First off I have to admit I love the Secret of Mana series, or I guess it’s just called “The Mana” series really. So I’m going to not particularly lean on my established fondness for the series to rate it overall. That said the story is like many if the establishment IP games moving to mobile in that you play little pocket adventures in the various game worlds. Ya know like Dragon Quest Tact.
Which I did a bit on awhile ago. Unlike DQT this game keeps the Mana style gameplay as best as it can with the combat being very close to Legend of Mana. Which is fine by me, it is my favorite one after all. You move along a 2.5 path with all your actions on screen. Much like MegaMan X Dive, but here they auto lock onto the closest enemy to you even moving into range before attacking. So you can mostly just jab attacks without paying to much attention. It does tend to make the game a little boring at times, but they keep the damage and difficulty high enough to keep you on your toes.
So in gameplay it’s passable for a mobile game. Typical drop down menu for mission episodes or item grind areas. So nothing special here. That is to say nothing new here. It’s a tried, tired, and true method to stretch it out by making you come back everyday and hopefully buying some microtransactions. A term I use lightly as the prices here are ridiculously expensive. I also don’t see any need to buy any of the packs unless it’s late game and you can’t get enough summon gems for grabbing new characters. That tends to happen in all these types of games so obviously set a limit for yourself on how much you are willing to spend and what you want from the purchases ahead of time.
I will be going with my standard approach of possibly five or ten bux every month or two if I feel it would actually help. It’s important to remember the game is free. So think of how much fun you’ve already had and how much more you might play if the gems would give you something you wanted rather than just one more random drop. Because this game has a pretty fleshed out summon pull of characters.
So there is plenty enough right there. Though they also drop in these gems you can equip that have little scenes from the previous games. I’ll spare you the wall of those as well to avoid being redundant but I will point out you can do your pulls ten at a time.
I tossed one of the gems in there because ya k ow rarabs are adorable. So how is the story? Surprisingly on point if I’m being honest. It’s oozing all the charm and lighthearted dialogue that has become staples of the franchise. So much so that I’ve been finding it difficult to put down. I’m sure my attitude will change in a month or so. I could easily list off some mobile games that hooked me almost instantly only to drop it once I finished the vanilla story mode offerings. That’s not really a bad thing if you think about it. Most games I only play for a few weeks then move on. Only with mobile games you expect constant content to play for free. It’s not very pick up and play at first. It’s very text heavy. Now you can skip those scenes, and it even gives you the option to just get the text log to skim through if you are just craving some more gameplay or if you have limited time to get some stages in during a lunch break so it’s pretty forgiving in that regard. Still these cutscenes are pretty interesting. Not incredibly well made, but better than I was expecting.
Which rather than just rehashing the stories they put some spin on it. Infact it’s a lot like Kingdom Hearts in that regard. Keeping it interesting for long time fans while staying approachable to anyone who missed out on some of the more obscure titles. Now it has a nice little village that serves as your hub you can explore. Not that I do, since there is a drop down menu to take you wherever you want to go. Which is good as the loading times are a little heavy here. That has been what made me stop each time I put the game down. You have your party menu to equip, upgrade, and level up each member. A blacksmith to upgrade your gear. Various other shops and summoning places will keep you tabbing around looking for which one specific menu you need to be in for the one specific task you are trying to do. Coupled with the staggering amount of weapons, elemental affinities, strengths and weaknesses unique for each character you have making a balanced team will take some thought. So much so I’m sorta winging it. Still it’s there if you want it! I won’t say it’s a perfect mobile game, or even a good stand alone title for someone new to the Mana series. I will say it’s a fantastic introduction to these titles, and an even better nostalgic trip for longtime fans. With brand new art and remixes of classic music it will hit all the right buttons to give you the warm feelings I am always chasing around here. It’s far better than your average phone game, but requires just as much extra work and attention to get the full experience. It’s a game for people who find they don’t have as much time as they would like to sit down and enjoy games like they used to. As for me, I gotta go boot up my Switch and give Legend of Mana a few more hours of my life. Oh and Sarah, if you happen to read this somehow, I know we broke up decades ago but I still want my Legend of Mana back.