I've always gotta bitch about something, don't I? I was sitting around earlier today, wondering why I keep playing either Secret of Mana or its sequel, Seiken Densetsu 3 about once a month, and I think I've figured it out. Unlike the vast majority of SNES-era RPGs, I am not playing these games for the story. I've never been particularly enamored of the Mana-series' stories, they are passable at best (in my opinion). I am playing these two games solely for the retarded awesome combat systems therein.
They are two distinct systems, but they really feel more like variations of each other. I'm going to take a second to discuss them, so anyone who's already familiar with them can skip it, should you care to do so. Secret of Mana featured a rhythmic, methodical, action-RPG combat system, in which you strike with your weapon, wait for a recharge, strike again, or charge up to perform a stronger attack. The way that attacks often stunned your enemies allowed for a great deal of tactics to be exercised, but for me the place that the combat system truly shined was the casting system, which allowed you to chain spells right after one another (and I mean immediately), allowing that lovable sprite character to convert all of his MP into damage within a matter of seconds. SoM still contains the most disgustingly ridiculous burst damage I've ever seen in an RPG to date. And while this is all technically solid, the system managed to contain a more important element: fun.
Secret of Mana combat was not particularly fast, which places it in direct contrast with its sequel, SD3. In this game the same sort of melee combat was sped way the hell up, to create a hectic sort of melee. In fact, next to SD3, the melee in SoM was downright tedious by comparison. But I missed the casting from SoM, as the casting in SD3 was slowed down and disallowed the sort of burst damage that occured in SoM. Still, the improved melee combat, the new class system, and the return of the ring menus meant that SD3 was a worthy successor to the franchise. Both of these games helped make my SNES experience what it was, and I came into the N64/PS era eager for more.
Square then proceeded to be a cocktease all the way to the present. They released Legend of Mana for the PSX, but the combat system had little in common with its predecessors, and it even got rid of the little ring menus. Its most vile transgression, however, was the loss of the 3-player co-op that had made SoM and SD3 so beloved. And the game mechanics that I had grown to love never came back, despite numerous new entries to the series. The worst, for me, was Return of Mana. I heard about this game at last year's E3, nothing more than the name, and I immediately began to get excited. It only got worse when Square-Enix assured everyone that this would be a true successor to the franchise. It turns out, they meant it would continue the story, which I never cared about.
Long story short, this is a call to any game developer that is listening (meaning nobody): I need a new Secret of Mana game. It doesn't need to be called that, it doesn't need to be in the same universe, even. I just need it to bring back the old game mechanics I loved from it and its successor: a fast-paced, rhythmic ARPG with delightfully hectic melee combat and the sort of casting that was present in SoM (perhaps borrowing spells from SD3). Also to be included is a class system like SD3's, and 3 or 4 player co-op. Feel free to add ring menus. I really, really want this game badly.
So how about it? Would you buy the game I just begged for?
I'm thinking I might start doing something like this more often: borrow mechanics from this game and that to make a game concept I really want somebody, somewhere (indie devs?) to make. -Pangloss out.