life. Combine that with the game releasing on multiple platforms, and you have a nostalgia trip that can be enjoyed by all.