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Legend of Mana HD Recensione: un classico JRPG per PS1 tirato a lucido

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Square-Enix continues with the revival of the most illustrious episodes of the Mana series: it’s up to the spin-off released on PlayStation in 1999.

Once again the Legendary Mana Tree draws the attention of the players to itself. The arrival of the remastered version of Legend of Mana is a golden opportunity for European fans of the series: the original edition released on PlayStation in 1999 has never officially landed in the Old Continent, making it necessary to turn to the import market to succeed. to get your hands on a valuable copy of the game. But with Square Enix that in recent years has made a commitment to rediscover the Mana series through collections and remakes (in this regard you can read our review of Trials of Mana, focused on the third chapter of the series once exclusive to the Japanese territory), now for anyone there is the possibility to relive this particular spin-off without particular effort .

Over 20 years are a considerable weight to bear and certain aspects of the work inevitably appear aged, yet Legend of Mana has all the credentials to prove to be an interesting product even today , especially in the eyes of fans who have already had the opportunity to consume it. the illustrious predecessors. And with the Mana series turning 30, what better way to celebrate than with this new blast from the past?

We shape our world

Legend of Mana experiments with various new approaches compared to what is seen in the main series and does so already starting from the narrative, which does not necessarily follow a large main plot but is on the contrary divided into several main stories disconnected from each other , which can be carried forward in a way autonomous and without following a specific path. In support, a wide series of subplots that revolve around various minor characters, just enough to give greater personality to the game world and all the inhabitants who populate it.

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On the one hand, this narrative freedom is appreciated, but it remains undeniable that the approach chosen by the team tends to dilute the story, giving the impression that the protagonist’s journey lacks a real purpose . All the more so considering that the narration proceeds following events that are actually not very exciting, certainly less engaging than what the main chapters of Mana have offered in previous years. Nowadays, a similar setting may seem even less convincing than it already was at the time, although there are some memorable moments, sporadic epic tones and even a touch of genuine humor due to the wacky characterization of some NPCs and the writing. of dialogues aimed at snatching a smile.
If on the narrative level it is not all roses, on the playful front we immediately begin to get serious thanks to the interesting mechanics of the Artifacts : we are in fact shaping the reality of Legend of Mana through these magical objects that can be placed in a anywhere on the map. At the beginning of the game, the first task is to decide where to place our house and then build a real world around it using the other Artifacts that we will collect by continuing the adventure and completing numerous quests.

Even the placement of these tools is often not done randomly: some Artifacts can only be placed in specific points, such as bodies of water or deserts. Furthermore, the further an Artifact is placed away from our home, the greater the difficulty of the newly created scenario. The construction of the world can therefore have consequences on a playful level and contribute to increasing (or decreasing) the challenges offered by the title of Square Enix, it being understood that the general difficulty is not however calibrated upwards .

In this regard it must be said that experience is accumulated very quickly and equipment is soon obtained more and more efficient without necessarily resorting to the possibilities given by the crafting of the (many) resources accumulated along the way.

A practical action rpg player will have no particular problems in mastering the game mechanics and its challenges, although battles against certain bosses can still give a hard time if faced without the right equipment or without having reached an adequate level of experience.

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It should not be forgotten that a second game allows you to experience much more challenging game modes than the basic difficulty, and thus giving a very different cut to the game. The Remastered also offers the possibility to save the game at any time outside of the fights with a lot of active auto- save , while among the options it is possible to activate or deactivate the non-essential fights at will: this can further simplify the game, freeing the player. from the need to repeatedly face the same enemies by going back and forth through the scenarios. However, this is a solution to be evaluated with some caution, in order to guarantee the correct leveling of our character.

A warrior on adventure

Once you understand the functions of the Artifacts it’s time to immerse yourself in the adventures offered by Legend of Mana. The Square-Enix title looks like an actio rpg with simple and immediate mechanics, which however also guarantee a certain depth to the combat system.

Ring Ring Land Among the novelties of this re-edition is the presence of the Ring-Ring Land minigame, once available only through PocketStation and here accessible via the pause menu after obtaining an allied monster. The Ring-Ring Land offers a sequence of useful challenges to enhance our creatures faster, thus making them ready to go into battle alongside us with already a sufficient amount of experience accumulated.

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Compared to the previous games in the series, this spin-off enjoys a much faster pace and an action that appears more fluid , thus making it more in step with the times. In addition to a fairly varied bestiary, there is also a wide choice in the paraphernalia at our disposal, which can be enriched by collecting the weapons left by the enemies, buying them at the shops or creating them in the workshop once available.

The weapons supplied not only change the range of hits and the frequency of attacks, but also allow us to learn new special skills to be assigned to the dorsal keys and to be unsheathed in all their power once the appropriate indicator is full. It is therefore an excellent incentive to experiment with everything we will come into possession, from swords to knives, passing through broadswords, hammers and two-handed axes, which once mastered will allow us to unlock increasingly efficient powers. For the rest, our hero can unleash quick combos that alternate fast and heavy attacks to maximize the damage inflicted.

In battle it is important to always pay attention to how enemies move, which can also inflict altered statuses for a few moments and thus obtain advantages at our expense. There are also no healing items to store in your inventory, as our energies are always recharged at the end of a fight (or by picking up a candy or chocolate left on the ground by the creatures defeated in battle), therefore it is all the more good to carefully dose attack and defense so as not to run into nasty surprises .

In our help there are further abilities, to be set through the game menu, which can give us additional advantages or useful assists to take control of the battle until victory. Although for the duration of the adventure we will control only the protagonist, often we will be accompanied by a second character who will fight alongside us: this is typically the protagonist of a specific subplot, who will join us for personal interest and will bring with him equipment and skills that can prove extremely useful during the action. In addition, during the game it is also possible to find monster eggs to raise on our ranch at home: once we have weaned the creatures with the food found during the exploration, we can call them to our side and let them fight with us. , in order to make it stronger and stronger. If desired , a second player can also join the game , who will take control of our teammates and create a cooperative adventure (strictly offline).

We can at most have two companions with us between NPCs and bred monsters, and their presence is essential not only to face every hostility, but also to overcome some puzzles that necessarily require the use of three distinct characters. But Legend of Mana isn’t just relentless battles against increasingly tough beasts and bosses: there’s also room for exploration .

Although the game map is divided into several micro-areas created with the Artifacts, each scenario has a non-linear setting and offers several secrets to discover. Sifting through every corner of these places is important not only to find useful resources and money to spend at the shopkeepers, but also to understand how to solve any puzzles; specific secondary missions are among other things focused on the continuous interaction with various secondary characters, thus carrying out the assignment through the dialectic instead of brute force.

Completing each mission is important to collect more and more Artifacts and gradually discover all that Legend of Mana has to offer, and a single run may not be enough to find all the secondary quests present in the title: depending on the order in which we will rebuild the world and face the various tasks, we will risk skipping entire subplots and losing part of the game contents.

This setting greatly favors replayability , prompting users to experiment with new paths and approaches so as to discover other hidden secrets. Not a bad trick for a title that in itself does not have a particularly long duration, and that can be finished after a few afternoons of intense gameplay. But with so many secrets to uncover – without considering the additional difficulty levels – taking at least a second spin on Legend of Mana is almost imperative.
This provided you can digest the aging of some aspects of the game, which do not only concern the narrative setting: the gameplay has remained completely faithful to the past and carries with it some woodiness in terms of movements and too narrow hitboxes. If you can turn a blind eye to these elements, the Square Enix title will, however, reward you more than worthily.

The old and the new

It is particularly interesting the aesthetic renewal carried out by the developers for Legend of Mana, which re-proposes the 16-bit sprites of the original version on remastered backgrounds in high definition . The final result proves to be captivating, both because the pre-rendered backdrops appear today even more fascinating and evocative than in the past, and because the characters seem to move very well within this “modern” context, without ever seeming out of place.

Visually, this operation can therefore be considered a success, albeit with some slight technical flaws (the movements of the protagonists in battle appear slow and imprecise) which, however, does not negatively affect the overall yield of the production. At the time Legend of Mana offered a truly spectacular 2D, which continues to leave its mark even today thanks to worlds with attention to every detail and the typical magical atmospheres that have always characterized the brand.

To further enhance this evocative picture we think the wonderful soundtrack composed at the time by Yoko Shimomura, with the possibility of setting both the music of 1999 and the remixed versions for this new edition. The result remains to be applauded in both cases. Finally, the absence of Italian among the available languages should be noted : a lack that should not scare users, given that the texts have a simple structure and it is never too complicated to understand how to continue further even for those who do not chew English.


Legend of Mana
Legend of Mana Version Analyzed PlayStation 4The Legend of Mana Remastered is the golden opportunity to rediscover one of the lesser known episodes of the historic Square-Enix series. Although certain playful and narrative elements show the signs of time, we cannot deny some intriguing ideas that have made it live up to its name: the possibility of shaping the game map at will through the Artifacts and an adventure process. anything but linear they leave the player the freedom to approach the game as he sees fit, gradually discovering the many stories, secrets and great battles that this fantastic world has to offer. All without forgetting an action with more sustained and immediate rhythms than what we saw in the previous chapters. Surrounding it is a splendid artistic direction that in this remake skilfully mixes backdrops in high definition with the sprites of the original 1999 title, creating a painting that is fascinating in its own way to be admired without looking away. Finally, the splendid musical accompaniment is the proverbial icing on the cake that gives the work an engaging and immersive atmosphere. It still remains a child product of its times: this Remastered remains very faithful to the original title and does little to rejuvenate some woodiness that has always characterized it. A level of difficulty calibrated downwards, at least for the first run, is another negative point for those who want to test their skills. The fact remains that Legend of Mana Remastered is a production worthy of respect,

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