Square Enix Remastering Methodology Legend of Mana Is fine and retains many of the specializations of the original game. Even if it doesn’t hold up well in 2021.
Square Enix seems to be one of the most confident and old-fashioned companies of all with a luxurious back catalog of classics to use and abuse. We’ve seen a minimal port of the PS2 Kingdom Hearts game, Final Fantasy 12: a previously unlocalized Japanese version like Zodiac Age, and, of course, a remake that bends folklore and destroys the planet like Final Fantasy 7. I did. The best style of remastering for stroking nostalgia most enthusiastically may be on display at the new HD Remaster of the PS1 Classic Legend of Mana.
Legend of Mana has always been the next obvious Mana series rework, as both its immediate predecessors, the Secret of Mana and the Trials of Mana, have been recreated as 3D games. Legend of Mana takes a different approach. That is, as fans remember, it retains the original spit-based visuals and maintains accurate reproduction. At least in part.
The characters, monsters, and other more “active” elements of the game world are nice sprites that aren’t filtered and aren’t ashamed of their pixelated nature. On the other hand, more static elements such as the background have a high resolution image change that makes everything look a little bit … smooth. This sounds like an alarm bell ringing, but in traditional games you’ll see lots of terrible petrolatum filters, but these elements look good and have little or no loss of detail. The important thing is that the part of the game you are most focused on retains its original look.
This is a combination that I didn’t think was a good combination on paper, but it actually works very well. The two styles do not conflict. It may seem a bit strange at first, but soon the two get intertwined and don’t feel like two separate art styles. These complement each other. Pictorial backgrounds definitely look better on modern displays than what the original PS1 version saw in the original presentation, but sprites are against those backgrounds thanks to their pixelated nature. And “pop”. It works, and it looks pretty very nice.
Audio is better than visual splendor. The audio has also been significantly upgraded. The original soundtrack of Street Fighter and Kingdom Hearts composer Yoko Shimomura has been lovingly remastered. There is no other way to put it. However, if you want to experience it exactly as you remember, you have the option of flicking back to the original PS1 version of the track, if needed.
Then there is the game. Legend of Mana is a great classic Japanese RPG, but it’s no shame that it was released before developers wanted to streamline, simplify, and organize the genre. It all holds up well, but with the same warnings and understanding that it had to admit in 1999. There are some highly welcomed quality of life changes, but there are still more frustrating aspects of the game that were polarized at the time of release, for better or for worse in this re-release. If it could be changed much more, it wouldn’t just be a mana legend.
Combat is the same action-driven fare known in the Mana series, but at a slightly slower tempo and feels a bit stiff. It’s easy to grasp and enjoy right away, but it’s definitely rich in complexity and depth, especially when you dive deep into the details of your character’s growth and progression.
The story is told with the same sensibility. This is a story of an already broken world, and as the game progresses, the protagonist essentially reconstructs and recreates the world. Its progression is non-linear and the player has a great deal of choice as to what to do and when. This is unique and effective, but it contributes to the overall feeling that the title can be a bit too dull for its own benefit.
Perhaps the most pitiful thing I can say about this aspect of the game is this. If you’re a completeist, you can almost certainly do everything you want in this game without consulting your guide. Go back decades from the original release. The originals released at the time such games became unacceptable have not been significantly improved in this re-release.
But I love some of the changes in quality of life. The ability to switch off encounters with enemies basically simplifies the process of tinkering around the world for the next step, for example. It can be saved anywhere, is fairer and more airy, and is especially suitable for the Switch version.
For certain types of players, Legend of Mana can be considered a perfect remaster. It modifies the visuals, but not much. It changes the quality of life, but retains the original design and difficulty – warts and everything. This 20-year-old game points to that era, and while some may find preservation harmful, it’s also a new and definitive way to experience classics.
Review code provided by the publisher. Tested on Switch (Primary) and PC.