It’s tough being a fan of old Japanese franchises these days. For the most part, many classic “B-tier” favorites from the 80s and 90s have been outright neglected or passed on to Western studios for a gruff makeover beyond recognition. Those are the lucky ones, because some are even relegated to mobile gaming purgatory to make a quick buck on the booming Japanese mobile market.
Take for example Rune of Mana, the latest in Square Enix’s Seiken Densetsu or Mana series as we know it in the west. Once a key entry of Square Enix’s line-up with great titles like Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret of Mana, and Legend of Mana, it has now been reduced to a free-to-play title available on iOS and Android, confirmed by Square Enix in this week’s Famitsu.
Rune of Magic revolves around a half-angel/half-demon protagonist from Heaven who lands in the village of Miste. From there, he can collect new weapons and pet monsters to go on a dungeon crawl, and up to eight players can accompany him with co-op gameplay.
Sounds nice and in the vein of the older games, but this microtransaction heavy game places an emphasis on buying the best equipment with real world money, meaning you’ll most likely have to shell out some cash before being able to topple a tough boss.
I suppose it was a little too much to ask for a new Mana game on the Nintendo 3DS after the game leaked last December, but given how the series all but derailed itself back in the mid-nineties, we should have seen this one coming. Makes me wonder if Square Enix is going to follow the same path with the upcoming SaGa game it is working on for the 25th Anniversary.
Maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath.