Secret of Mana’s Aborted Remakes
February 28, 2021
Until the 2018 remaster, Secret of Mana was mostly neglected compared to other Square legacy properties. But two remakes were cancelled during the development stage. The first was intended for the WonderSwan Color, a handheld console produced by Bandai from 1999 to 2003. This port was never released, and with only scattered information, it’s difficult to say how far along the project was before being cancelled. However, Secret of Mana was not the only game in that boat. A WonderSwan port of Final Fantasy III was also cancelled. Hiromichi Tanaka gave the following explanation:
When we developed FF3, the volume of content in the game was so huge that the cartridge was completely full, and when new platforms emerged, there simply wasn’t enough storage space available for an update of FF3, because that would have required new graphics, music and other content. There was also a difficulty with how much manpower it would take to remake all of that content.
However, as Unseen64 points out, the space on the Wonderswan Color far exceeded that of the original NES version of Final Fantasy III, and the lack of market share for the console and subsequent risky investment probably played a large role as well. What’s even more interesting is the fate of Romancing SaGa, another planned Wonderswan port. According to Joseph Witham of RPG Gamer:
When the game was released in 1992, it had undergone a huge downsize from what had originally been planned, due to Nintendo's strict cart size policy. In the remake, everything that was removed in favor of a smaller cart size has been re-implemented. Square is calling this port the "complete" version of Romancing SaGa.
But I knew about of the WonderSwan port. What I wasn’t aware of was a planned Game Boy Advance “retelling” of SoM, that would have been called Sword of Mana 2. This was revealed on Twitter by designer Shinta Kameoka. He provided the following prerelease assets: