Soon, Secret of Mana for the iOS will be released in North America and I'd like to go ahead and put some skeptics' fears at ease: it appears to be a faithful, technically sound port of its SNES source material. Exhaling feels good, doesn't it?

This means, though, that all the issues of the original are present. In that weird, overly sentimental way, I want Secret of Mana to retain its baggage. It wouldn't feel… so right otherwise. Perhaps you share this thought. If you don't, beware.

The controls are the lone new feature I've noticed. Square has implemented a virtual controller into the game, allowing for basic movement and action. Flicks and swipes control the radial menus, while character selection can be done via taps. Strangely, you can't interact with the environment by tapping into it. You'll need to use a context-sensitive action button to do so.

Overall, the controls are serviceable. Despite its appearance as a hack-and-slash type of RPG, the action in Secret of Mana is pretty spaced out, meaning the occasional slip-up and response delay associated with using a virtual button spread doesn't interfere with the experience too much. That said, whenever the game does require precision or fast actions, you'll probably be left wanting a controller. But do note, again, that the controls are serviceable. You don't need a controller, but hey, wouldn't it be nice? Also, wouldn't it be awesome to own a Ferrari?

And, really, this is a Ferrari of classic RPGs. Go out and give it a spin if you're a fan or a newcomer. It's a great game and this is a pretty good port.

App Store Link: Secret of Mana, $8.99 (Will be available in US App Store at 11:00 PM EST.)

  • MisterDrgn

    Well now I want to know what baggage the original had...

    • Anonymous

      Lots. It was a pure classic through and through, but there were unfair difficulty spikes, control issues, balancing problems, and later in the game, you were horribly broken through the use of a particularly easy exploit (all you have to do is cast a spell, which pauses the game, then BEFORE that spell actually hits and does damage, pause the game again, and cast another spell, then do that 4-5 times - you'll do 999 damage - rinse and repeat on bosses).

  • Alex

    I have never in my life seen anyone have as many control issues as you do. True or not. Thank god they're "serviceable" to your liking.

  • Alex

    I have never in my life seen anyone have as many control issues as you do. True or not. Thank god they're "serviceable" to your liking.

  • Alex

    I have never in my life seen anyone have as many control issues as you do. True or not. Thank god they're "serviceable" to your liking.

    • Alex

      Okay, perhaps I've gotten bitter about your controller comments. I take my last one back. It's like telling someone not to think about elephants... I too look forward to this game and control issues aside, if it is an exact reproduction of the original with the same problems that the original suffered from, I like it all the more for that same nostalgic feeling Brad gets.

      • Thefinestline

        I don't know I agree with you. I mean, this reviewer sounds like he didn't realize he was playing on a touchscreen device before digging in. Brad should probably stick to Angry Birds or a PSP if controls are going to be an issue all the time.

      • Tino

        Being aware you are playing on a touch screen doesn't make touch screen controls good.

      • tsharpfilm

        But it does make you a little more tolerant of the subtle problems all touch screen controls share.

      • Boer

        ... Which is why a premium title from one of the world's top developers could, just maybe, have put a little thought into novel ways to make the touch screen work for the game instead of against it.

        As in, maybe there's something they could have done besides just throw up a virtual joystick.

      • CodeRed

        Stop nitpicking. It's an Action RPG, not a platformer. There's really no need for precise controls.

      • http://lajcik.org/ Lajcik

        Not really, because touch screen controls are nowhere near as good as a regular controller for this kind of games, and if a game can't be made so that the controls are at least 'servicable' then maybe the game shouldn't have been made at all.

        I know that this notion won't sit well with some, but the reality is that controls break 90% of action games on the ios, and many others. They often are shitty and inaccurate, and furthermore having your thumbs covering a significant part of the screen doesn't add to experience at all.

        Therefore I think it is essential that these things are pointed out, because the less tolerant of us are not picking up a game that doesn't control well. Why? Because it's just not fun for us.

      • http://lajcik.org/ Lajcik

        Not really, because touch screen controls are nowhere near as good as a regular controller for this kind of games, and if a game can't be made so that the controls are at least 'servicable' then maybe the game shouldn't have been made at all.

        I know that this notion won't sit well with some, but the reality is that controls break 90% of action games on the ios, and many others. They often are shitty and inaccurate, and furthermore having your thumbs covering a significant part of the screen doesn't add to experience at all.

        Therefore I think it is essential that these things are pointed out, because the less tolerant of us are not picking up a game that doesn't control well. Why? Because it's just not fun for us.

      • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

        This was a problem when the Appstore first launched. Not now. Anyone who's played Zenonia knows what good controls feel like, this 'problem' has been sorted long ago.

        Get some new material.

      • http://lajcik.org/ Lajcik

        Yes and no, Zenonia was quite fine, and yet I sometimes found myself pushing the wrong direction and tweaking the controls back and forth, between covering too much of the screen and being too small... The same thing bothers me about illusia. I love the hell out of it, but the lack real buttons makes me miss from time to time and fall off platforms and such...

        Sure the situation is better now and more games get it 'right', but still it makes me approach games with virtual joystick with caution. It's often worse in case of games with fast action, where you have to be more rapid and quicker to respond. So in my eyes it still is a problem, maybe you're just more tolerant of control gimmicks than i am, or maybe its more of an issue on 3g, or maybe I'm just more picky and prefer to play these kinds of games on the nds :)

        I'll stop my rambling now :)

      • http://ignorethecode.net LKM

        I can't play Zenonia because the controls are so horrible. I bought both, hoping the controls would be fixed. They weren't. Everything that uses digital controls is, to me at least, completely unplayable. Analog controls work quite well, on the other hand, because you know where your finger is from the speed and direction of your character. To that end, I really want to find out how the controls work when reading a review.

      • http://twitter.com/nicholsonb Brad Nicholson

        Hey, no worries. I've got thick skin. And listen, the only reason I mention the things I do is because I consider them important and want you, as the potential purchaser, to go into something a purchase with a bit of knowledge.

    • Alex

      Okay, perhaps I've gotten bitter about your controller comments. I take my last one back. It's like telling someone not to think about elephants... I too look forward to this game and control issues aside, if it is an exact reproduction of the original with the same problems that the original suffered from, I like it all the more for that same nostalgic feeling Brad gets.

  • kenny

    $8.99?! That's a LOT of money to ask for a port of a game that came out 17 years ago..... I mean, I loved SoM back in the day, but $8.99 is ludicrous to me...

    • monster

      Yeah, but then buying an original copy of the SNES version now, is like £40. It's a slightly rare little game.

      • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

        Totally jibberish statement having absolutely nothing to do with this. So your point is because the physical original carts which are so damn old that they are now COLLECTOR'S ITEMS going for £40... the bits that were inside the cart are a 'deal' at 8-9 bucks? What?!

    • MisterDrgn

      That's what they asked for the original Final Fantasy.

    • http://incise.org Nick Welch

      You must not play video games much anymore. 8.99 is about as cheap as it gets, even for a port of an older game. iPhone apps may regularly be 99 cents, but console video games never are.

      • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

        " 8.99 is about as cheap as it gets,"

        Um.. new to iPhone gaming?

  • Houdat2

    Secret of mana was what got me into RPGs. But one of the main reasons why I loved it was the multiplayer feature. I hate to say it, but I'm going to wait to see if they add multiplayer to it. I still think people should play it if they never have.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cat-Astrophy/100000838113704 Cat Astrophy

    Multiplayer was a failed concept just like it was for FF6. In SoM you had to pause the action for everyone in order to access the ring which was VERY often and important for spamming spells every time you attuned to a new seed to level them up quickly. It just wasn't very fun.

    This was one of my favorite RPGs because the music was so amazing. It was also fun to have customizable AI (though not great, with a little babysitting they did well enough) party members.

    The icons on the quick bar don't show your stock which is pretty stupid. When you go to buy gear it doesn't show you the stat upgrade until you've already purchased the item (wtf? this wasn't the case in the original).

    Also prices like this just encourage players to get the SNES emulator for iPhone/iPad and just play it that way since they can have the MP if they want to (bluetooth) and it doesn't have the horrible font render this port uses for the interface.

  • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Phil Baxter

    Just picked this up despite the eye watering price and a word of warning - this is an exceptionally poor port.

    The frame rate is utterly miserable. Long gone is the 60fps from the SNES version, instead it limps along at around 15fps even on an iPhone 4. The music too is very poor compared to the SNES version, and the new interface elements are ugly and crude.

    The original is a classic 16bit RPG, but this port is a train wreck.

    • http://twitter.com/johnhood John Hood

      Thanks for the heads up. Was looking forward to this, but will pass for now!

    • Tino

      Thank goodness for you. Was going to buy it.

      I think I'll wait for a price drop. 99 cents sounds about right to me.

    • http://incise.org Nick Welch

      Wow, they altered the music? That's just unforgivable.

      • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Phil Baxter

        The music has the same melodies as the SNES originals, but Square didn't emulate the SNES' famous sound chip. Instead they recreated the tunes, but rather poorly. Sounds like a super cheap synthesiser now, rather than the wonderful SNES sounds.

      • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

        So 17 years later we have a compromise on the Sound? Pathetic. Maybe it's because the best stars when it comes to (among other things) sound design have left the company, and thus their 17 year old work is not permitted to be resold on this product? If that were the case, Square could just 'get out' of that restriction by slightly changing the tunes.

    • Olivicmic

      You are lying.

      1. The SNES did not run at 60 frames per second because NTSC TVs only displays 29.97 frames per second. PAL TVs (Europe) display 24.

      2. The music while not emulated, are recordings of the SNES/SPC tunes.

      You're telling flat-out fabrications.

      • CodeRed

        And it seems some people are willing to buy or not buy based on what one person says. The game runs smoothly on my iPhone3G and the music is exactly how I remembered it. The only negative about the game is it doesn't show you how the armor increases your stats until AFTER you buy the equipment. Other than that, the only other addition I'd want is a functional multiplayer via WiFi

      • Nextnetic

        I am playing this on the ipad and I have not noticed any framerate issues. Also I concur that the sound/music is true to the original. So far all I have noticed in terms of changes to the original is the water rippling, water reflection, tree sprites, some enemy sprites etc. have been tidied up. I have played the original so many times I really struggle to come up with a number that won't sound made up - but seriously 100s of times. This port will make any of the real fans of the original happy.

      • WoodsM

        Is there an iPad version of this game out? I thought it was only iPhone right now. I want to wait for the iPad version.

      • Eric5h5

        The SNES *did* run at 60 frames per second, because NTSC runs 59.94Hz per field, which gives you 59.94 frames per second in non-interlace mode, which has half the vertical resolution. And guess what, SNES games are not interlaced. Also, PAL does 25fps in interlaced mode, not 24 (50fps in non-interlaced mode). It's film that's 24 fps.

      • Olivicmic

        This is incorrect.

        The SNES does have an interlaced mode.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Nintendo_Entertainment_System

        2. 60 Lines per second does not equal 60 frames per second.

      • Olivicmic

        And I meant to say fields.

      • Eric5h5

        Yeah, and which games actually used interlaced mode? Not Secret Of Mana, for sure. 60 fields per second does equal 60 frames per second, when you're running in non-interlaced mode. What do you think the TV's actually doing with those fields? As someone who programmed old CPUs to squeeze out every bit of speed in order to get games to run at 60 fps, I guarantee that Secret of Mana does run at 60 fps. Run it in an emulator if you have to, and turn the fps display on.

      • Olivicmic

        60 fields DOES NOT equal 60 FPS on a NTSC television. Each frame consists of 2 fields of odd and even frames of the same frame.

      • Lame Dino

        60 field DOES equal 60 FPS on a NTSC television when running in non-interlaced mode.

    • MKaos

      Really? I'm about 3 hours in (grinded to level 10 and am now in pandora ruins) and have had no frame rate issues, love the update in the graphics and the slight translation alteration. Looking forward to completing the game for the first time in years!! Trust me guys, this is a great port and at 8.99 the amount of play time youll get through it makes it worth more worth it.

    • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

      "Long gone is the 60fps from the SNES version"

      Dude. Your memory does not serve you. Do you even know what 60FPS means? We got mighty clumsy sprite animation (pardon the pun) in SoM. Isn't 60FPS more frames than the human eye can detect? Seriously, chill out.

  • Zon

    I can see myself spending $8.99 on FFT but $8.99 for a SNES game is a little steep. I'll wait for a sale.

  • Mat

    12.99$ in Canada? You must be kidding me. This is one of the greatest game of my childhood, but im not buying it at this price!

    According to google: 12.99 Canadian dollars = 12.767845 U.S. dollars

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cat-Astrophy/100000838113704 Cat Astrophy

      damn where am i going to come up with $0.007845

    • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

      I don't see the point of converting it to USD to emphasize your point. We get it, it's a rip off for a 17 yr old game. An extra four bucks over the American price might have been better illustrated with percentage, you know?

  • Alidepaul

    Are there any plans to release an HD version for the ipad?

  • Lanstar

    I am really loving this game! I tried it on an emulator on my Mac, but i just didn't like the weird ring system and AI issues. Well the AI issues and the ring are still there, but the game is a lot of fun. This game made me just *stop* playing Aralon for the last couple of days. It's one of those games where you have to play from beginning to end once you start. BTW how do I get my team members to fight? No matter what presets I use, they always seem to just stand around and watch.

    • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

      as per your teammates, i think that's a pretty big part of the game.. go to their menu and check the status screen.. there's a part where you can set their default 'approach' to battles (eg. stand back, defend, agressively attack, etc) ... its been a long time since i played Mana, but yea, go nosing around the menus and it's in there somewhere, i believe there's a 'chessboard' menu where you move their icons to show their approach...

  • deazul

    Love it, controls aside (because you morons need to argue for some reason about touch controls which are ALWAYS awful), but since there's no fucking multiplater I will never be purchasing this game.