Trials of Mana | Review | Switch - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Thursday, July 2, 2020

Trials of Mana | Review | Switch

by Michael Brandse

An excellent remake to a classic we never got to experience in the day. 
All the way back in 1995 a game came out by the name of Seiken Densetsu 3 for the Super Nintendo. Called Secret of Mana 2 by fans of Secret of Mana, it’s a game that was never released outside of Japan, despite however much we wanted to play this. However, fans found a way and translated the game themselves, meaning the game was available to us in, well, let’s call it less than legal circumstances. 
After years of Square Enix ignoring this particular game in the Mana series, all of a sudden they announced that not only would they translate the Mana Collection for the West (thus giving us our first actual release of Seiken Densetsu 3), but also completely remake it as Trials of Mana. So here we are, almost 20 years after the game originally released, and we can finally play it. So the obvious question is, does it hold up?

Yes, it does, and then some!
The original game didn’t age all that gracefully unfortunately. It was a game where you were expected to simply outlast the enemy, as dodging mechanics were not all that common in games at the time. Many features this game introduced, like changing classes and leveling up, were implemented in a way that made you feel like you simply had to gamble and hope your choices wouldn’t leave you severely under-powered for the enemies in the game. At the time, this was acceptable. Now, we expect more. 
Fortunately, the Trials of Mana remake does its utmost best to take care of all these weak points and bring the game more into the modern age of gaming. For instance, players are much better informed of the impacts their choices will have, and leveling up gives you ability points now you can freely assign at any time you wish. The game also introduced plenty of extras, like finding lil’ cactus from Legend of Mana to get super useful bonuses, a completely new end-game dungeon as well as a major overhaul to the original’s item seed system, which this time around is actually useful! 
However, the biggest change is absolutely its battle system. Enemies clearly telegraph their attacks to allow you to dodge them and the biggest problem, that you had to tank all enemies’ special skills, is taken care of by clearly showing the range of their attack and allowing you to dodge them. Screen clearing attacks give you a window of opportunity to interrupt them, which even gives you some nice advantages in case you succeed. Depending on how the battle goes, you can even get bonuses, making the battle system far superior to the original. It does make the game a bit easier overall, but considering just how much improved because of it, I really cannot say I mind.
Other than that, the remake is very faithful. All areas you could visit in the original game are here as well, and the ability to choose between 3 story-lines like in the original is once again a big deal in this game too. Enemies and NPC's are lovingly modeled using their original designs. There are some changes to the levels themselves, since they went from 2D to 3D, but the level design is pretty good. Some levels even introduce some new gimmicks, giving some much needed variation.
Of course, there are some weak points as well. Character expressions and those animations are rather lacking, especially during the moments they are supposed to show emotion. There is also a skip text option, which during cut-scenes tends to skip entire chunks of cut-scene, leaving you with not knowing what just happened because you thought it was just another text box. All in all however, these weaknesses tend to be minor. 


Trials of Mana is a most excellent remake. It improves on all the areas that needed improving, keeps faithful to the parts that need to stay faithful, all while giving us plenty of extras to play with. For anyone who loves the Mana series, or action RPG's in general, this game is a must have. I highly recommend it.

Final Score: 8.5

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