Reviews

Legend of Mana

It’s probably no secret to anyone that Square-Enix has been releasing remasters of classics for several years, which had their premiere under the Squaresoft brand. It is usually nice to come back to them after many years, as long as the title was refreshed wisely. It is a pity that the sudden rush of nostalgia cannot cover up the omissions, although it makes them easier to swallow.

Not without reason, the original Legend of Mana has become a real gem on the first PlayStation. Of course, most of this was due to the colorful, fairy-tale visual setting, rich in details (for those times), but the gameplay itself was also incredibly sucked, while the lack of a stronger plot background was compensated by well-written NPCs. The previous installments of the series have been remastered / remastered quite well, such as Trials of Mana, although it was not possible without some glitches. I hoped that Legend of Mana would also give me a nice memory of the old days, but approaching this review, I had one feeling more and more in my head – disappointment. However, nostalgia can be mean, because when you reject it, the naked truth about a given game can sometimes hurt. 

Let’s start with what Legend of Mana was / is . This is quite unusual, non-linear jRPG based more on the exploration of the created world than the plot itself. It may resemble the SaGa series a bit, but LoM is more accessible and, what can I say, more pleasant to perceive. There is no protagonist designated by the script (or, as in the case of Trials of Mana, several), but we choose a male or female avatar and, without further ado, let’s land in the fairy-tale world of Fa’Diel. Mana itself has been lacking for almost a thousand years, while its remnants have been harnessed, wars were stopped, because there was nothing to fight for.Peace reigned, but the nature of all thinking beings is always the same – since there is no need to fight for great things, we will argue about small things, so everyone sinks into dealing with slightly more mundane matters. After all, there are characters who believe that it is possible to restore mana to the world and use it again for evil purposes.

Who we support and who we support in his problems depends only on us, because here we have rather a cluster of single, sometimes shorter, sometimes longer adventures than one continuous story. And this is the strength of the whole scenario, because wherever we do not enter, a new adventure awaits us, and the gameplay itself is so cleverly conducted to give us the illusion of non-linearity and openness of the game world. Adventures – tasks are, of course, a pretext to meet new characters inhabiting Fa’Diel and today the whole system works well too.Yes, some of them will be mandatory to perform, to move the action of the game forward, the rest can be done as we see fit. Of course, everything is lined with a dose of humor, but there are also more serious and thought-provoking moments. In any case, in terms of the scenario, the title is still defending itself, and even today finding and completing new tasks was quite enjoyable. It is a pity that the remaster did not introduce additional challenges, especially since several threads could use expansion.

From a modern perspective, the gameplay itself does not offer much, but this does not prevent you from trying to derive satisfaction from it. We simply expand our knowledge of the created world of Legend of Mana (remaster) by placing individual places on the map with the help of acquired artifacts. It is still pleasing that they can be placed freely, and in some cases the selection of the right neighborhood has some importance for the availability of certain adventures. Most of them, of course, are locations where we will fight various opponents.

Unfortunately, here is the first tablespoon of tar in the so far positive review. Compared to what I felt on PSX and PSP, the fights initially seem rather clunky and you have to get used to them. We stand in the fight with the accompanying figure, plus a pet, if we have bred one for ourselves. The opponents are as dull as a shoe, but they make up for it in speed, at least with their character seems to move like a fly in the tar, so it’s not so easy to hit the enemy, let alone shower it with a barrage of blows. Also combat skills and magic seem to work with a delay. As I mentioned, it ceases to bother with the passage of time, but if someone has already completed a remake of Trials of Mana, it may grumble a bit. Match level in Legend of Mana Remasteredit is still quite banal and if we don’t hang around where we shouldn’t be, then we’ll be fine. 

On the plus side, the multitude of weapons that we can use and the promotion thanks to the collected crystals functioning as experience points, as well as the ability to play with two people, stand out. Interestingly, the remaster allows you to turn off the fights at all. A strange concept, but useful when we get lost in some terrain, or when fighting monsters would only be a waste of time.

Lest it were that Legend of Mana Remastered focuses only on adventures and combat, we will also find some side activities here. One of them is the breeding of our monsters from previously captured eggs. Properly fed, they can acquire various skills, which makes them useful in battle. It is also advisable to transfer them to a mini-game specially prepared for this edition – Ring Ring Land. We will also grow special fruit for them in our unique orchard. We also get our own workshop, where we forge our own weapons, instruments (they allow us to cast spells), and even create a Golem to help us in the fight.We will do all this thanks to the huge number of available items and minerals that allow you to choose the features and abilities that suit you. Well, we have a lot of such things in today’s games, but it’s always good to have fun in crafting, even in old school production.

As I wrote above, the visual setting was the distinguishing feature of the reviewed title from the crowd of others. Could anyone resist these colorful pictures? The refreshed version also initially promises to be great, which is emphasized by the well-animated intro, encouraging you to start a new adventure as soon as possible. The backgrounds in the game, after increasing the resolution to Full HD, can still make an impression and attract the eye. Unfortunately, here is the second thing that significantly reduces the pleasure of communing with Legend of Mana Remastered , which is what has been done (or not) done with the character sprites. They were left in their original pixelated form, which is a pain in the refreshed game environment. Although old school fans may accuse me of making needles and pitchforks, for me they look bad in the background, until my eyes bleed. After all, the recently praised SaGa Frontier remaster could get nice “new” sprites, why couldn’t you do the same here, while refreshing the rest of the graphics? After all, it always managed to create two versions to choose from, if a fan would necessarily prefer those from the original release from years ago. 

Although I often say that he can get used to everything, in this case of playing on PlayStation 4, the pixelation of the characters offended me as hell and I couldn’t help it. It’s a pity, because the faces of the characters seen in the dialogue bars are very pretty. Fortunately, the sound in the game is much better. Even in the new arrangement, the musical pieces have retained their atmosphere, and their diversity is still pleasing. Well, Yoko Shimomura sounds phenomenal even years later, and the remaster offers a choice between new and old music. As for the other bonuses that Legend of Mana Remastered offers , there is not much of it anymore, we just got the option to save the game at almost any time and a pretty nice picture gallery to watch.

At the beginning of the review I mentioned nostalgia, it’s a good thing to rediscover old titles. Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn’t help to have fun as well as it did years ago. Despite my complaints, Legend of Mana Remastered was quite tolerable, but it could have been better if it hadn’t been for a few omissions. Of course it’s great that gems from years ago get a new life, but their remasters should often be better thought out. In its current state, I’m not sure if the game will find new fans, but the old ones will probably want to come back to the past, although personally, it disappointed me a bit.

Another gem from Squaresoft’s stable comes back to life. Legend of Mana Remastered has been on its way to shine again, but a few shortcomings keep the Remaster from spreading its wings that it deserves.

7/10

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