48. Secret of Mana (SNES/PS4)

First Played: 2003 (SNES)

Times Completed: 3

I can hear this image and it fills me with warmth. This classic SNES rpg is a longtime favourite of mine. The music and locations are memorable and really set the scene of this magical world of Mana, just hearing that brief whale-song leading into the title music and seeing those flamingos fly past the huge moss-covered tree is awe inspiring and a nostalgia overload. The battle system takes a while to get used too (you shouldn’t really just mash attack) but I find it a lot of fun. The game can be completed solo, but I think it’s better with at least one friend, especially since the AI really isn’t very good. I first played this about 10 years after release, in 2003, after finding it in a game store for a good price, so me and my brother took some time off work and completed the game over the next few days.

Not long ago, the game received a remake on modern platforms and as much as I feel nostalgia towards the original, I think the remake is even slightly better, with improved control and AI. It also has a nice 3D graphical style and I appreciate the detail in the character designs and environments.  There is also an option to switch between original and new music tracks and local co-op returns. Unfortunately they didn’t include online multiplayer and I feel the game is often better with voices turned off, since the cutscenes don’t feature animated mouths. Nevertheless, these are slight blemishes on an otherwise superb game. The original is also available on Switch, as part of a collection of Mana titles.