The early games in the Mana series sent the player on whimsical journeys through colourful fantasy worlds. They were remembered for versatile action battle systems and the ability to play through the adventures with friends via multiplayer. After the World of Mana compilation failed to revive the series, no new Mana games have been made recently. After playing through Ys Seven I had an idea on how to make a new Mana game that would recapture the series’ magic.
Firstly, a return to style and game play systems from the legendary Secret of Mana and it’s Japan only sequel Seiken Densetsu 3, as well a touch of Legend of Mana. The SNES classics are some of the best action RPG’s ever created and while Legend of Mana changed some of it’s predecessors formulas, it kept the sense of adventure. The new Mana game should use 2D Sprites and backgrounds to allow similar navigation to Secret of Mana. Using today’s technology these could be intricate and fantastically detailed. Another option is 3D character models over pre-rendered backgrounds similar to Ys Seven as this is my favourite style for RPGs.
The battle system has been experimented with a lot in the more recent games, but after playing Ys Seven, I immediately thought it’s battle system would be a perfect fit for the Mana series. The flexibly of Secret of Mana was the use of a variety of different weapons and the ability to switch them on the fly to change strategies. Using Ys Seven’s system would allow a similar setup to Secret of Mana, with three characters that you could switch around as customise to your liking. It could also work to have other players be able to control the other characters allowing for multiplayer, which was a signature element of the classic games.
Ys Seven’s focus on game play and speed also reminded me of Secret of Mana’s intention to constantly keep the player in the action with minimal distractions. The “Ring Command” menu system would return to easily customise the party and equip magic and special techniques. They would then be executed in real-time like in Legend of Mana but without the delay.
To capture the spirit of the best Mana games the highlight should be the game play. The story should be focused on a carefree adventure revolving the Mana Tree and should not be slowed down with heavy narrative. The character of the series is from the people that populate the world, which was done fantastically in Legend of Mana and is important to keep in this new instalment. The game’s focus would be to create an interesting and imaginative world, filled with wonderful and memorable locations. To finish it off, the music should be a follow up effort to the Legend of Mana soundtrack, by Yoko Shimomura.
Using these ideas as a template, I think a successful new Mana could be made to cater to the fans as well as update the original formula to today’s standards.