The Secret of Mana remake released worldwide today and Siliconera spoke with producer Masaru Oyamada who talked about reviving the series and remaking the classic action RPG for the modern generation.
Siliconera: From the Seiken Densetsu Collection to the Secret of Mana remake, it’s great to see the Mana series sprout again. How did you start the Mana revival?
Masaru Oyamada, Producer: I myself am a fan of the Seiken Densetsu/Mana series, and when I had the opportunity to work on Rise of Mana in 2014, I received so many comments from fans asking for a remake or a continuation of the series. Since we were close to the 25th anniversary milestone, we went through various trial and error and remade Final Fantasy Adventure in 2016 in the name of Adventures of Mana. As a result, we received even more requests for remakes/sequels and so after careful consideration we decided to remake Secret of Mana.
One of the big changes is the new 3D graphics. What did the 3D graphics show or allow the team to visualize that couldn’t be seen in the original game?
Oyamada: This element reinforced in my mind that the original had pushed the limits of whatever features we were able to utilize at the time, and it was our biggest challenge when restructuring the game. Back then, the techniques to make a 2D image look like it is three-dimensional were decided on dependent on what was functions were possible at that time. This time, on top of changing it to 3D, we were also able to display height differences, but we also worked hard and had to be careful of use of particular visual tricks or systems as it could affect data size or load time. We did struggle a lot because we were so particular in the recreation. Despite these struggles, I was so happy at the moment we were able to recreate the world map in 3D.
The original Secret of Mana had players watch enemy patterns to know when to strike or unleash a technique. Since the new version is in 3D with, I think the team would have needed to change how enemies attack and perhaps even how players use their techniques. Could you give us some examples of how you adapted enemies and the weapon techniques for the new version?
Oyamada: Because some of this relates directly with the game’s image, I was careful in my consideration to keep the strategic elements of the battle while reducing player stress. One major difference is upping the overall tempo of the falling motion, or each action a character or monster makes. We did this based on the thought that it would be stressful if you have to wait until the enemy recovers from falling down before landing an attack, just like it was in the original game. Additionally, previously, you would not deal damage to your enemy if you missed this timing, but we changed that so that it would count as a hit. Due to these adjustments, some weapons, like the boomerang and the spear behave differently than their counterparts in the original.
One of the neat surprises in Secret of Mana was the magic upgrades beyond level 8 spells with different graphics and effects. Are those in the remake and how does magic and weapon leveling work?
Oyamada: Yes, of course they have been carried over. In this game, the look of the weapons change as well, so we would love for you to play and see it with your own eyes.
There are new interludes that show Randi, Primm and Popoi interacting with each other. What do these extra scenes show about the three heroes we didn’t see in the original game?
Oyamada: We added the interlude episodes in hopes to show what the three of them were thinking and feeling during the spare moments in their adventure, and how their bond grew stronger. I hope that these episodes become a part of the players’ memories depicting the adventures of the three characters.
It’s great to see co-op play is in the game. That’s one of Secret of Mana’s highlights, but for solo RPG-ers has the partner AI been tweaked?
Oyamada: We aimed to make the AI behaviors more convenient without making it too complicated, and so there are adjustments from the original game. These include measuring the best distance to attack, based on the equipped weapon, and whatnot. Additionally, what stuck out to me in terms of AI behavior in the original game was a system design which caused you to be unable to move forward when your party members became stuck behind an enemy or the parts of the map landscape. With the remake, you will be able to proceed even when your allies are outside of the scope of the camera, so I believe you won’t feel as much frustration from the AI behaviors. (Of course, leaving your party members behind does come with its own risks…)
The Secret of Mana remake is now available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and PC. The game first released as Seiken Densetsu 2 in Japan in August 1993 for Super Famicom, followed by a release in North America as Secret of Mana in October 1993 and in Europe in November 1994 for the Super NES.