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Seiken Densetsu 2 (Secret of Mana) for DoCoMo phones: TGS 2009 Hands-on

By Janelle | September 26, 2009 at 7:23 am

From my fond, SNES-controllered memories of Secret of Mana, I didn’t expect to find Seiken Densetsu 2 on the list of “games you can play with one hand.” In fact, at first glance, I wouldn’t put most action RPGs on that list. But Square Enix took this classic and put it on a cell phone, and it actually works pretty well.

The demo file picked up right from the beginning. Randi plummets from a waterfall into the pools below. He needs to get back to his town, but the way is blocked by thick bushes. Conveniently, there’s a mysterious sword nearby calling his name.

Players move Randi with the phone’s directional pad and attack with the center button. After getting the sword, the upper left button opens the circle menu and functions as a back/cancel button as well. In my brief play experience, I couldn’t find a dash button, but there was rarely a use for it in the original game that didn’t involve running into walls, so no big loss there.

The graphics have had some retooling. The palette has gotten deeper, sprites have been updated, and effects have been added, such as the sun’s reflection off water. The result is gorgeous and welcome for this old game, and I can’t help but think it’d look great like this on the DS, like so many have been crying for.

I played up to after beating the Mantis Ant. Making my way through the forest was easy, and it didn’t take me long to get used to moving and attacking with the cell phone controls. When I got to the down and encountered the boss, though, I was lucky that that first battle makes a Game Over impossible. I had a lot more trouble with the Mantis Ant: I needed that automatic revival five or six times. He was casting Diamond Missile very often, and knocked me unconscious about twice a minute. Even getting used to the one handed controls, I don’t know if that entirely accounts for the difficulty spike. Maybe the difficulty has been adjusted for this version? There’s also a good chance that I just sucked, so take that speculation with a grain of salt.

Out of all the cell phone games I played at the show, Seiken Densetsu 2 was the standout. It adapted to cell phone pretty smoothly, ran very well, and was legitimately fun to play. In fact, this was the only cell phone demo that didn’t make me think while I was playing “This is fun, but I really wish I was playing this on a portable system instead.”

Topics: Previews, Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 2, Tokyo Game Show 2009