‘Secret of Mana’ review: Can\’t capture that old-school magic

‘Secret of Mana’ review: Can\’t capture that old-school magic

If you’re going to remake a venerated video game, then for god’s sake, do it right.

For the 25th anniversary of “Secret of Mana,” developer Square Enix has created a 3D released of the title for Sony’s (SNE) PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Valve’s Steam service. Unfortunately, it fails to capture the same old-school magic that made the original a beloved classic.

“Secret of Mana’s” charming plot was never very complicated, which was part of its appeal when it arrived in 1993 — a gaming scene dominated then by games like “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Contra III: The Alien Wars.”

Unlike many of its role-playing contemporaries at the time, which were downright Tolkien-esque in their storytelling ambitions, “Secret of Mana” kept it simple. You follow a goofy trio of odd-duck characters — Randi, Primm and Popoi — as they combat an evil empire trying to resurrect a giant floating battleship called the Mana Fortress, powered by the magical energy of mana.

Unfortunately, the jump to 3D wasn’t a smooth, or memorable, one. The original game eked out much of its charm from a cute and memorable virtual world stitched together by vibrant 2D pixels. The remake offers equally vivid colors, but they’re offset by occasionally blurry textures and oversized, bobblehead characters whose mouths don’t move, even during conversations.

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