Randi, Primm and Popoi are the heart of Secret of Mana. These three characters are the gateway to this world. Their attitudes and personalities shape our experiences. With the remake, there are more ways to enjoy moments with the characters. Interludes have been included and translations have been freshened up. Rather than a greater insight into these characters’ personalities, I felt as though these extra moments were about making it easier to keep up with what is happening and how things work.
These interludes are vignettes that are impossible to miss. Staying in an inn after major events will cause the party to talk for a bit before they head to bed. These segments tend to discuss recent activities, though occasionally you will get fluff skits where they talk about what sorts of abilities different characters have and likes or dislikes. Basically, they are an opportunity to catch up. You might even feel tempted to compare Secret of Mana’s inn discussions with the Tales series’ skits. We get to see how good natured Randi is, how headstrong Primm can be and Popoi’s mischievous nature.
However, the main difference here is functionality. It is clear these are meant to work much in the same way Secret of Mana’s Game Log does. Except where the Game Log is a reminder of what you are supposed to be doing next, these vignettes act of memories of what is hopefully the recent past. Many go over what has happened with the party, major characters and their activities and other refreshers. This is mostly helpful, as it has characters offering their own takes on things. Popoi may have their own things to say on Gemma’s activities. Primm may remark on what a bad first impression Randi left.
There is a downside to this. The problem with the Secret of Mana skits is that they stack. If someone is really good at playing the game and finds themselves not needing to stay for a night very often, then eventually in four hours or so they will be past the Pandorian Ruins and only just hearing about how Primm had to save Randi from being a stew. The game expects you to stay in an inn after every major event, and if you do not it will kind of break the immersion.
These skits also do a good job of highlighting a rather important localization change. Popoi is an androgynous sprite. When the game was originally released back on the Super Nintendo in Japan, they were referred to with pronouns that did not gender the character. The original localization in some regions, like North America, referred to Popoi as “he” and “him,” but others, like Germany’s, would refer to Popoi as “she” and “her.” The remake’s localization is true to the original Japanese script and refers to Popoi as “they” and “them.” It is a more respectful decision, as well as more accurate.
Think of Secret of Mana’s new moments as a way of remembering the best parts of the game in a new way. Randi, Primm and Popoi each have their own takes on the situation at hand. If it has been a while since you last played, you will know exactly what you have done and, combined with the Game Log, where you should be going. It even helps point out Popoi’s proper pronouns. The skits may be susceptible to some backlog issues, but they definitely serve a purpose.
Secret of Mana is available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and PC.