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OK, OK, so the SNES died long ago in most people's hearts, but for a few it's flame still flickered in the depths of their hearts, and there are a few very good reasons why. One of which is Secret of Mana.
It's the old saying, "they don't make games like they used to." which in this case is true. Unless of course you consider the Final Fantasy range of course. This game, also made by square, is an upto 3-Player RPG based around (obviously) 3 central charaters.
The storyline is of usual fantasy RPG fare, the hero (that's the male of the trio) must use the Mana Sword to defeat the Mana Fortress, that is being reborn thanks to the work of the Empire. This will then save the world - Hurrah!
The game begins with only the hero, being able to be controlled, but later upon finding his two allies, two more people can join the fun.
The game is a slightly angled, top-down view perspective, and the camera follows the 3 players around the pre-rendered landscapes.
The sheer size and depth of this game are huge. The world of Mana itself supports so many varied locations, all presented in a detailed and sufficient way.
The game is also incredibly involved as it includes the mandatory 'level' system whereby as your characters kill enemies, they gain more experience. The more experience they gain, the higher their level increases. With a higher level, they have more hit points as well as their general stats such as strength and wisdom being increased.
But apart from just player levels, square have also included weapon and spell levels as well. THe premise is almost identical. The more the spells or weapons are used, the higher their experience goes,a dn then their levels increase. The higher the level of a spell, the more effective it becomes. The higher the level of a weapon, the higher it can be 'charged up' and perform a pre-set attack for that level that will do more damage as the level increases.
This means that you will forever be trying to raise the levels of each of your characters with each of the weapons and spells in order to make them the best hero trio around. It does provide a tactical element to the game as well. Do you spend time training and improving your levels or do you just carry on with the story at your current levels? The choice is yours as they say. ahem.
The visuals on the game - for the time were fanatastic, and although they may seem dated by today's standards, are detailed enough to keep you engrossed in the game right until the vey end.
The sounds are first class and have won many awards for their achievements at the time. The musical score is outstanding and helps to provide a real sense of atmoshpere into the gameplay, that makes it a real joy to play.
Length-wise, playing it for the first time could take you as much as 70 hours or more. You heard me 70 HOURS+! This game is huge and engrossing. That's not to say you wont play it again and again right the way through - I certainly did and still am. It still amuses me.
This game is a must-have. If you have not sampled the delights of this game before then - you really, really should. If you have a SNES at home, then pull it out, dust it off, go down to your local games store and see if you can't find a copy for a few quid - it would be well worth you while. This is in my opinion the best game on the SNES, and you would be a fool to miss it.