The 1999 PlayStation game Legend of Mana, not too long ago remastered for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC, is a bit of an acquired style. It’s an aggressively bizarre fantasy game that is additionally half a dozen different video games in a single, and it’s not notably nice at something it tries. Yet I’ve nothing however fondness for this unusual little experiment, because it’s extremely charming all through. Except in terms of Niccolo, the bunny salesman. He’s a piece of shit.

Niccolo is one of the primary characters you possibly can meet in Legend of Mana. He’s a salesman with a complete schtick about making all of his clients smile because of the worth he brings to their lives. There is nothing true about this. He’s a conniving bastard, and he’s additionally racist towards the Sproutlings, little cabbage-looking bros who additionally inhabit the world. (There are people in Legend of Mana, but additionally storybook creatures that every one resemble anthropomorphized natural world.) I do know he’s racist as a result of, not lengthy after assembly him, he advised me.

“I hate Sproutlings,” he mentioned to me. It was so blunt that I laughed out loud. Then I talked to him once more. “They’re the scum of the Earth,” he reiterated.

“Holy shit,” I swore at my TV. What a little prick!

An illustration of Niccolo, the bunny merchant in Legend of Mana

Image: Square Enix

Astonished at this brazen little bigot, I made a decision to assist him out with a activity (beating up some bandits) as a result of I simply … actually wished to know the place Legend of Mana would go with this dude. (This is my first time enjoying the game for greater than a couple of hours, courtesy of the HD remaster.)

It seems that Niccolo’s extremely blunt expressions of prejudice match proper in with the remainder of Legend of Mana; this is not a notably nuanced or artfully written game. Going on a quest with Niccolo is a whirlwind tour of shameless swindling. For instance, he’ll ask you to make a cease so he can supply to promote a wheel to somebody for 50 grand, and once they say they will’t afford it, the bunny will give it to you free of charge, simply to make them really feel dangerous for not going for his shakedown value.

As you learn this, please remind your self what Legend of Mana seems to be like. It seems to be like a storybook. It may as effectively be The Little Prince. And right here is Niccolo, this elegant little shithead, scheming his hateful little method by means of this cheery world full of candy creatures who appear to barely register his buffoonery.

I need to see the remainder of Niccolo’s story, however it’s been tough to observe. Legend of Mana feels type of like enjoying a board game concurrently constructing it; you assemble a map of the fantasy world one locale at a time, visiting every location as soon as you discover the artifact that provides it to your map. Because of this freeform construction, there’s no overarching story in Legend of Mana, simply a massive assortment of brief ones, some of which thread collectively throughout a number of installments in ways in which aren’t actually obvious. The participant simply has to maintain constructing out their map and revisiting outdated locations to see the place characters pop up or run off to. Some tales are rewarding and add a new character to accompany you; others barely qualify as tales. It’s potential to encounter the tip of a story with out ever seeing the start. It’s additionally potential to search out your self at a lifeless finish, with whole questlines minimize off from you. It’s a messy game!

A fast search on-line tells me that Niccolo’s story continues within the game, however I don’t know when or how you can proceed it simply but. In the meantime, I’d get distracted by different diversions, like elevating my very own little child monsters (a factor you are able to do on this game). Maybe Niccolo reforms and learns Sproutlings are individuals too and greed is dangerous, which might be a storybook ending. Or perhaps he doesn’t study something. That could be a storybook ending too, since storybooks typically contain good individuals studying to deal with people who’re simply plain dangerous.

Legend of Mana’s ambition far outpaces its magnificence; it’s a video game that ceaselessly appears a couple of minutes away from falling aside, but additionally deeply value determining. What’s enjoyable about Niccolo is not his bigotry or his callous exploitation, however the best way the game’s world both bends or doesn’t bend round his presence, making it appear a little extra complicated, a little extra unnerving. Legend of Mana resembles a board game with all of its items scattered throughout the ground, it’s true — however it’s additionally a board game that does a rattling good job at convincing gamers that every one its items matter. In different phrases, I’m amazed that this 22-year-old video game has reached throughout time and area to current me with an cute little bunny dude who I actually need to punch within the face.