Secret of Mana
Turns out, it’s really hard to omit the most deserving SNES games to make it to the New Nintendo 3DS virtual console without the majority of them being Squaresoft RPGs. Secret of Mana brought its own spin to the platform by being a fully roaming action-RPG title in an era laden with stagnant, turn-based gameplay.
The top-down perspective, in addition to the real-time-with-pause ring menuing system, brought forth a relatively untapped way to approach combat and monster encounters. Inputting actions to take down monsters in a 3D space brought a new layer of skill to combat, while co-op support brought a new layer of multiplayer to Square’s RPG output. Yes, you could each take turns in Final Fantasy VI to control the main party, but by having a tight knit of characters you can manipulate in Secret of Mana, each player had agency in the progression of the game.
Secret of Mana managed to capture the combat and art direction of The Legend of Zelda and mix it in with the RPG sensibilities of Final Fantasy, creating a timeless classic that is vastly underrated in the modern era.
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