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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