In a world where remakes are getting made left and right, you really need to stand out - Secret of Mana didn’t
The Secret of Mana remake should have been an amazing video game.
After all, it's one of the most beloved JRPGs of its time - it's battle system still holds up as unique and different after all these decades - and it's a fun game that takes you through a fantastical story! It's the quintessential RPG experience, and a remake had such potential.
So what happened? Secret of Mana just tanked. When I played through over this past weekend - i was treated to a broken, garishly designed game that lacked the same kind of fantastic feel that the original captured. While the story still kept me enthralled enough to keep moving forward, the game itself became ever more frustrating and confused.
Still, I can't deny that I played it for hours and at times had at least a little bit of fun. That's something, right? Is it? No, seriously, I'm asking.
Secret of Mana is a remake of the SNES action RPG of the same name, released in 1993. It takes place in a fantasy world that contains a magical essence called Mana - and you control three unnamed heroes as they fight against an evil empire, trying to harness Mana and take over the world.
The remake features new, 3D graphics, a slightly modernized battle system, and a design that almost feels too saccharine for its own good.
The good in this game lies with what wasn't changed - the story. The story is simple, and features many typical tropes that have become iconic in JRPGS. You quest as three unnamed (or player-named) heroes across this unnamed world to retrieve and seal the powers of the Mana Seeds - because if the evil Empire gets them, they will recreate the evil Mana Fortress. Thus, mana will come back to the world and the evil Empire - lead by an evil, undead wizard named Thanatos - will control it all.
It's not groundbreaking. Even for the time, this plot was definitely one gamers had seen before, but that didn't matter! The story is engaging, because it's a typical hero's journey. You are able to gain fun magic powers and fight crazy large beasts and win! It's both an escape and even a form of wish fulfillment for some - and that's why we still continue to love these games.
Sure, a complicated, powerful story is great, but there is something to be said about the power of simplicity.
There are some other fun additions - the small conversations that party members have at the Inns are nice. It adds a level of character to these typical trope-y characters that we're given. Sure, it doesn't add a lot, but it adds enough.
Was this enough to make the game good, though?
No. It wasn't. At all. The game is broken, guys. Like bad. I'll start with the awkward AI and sprite movements. I was on my way to the Dwarf Village, and my party members were constantly getting stuck at turns. Often, I'd find myself asking, "Where the hell did the Sprite go?" It's not the worst thing, but when you're a relatively low level and traveling somewhere new, things get really hairy when your party is about three of four movements away fighting a wall for dominance.
You guys remember how in old games, whenever your sprites were preparing to talk to someone, they would come together and disappear within the protagonists body and then line up. Now, I want you to picture that, but a couple of seconds slower and instead of disappearing, everyone becomes this weird amalgamation of all three characters before making a line. It looked atrocious and made me regret actually getting information from anyone in the game. It's almost as annoying as the battle system.
Listen, the original game was definitely not the perfect system by any stretch of the imagination. But the point of a remake is to fix the game's problems and make them better. That's now what Secret of Mana did - instead, it made the game look pretty(?) and didn't bother to change anything else. This makes battles an absolute slog to get through.
The action bar mechanic is fine, and it definitely works in this action-RPG setting, but it also suffers from feeling a little too dated. Combine that with the delayed reaction from enemies in the game (by about two seconds) when they got hit, and the awkward move from 2D battles to 3D and you've got a mess. Not unplayable, but definitely annoying.
And finally, we have the awkward design elements. I don't know why they decided to go for this sweet and cute chibi-esque design - but it definitely made the game feel less fun and vibrant and more grating and childish. I know that this game is meant for a younger audience, but young kids don't need cheaply designed chibi characters.
I could go on and on, but unfortunately, I don't have a whole month write this article.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Don't waste your time on the remake. It's not worth the $40 that they charge, and that's an incredible disappointment. The game is mired by all of the choices it didn't make. Instead of giving us a remake the changes with the times, we are stick with a 3D-ed, almost carbon copy of the original game with all of the problems and issues that came with plus even more.
A remake is not a carbon copy and needs to change with the times. This game didn't do that - and that's incredibly disappointing.
Here's hoping they'll let someone else try it again further down the road.
Shann Smith is a lover of video games and has played games since he could hold a controller. He is a freelance writer, playwright, screenwriter, and also writes the Video Gay-Mer column on Popdust! If you have any games you'd like him to unpack, hit him up!
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The country band, FKA Lady Antebellum, are suing a Black blues singer over the rights to their new name.
Last month, the country band formerly known Lady Antebellum showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement by changing their name to Lady A—a name that had already been used by Black blues singer, Anita White.
Now, Lady A (the band) are digging themselves an even deeper grave by suing Lady A (the singer). But, hey! At least their original band name isn't racist anymore.
"Today we are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended," Lady A (the band) said in a statement to CBS News. "She and her team have demanded a $10 million payment, so reluctantly we have come to the conclusion that we need to ask a court to affirm our right to continue to use the name Lady A, a trademark we have held for many years."
According to the lawsuit, Lady A (the band) had been using that nickname in tandem with their original name, Lady Antebellum, since as early as 2006, and it became an official trademark for the band in 2011. The lawsuit also reads that "prior to 2020, White did not challenge, in any way, Plaintiffs' open, obvious, and widespread nationwide and international use of the Lady A mark as a source indicator."
The suit says Lady A (the singer) has identified as that name since 2010, although she told Rolling Stone she's been using the stage name for 20 years, adding: "It's an opportunity for them to pretend they're not racist or pretend this means something to them. If it did, they would've done some research. And I'm not happy about that. You found me on Spotify easily—why couldn't they?"
Although Lady A (the band) and Lady A (the singer) have seemingly been in a constructive discussion over their shared name, the singer's ultimate opinion is that this is an issue of "white privilege."
No Weapon formed against me shall prosper #LadyABluesSoulFunkGospelArtist #TheRealLadyA https://t.co/KBYGnlw6Lw— Lady A (@Lady A)1594250961.0
Under a trademark coexistence agreement, it is possible for two artists to share a trademark so long as the artists in question don't interfere with each others' enterprises; for example, two singer-songwriters can both be known as Alex G because they access different markets. The Lady A debacle could possibly fall under this agreement, if both the band and the singer comply.
But, as Lady A (the singer) pointed out, Lady A (the band)'s decision to sue their namesake is indicative of their white privilege. From the start, the band's choice to change their name was met with a debate over whether or not it was actually constructive in achieving racial justice.
The world "antebellum" literally means "before the war," but it has since come to be most often associated with the Civil War; for example, the Antebellum South describes the period from the late 18th century to the end of the Civil War, when the southern United States depended on and profited off of slavery.
Due to the racist undertones of the word "antebellum" and the recent spark in Black Lives Matter activism, Lady A (the band) shortened their name—although we all still know what the word stands for. Though the band claimed the word "antebellum" was referencing the style of architecture of the home where they took their first band photos, to use the word at all was a gross move. To then adopt a Black artists' name as your own without doing your research and sue that artist is incredibly backwards logic.
Though it's understandable why Lady A (the band) would feel such a strong attachment to the name, perhaps they'd be better off changing their name entirely. Considering the fact that their only other statement regarding the Black Lives Matter movement was a photo of a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote (and no mention of Black Lives Matter at all), it seems clear that Lady A (the band) aren't set on achieving racial justice or effecting any real change—this legal battle is just an attempt at self-preservation.
If you're mad because "Batwoman was never black," there's something you need to know...
TV's newest incarnation of Batwoman, Ryan Wilder, is Black.
The CW's Batwoman has always had a progressive streak. In the first season, Orange Is the New Black alum Ruby Rose plays Kate Kane, Bruce Wayne's cousin who dons the Batwoman cowl to protect Gotham City. Just like every other superhero show, Kate's romantic life factors into the plot. Unlike the rest, however, Kate is an out lesbian, making her the first leading lesbian superhero in television history.
But after the first season, Ruby Rose announced that she was leaving Batwoman for unspecified reasons, allegedly related to burnout from the ridiculously long work hours required from a superhero series lead. This meant that in order for Batwoman to continue, the CW would need a new star.
Enter Javicia Leslie, former co-star of CBS comedy-drama God Unfriended Me. Prior to Leslie's casting, fans of the show wondered how Batwoman might handle the transition of actresses. Would Kate Kane just look completely different in season 2 with no canonical explanation?
Nope. As it turns out, Javicia Leslie's Batwoman will be an entirely new character: Ryan Wilder.