SNES Repro – Secret of Mana 2

Secret of Mana 2
Secret of Mana 2 (Seiken Densetsu 3) Japanese cover art.

Secret of Mana 2 (Seiken Densetsu 3) was the first reproduction I purchased and has really drawn me into the whole reproduction world. I’m a huge fan of the original Secret of Mana, it’s a terrific action RPG that was released by Square in 1993. At the time the sequel never made it to the U.S and we wouldn’t see a new game in the Mana series until Legend of Mana on the Playstation (which, in my opinion, was not nearly on the same level as Secret of Mana).

That all changed in 2000 when, thanks to a fan translation, the English-speaking world was able to enjoy a game that, I think, very much improves on the original and is one of the finest games to grace the SNES.

As a side note, to clarify the U.S. vs. Japanese naming conventions… The first game in the series was called Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden in Japan, while it was called Final Fantasy Adventure in the U.S. So, the numbering is off by one for the other release (Secret of Mana/Seiken Densetsu 2, Secret of Mana 2/Seiken Densetsu 3). Square just loved screwing with this stuff in the SNES era.

The game starts with you choosing three out of six possible characters to play as which you’ll control throughout the course of the game. This aspect offers some nice replayability, you’ll only see the storyline from these characters perspective. As with Secret of Mana, while the player controls one of the characters, the computer handles the other two. You can give the computer controller very general commands about how to handle themselves (if they should use abilities, which enemies they should target), which is a nice addition over the original.

Also new is the level up system. As you characters gain levels you’ll be able to customize which of their statistics to increase (strength, vitality, luck, etc.). Additionally, when they hit level 18 (and have a special item), you’ll be given the option to choose either a light or a dark class upgrade. Each variant offers unique skills and is another way to further customize your characters. This branching choice happens again at level 38, so each character can ultimately be one of four different variants (light light, light dark, dark light, dark dark). It’s a really cool system that adds even more to the replayability of the game.

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SNES Repro – Treasure of the Rudras

Treasure of the Rudras' Japanese Box Art
Treasure of the Rudras’ Japanese Box Art

Lately I’ve been into purchasing reproduction SNES carts on eBay or through 3rd party sites like Timewalk Games. “What in the hell are reproduction SNES carts” you’re probably asking. Well, basically, these individuals/companies are creating physical SNES cartridges that play either a) games only ever officially released in Japan with English translation patches applied to them or b) fan-made hack of existing games. Super Metroid Redesign is an example of a fan hack to make the game more difficult (apparently Super Metroid hacking is HUGE).

I’m a little more interested in the English translations of games that were never released in the U.S. There’s just a ton of great SNES-era games that never made it here, and I’m intrigued by the fact that now, roughly 20 years later, people are releasing physical reproductions of these games. It’s super niche, but there’s certainly a market for it. Also, the allure of not knowing for sure what I’m getting is kind of awesome.

One of the latest repros I purchased, through eBay is Treasure of the Rudras (Rudra no Hihō, a.k.a. Treasure of Rudra). Originally released in 1996 by Square, it’s an RPG were you combine words to make your own mantras (spells). You can create awesome sounding mantras like “pefaongnujin” or “bulvugnuegod” (those are actual mantras you could create). Mantras are generally broken down into three parts; there is an element core (lightning, dark), combined with prefixes and suffixes which can modify the power, how many enemies the spell targets (single or multiple), or add additional status effects like poison. You can also learn unique spells from enemies while playing through the game.

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Costume Quest Review

I’m a pretty big fan of Halloween, RPG’s and Double Fine games in general, so when I found out Double Fine was making a Halloween themed RPG I was pretty pumped. A downloadable game for both Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, Costume Quest follows the twins Wren and Reynold as they trick-or-treat their way through the neighborhood on Halloween night. When one of the twins is kidnapped (the player chooses which sibling they want to play as, the other is kidnapped) by a band of candy-stealing monsters it’s up to the other to save the day. You’ll fight through a few different areas, including the suburbs, the mall and a Halloween carnival in the country side. Along the way you’ll find two more playable characters to help you in your quest.

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Atlus Announces Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City for DS

Dungeon crawling RPG’s are awesome. Especially when you can choose a ninja as one of your characters. Or a buccaneer. The game currently has a September 21 release date in North America.

Full press release, below…

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Firewalker Pack DLC Coming to Mass Effect 2 Late March

Bioware will be releasing more DLC for Mass Effect 2, featuring the Hammerhead, a vehicle that hovers over the battlefield and shoots stuff. The Firewalker pack features five new missions and all original owners of Mass Effect 2 (or, all those with access to the Cerberus Network) will be able to download the content at no charge.

Download the Firewalker pack and gain access to 5 new missions featuring the Hammerhead. The Hammerhead is a heavy assault vehicle that hovers over the battlefield at up to 120 kilometers per hour and features a guided missile system ensuring accuracy even during aggressive maneuvering. Coming late March, free to all Cerberus Network members!

[ Bioware ]

Bioshock 2 DLC Announced

2K games announced upcoming DLC for Bioshock 2 that will expand on the single and multiplayer portions of the game. Key features include:

    • Rank Increase to level 50 with Rank Rewards
      New playable characters Louie McGraff and Oscar Calraca
      20 new trials
      A third weapon upgrade for each weapon
      Five additional masks
  • The DLC will cost 400 points on XBL, $4.99 on the PSN.

    Full press release, below:

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    New Dragon Age: Origins Awaking Trailer – Sigrun

    Bioware has released a new character trailer for their upcoming expansion Dragon Age: Origins Awaking.

    Redwood Shores, CA – February 20, 2010 – The Darkspawn are evolving, becoming more skilled and treacherous opponents. Faced with the task of eliminating this new threat, you will be happy to have on your team someone who isn’t just willing to die in battle – she has to. Sigrun’s fate is sealed – she will do penance by giving her life on the battlefield. But she also has a huge chip on her shoulder, and she plans on taking out as many enemies as possible before she does.

    There is only one way to leave the Legion of the Dead: by fulfilling a vow to die in battle against the enemies of Orzammar, a sacrifice that absolves any guilt. Sigrun craves a chance to prove she is more than a worthless gutter-rat, but it’s hard to rush headlong into a battle you won’t survive. After all, when you grow up casteless, you learn to fight for everything. You learn that you have to watch out for yourself, because no one else will, and the Stone knows no one’s going to miss you when you’re dead. Sigrun’s a survivor, and old habits die hard.

    FFXIII Giving Away Chocobo Avatars on Xbox 360

    chocoboavatar

    Xbox 360 users can register here to receive a free Chocobo avatar. It’s part of their “Register, Tweet and Win” promotion, which encourages users to register at Xbox.com and use Twitter to tweet the hash tag #FFXIIIXBOX, to spread the word that Final Fantasy XIII is coming to the Xbox 360.