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Nostalgic Secret of Mana Fan? Look to Mobile for Your Fix

Between a new remake of Final Fantasy Adventure and a remastered version of Secret of Mana, lonesome Mana enthusiasts may like what mobile offers -- despite the platform's flaws.

News by Nadia Oxford, .

Adventures of Mana, a remake of 1991's Final Fantasy Adventure for Game Boy, is now available on iOS and Android. You might want to consider it if you've a hankering for a solid top-down action RPG -- or if you're nostalgic for Square-Enix's Mana series.

That last point is an important one for Mana fans. Though many SNES-owning Westerners still equate playing 1993's Secret of Mana to a candy-colored religious experience, it feels like the series slipped out of our grasp shortly thereafter. Seiken Densetsu 3 for the Super Famicom never received an official translation (though fans stepped up to the plate with an excellent localization effort at the turn of the millennium), so our direct successor to Final Fantasy Adventure and Secret of Mana was 1999's Legend of Mana for the PlayStation.

Arena Tiger: Jonesin' for your blood since 1991.

While it's good in its own right -- and while it possesses some of the most beautiful sprite artwork in a video game -- Legend of Mana is light on story and ponderously-paced thanks to its world-building aspect. It's fine, but if you're familiar with the action-heavy Zelda-style SNES Mana title, it's underwhelming. Undoubtedly, a lot of Secret of Mana fans made disappointed returns the week after Legend's release.

Maybe that's why the Mana series is typically regarded as "that one game I had on the Super Nintendo" in the West. And maybe that's why Square-Enix is making a small push to indicate it still cares, and it wants us to care. That's great, even if the company's platform of choice -- mobile -- is curious.

In 2010, Square-Enix put Secret of Mana on iOS. An Android version eventually turned up on Google Play in 2014. It's not merely a straight port of the SNES title, however. The original's sandpaper-rough translation is reworked, the companions' AI is much-improved, and the graphics are re-drawn to match the more polished style of the later Mana games.

Secret of Mana is one of my "comfort" games. I go back to it whenever I need a digital hug. I own the original SNES cart as well as the Virtual Console title and the iOS remake, and interestingly, it's the iOS version I find myself returning to again and again.

I've only played a few hours of Adventures of Mana, but what I've tucked under my belt seems like a very decent re-construction of Final Fantasy Adventure. It's already less tedious than Sword of Mana, another Final Fantasy Adventure remake that popped upon Game Boy Advance in 2003.

Whack that lizard's gizzard.

But neither Secret of Mana for mobile nor Adventures of Mana are perfect, and there's a big, obvious reason why: Screen-based controls aren't ideal for a fast-paced Mana game. They're certainly workable in both games, especially since Square-Enix offers a free-floating joystick and customization options. All those adjustments still don't hold a candle to a good old fashioned SNES joypad, though.

And if we're ticking off flaws, here's another big one that's exclusive to Secret of Mana mobile: You can't get your pals to control the tag-along characters.

So the big question is, why is neither "Mana revival" game available on the Nintendo 3DS? Adventures of Mana is on the PS Vita in Japan, but there are no plans to bring it westward. That said, the game isn't particularly resource-heavy, and it should run smoothly on the 3DS.

We'd have all those bells and whistles, along with tactile controls. For Secret of Mana, maybe we'd even have local multiplayer, thus allowing us to relive the days of playing alongside our friends. Heck, we could re-capture the nostalgic experience perfectly by gorging on pizza, popsicles, and chips!

It's a dream, but a perfectly feasible one. Square-Enix doesn't support the Nintendo 3DS as thoroughly as it did the DS, but it hardly shuns it, either.

There are no answers, unfortunately. For now, look to mobile for your Mana fix. This is one instance wherein "something" is definitely better than "nothing."

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Comments 15

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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #1 cldmstrsn 2 years ago
    Damn I wish I could get into mobile games but I just cant without a physical controller. Really wish this would had made it over here on the Vita.
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #2 nadiaoxford 2 years ago
    @cldmstrsn Square eventually added controller support to Secret of Mana. Maybe Adventures of Mana will follow. Someday.
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  • Avatar for Zebetite #3 Zebetite 2 years ago
    I agree with cldmstrsn. Say what you will about mobile games, but playing without a physical input device of some kind is a dealbreaker for me.
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  • Avatar for KakiOkami #4 KakiOkami 2 years ago
    Perhaps someone could get one of those Bluetooth controllers you can attach your phone to and control the game that way? Been thinking about getting one for some time but I just don't play emulated games enough to try it out.
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  • Avatar for jeffcorry #5 jeffcorry 2 years ago
    I picked up Adventures of Mana today.
    It's great! Not perfect, but very controllable. I love and still have the original...I can see myself still going back to it once in a while, but this is a great way to have it in my pocket at all times.
    Just in case!
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  • Avatar for Maggard #6 Maggard 2 years ago
    Wish Square-Enix would just make it standard and bring any mobile game over to the PS-Vita and 3DS.
    .:.
    I want to be able to play these on any system and device yet for now, that is the PS-Vita &PS-TV. Then I'll expand to PS3 & PS4 and next Android then IOS. Push it to the PSP and it's bought for my 3M (Three Musketeers).
    .:..:.
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  • Avatar for Mooglepies #7 Mooglepies 2 years ago
    I'm in the same boat as some of the other commenters here; my mobile and tablet lack physical buttons, and that's a deal breaker for me.

    Nice to see Squeenix making the effort though.
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  • Avatar for naazimeaala75 #8 naazimeaala75 2 years ago
    @Nadia.Oxford so I shouldn't wait for the Vita version? I mean SE is known to cast their fishing net all over the place so maybe I should wait for the inevitable Vita version in English?
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #9 jeremy.parish 2 years ago
    @naazimeaala75 My guess is that if Square Enix didn't lead with the Vita version, it's not coming at all. Sadly, because I'd like to play it.
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #10 nadiaoxford 2 years ago
    @naazimeaala75 Yeah, echoing Parish's sentiment here. I wouldn't count on a western Vita release. :(
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #11 nadiaoxford 2 years ago
    @captainN2 Sword of Mana is ...

    Eeeehhn...

    Just...

    Eeeehhn.

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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  • Avatar for Monkey-Tamer #12 Monkey-Tamer 2 years ago
    I'd give my left banana to have these released on Steam. Not doing the mobile.
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  • Avatar for naazimeaala75 #13 naazimeaala75 2 years ago
    @nadiaoxford I was just about to comment that SE Europe just tweeted and blogged about wanting feedback whether they should release a Vita version or not and got an amazing response so we might see the game coming out on the Vita maybe.
    @jeremy.parish the game is still worth checking out regardless the Vita version come out or not?Edited February 2016 by naazimeaala75
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  • Avatar for elthesensai #14 elthesensai 2 years ago
    I love the article but I have to disagree with the last paragraph. One the game is mfi compatible on iOS. I assume that on Android Bluetooth controller works fine. Second is if Square Enix wanted to support multiplayer they could've easily. iOS game center supports local and online. The reason I mention that is that the article implys that Square Enix couldn't do it because it's on smart phones. (iOS and Android are both portable, just like Vita and 3DS.)
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  • Avatar for nielsk #15 nielsk 2 years ago
    Adventures of Mana is pretty good. I find the 3D-ness weird though because now you can beat beneath a jumping enemy. And you see less on the screen than in the original because everything is so huge. They should have moved the camera further away :/
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