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post #164 of (permalink) Old 10-10-2008, 04:42 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Retro Club

Very rareley to I describe a video game as timeless. It can be hard to find game nowadays that fit the bill perfectly. Along with classics like Super Metroid, Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 6 (3 for you americans), this is one of them.

Playing Secret Of Mana is one of those rare occasions where you can immerse yourself completley into a magical world full of sadness, humor, imagination and storytelling that to this day is unrivalled.

You play as a boy who pulls a sword out of a stone (very king arthur esque). Something strange occurs though - you start encountering enemy creatures along the path back to the village. Perplexed, but with no other option but to continue, the boy begins attacking in order to get home. Eventually you arrive in the village and are informed that the elders want to see you. They tell you that the strength of something called Mana had held the sword in place for many years and that by taking the sword out you have managed to upset the balance provided by Mana, and are therefore the sole cause of the destruction being caused by the enemies that have now appeared. You are promptly told to leave the village and never return again. As you dejectedly skulk out, you notice one of you 'friends' is in danger and you enter your first, rather simple, boss battle. On winning, a strange-looking man tells you to meet him in a temple not far from the village, and so begins your adventure to restore the power of Mana and the balance between good and evil.

The first thing to mention is not to expect much character development. All characters have their backstorys, none of which are explored to any great depth. Many would see this as a flaw, in this particular case, its a strength. The focus here is not on our hero, its on the world around you. In turn, this means the focus is soley on the games main story and the flow of the story is not broken up into unnecessary filler to find out why our hero is who he is.

By yesteryears standards, this game looks sensational. Water flows, tree's blow in the wind, the spells look great, your characters move in a convincing manner and the art direction in fantastic.
In comparison to later SNES games, it isnt as good as say; Donkey Kong, but at its time of release, it was unrivalled.
Sprites and enemies also deserve a mention as the diversity of characters mean you will rareley encounter duplicates.

Combat takes a diffrent direction from the traditional random battles and turn based combat remenicent from the likes of Final Fantasy for example. Instead it follows the likes of Zelda: A Link to the Past, with a difference. Your attack meter works on percentages. When your battle meter is at 100% you will be attacking at full power. However when you swing your sword, your percent resets to 0. After which you will have to wait a second or so before you can attack again at full power.
Your tools of destruction are plenty. From swords all the way to a boomerang, there are in total 8 weapons to choose from. You are also given 8 Elementals in which to cast magic spells from.
You can also level up your weapons and magic by grinding making them more powerful, and unlocking new charge moves (similar to that of Links spin attack), and magic animations.

The soundtrack is unbelievable. There is something about the music in this game that will have you humming as you play. You do not often get better music than in this game, that is a certainty. Your ears will wonder exactly what they have done to deserve such pleasure, and your brain will be unwilling to allow you to forget some of the sublime music. With a vast array of orchestrated pieces ranging from the light-hearted, playful tunes to the mysterious, dark and often spine-chilling compositions that all appear in the correct and relevant places everything fits into place perfectly and results in another Squaresoft aural masterpiece.

Make no mistake - This game is amazing but its not without its flaws. The music sometimes cuts out when too many sounds are being played, and the AI of your characters are extremley dumb at times, the latter of which can be countered by playing with your friends (yes this game is multiplayer too).

In Conclusion, this game is epic. A must own for any retro collecter.

9.0 Graphics
Great graphics, everything looks alive.

10.0 Sound
Magnificent. You'll be hard pressed to find a better soundtrack.

10.0 Gameplay
Perfectly balanced combat, and paced adeptly.

10.0 Longevity
A good 40 hours of gameplay to get out of this game. If you are one of those who like to get everything and max level your weapons etc; add another 10 hours onto the time.

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