Secret of Mana – iPhone vs SNES comparison

Jailbreak virgins can rejoice, now that Secret of Mana has been finally released as an official iPhone app.  Is it a proper port or just a quick  cash in?

The start menu has a couple of options, New Game, Load Game, Website, Options and Manual.  The manual is 76 screens, and is pretty damn indepth.

At the new game screen already and it’s nice to see that some effort has gone into new artwork.

So now we finally get into the game, and wow, what a difference.  They’ve upped the resolution, and cleaned up the background and textures.  They’ve also smoothed out the sprites, so the razor sharp 16bit jaggies are gone.  The oldschool translation however, remains, and the music is relatively unchanged.

The most striking new visual though, is the water effect, which now sports a reflection of the sky while still being partially transparent.  Other than that, sprites for certain characters or enemies have been redone.  For example, the bee looks different, as does Salamando (he looks like a fire lizard in the SNES version, in the iPhone version, he looks like a fire with a smiley face 🙁 )

Work has also been done in creating a new touch interface for the iPhone release.  There’s the usual virtual stick to move your character on the bottom left hand corner, and attack and run get their own 2 buttons on the bottom right corner.  Items such as candy, chocolate etc can be accessed by dragging the character icon at the bottom of the screen to the centre of the screen.  Stuff like dialogue choices also use touch for selection as well.

The menu interface has also been simplified.  While the old ring system remains, the menus are also touch sensitive, so you can just select what you want instantly instead of having to rotate around to the selection you want.

They’ve also included a new quick use system.  In the screenshots you may notice a trash can and 4 squares on the right side of the screen.  You can drag items from the inventory to these slots, and pressing them in combat will use that item for that character.

I’ve yet to reach the part of the game where you unlock magic, but I can assume that the targeting system will be touch based as well.  I’m not sure whether magic can be assigned to the quick use slots as well, but it’s possible.

Edit 04/01/2010:  I have played past up the part which you acquire magic and I can confirm that you can assign either a magic spell or a shortcut to a elemental (eg Undine, Gnome etc) to the quick use slots.  Enemy icons appear on the left side of the screen, you simply touch to target, and there is also a ‘target all’ icon.

All in all, I think they’ve done a great job on the Secret of Mana iPhone port.  As you can see from the screenshots, work has gone into redoing some of the backgrounds as well as adding new effects.  As a bonus, I’d also say it’s better than playing the original Secret of Mana ROM on the iPhone as well.  You lose the ability of having savestates, but I think the higher resolution and better control scheme make up for it.

11.99AUD on Australian app store.

SNES Screenshots were taken on iPhone 4 using snes4iphone to play a Secret of Mana ROM.  Played SNES and iPhone versions up to the point where you acquire Salamando.  Settings used on snes4iPhone were smoothing OFF, transparencies ON.


  1. Pilda

    The graphic of this game was wonderful even on SNES however the background of the dialog screens was really ugly. It is very nice they changed the background for the iOS version. Good comparsion, thanks.

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