Secret of Mana was released on Virtual Console today. And with that, one of the seminal showcases for social gaming has finally been placed where it belongs: on the machine that gets turned on at every house party. It’s standard price, too, when Square Enix could have easily enforced a premium on it, citing the three-player support (or, more honestly, “because we’re Square Enix”).
Not that this development isn’t without its drawbacks. As SE representatives have so glibly admitted, they see the VC as less a convenient platform for their classics than a dumping ground for properties they’re never going to bother with again. Then again, we’ve had long enough to accept that Mana will never return to its former glory, and the more Koichi Ishii tries to salvage it with things like Havok physics and produce cultivation, it only gets increasingly insane and embarrassing. Maybe when someone is willing to consider what made this game and Seiken Densetsu 3 so good in the first place, it’ll finally get the Mega Man 9-like revival it deserves; but for now, it’s time to hang it up.
[[image:nn_080924_mana_01.jpg:Sigh.:right:0]]To be honest, SoM and SD3 are enough for me. They’re of the same caliber as any of the better Final Fantasy games, and the multiplayer element makes them especially timeless. What really makes me sad to see Mana on its way out, though, is that I’ll never see a high-quality, unmarked version of the artwork that served as the basis for both SoM’s promotional campaign and title screen (pictured right). While that might be wildly myopic in any other case, that image of the heroes standing at the root of the mythically tall Mana Tree, brimming with life on every scale, is one of the most impressing works of art this medium has ever produced. (And if there were any doubt that it’s an object of reverence, Square Enix even callously channeled it to manipulate fans into buying the abysmal Dawn of Mana.)
I’d have it framed and hung on my wall, given the chance. Alas, like the series itself, it seems destined to be lost to history.
[Image courtesy of this here fan site]