Nintendo has a habit of following up a great week for it’s Virtual Console service with a bad one; one week, we’ll see something like Star Soldier, the next, we’ll see the Master System version of Sonic the Hedgehog, almost as if they were teasing us. By the way, what I just mentioned literally happened.
Last week was a great week for the VC, with us finally getting an arguable G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) in Shining Force II, as well as the entirely passable Mario Golf. Therefore, I was reflexively cringing, waiting for Nintendo to spend this week emptying out the bottom of their archives, almost as if to say “we know you’re still playing Shining Force II, but we need to release something, so here, have Rise of the Robots and Chubby Cherub“.
In their seeming quest to make themselves impossible to figure, they’ve went and pleasantly surprised me, as well as the rest of our staff, once again, giving us at least one true treat for Thanksgiving (for the Americans here, pretend Columbus Day actually matters).
Secret of Mana
Developer: Square Soft
Publisher: Square Soft
System: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Original Release Date: October 3, 1993
Price: 800 Wii Points
Adam Powell: SECRET OF MANA!
Fuck yes!!!!! I still have my copy of the SNES game. This is the game that got me hooked on Squaresoft – Chrono Trigger cemented it for me, but Mana was too much fun. Me and my buddy Nick would play (and occasionally a third person as the friggin’ sprite) all afternoon, every afternoon whenever it was too cold/rainy/snowing to skate. There was a lot of trying to lay down those level 8 axe attacks on Cabbits. Oh, how i love killing Cabbits. i still fondly remember Santa’s house, too…and the flying luck dragon thing, once you finally get that, is pretty awesome – with the…what were they called, Mode 7 graphics? Flying that thing in the wacky sprite/Mode 7 graphics mixture was excellent. Man, I love this game. I actually have the original fold-out art from some long forgotten issue of Nintendo Power or whatever in a frame somewhere.
Bryan Berg: If I were 13 years old, I’d cry tears of joy. As it is, I’m still pretty damn happy.
Secret of Mana is one of the most fun RPGs I’ve ever played. It felt like a Square RPG mixed with The Legend of Zelda. And I mean that in a good way. Great music, great story, great everything. And it had a leveling system that made a lot of sense – if you wanted to upgrade your magic spells, you had to cast the spell a certain number of times. Overall, a wonderful game, and well worth your $8.
Aileen Coe: Ah, this brings back memories. The battle system made random encounters less tedious, especially when you’re playing with other people. The characters were lovable, the plot was compelling (even if it was a variant of the oft-used “save the world!” premise), and the gameplay was fun. Getting blasted out of a cannon was an…interesting means of travel. Hey, it mixed things up.
Worth the purchase, easily. Now we just need the other Seiken Densetsu games to come out here. Anyone?
Alex Lucard: The Mana series has always been my favorite Squaresoft series. The graphic styling has always appealed to me in a way CGI cut scenes never have. It’s a great little action RPG that was one of the few bright spots amongst the SNES RPG offerings.
You’ll find that the graphics, controls, characters and music still hold up with this current generation of gaming and it’s a must buy for anyone looking for a fast paced and whimsical RPG.
Charlie Marsh: Not my favorite RPG, but one of the few I can actually say I like. They get a lot of points for not having turn-based fighting and mindless grind-fests. This is a great game for anyone who wants the traditional RPG story (compile a party, save the world) without the random encounters and tedious battles. It also has a great soundtrack and can easily be played with your friends, so this is a good pickup for your $8.
Christopher Bowen: Wow. Here’s a pleasant surprise.
Secret of Mana was a bit of a different outing from Square back in the day. In the age of Final Fantasy and all of their spin-offs, Seiken Densetsu 2 was a bird of a different feather, combining traditional RPG elements with an action RPG engine which was compared to Zelda a lot at the time. It also allowed for cooperative play with other humans, which was a big deal, mainly because the AI was retarded, but also because it usually left people fighting over who had to take one for the proverbial team and play as Popoie. In short, since this was the first exposure to this type of game that most Americans had seen (save those that played Final Fantasy Adventure on the Game Boy, it blew them away.
The story is very good, the graphics are great, and if you can get past your idiot partners getting stuck behind objects a lot, and a decidedly mediocre translation (which even Ted Woolsey admitted was rushed), then Secret of Mana is easily worth $8.
Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition
System: Sega Genesis
Original Release Date: September 28, 1993
Price: 800 Wii Points
Guy Desmarais: If you are like me, you were craving for some street fighting and blew your load on the first version of the game to come along of the console (in this case, the SNES version of Street Fighter 2) and immediately regretted it. If you are in the least bit patient and have a little bit of common sense, you have waited for a proper version to come by. This is ALMOST it. But don’t buy yet! Even though you are getting near the promised land, this version has another four characters missing that will eventually appear on your virtual console when Nintendo decides to release Super Street Fighter 2: The New Challengers. I guess it is a good strategy if they want to milk money from suckers like me, even though I promised myself that I would never fall into that trap again. So, be patient my friends! Your day will come, and you won’t be 8$ poorer like I am now. 8$ is a pretty good meal at any Subway restaurant. Consider that while you think about what I just said.
Bryan Berg: Street Fighter 2 Super Champion Edition is also worth your $8, but not if you already bought Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter 2 Turbo, or Super Street Fighter 2. The thing is, the Street Fighter franchise had already sort of jumped the shark by the time the latter two came out. In my mind, the ultimate version of Street Fighter 2 was Champion Edition. It was the one every arcade had and it was the one that changed just enough to keep you interested, but didn’t include all the gimmicky crap Turbo/Hyper Fighting did. So if you’re looking for the Street Fighter 2 game that best represents the series at its peak, download Super Champion Edition. But if you already have one of the SNES titles, the $8 is a little harder to justify.
Aileen Coe: Never had a Genesis in the house growing up, so I’ve only played the SNES versions. If you’re someone who absolutely must experience every last incarnation of Street Fighter ever, then this might be for you. Of course, if you’re that much of a fanatic, you likely already have.
Charlie Marsh: Yet another iteration of the best fighting game of all time (that’s right, I said it, who wants some?), this one certainly benefits from a little blast processing, as there’s less lag and, at the time, better controls, although that’s pretty moot now. However, this is far from the best one in the series (Super Street Fighter II Turbo has that locked up) and it’s not even the best one on the VC right now (Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers has been on there all year), so I’d say get this one only if you really, really hate lag.
Alex Lucard: Okay, here’s the thing. If the classic controller wasn’t a piece of crap for fighting games, then I’d say this is a must buy. However, because it’s an SNES molded joystick, I have to give the game a big pass because the whole point of people preferring the Genesis version was that the controls were tighter and it felt more like an Arcade Fighter then the slightly less impressive SNES version.
Unless of course, you’re a lunatic like me and you imported the Neo*Geo controller for the Wii. Then by all means pick this up. The problem is the Classic Controller just doesn’t have the right layout of minute control detection you need for a six button fighter. SNK games are just fine as they’re on a four button system. Street Fighter 2: TCE? I say pass on this and get one of the Xbox or PSX Sega Saturn pads that were made especially for fighting games and go to town with Street Fighter Alpha Anthology
Yes, I know. Controller snobbery.
Christopher Bowen: As Alex mentioned, SFII:SCE had some subtle differences that meant a lot to people that were really hardcore into competitive SFII playing; though I personally enjoyed the SNES pad more (just due to personal comfort), I could imagine an arcade player preferring the Genesis version, not to mention the quicker controls.
However, the advantage of the Genesis’s six button stick are gone with the classic controller. And furthermore, compared to Super Street Fighter II, the game is missing four characters as well. That has a varying effect on some people, but as a Cammy fan, it bothers me, obviously.
Ask yourself this question: is SFII:SCE THE definitive version of Street Fighter II to you? If your answer isn’t an immediate “YES”, then skip this game, because there are better alternatives, and the differences in gameplay in this game will go over the heads of 90% of the people that would play this game.
Another good week for the VC! It’s pretty much unanimously agreed that Secret of Mana is one of the best RPGs of the 16 bit era, and considering the era is considered by a significant amount of people to be the golden age of RPGs, it should be an easy purchase, especially for $8. SFII:SCE isn’t quite as notable – not with Super Street Fighter II around – but some hardcore types might get some play out of it.
Until next week, this is Chris Bowen, once again wishing Canadians a Happy Thanksgiving!