You know what this Secret of Mana HD remaster makes me want most? A full Secret of Mana remake. While I love how this remaster has all the heart and joy of the SNES original from 1993, it misses an opportunity to elevate this classic RPG by bringing it up to modern standards in areas like AI, combat balancing, and even graphics. The result is a charming but clumsy 20ish-hour adventure that both frustrates and delights.
Much of this push and pull starts with the new art style, which attempts to convert the original’s sprites into 3D. On the one hand, Mana’s world design is scrumptious eye candy: almost everywhere you go you’re greeted with scenic fields bursting with flora and coated in cheerful, sugary pastels like so much colorful caramel. Wolves trot through clusters of glittering, multihued trees while quaint wooden signs point travelers toward their destination so they don’t get turned around by an endless procession of right angles. Even the imposing palaces guarded by hostile ducks wearing kettle helmets (don’t ask) look inviting when decorated with beautiful stained glass windows. These lovely settings feel like chicken soup for the soul.