People fail to realize that remakes are typically just the same story and gameplay with updated graphics. FFIV, Sword of Mana, Lunar, FFT, both Star Oceans PSP, Baroque... I can't think of any other, but they're the same game with updated/changed graphics. I know Wild Arms got a major overhaul in gameplay, but story remained the same. Developers have respect for series' origins, therefore changing anything more than outdated graphics is like a spit in the face to the original developer. Anyways, broken-Nintendo wifi aside, the game was fine and actually pretty easy. There was a shitload of useless characters that I let die (not usually my FE style) to access the hidden chapters on my 2nd playthrough.
And something that YOU fail to realize is that Sword of Mana was not even just a simple facelift. Whereas FFA was basically a simple Zelda clone with more emphasis on numbers rather than inventory and a featuring a very liner quest, Sword was a complete mishmash of gameplay elements from the entire Mana series at that point. The biggest problem with that was the fact that not all the games were of the same genera and more importantly there was absolutely no real thought as to how these vastly different gameplay systems would work together. None.
You get shit like SD3's classes which, for the most part, don't amount to shit thanks to the minimal boost to abilities and effects that were worthless to begin with such as an elemental proficiency boost to water or shadow, or an attack boost for one weapon only. Classes themselves are determined entirely by how you level up. In Sword of Mana each level allows you to put a point in a stat growth type like in SD1 (select the type and stat points are dispersed based on the type). The difference is that you have 6 growth types to choose from (each one representing a character from SD3) and with certain combinations you gain one of 6 classes. The problem is that once you've taken a class, you're stuck on that class tree for the rest of the game (and the game doesn't tell you which ones don't suck). Moreover, you get to do this again two more times between two different class paths just like in SD3.
This gets into a mess because magic is horribly unbalanced in this game due to a number of factors such as each spell actually representing two different spells one of which carries two different effects (elemental damage and status effects) and that the former spell element varies from almost completely useless to literally fucking you over (sticking yourself in a bubble or moogling yourself is not what I call support) despite including the game's sole healing spell which becomes horribly out of date before a third of the way into the game. The real imbalance though comes from status effects where spells like Gnome's attack magic will randomly inflict petrify against an enemy. If they're petrified the enemy is effectively killed, except that you gain absolutely nothing for it making it one of the worst spells in the game along with Shade's attack magic (shadow zeds an enemy out of existence for nothing) and Undine's attack magic (snowmans an enemy out of existence for nothing plus there's absolutely no snowman puzzles in this game versus the origianl). Magic effectiveness is determined by that element's skill level, how far you charge it up (both elements here were stolen from Secret of Mana but both are considerably worse in this case), and whatever bonuses you get from your class. The way that levels work is that every time your spell hits something it gains experience towards its particular skill level and after several hits (depending on the enemy's strength and your spell's current level as some bosses will cause it to level in one hit) it will level up. However you can effectively grind your magic up to level 99 and that each level makes almost no difference in effect (in fact your healing spell is the only one that shows any visible affects from leveling as it increases the amount of healing it can do per cast by a single hit point per level). Charging magic, on the other hand, provides the biggest boost to your spell's performance, the only problems are that a) it only works on attack magic (since the horrible support magic is effectively level 0 magic) b) makes attack magic harder to use (again due to the fact that you need the charge at level 1 or higher to use attack magic) c) they cost increasing amounts of MP starting at 3 for level 0 and increasing at increments of 3 per charge level (and if your charge level exceeds the amount of your current MP the spell doesn't go off) d) require extra elementals to gain levels (this is effectively where most of the game's side quests and backtracking come from) e) probably increases the chance of those detrimental status effect landing on your target and f) doesn't have a very good charge indicator (the elements come out one at a time circling around you until they reach a certain distance then repeats the process until all of your elements are out).
Weapons operate on a similar but different (broken) system from magic. First they too have weapon skill levels like magic that can reach level 99, but the sole purpose of weapon skill level is to determine how fast your will gauge will fill per hit. Now I call it a will gauge but its much closer to SD3's skill gauge that fills per hit and allows you to perform a special attack at the press of the special button. Sword lacks a special button (instead your next attack will launch the special). Also the gauge is much longer and there's only one special per weapon. Also each attack fills a point on the gauge and you gain one extra pip per every 10 skill levels. Instead weapons increase their power by forging them from better loot found off of enemies and tempering them from fruits and vegetables grown from seeds given to Trent (the same process applies to armor and all of which was lifted from Legend). The key difference is that you can only carry one weapon/armor of each type at a time and reforging them drops your tempering benefits back to zero. Also you can only temper a limited number of times based on the material used in the reforging. Each fruit and vegetable increases the strength of some of the weapon's damage types by one (or armor's protection type) depending on the fruit or vegetable (there's one in particular that'll increase all of the weapon's damage types/armor's protection types by 1). Also, if that's not enough hoops to jump through, you also require a copy of the original reforge material to temper. In fact the best material in the game is incredibly rare to gather, plus the additional rare seeds you'll need to grow the rare fruit/vegetable in order to get the best out each tempering, also the "best" stuff has really low starting stats but offers like 50 tempering sessions to max it out above everything else (so if you don't already have enough material to start with you're going to end up with a really useless weapon/armor until you do, if ever), and finally you have 8 weapons and 3 pieces of armor that you can do this process to. The only improvement over LoM's forge/temper system (of anything really) is that its not nearly as blind/confusing. Classes can also provide up to a meager boost in weapon damage, evasiveness, accuracy and the weapon determines how your attack spell will go off (whether it will seek out an enemy, or allow you to remote control it, or one of the many short ranged projectile patterns).
Items themselves generally vary greatly from quite useful (a rare case indeed) to a complete waste of programming space (pretty much everything else). Since healing magic in this game is so absolutely worthless healing items are easily the best things ever in this game (one gumdrop will, for most of the game, heal more than multiple uses of that healing spell). And while you can crouch to restore MP the gain rate is so slow (about 1 MP per 2 seconds) that you're better off poppin' Magic Walnuts for extra MP. Then you have forging/tempering material (or at least the good stuff), seeds (again only the good stuff), side quest items like Dub Bear's Gold (good for cashing in for extra spirits), the Gold equipment (good for Dub Bear's Gold), the Chibli Hammer (for shrinking yourself), the Rusty Sword (good for a Sword of Mana), The Sword of Mana (I have no idea what this is good for), and so on. The rest of the trash includes things like the nuisance items which I forget what they're call individually but they provide distractions to enemies based upon sight, sound, and smell so that you can escape from them (which you should never need to do since you can't loot enemies if you don't kill them and chances are you'll never kill 1000 of any enemy in the game (which provides blacker and beefier enemies with better loot to loot)). Some support magic provides the same services but in a shittier way (locking you in a slow moving bubble versus drowning out your footsteps, turning yourself into a moogle versus dropping a stinkbomb, or hiding yourself from sight rather than blinding the enemy). There's other junk too but I'll be damned to try to remember them, and Angel's Grails (allies are extremely useless in this game anyways).
The reason why allies are extremely useless is because no matter what happens to them, if the main character dies, its auto gameover (despite how many you have). AI is once again motherfucking retarded. They have HP and MP in this game unlike in the original, but that just tempts you to drain your resources on them. They gain levels but they put their level point in either the same spot or not at all (I don't remember). They're stuck with whatever weapon, armor, and magic they're carrying. You can control them but that just leaves your MC's ass hanging in the wind (this is a very bad thing). And they offer no hints, shops, or services beyond their dinky attacks/magic unlike in FFA. Also some characters that were originally supposed to die didn't just to provide a useless ally or two to the Girl.
In fact they pretty much gutted whatever merits were in the story to begin with for this demake. Every badguy from the original (save for one) is now just tragically misunderstood and just really wanted to help. The guy who's still legitimately evil now comes with 100% more delusions of godhood. Also the power of friendship is now super effective against him. The Boy now has a father, but that just makes him into a prince. He also has a now mandatory childhood relationship with the Girl. Willy lives to help the Girl. In fact most of the deaths in the original were retconned. Thankfully Amanda was the one that got away. No seriously! I'm fucking surprised that she wasn't Dragon Balled back to life or some such bullshit. Even Julius gets an "I'll be back!" line in the end. The Girl and her Mother also keep to the script (as far as I remember) along with Maurice (or whatever that robot's name is). Chocobo and his upgraded form Chocobot are gone in place of Prof. Bomb's Cannon Travel (which are always inconveniently placed and take too long to watch). And a number of incidental characters from Legend show up like the Dub Bears, Niccolo, the Seven Wisdoms (if you can find someone unfortunate enough to have gotten and played this game to trade with), and so on.
And then other details like the music sounding tinny and were badly remixed, or the terrible character art, or the washed out graphics, or the need to include jumping, and ect...
The tr;dl of this Flaming Post is that this is in no way a simple touching up of the game.